Heroes and Evolution

I just recently began watching Heroes – from the beginning of season 1. I have done this with several series that I didn’t start watching from the beginning but had recommended to me later. (It was good to have something to do during the long hours of computer problem resolution besides staring at the screen watching it reboot for the nth time).

The first question I found myself asking is whether Heroes or The 4400 came first. Of course, I suppose the answer is X-Men came long before either of them, and so there is no reason to think that one of the two recent series directly inspired the other.

Scientificially, the show treats evolution in a way that is unscientific, and one might say it mythologizes evolution. It treats evolution as this thing that leads to progress and will eventually endow us with telekenesis, the ability to fly without wings, clairvoyance and other magical powers.

Evolution is not going to save us. It doesn’t have the capacity to do all these things. Technology, on the other hand, might. It has the power to regenerate our cells and perhaps one day allow us to fly with only minimal mechanical paraphernalia attached to us, as power sources become smaller and new forms of propulsion are developed. This doesn’t mean that we should simply mythologize technology, however, and treat it as salvific in the way the original Star Trek series tended to. Technology has the same ambiguity as the Heroes’ powers: the same nanobot technology that might one day enable Claire-like healing might also cause Nikki/Jessica-like personality takeovers and Sylar-like murders. Technology is powerful for accomplishing these sorts of ends, whereas it is unclear that any changes to the human genome, whether natural or artificially-induced, will ever be able to allow us to bend space and time. Thankfully, this doesn’t stop my from enjoying the show, any more than my being more of a skeptical Scully-type stopped me from enjoying the X Files.

I’m still in season 1, so no spoilers please. I will say that my favorite moments so far are when Hiro Nakamura, perfectly fluent in English and without glasses, arrives from the future; and when Petrelli flies in his pyjamas (as all flying superheroes are expected to).

"That makes perfect sense to me! ^_^ Anyone else agree?"

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  • This is the only show with a continuing plot other than Survivor and The Biggest Loser that I watch. I find the character development fascinating and the story unfolds in very unexpected directions so enjoy it.But for the root of this kind of thing I think the best thing to come out of the X-Men is a graphic novel called God Loves Man Kills. Absolutely fantastically written on sooo many levels that are relevant for how religion is used to exclude those who are outside of what is normative. And the theological/social/anthropological levels drill down further from there. I am not sure how available it is – last I checked it was worth a good penny now since when I got it way back when it was already appreciating.

  • Patrick

    I have also been rushing through season 1. I’m fascinated with the quasi-scientific subplot, but think it gets a bit preachy at points. Mohinder Suresh is the omniscient narrator in the voice overs that close out each show. That said he, like the heroes, must partake in a long sequence of discoveries. This is probably the key to the show’s success. Parallels may be drawn to Lost on that front. Let’s hope that the writer’s strike will not diminish the quality of the show.

  • Regarding the writers’ strike and Heroes, it looks like they decided to end Season 3 when the scripts ran out. At least, they tied up the major loose ends…except the one extreme loose end which looks to be the focus of the next segment. My guess is that, if the strike gets resolved soon enough, they’ll use that segment as the second half of S3. If it doesn’t, they’ll probably hold off until S4.

  • George

    Great show. I too only started watching after the first season had ended. I watched the whole season in, I believe, five sittings- I’m completely addicted (this was a couple months ago). Helped to fill the void BSG’s break is leaving.

  • Your post about Heroes is interesting. My first reaction, being a fan of both The 4400 and X-Men, I find it hard to believe that The 4400 is some sort of blatant rip-off of X-Men. You didn’t say that of course, but others have. I hope you’ve had a chance to see the show so you can see the mythology of it. Thanks

  • Alexandra

    By the way, “The 4400” did come before Heroes, in case anyone was wondering. 🙂