Episode Spotlight: Five Years Gone (Heroes)

Plot: Hiro and Ando teleport 5 years into the future into a world where the bomb they’ve been working to prevent went off and those with powers became hunted and feared as a result.

Significance: With some changes to accommodate the remaining 3 seasons of the original Heroes, “5 Years Gone” is the rough setting for Heroes Reborn. There will be differences, of course, but the general concept of those with powers being hunted and feared along with some noted differences to Hiro’s character and appearance are straight out of this episode.

In the original show’s canon, this episode presents the future they are working to avoid and gives Hiro the information he needs to stop that future. It also explains why future!Hiro visited Peter on the subway to set him down his path

Lasting Impressions: I have always loved this episode and it makes me really excited to watch a whole show based in basically the same universe. I’m curious about which elements they will keep and which have had to be adapted based on original actor availability and the events that followed this episode in canon.

It’s not just the events that have changed the world, it’s the falling out and coming together of new relationships. There are glimpses of who these people were and how they related to each other but there isn’t a single person who was untouched. As a fan primarily of the characters and relationships rather than the plot, this is still the element of the episode I am most drawn to.

The moments may be small but the relationship that continues to stand out to me on every watch is that between Hiro and Ando. For the first season to this point, this friendship has been unshakeable. They may have different priorities at times and they’ve fought and disagreed, but at the end of the day, these two care about each other. Ando is there to ground Hiro and Hiro is there to make Ando believe in something bigger than himself. But when Hiro lost Ando, he had to ground himself. He couldn’t afford to be the optimist who wanted to believe that he could save the world anymore. He couldn’t see that in himself because he failed his friend. Peter telling Ando that the Hiro he knew disappeared the day Ando died is such a powerful moment. They’ve all lost people and in so doing so often lost who they were but it seems the most pronounced in Hiro. He lost the relationship that gave him the power to dream.

On the surface, it seems as though something similar has happened between another one of the core relationships of the show, that between Peter and Nathan. Peter, like Hiro, has been hardened and no longer believes in trying to save the world. Not after he was the person who destroyed part of it. Just as he’s done his whole life, after Peter exploded in New York, Nathan came around and covered up his brother’s involvement. Partly to protect Peter but also to protect his political ambitions. Though not without their disagreements and struggles, Peter and Nathan have always been close both in their emotions for the other and in their lack of physical space between them in nearly all of their scenes together. So the thought of them being separated for what seems like the majority of those 5 years is startling.

It only begins to make sense when Nathan is revealed to by Sylar, at which point, any anger Peter had been holding onto over Nathan and the way he’s handled things vanished. He’s still quick to absolve him, even is Sylar insists that he was only continuing the work Nathan started. The Nathan that Peter knows would never have turned against him, not privately. He may have distanced himself publicly to protect his career but Peter would always be his little brother who he loves. I’d like to think in that moment, some of Peter’s hurt disappeared and was replaced by anger at Sylar for taking his brother from him.

Just as it did with Peter, knowing that Nathan was really Sylar clarifies his relationship with Mohinder. Nathan and Mohinder had previously interacted but the result of that was Nathan thinking that Mohinder was insane. So the idea that Mohinder was suddenly Nathan’s most trusted advisor seemed a little farfetched. Knowing that Nathan was really Sylar and simultaneously manipulating Mohinder’s emotions and keeping him close out of some approximation of genuine affection makes much more sense. The relationship between these two was anything but simple during their few moments of interaction and so this glimpse of them in this  potential future makes perfect sense.

Finally, what is perhaps the most enduring legacy of the show, the relationship between Noah Bennet and Claire, his adopted daughter. This is clearly not a relationship that was ever meant to be simple but the love Noah has for his daughter is unwavering, no matter what universe they are in. She may not want anything to do with him but she trusts that he wants to keep her safe at all costs. He will lie and operate in the grey area he’s so well-suited for and accept her anger as long as it means she is alive and safe. What kind of life she has is irrelevant, all that matters is that she has one. It is the same in both the original timeline of the show and this much darker future and is the one thing I will miss the most in Heroes Reborn.

I don’t know what the future of this show holds but if this episode (and the first season as a whole) are any indication, I am ready for the journey. I’d like to see this darker universe with the heroes seen as villains fleshed out more and I’d love to see the relationship building that drew me to the original series. Is it September yet?

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