After a several month absence, I return with to 100 Days of Fan Favorites with one of my earliest ships and one that taught me a lot about what fandom could be.
As a young fangirl, I was fortunate enough to start out liking canon ships (or ones that would eventually become canon after several seasons of waiting). It was easy. There was a lot of material to analyze and appreciate and my patience was eventually rewarded with cute first kisses and proposals in beekeeping suits. Then I found Heroes and its fandom. This was not a show that was very good at creating compelling canon relationships. The writing for them was never very good and the characters in them often had more chemistry with characters outside the relationship than their partners. It was in this fandom that I first fell in love with a ship that was never going to be canon but presented me with a compelling relationship dynamic that I could not get enough of. It’s the fandom that gave me a deep love for non-canon ships and the possibilities they provide us as fangirls. It’s the one that brought me to my first fandom friend and one that I continue to hold close to this day.
There is not a version of Heroes in which Tim Kring meant to create a compelling relationship arc between Mohinder Suresh and Gabriel Gray (aka Sylar).They seemed intended to be simple foils, one looking to harm others and one looking to save them. Their pasts were some of the more entangled on the show, as Sylar killed Papa Suresh, but over the course of the show, their history together was all but forgotten. Which is unfortunate, not just for me as a shipper, but because there was a lot of interesting character development that could have been combined by placing these two in each others’ paths more frequently.
Regardless of what Kring had imagined for these two, I found two men who were both on a searching for acceptance. Mohinder lived his life feeling like he could never do enough to gain the approval of his father. He always fell short, despite his best efforts. Gabriel, on the other hand, struggled with the idea of being enough as he was. His mother, who loved him and saw a world of potential in him, wasn’t satisfied with his ambition to take over his father’s watch repair business. Chandra, who saw him as a test subject first and a person second, was ready to discard him when he failed to be useful in proving his theories.
If they had met at this point, they would have been two people who probably could have found a great deal of comfort in each other. Both had been rejected by Chandra for not living up to an ideal in his head. Both were searching for a place where they could be accepted and valued. But they didn’t meet at this point. Instead, Sylar killed Chandra and in doing so, unknowingly set Mohinder on a quest to complete his father’s research and avenge his death. At the same time, Sylar went off to become a serial killer and collect the powers of others for his own use. Their lives were now on very different paths, ones that seemed almost destined to intersect at some point.
And that is exactly what happened though in a very different way than Mohinder might have imagined and hoped for. Instead of merely finding Sylar and avenging his father, Mohinder accidentally befriended him. In his defense, Sylar was impersonating Zane Taylor at the time. In their first meeting, both men found something that they needed in each other. Mohinder found his first real proof that his father’s theories and everything both Suresh men had worked for in life was correct. There really were evolved humans and one of them actually wanted his help. After being dismissed by the others he tried to contact for so long, finding someone who not only believed him but was also grateful to him was refreshing and gave him the necessary hope to continue moving forward. And after his dismissal by Chandra for not being special or important enough, to have his son look at him with absolute awe and amazement gave him the validation and acceptance he craved from Chandra. And in that moment, despite his ultimate intention to either con or kill Mohinder in order to get the list, I think there was a part of him that wanted to hold on to that feeling as long as possible.