Heroes Season 4, Episode 4 Recap: Hysterical Blindness

The episode opens with Sylar, having dug his way out of a shallow grave, being picked up by the Police. Disorientated and with no memory of his own identity, a psychologist named Dr. Gibson (Christine Adams, Dr. Who and Batman Begins) is introduced and brought in to settle him down and to begin to probe his mind in the hope of finding out who he is.

When Sylar begins to hear the ticking of the clock on the wall and of Dr. Gibson’s watch, I was preparing myself for the inevitable reemergence of his murderous tendencies. Instead those expectations were subverted and the situation resolved in a much more interesting way.

A similarly creative approach is taken with the most tiresome story thread of the new season, that of Claire and her clingy roommate Gretchen. Forced into socializing with others at a sorority event, Claire has become aware that Gretchen is more interested in her than she realized and begins to suspect that she is attacking anyone who might be getting close to her.

So far, so expected. Except that towards the end of the episode we learn who was responsible for the murder of Claire’s first roommate and it comes as a very real and satisfying surprise.

Not that this revelation will spell the end of the complications for Gretchen and Claire’s friendship; in fact they are only just beginning. In a much-hyped moment, Claire confronts Gretchen and the two share a kiss that, thankfully, made sense in the context of the moment. Quite how the kiss will affect their relationship remains to be seen.

The episode’s other major story thread begins with Peter saving the hospital file clerk, Emma, from an on-coming bus after she becomes overwhelmed by seeing the sounds of a busy New York city street as colors. Beginning to experience Emma’s powers for himself, he encounters her again at a children’s choir performance where she recognizes that he is seeing what she sees.

Peter tells her that she has a power and the two share a moment as they sit at a piano and play together, watching the colors flow around them. Although these two musical sequences are beautifully composed, they do have the effect of slowing down the episode rather than developing either the characters or the plot. Hopefully future episodes will tone this down in favor of the more interesting, practical use suggested later in the episode.

Meanwhile Samuel and his group of Carnies lurk in the background and we are left with the revelation that one of the Heroes has joined his ‘family.’ Next week’s episode seems to show us what happens after that decision which should prove interesting. Certainly it is a big step forward in this season’s story.

After two seasons that have been wildly inconsistent in quality an episode like “Hysterical Blindness” comes as something of a relief. Although not hitting some of the high marks of the three episodes that came before it, this installment of Heroes was entertaining enough to be worth spending an hour with, doing a good job of advancing several of the series’ storylines.

While it is still too early to be able to conclusively say that the show is back on top of its game, things look promising four episodes in.

– Aidan Brack

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