Sharing a title with the Heroes series finale, the premiere of Heroes Reborn picks up years after the final events of the first “Brave New World.” Claire’s series-ending revelation of her abilities to the world sets the universe of the sequel spinning in a new direction. This allows the writers to skip past the origin story and world-building that bogs down most superhero introductions. Instead, Heroes Reborn begins with a terrorist attack that derails the pro-evo (evolved human) movement and causes the government to regulate the evos, forcing them underground.
Beginning with The Odessa Summit provides an optimistic beginning that then contrasts with the panic that follows. In the aftermath of the explosion at the summit, evos are more demonized and oppressed than ever, inspiring vigilantes to hunt and eradicate as many evolved humans as possible.
Noah Bennet (Jack Coleman), aka. HRG or Horn Rimmed Glasses, a returning character from the original series, is the engine that drives Heroes Reborn. Noah is introduced as Ted, a car salesman from Dallas, Texas, plagued only by his fiancé prattling on about their wedding plans. Noah, however, is also suffering from amnesia. His rediscovery of his past life allows the audience’s memories to be refreshed and reminded of the Heroes mythology while also learning about the new reality of Reborn as Noah does.
The two-hour premiere also begins to introduce the audience to the new players in the Heroes universe.
Luke (Zachary Levi) and Joanne Collins (Judith Shekoni) are a married couple that lost their child, Dennis, in the Odessa attack and pledged revenge on the meta-humans. They begin the series by killing six evos in an underground meeting for meta-humans.
Tommy Clarke (Robbie Kay), an evo who manages to escape the attack by Luke and Joanne, can make people and objects disappear by teleporting them to whatever location he’s thinking about at the time. He finds allies at his school in Emily (Gatlin Green) and her boyfriend Brad (Jake Manley) by saving them from vigilantes and abusive stepfathers, respectively.
Miko Otomo’s (Kiki Sukezane) storyline is the most removed from the rest of the narrative threads. After being located by a video game expert in Tokyo, who is convinced that Miko is the real-life model for the game Evernow, Miko discovers she is able to enter the video game world by touching a sword left to her by her father. Everything that happens to Miko in the virtual reality happens to her in real-life; for example, getting knocked unconscious by a ninja, as she begins a quest to save her father.
Carlos Gutierrez (Ryan Guzman) is an ex-soldier living in a poor Hispanic neighbourhood of Los Angeles, who does not, as of now, appear to possess special abilities. After his brother is shot and killed, Carlos takes over his alter ego of El Vengador, a masked vigilante who protects their community and helps evos escape to Canada via an underground railroad.
Noah’s storyline remains the central focus of the two-part premiere. His uncomplicated suburban life is disrupted by Quentin Frady (Henry Zebrowski) appearing in Austin, looking for answers about Noah’s old workplace Primatech and its spin-off organization, Renautas, which Quentin suspects was behind the Odessa attack. Following this revelation, Noah has a brief reunion with his former associate, René (aka. The Haitian), who apparently wiped Noah’s memory after Odessa and the death of his daughter, Claire. Mistakenly thinking René is an enemy leads to Noah killing the man before deciding to work alongside Quentin to discover the truth of Primatech’s connection to Renautas. They visit Primatech’s old headquarters in Odessa, Texas, which are now being run by Renautas employees performing tests on evos. Noah discovers that Claire wasn’t actually in Odessa the day of the terrorist attack and therefore may still be alive. Quentin confesses the truth about his missing sister and her abilities and agrees to help Noah find out what really happened to Claire.
He determines that their best option is to find Molly Walker, who can locate anyone in the world just by thinking about them (she is also a returning character from the original Heroes). Unfortunately, Renautas is already planning to harness Molly’s abilities in order to make it easier to “bag and tag” evos. The threat of the Renautas witch-hunt combined with the looming threat of a unspecified cataclysmic event creates intriguing, albeit vague, stakes.
It’s a lot to introduce in two hours; old and new mythology, a large ensemble and a ton of conflict. Although the premiere was (for the most part) engaging, it lacked the character development and thus, humanity, that the original series’ pilot did. The sheer volume of characters introduced in the first instalments meant there wasn’t enough time to get the audience to care about the newcomers; however, by positioning Noah’s storyline as the central focus, it doesn’t yet matter that we’re not invested in the new characters. The nostalgia and familiarity with HRG means returning viewers already care about the story and Coleman’s magnetic performance paired with his backstory is enough to reel in the newbies.
Heroes Reborn may not have had the strongest premiere, but there’s definite promise. Hopefully, as the new characters become fully realized and more familiar characters begin to crop up, it will recapture some of the magic that made the first season of Heroes such a hit.
Heroes Reborn airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. on NBC.