“June 13th Part I” actually brings some refreshing emphasis to key aspects of the series so far. Unfortunately, not only does this episode come a little too late, it still suffers the same problems plaguing the show so far.
The episode acts as a time travel excursion and simultaneously, a large pseudo-flashback. Hiro and Noah have travelled back to the very day of the Odessa tragedy that sets off this entire mini-series. The overall objective becomes obvious – to try and stop the tragedy, or at least lessen its impact to avoid worse temporal consequences. The latter option makes for a terrible dilemma for Noah, who has lost the most from the tragedy as both a father and key affiliate to the Evos.
Meanwhile, the episode also delves into the fates of other characters operating during that day. We get a fresh look at Luke and Joanne’s relationship when their child was still alive. Additionally, we get more insight to Erica’s devious plans and her relationship with older returning characters like Mohinder and Angela. All of these situations culminate into a fascinating twist at the end of the episode that sparks our curiosity in what Part II holds.
Again, there are a few aspects of this episode that are very appealing, especially when it comes to character development. As mentioned, we get a better look at Luke and Joanne’s dynamic when their child was still among them. It gives us a less broody and cynical insight of the duo as a result, in return for something that is more charming and warm. Doing this also means utilizing Zachary Levi’s charm as an actor a lot better. Noah’s inner conflicts are further explored, and we are given a sufficient look at how the emotional weight of being brought back to June 13th affects him. This is even more so when he realizes (or rather, remembers) the truth behind his daughter Claire’s death. Most important of all, there’s much less comic-book zaniness here than in the previous episodes. This focus on characters’ motivations and conflicts is very welcome whether it is good or bad in execution.
Unfortunately, the prevailing problems mentioned in my last review still stick out like a sore thumb. Once again, important moments come and go too quickly, taking away their emotional resonance. The writing department is still off-target regardless of more character development. Whereas we had Carlos in the last episode being incredibly gullible, Mohinder in this one acts incredibly ignorant towards Erica’s plans. This is exceptionally appalling considering he is committing the same mistakes from the very first season – more so since he’s an academic. In regards to the episode’s big twist – as fascinating as it is – it just further complicates the mysteries this show is feeding us. It also reeks of being there solely for shock value. Also, the climax of the episode is yet another staunch reminder that the show’s special effects are awful, even by television standards.
Overall, the first part of “June 13th” is a refreshing change of focus from earlier episodes. It even feels like a tiny callback to the brilliance that was the series’ first season all those years ago. Yet it only leaves us wishing that this episode had happened sooner than later. Much worse, it is a confirmation that this mini-series’ recurring problems are here to stay.