Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Fall TV Preview: Heroes

More fun from the world of Heroes!

The new season is starting soon on Channel 7 here in Australia...and Aeris and I STILL haven't gotten past Episode 7 of Season 1! *gulp*

Anyway, here's more stuff from Wizard Universe:

We unravel clues about 21 mysteries from your favorite Emmy-nominated drama, including the fate of serial killer Sylar, time-traveling Hiro and cheerleader-on-the-run Claire

By Kiel Phegley

Posted September 23, 2007 5:10 PM

The stench of stale stage fog drifts over the head of Sendhil Ramamurthy, covered head to toe in sweat and grime. And while the actor who portrays Dr. Mohinder Suresh on NBC’s Emmy-nominated drama “Heroes” mulls over his lines and waits for stagehands to finish constructing the ramshackle tin house on a Hollywood soundstage dressed to resemble the jungles of Haiti, he spots a friend entering from across the room.

Hopping across a collection of camera cables and fake vines, Ramamurthy squeezes his arms around the friend before leaning in to whisper a few choice lines of French into her ear. Slowly, the memorized dialogue rolls out in his signature rasp.

“Does that sound good?” he inquires after a breathless finish. “Because I have no idea what I just said.”

This is what it’s like to work on the second season of “Heroes.” The set is so secretive that even the actors don’t know what’s coming next.

Quickly transformed from a cultish longshot into the breakout hit of the season, the superhero-inspired serial ended its first season with a literal bang. After 23 episodes of coincidental meetings and surprise connections, the cast of strangers who suddenly harbor their own superpowers simultaneously arrived in New York City intent on stopping an impending nuclear explosion. And while that dire fate was averted, the battle to save the city left two brothers presumed dead (Nathan, Peter), one would-be hero stranded over 400 years in the past (Hiro), a major villain on the run (Sylar) and characters suffering potentially fatal injuries (Parkman, D.L.). Most of all, the finale left fans with a mountain of cliffhangers, mysteries and questions dying to be answered.

With speculation at a fever pitch, “Heroes” has gone on lockdown in advance of its second season premiere Sept. 24, with series mastermind Tim Kring and his staff furiously working out pivotal plot points and secret revelations. In an effort to break the silence, Wizard headed to the “Heroes” set during filming of the new season’s first two episodes and grilled the creators and cast on the questions fans have been dying to know the answers to.

1. Could Peter or Nathan have survived the apparent explosion that capped Season 1’s finale?

The nuclear explosion in the skies over Manhattan left the Petrelli brothers—increasingly heroic Peter (Milo Ventimiglia) and slightly villainous Nathan (Adrian Pasdar)—presumed dead, but that doesn’t mean the pair won’t appear in Season 2.

“You can use your acumen and put it together that somehow I manage to be a part of Season 2, whether it’s in dream sequences, flashbacks or possible string theory futures,” explains Pasdar, who will sport a beard early in Season 2. “There’s so many different ways that you can make an appearance on this show. There’s no rules.”

You can take it to the bank that two of the series’ main stars will be back, especially since there are plenty of dangling threads surrounding the Petrellis, including the fate of politician Nathan’s recently won seat in Congress.
“Do I have a secret in Season 2?” Pasdar says, repeating a question. “Yeah. Yeah, I do. We all do. That’s the nature of the show. We all have something that if we divulge it, it would be potentially dangerous to ourselves and the people around us. And how do you deal with it? That’s also the nature of Season 2. In coming to terms with the fact that we have these powers, how do we come to terms with dealing with them as individuals and collectively?”

2. Where did serial killer Sylar go when he disappeared after being stabbed by Hiro?

The cold hard steel of Hiro Nakamura’s (Emmy-nominated Masi Oka) samurai sword wasn’t enough to kill series supervillain Sylar (Zachary Quinto), who hunted and killed our heroes to siphon off their powers. Quinto insists “Sylar is not quite dead. He’s a hard one to keep down.” But fans left spinning bizarre theories over the insect visitor that replaced Sylar’s body on the New York concrete can rest easy. “We should be very clear in saying that he did not turn into a cockroach,” explains series writer Joe Pokaski.

“I think our show is about evolution,” adds Quinto, who’ll be playing Spock in the 11th “Star Trek” movie. “The cockroach is obviously an example of advanced evolutionary development, and I think that’s the reason that sort of finds its way into the story.”

One important detail from the roach-ridden scene that may reveal what became of Sylar is the gruesome angle of the blood he left behind. “What you can’t tell from the streak of blood is whether or not he pulled himself off of there or whether he was dragged off by some other entity,” teases executive producer and writer Jeph Loeb.

3. Will Hiro Nakamura be stuck in 15th-century feudal Japan, or will he reunite with his mysterious father and sidekick Ando?

While the time-teleporting Hiro’s physical location was locked in at the end of last season, his chances of escaping remains a major question, although Kring promises Hiro will tough out the wilds of Japan for a massive chunk of the year with major screen time in the offing. “That won’t be [until] a few episodes in where we can finally settle in and tell longer stories,” says Kring.

“We know Hiro worshiped a legendary samurai warrior by the name of Takezo Kensei. It’s fair to say his story and Kensei’s story have something to do with one another,” adds Kring, noting the double take fans did when it was revealed the samurai would be played by a Caucasian actor (David Anders). It’s not going to be the only stunning revelation regarding the character. “The whole idea is that [Hiro] has to come face to face with the reality of who this hero was and who he wasn’t.”

As for Hiro’s best bud Ando (James Kyson Lee) and his harsh father Kaito Nakamura (Goerge Takei): “That’s something that will be addressed in 2.1 as well,” explains writer Aron Eli Coleite of the story content of the first episode of Season 2. “We’re playing the truth of the emotion of it—that they will probably be devastated by the fact [Hiro’s] gone and wondering where he is.”

“Hopefully, he will return,” says Loeb of Hiro’s probable landing in the present day. “We saw in episode 9 [of Season 1] when Hiro disappeared into the past, Ando diligently waited for him to return. It’s not unlikely that [Ando] and his father believe that Hiro will return. It’s just a question of where and when.”

“I think Ando hopes [Hiro returns], but four months is a long time,” adds Lee. “It’s different from three days in a coffee shop [as in Season 1]. And in the first episode we see Hiro’s father in mourning, not knowing where the son is.”

4. Will Claire Bennet return to her family in Texas, stay with her newly discovered grandmother Angela Petrelli in New York or remain on the lam?

Claire will spend the start of the second season far away from the dangers of the Company (the mysterious and sinister organization whose Season 1 operations included kidnapping and suppressing those with powers) and their ally of biological grandmother Angela Petrelli. Actress Hayden Panettiere explains that Claire Bennet is in hiding outside of Texas in a place she’ll only refer to as “elsewhere.”

“I think she’s more in hiding from the people in ‘the Company’…whatever that may be,” says Panettiere, noting that the status of her biological family is a secret even to her. “[She has] no idea what happened to Nathan and Peter. For all she knows, they’re dead.”

As to the question of whether the series’ famed Horned-Rimmed Glasses father (Jack Coleman) will be keeping his daughter safe from his former employer, the writers will only speculate. “What we do know is that HRG has a plan,” says Loeb. “And in general, when HRG has a plan, it involves himself and his family. Whether or not that means they’ll stay together, we’ll know in [episode] 2.1.”

5. Will Noah “HRG” Bennet be able to return to a normal life after betraying the Company?

For HRG, the first season of “Heroes” ended with the grisly murder of his Company boss, Mr. Thompson (Eric Roberts). That violent betrayal means things have changed for the man in the glasses and the nefarious institution that signed his paychecks for so long.

“His plans for the Company are somewhat under wraps,” explains Coleman. However, Kring states that his past history has toughened HRG to the rigors of retaliation. “The truth is, when we saw the [Season 1] episode ‘Company Man,’ we realized HRG has done many, many things in his tenure with this company that were morally questionable.

“He is very pragmatic, and at this point is taking all of the energy he used to devote toward his employers and is devoting it now to his family.”

Coleman did note that the choice to murder his superior has weighed as heavily on the character’s mind as the laundry list of Company secrets he already carries with him.

“I think that’s going to come up one way or another,” says Coleman. “Something’s got to happen. You can’t off your boss in this Company. Then again, [former Company leader and nuclear bomb plot mastermind] Linderman’s dead…so there are a lot of changes going on at the Company.”

6. Has split-personalitied Niki learned how to control her dangerous alter ego Jessica, and what does that mean for her powers?

With her alter ego/deceased sister Jessica holding sway over her actions, single mother and stripper Niki (Ali Larter) never realized the full potential of her super-strength until the end of Season 1. Of course, that doesn’t mean Niki will retain control. “When we left her last season, Jessica was gone and Niki remained,” says Loeb. “And who knows when one thing disappears whether or not something else appears.”

“I think the complexities of the way we were playing the mental health issue means it’s probably not that easy to put that back in the box,” adds writer Jesse Alexander.

And for Larter, both sides will have their say over the course of “Heroes’” second year. “It’s really a merging of the two [personalities],” she explains. “I think we’re going to move forward where you can take little pieces of [Jessica’s] personality and keep them nice and fresh.”

One thing Larter vows this season: No more mirror shots, the familiar Season 1 trick where Niki would stare into a full-length mirror and see her evil twin snarl back.

7. Will we learn who really controls the Company and what are their true motivations?

From HRG to Mr. Linderman (Malcolm McDowell), one of “Heroes’” most enduring mysteries has remained who runs the Company and what their connection to the origins of the characters’ powers is. In Season 2, fans can expect to learn the Company’s hierarchy very soon. “We jump right into what it is, what it was and what it might be,” assures Loeb. And with those revelations, expect to learn the origins of the somewhat sinister parents of Hiro (Mr. Nakamura) and Peter and Nathan (Angela Petrelli). “She’s got a lot of stuff to take care of,” says writer Joe Pokaski of the seemingly evil matriarch. “She’s got her own problems.”

In the meantime, expect a slew of new characters to pick up the shadowy slack of the organization’s behind-the-scenes moves. “We will meet an entire new face to the Company, and the whole Linderman side of it will be explained to us,” Kring promises. “And it’s going to be fun to keep the audience off balance as to what they really feel about this company. Is it good? Is it evil? Is it something we should trust? Is it something we should fear? Much the way that HRG represented all those emotions, I think people will have that same feeling this year with the Company.”

8. Will D.L. Hawkins survive his gunshot wound after taking a bullet to protect Niki?

When it comes to Niki’s wounded ex-husband and escaped convict D.L. Hawkins (Leonard Roberts), the “Heroes” writers have a definitive answer. “We’ll see D.L. Absolutely,” says Pokaski of the often on-the-run hero with the “phasing” power.

But Kring says that when it comes to D.L. and the entire family, happy endings never last long. “That family we saw at the end had resolved their issues and was united again, albeit D.L. had some very severe injury, but it’s not really the stuff of drama to be happy for too long. We’re going to drop into that family’s life with a real fork in the road, and they’ll have to make a very quick decision for where they have to go. Things will heat up very quickly for them.”

And what about Micah (Noah Gray-Cabey), Niki and D.L.’s similarly superpowered kid with the ability to control machines? “Micah will be able to get free pay-per-view cable,” jokes Pokaski.

9. Will telepathic cop Matt Parkman survive his gunshot wound and return home to his pregnant wife?

Four slugs point blank to the chest is the kind of wound that can take out even an armored soldier, let alone a defenseless cop like the telepathic Matt Parkman (Greg Grunberg). “I just ran out thinking I could just shoot Sylar,” recalls the actor. “Like a dummy, I’m like, ‘Here I go! Super Cop! Not even wearing a vest, so take four to the chest!’ But it was good. I thought it was heroic, and I wanted to be one of those people that was part of that cliffhanger.”

And while the actor will return, that doesn’t mean the character will return from the dead. “Again, one of the things that can happen on our show, as we’ve seen in Season 1, is that a character can be dead and we still see them,” reminds Loeb. Even if Parkman doesn’t survive, there’s still the matter of his pregnant wife to contend with. And if the baby is Parkman’s (remember, his wife had an affair), will it have powers? “We haven’t made any limitations on powers at all,” Loeb says. “You’ve seen that someone who’s [as old as] Linderman has powers and someone who’s [as young as] Molly [Walker] has powers.”

“I told Tim I wanted to be able to read the baby’s mind in vitro,” insists Grunberg. “To be able to read the mind of a newborn baby that can’t yet communicate and can’t speak—that would just be the coolest thing, but we haven’t explored that yet.”

10. Will superpower tracking system Molly Walker be used for good or evil?

One of the shocking reveals at the tail end of last season was the fact that young Molly Walker (Adair Tishler)—who had previously been sought by Sylar early in the year—was in fact a human tracking system employed by the Company to hunt down heroes. Now that’s she’s been freed, what becomes of the little girl with the linchpin powers?

“She becomes a fairly pivotal character early on,” promises Kring. “The only thing I’ll say that could be fun is to analyze where we left her last year and who we left her with for a clue as to where we’re going with her.”

Whether that’s a reference to Matt Parkman or Molly’s disturbing mention of a new supervillain is unclear, but that doesn’t stop the cast from guessing what lies ahead.

“Ultimately, what it does is just help everyone either find the ultimate villain or find the person responsible [for our powers],” theorizes Grunberg, adding that Molly holds tremendous potential for good. “If I can put a face to that person and she can see that person, that’s when she’ll be able to pinpoint where the good or bad person is. It’s not like I’m abusing that privilege.”

11. What role will Mohinder Suresh play: ally of the heroes or tracker
for the Company?

“I think the one thing we’ll be able to say about Mohinder is that last year he was very much on his father’s path,” explains Pokaski of the series’ wayward (and powerless) narrator. “This year he’s finding his own, whether or not the Company’s involved.”

And whether good or evil, the journey that scientist and scholar Mohinder takes won’t be all lab work and science. It’ll involve high adventure as well. “Mohinder has literally become like an Indiana Jones world traveler in Season 2, which is really cool,” explains Ramamurthy. “The whole vibe of Mohinder has changed. He’s much more confident. He realizes what his purpose is now.”
While that purpose remains shrouded in secrecy, Ramamurthy explains he will cross paths with veteran character actor Stephen Tobolowsky (“Deadwood,” “Groundhog Day”), who, according to Kring, will play “a face of the Company that we have not seen before.”

“Also, certainly given the journey [Mohinder] went on last year, he was often put in a situation where in the face of danger he ran,” adds Loeb. “Having experienced what he’s done now, he’s no longer content doing that, and you’ll see him being more of a bad ass.”

12. Will the significance of the solar eclipses or the repeated “helix” symbols finally be explained?

Hanging over the heads of “Heroes’” regular cast is the bizarre solar eclipse, a phenomenon which was at once explained away as a symbolic global event while also signifying a greater purpose within the show’s mythology. “The eclipse is one of our bigger mysteries, so we’re going to be drawing that one out more slowly,” explains Pokaski.

“I’ve always said the eclipse has a certain meaning that will trace through the first few seasons,” says Kring. “But if you look at it as anything more than a unifying event, it’s probably going to be frustrating.”

Another major mystery surrounds the so-called “helix” symbol and its repeated appearances, most recently dropping in a s the banner of one of the samurai warriors who assaults Hiro when he goes back in time to Japan.

“Wouldn’t it be shocking if there was some…story as to why only one of the soldiers has the flag of what we refer to as ‘Godsend’?” jokes Loeb. But with many of “Heroes” fans’ questions, Kring promises a quick conflict to get to the heart of the matter. “It shows up right in the first episode, so you don’t have to wait too long to find out the answer to that.”

12. How many arcs will there be in Season 2, and what will they focus on?

Kring has stated that Season 2 will comprise more than one “volume” of the epic show. And while the entire first season formed the first volume (titled “Genesis”), the show’s popularity means its creators can tweak audience expectations by introducing at least two new volumes into Season 2 and varying them in length and story content.

“The end of Volume 2, [called ‘Generations,’] will end with this first run of episodes [in December],” says Kring. “The little things that were introduced in Season 1 are really paid off in Season 2. The one thing we’re really trying to do with ‘Generations’ is that most of our characters encountered somebody who represented this other generation [of heroes] whether it was Linderman or Angela Petrelli or Charles Deveaux, [actor] Richard Roundtree’s character, or Kaito Nakamura.

“There’s clearly another generation that had left some kind of mess behind, and our generation would have to put together those pieces. So thematically, it’s very much about the sins of the parents being visited upon the children, and much of the story deals with that.”

14. Will Season 2 contain more flashback and flashforward episodes, and where will the characters flash to?

With the episodes “Six Months Ago” and “Five Years Gone,” the series established itself as a show unafraid to jump forwards and backwards in time, and when asked whether Season 2 would continue that tradition, the writers’ answer is a resounding “Yes! More flashbacks!”

The time-jumping fun kicks off in the Season 2 premiere, “Four Months Later.” “When we pick up, we will see the status quo of where our characters are, and what happened to them after the night at Kirby Plaza is one of the mysteries depending on the character,” explains Loeb. “Some of the characters’ stories didn’t warrant trying to figure out where they’ve been for the past four months. When you pick them up, you’ll go, ‘Oh, that’s where they’ve been.’”

However, those characters prove the exception to the rule, as many unanswerable questions kick off the new year for “Heroes.”

“Other characters have deeper mysteries—like what happened to them and why they are where they are,” says series writer Michael Green. “That will be further explored as the season progresses. But in our fashion we give answers relatively quickly.”

15. Who is the villain Molly Walker predicted was “worse than the boogeyman,” and will he or she be a friend or enemy to Sylar?

From brain eating to mother betraying, Sylar proved to be the ultimate shock-inducing villain in the first season of “Heroes,” but child hero Molly Walker’s warning left fans wondering…can it get any worse?

“You’ll be surprised by who the [new] boogeyman is. You’ll never see it coming,” promises Green. “You can also say you will not have to wait all year to find out who the super boogey is.”

“We will be addressing who he or she might be and how that person is involved with maybe a lot more of our cast than just little Molly,” elaborates Loeb. “That story picks right up at the beginning of Season 2.”

As for Sylar’s possible involvement with the shadowy new villain, Quinto expects his own character to be more on the run than in cahoots. “I think his goals going into Season 2 might be a little bit more primal [and] elemental…like survival,” he says with a smile.

16. With painter Isaac Mendez dead, how will the art of Tim Sale factor into Season 2?

Despite stellar performances and unexpected visual effects, the defining images of “Heroes” have almost all come from the paintbrush of famed comic book artist Tim Sale. From the devastating explosion of New York City to the 11th-hour rescue of Claire Bennet, Sale’s art has provided a map for the series’ greatest moments, but with his acting stand-in (the character of Isaac Mendez) murdered by Sylar, will Season 2 contain the same startling, future-predicting images?

“If you’ve watched our show, you already know the answer to that,” assures Loeb, noting that heroes from Peter Petrelli to Sylar have adopted similar painting skills. “We have seen that other people have had that ability. Tim Sale will continue to be an important part of the look of the show and the storytelling of the show.”

17. What revelations about the origins of superpowers will be brought to light in the “Generations” arc?

One of the most addictive aspects of “Heroes” has remained the constant question of how exactly the evolved humans at the heart of the series gained their powers to begin with. And while discussion and debate rages amongst fans, the creators of the show have little interest in jumping into definitive explanations this year. “I think part of the fun is hearing all the different theories and letting them all be true in their own fashion,” says Green of the miraculous granting of powers most often explained away by a mere evolutionary leap.

“We’ve never posited that it was just evolution,” Loeb is quick to note. “There are some characters who believe they are gifts from God. And there are some characters who believe this is something that was done to them and there’s some sort of scientific explanation there.”

18. What’s the status of the announced spinoff “Heroes: Origins”?

Near the end of last season, one of the most enticing additions to the “Heroes” mythos was announced in the form of the six-episode spinoff show “Heroes: Origins.” While the premise of “one-shot” episodes of the series focusing on new characters and revealing a different take on the show’s premise had fans excited, the exact makeup of the episodes and when they would air remained in doubt as “Origins” was initially slated to be a midseason addition.

Kring confirms for Wizard that the miniseries will now debut at the end of the second season of the main series due to the creator’s desire to provide as much “Heroes” thrills as soon as possible. “The idea is to run ‘Heroes’ as contiguously as we can. When it ends at the end of April, we will premiere ‘Origins’ and take it through May and do six episodes.”

As for the creative crew on the series, Kring promises a number of big-name talents including Kevin Smith, who’ll write and direct the first episode. “The idea is to take it out to a pretty eclectic and interesting group of writers and directors and actors with the appeal to the community being that you don’t have to sign your life away on the series. You can come and do a one-episode, one-off anthology type of show. It allows for some very interesting and creative takes on this idea.”

19. Will any of the supporting heroes like invisible man Claude, radioactive man Ted Sprague or illusionist Candice return for Season 2?

“There will be old and there will be new,” says Green of guest stars this year. With characters like Claude (Christopher Eccleston) already playing a massive role in the show’s continuity and others like the influence-wielding Eden (Nora Zehetner) killed off before their prime, the show’s writers aren’t ruling anything out in terms of Season 2 appearances.

“Nobody’s story is done until they’re dead, and even when they’re dead their story seems to continue,” claims Loeb. “That’s the kind of tapestry of our characters. We don’t ever want our audience to feel they’ve invested in somebody and not have that story either come to a conclusion or continue. There’s no point in having them invest in someone and find out that half of that story faded away.”

20. What’s the secret behind the powers of the new brother-and-sister heroes, Maya and Alejandro?

While the massive cast of the show will grow by leaps and bounds this season, two of the first new characters to appear will be the on-the-run brother-sister duo of Maya (Dania Ramirez) and Alejandro (Shalim Ortiz). “Our story starts being told in Central America and we’re making our way up to the United States trying to get to New York,” explains Ramirez (“X-Men: The Last Stand”).

But even though the pair’s powers and quest remain hush-hush, Ortiz promises those revelations will contain a classic “Heroes” twist. “There’s a surprise on the early episodes of what role I play. I don’t know whether to call it a power or not, but there is a bond between me and my sister. That’s what I can say. Her powers affect my character in a way and vice versa, but I can’t say how.”

One thing that can be said is that the pair’s illegal border crossing will be fraught with dangers that force Maya to take her powers down a possibly dark path. “She’s essentially a good person, but sometimes life throws obstacles in your way that you have to overcome and put in question your morality,” says Ramirez.

21. Will we see Claire in the cheerleader costume in Season 2? Please, please say yes.

Viewers waiting on the return of Claire Bennet’s signature red-skirted ensemble may have to wait for an actual story excuse for the indestructible blonde to gear up in her pompom duds. Panettiere has gone on record wishing that she dress as a cheerleader only if she can actually cheer in an episode.

“I think it’s definitely up for consideration,” jokes the actress in regards to her taking a decidedly “go team” turn in Season 2. “I can cheer, and I told [Kring], ‘I can do a backflip basket.’ I can! I might get to do it.”

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