I know that this is a movie review site, but we are also dedicated to cult. While Heroes and Lost are both largely mainstream shows right now, there is still something very cultish about them. They’re geek shows that actually hit it big. In fact, one of the interviews I read with one of the Lost writers said that they always expected a drop in ratings, because it was intended as more of a cult show. (Good thing they didn’t air it on FOX, then.) And superheroes and graphic novels are made for cult status, so Heroes shouldn’t have any questions. Besides, the reason I haven’t watched many movies recently was the Heroes season 1 DVD set, so there.
I didn’t watch the first season of Heroes as it was aired because I missed the first few episodes, and I knew I needed to see them in sequence. But since then I’ve become a huge fan. And yes, I love the second season. I’ve always considered Heroes to be a well-paced but slower than you’d expect show, so I’ve been patiently waiting through the setup and am pleased with my rewards. I am also a huge Lost fan and yes, at this point, apologist. I do consider Heroes to be the better show at this point in time, but I’m clinging to the hope that Lost having an end date will help. I think they know where they’re going with the main plotline, but the fact that this is a finite story and they didn’t know how much time they had to work with led to the creation of bizarre subplots that haven’t always worked. I won’t give up on Lost quite yet!
At the time that this article is being written, Lost is awaiting its fourth season, and the former finale had Charlie dying (sniff!) and Not-Penny’s boat has been contacted by the castaways. Heroes is midway through its second season, with the last episode I’ve seen being episode eight, Four Months Ago. Now, I think we can all agree that there’s no conventional fighting here, because the heroes mostly have superpowers and the Lost castaways just have guns. But still, there’s always the cool factor. So, let’s get down to it:
“The Lead”: Peter Petrelli vs. Jack Shephard
Technically, both shows are ensemble dramas and don’t have an official lead. But Jack is the leader of the Lost castaways and gets more flashbacks than anyone else, and Peter was sort of one of the big keys to last season. Plus, let’s look at other similarities. Jack is a doctor, Peter is a nurse. They’re both supposedly altruistic (although I think there’s more evidence for Peter being altruistic than Jack). They both have some unresolved Daddy issues, the staple of television protagonists. They both do some serious agonizing and angsting. And frankly, both of them annoy the heck out of me.
The big difference is that Peter’s writers realize that we really don’t care about the origin of any tattoos he might have and actually let other characters have some scenes where they might be more important. So, just based on that, Peter wins. Winner: Peter Petrelli
“The Con Man”: Nathan Petrelli vs. James Sawyer Ford
Every ensemble needs the jerk that’s on their side, but can make life miserable for everyone because he’s so invested in himself. The heroes have Nathan, and the castaways have Sawyer. They both have some shady pasts, although Sawyer’s cons are a lot shadier than Nathan’s affairs and car crash. They both have secret love children. Personally, I like Sawyer a lot more, and I think he’s a heck of a lot better looking than Nathan. However, Sawyer cons one or two people at a time. Nathan can con forty percent of a city. Winner: Nathan Petrelli
“The Female Lust Object Badass”: Niki Sanders vs. Kate Austen
If nothing else, I’d love these two to duke it out because then maybe we’d be rid of them. I can’t stand Kate, although part of that is because I get really annoyed with love triangles, and Kate certainly fits that. Of course, with Niki, you have to ask if it’s Niki or Jessica who is being dominant at the moment. If it’s Niki, I’d put my money on Kate. However, Jessica would rip Kate to shreds any day of the week. But Gina is super annoying. Winner: Jessica or Kate, depending. But we’ll give it to Kate because of the introduction of Gina.
“You Only THINK I’m Nice”: Mohinder Suresh vs. Sayid Jarrah
This is almost as much fun as comparing Han Solo and Mal Reynolds!
I didn’t match them up because they’re both played by good looking Indian guys with curly hair. I swear. But although Mohinder is a scientist and Sayid was a soldier, they both have some interesting similarities. They’re both quite soft-spoken and seemingly gentle, with a hard edge that may or may not be shocking. They’re both willing to pull out some pretty nasty tactics when they’re provoked – witness Sayid torturing Sawyer or Mohinder drugging and then torturing Sylar.
Of course, what makes this one really difficult is the common sense level. At the time I’m writing this article, Mohinder just confessed to Bob that he and Bennet are trying to take down The Company. This is either brilliant (we’ve seen Mohinder has an awfully good game face) or Mohinder putting the “pretty” in pretty stupid. I can’t tell which one yet. But I DO know that Sayid got benched last season because he actually asks questions and divulges information, unlike other Lost castaways. I’m torn. Winner: Contest suspended until we find up what Mohinder is up to.
“The Big Daddy Issues Guys”: Matt Parkman vs. John Locke
Okay, confession. Matt is my favorite of the Heroes, even over Hiro. There’s just something about the earnestness in which he tries to do the right thing and keeps getting screwed over, and the fact that he’s actually a hero who isn’t a rocket scientist. I mean, he’s not dumb, but he’s dyslexic, he’s overweight, and he’s got major self-esteem issues. Even in Five Years Gone, you can see where he thought he was doing the right thing at one point. One of the best flawed heroes there is.
If we base this on the first two seasons of Lost, though, I have to give the contest to Locke. As long as Locke is pretending to be Maguyver (and actually thinking practically, like, “let’s go kill a boar so we actually have food!”), he’s awesome. I loved the plotline of this rather pathetic loser who’d been screwed over suddenly coming into his own. (See? Matt and John are actually a pretty good match up.) And while I love Matt, first and second season John would have trapped him and promptly used his mind-reading abilities on people with no problem. Plus, Locke’s father stole a kidney and pushed him out of a sixth story window. Matt’s father left when he was thirteen, which suddenly seems pretty insignificant. However, third season Locke annoys me to no end, and when it comes to resolving Daddy issues, Matt managed to trap his father in his nightmare and Locke had to call in Sawyer to do his dirty work for him. You lose, Locke.
Besides, Matt grew up sane despite the wallpaper in his mother’s apartment. That takes some serious moral fiber. Winner: Matt Parkman (because I’m totally biased.)
“The Claires”: Claire Bennet vs. Claire Littleton
They’re young. They’re attractive. They’re blonde. They both have fathers that have connections to other characters on the show, but they didn’t know most of their lives. And they’re both rather spunky. They’re actually quite similar, except that I can never imagine Lost Claire being a cheerleader. She seemed more the Goth type, actually. They even both had stalker boyfriend types.
It’s the stalker boyfriends that make me tip the scales. Heroes Claire seems to be okay most of the time with her stalker boyfriend’s behavior. Lost Claire got fed up with Charlie and called in reinforcements. While they both do make mistakes, Lost Claire seems to catch on quicker and have a bit more of a backbone. Winner: Claire Littleton
“The Stalker Boyfriend”: Charlie Pace vs. West
Okay, screw powers. So West can fly. (Um, Claire? Given how Matt and his father have the same power, and your biological father can fly, we might want to be asking some questions, don’t you think?) Charlie flew, too, in Lost. So it was on a plane that crashed. Big deal. The fact remains that West publicly humiliated Claire and then expected her to kiss him, came into her home uninvited, and then played that stunt on the head cheerleader. Dumb, dumb, dumb. (Or evil.) Okay, so Charlie was a cocaine addict, badgered Claire incessantly, and helped Sawyer “kidnap” Sun, but at least there was redemption and some positive aspects to Charlie. I’ve yet to find any positive aspects about West. Period.
Claire Bennet, dump the loser now. Even Kring admitted he was a mistake. Winner: Charlie Pace
“The Kid who Could Outsmart You”: Micah Sanders vs. Walt Lloyd
Again, we have disturbing similarities. They’re young, smart, and have powers. Of course, Micah’s powers make a little more sense because we’re operating in a universe where powers exist and that’s the premise of the show. With Walt, the supernatural powers strike me as a little… odder.
I’ve also been fairly impressed with the writing of both boys. They’re not overly precocious or bratty. I mean, yeah, Walt did some whining and set fire to the raft, but given that he’s stranded on a desert island, I’ll cut him some slack and call it a lot of age-appropriate behavior. Micah does tend to border on the “too-smart” kid where he tells his parents what to do, and that annoys me. But then, frankly, his parents need the help.
I like Micah more than Walt, but if they got into a fight, I do think Walt could kick Micah’s butt. But I would worry far more if these two got into an alliance. Winner: Walt Lloyd
“The Sourpuss Who Lightened Up”: Ando Masahashi vs. Jin-Soo Kwan
During the first few episodes of Heroes, I didn’t quite get that Ando and Hiro were best friends. Ando struck me as someone who tolerated Hiro because he had no other friends. And really, who can blame Ando for being skeptical when his best friend (totally obsessed with geek culture) insists he can bend the space/time continuum? But Ando came through and has stuck by Hiro like glue, so he’s awfully cool.
During the first few episodes of Lost, I didn’t quite get that Jin actually loved Sun. He came across as very cold and alpha-male and over-controlling, and frankly a total jerk. But as the seasons have progressed and his backstory has come to the light, it’s very obvious Jin loves his wife, and the story has actually given me a lot of sympathy for a character I didn’t really like.
Both Ando and Jin are good characters and guys I’d actually like to know. But if it came down to a fight between them, Jin’s got the steel for that kind of conflict, whereas Ando doesn’t. Winner: Jin-Soo Kwan
“The Precog”: Isaac Mendez vs. Desmond David Hume
Sure, again there are some disturbing similarities. Let’s start with the whole precognitive thing. And the hair/goatees. And the fact that they’re both commitmentphobes, although Isaac hid in heroin and Desmond in a monastery. There are two relevant facts here: 1.) the pictures, and 2.) Desmond has a decent Scottish accent. Who do you think is going to win? Winner: Desmond. (Although Isaac’s paintings ARE awfully cool.)
“The Funny Geek Everyone Underestimates”: Hiro Nakamura vs. Hugo “Hurley” Reyes
People fighting Hiro is sort of like people fighting Wash. It’s not on in my world. And Hurley is awesome. Plus, these two guys have had my favorite romance on Heroes (Hiro/Charlie), and my second favorite on Lost (Hurley/Libby). I think I’d much prefer to see them in a buddy comedy. I think they’d be really funny together.
However, we’ve all seen Future Hiro and what he can do, so I think there’s no question of the outcome. Winner: Hiro Nakamura
“The Sacrificial First Dead Character”: D.L. Hawkins vs. Boone Carlyle
Um, look at them. One is a hottie who can walk through walls and took a bullet to save his wife. The other is a whiner who is in love with his sister and looks like he’s always wearing eyeliner. Who do you think would win? Winner: D.L. Duh.
“The Morally Grey”: Noah “Horn Rimmed Glasses” Bennet vs. Ben “Benry” Linus
Who else would pay good money to see this one? Seriously, this could be its own show.
But now I’m really starting to get skeptical here about character types. Once again we have a brutally ruthless man who treats the truth as a guideline more than a rule. He has an adopted daughter that he loves above anything and would do anything for. We think he’s evil at the beginning, and he’s certainly acted evil in that he’s killed people, but there’s some evidence that maybe he’s not working for the Ultimate Evil Organization of the show. He’s always one step ahead of everyone else, and is a master manipulator.
Of course, the question now is who could out-manipulate who? I honestly can’t figure this one out. I think Ben’s a little crazier than Noah, but that could either lead to something you don’t expect, or a slip up. I think Noah is more devoted to Claire than Ben is to Alex, but again, that could either be a strength or a weakness.
So, who would you pick?
“The Annoyances”: Maya and Alejandro vs. Nikki and Paulo
This is one of those times where Heroes could have learned from Lost. Introducing a pair of characters in an awkward way is NOT a good idea.
It makes sense in both cases. In Lost, there are supposedly forty some-odd castaways, and we really only focus on about fourteen. I’m sure the others aren’t just sitting around training monkeys for their own amusement; they have stories as well, and could easily be drawn into the little clique that gets the screen time. And Heroes has already formed the basis for new characters with Chandra Suresh’s map, which undeniably has more pushpins than heroes right now. And yet, despite the fact it does make sense and the fact that the writers on both have shown they’re capable of good writing, both sets of characters were introduced in the most ham-handed fashion possible.
So, how do you win this one, by being more or less annoying? On the bright side, the Lost crew recognized that Nikki and Paulo, diamond thieves, were stupid, and killed them off. Boom. And Tim Kring has admitted that Maya and Alejandro were essentially a mistake. At the time of this writing, Maya and Alejandro could either do something cool, making them less annoying, or be killed off as a fan sacrifice, making whichever pair had less screen time less annoying.
However, in the end, I’m going to give it to Maya and Alejandro. Nikki and Paulo’s intro was SO much worse than the beginning of Maya and Alejandro that I just can’t forgive it, especially when it didn’t have to be that bad. Winner: Maya and Alejandro
“Lissa’s Being Silly Now”: Sylar vs. the Smoke Monster
Well, I had to acknowledge Sylar, who isn’t so much morally gray as he is pure black-hearted. I mean, the guy cuts open people’s heads and eats their brains. (Well, it’s sure strongly implied he eats them.) And who better to pit him against than the Smoke Monster? Sylar can’t take the Smoke Monster’s head off and eat his brains, but maybe Sylar could actually (and would actually) tell us what the stupid thing is made of, given his initial talent.
Oh, and I’m sorry, but if the writers really want us to believe that the castaways are not in Purgatory, they might want to reconsider their use of the Smoke Monster. Resolve your plotline and come to peace or regret your actions, and you die via gun or drowning or other death, which would presumably take you to Heaven. Resolve your plotline and refuse to admit what you did wrong or be the poor, unfortunate pilot (who later shows up as the cop in Heroes), and you get killed by the Smoke Monster, presumably whisked off to Hell. (Or maybe that’s only if you annoy the writers.)
Either way, an egocentric maniac who eats brains to acquire power is far more threatening than a cloud of black smoke, even if I do have strong feelings about particulate control. Winner: Sylar
The Masterminds”: Mr. Muggles vs. Vincent
Humans are dumb, or so Hollywood would have us believe. Humans are dumb, but kids and pets are super smart. Sometimes I think Hollywood might be right.
Some days, I do believe that the brightest characters on the show are of the canine variety. Mr. Muggles is the only Bennet who thinks to look up when a flying stalker psycho is around, and Vincent does some very interesting work in DNA retrieval.
However, Mr. Muggles is a little purebred that you could drop-kick and gets kissed by his mistress. Vincent is a lab who could knock his young master down with no trouble. Winner: Vincent
The Final Outcome
So, according to me, we have a final score of Heroes: 7, Lost: 7, and two draws. It might also be noted I skipped a few characters, like Sun, Juliet, Angela Petrelli, Bob, Eden… I could go on. I’m a little surprised that they ended up so even, and even more surprised at how often I kept coming up with some alarmingly similar character traits.
As I said before, I do currently think Heroes is the stronger show. But both shows do have a fascinating cast, and I hope they continue to do some interesting things with the characters they’ve given us.
(But Hiro geeking out is still the best thing on television to me.)