Well, it had to happen. Even with a 13 episode order, we eventually had to run out of momentum and hit our first “meh” episode of the run. Even though some questions were actually answered and we had plot development in the least interesting plotline we’ve seen so far, “The Lion’s Den”, despite having a title implying tension and danger, felt surprisingly rote and by the numbers, which wasn’t helped by a languid pace, especially after the last four episodes felt like the foot was on the gas the entire time. I wouldn’t say the episode was a complete dud since we had a plotline that was entirely about character, an actual twist and answers to one of the bigger questions we’ve had so far. But after the last four episodes of world and character building, some cool moments and interesting developments, this episode can’t help but pale in comparison to what came before. Hopefully this’ll be a minor speed bump in the series return to prominence.
Starting with the plotline that was entirely about character, we see Luke arriving home in Rochester, New York. As he walks past the pile of mail through his empty house, we discover on the fridge that in his old life, Luke was a dentist who co-owned a practice with another dentist named Don. When he goes into his son’s room, we see 9th Wonder posters and artwork on the walls. And after watching home videos of him and his son, he calls a woman named Marcy and asks if he could talk to Don. When Don arrives, Luke asks if he wants full ownership of the business. Don says yes, agrees to cut Luke a check and asks if he’s making a change or retiring. To which Luke replies “Atoning.” And after one last trip upstairs, he sets a picture frame on fire with his abilities, which then burns down the house. And all Luke takes with him is the toy sailboat he and his son bonded over. Now, I’d imagine that of all the plotlines people would complain over tonight’s episode, this would be the one that everyone would hate because there’s no real advancement of any plot going on with Luke. But with all the plot-heavy developments going on and the increasingly exposition-heavy dialogue being spoken, it was a respite just to see a character in a familiar and yet foreign environment taking in everything he’s lost before burning everything to the ground and starting over again. Again, credit goes to Zachary Levi for bringing his acting A-game to what’s been given to him with Luke and in the process make Luke the most interesting character to follow.
This week’s award for “Most Dramatically Improved Plotline” belongs to Carlos. After arriving back at the garage and discovering Jose and the priest have been captured, Carlos takes the direct approach and goes to the L.A.P.D and asks to see Captain Dearing (Dylan Bruce), the head of the corrupt cops that are capturing and selling Evos that has super strength. When the cop at the front desk informs Dearing, he goes to take care of it. While this is happening, the cops that have received their first sets of E.P.I.C. glasses try them on and discover Dearings secret. As they capture and sedate him, Carlos sees all of this go down. As the cops transport a shackled and drugged Dearing in the back of a van, El Vengador strikes, takes out the two cops, grabs Dearing and gets him to agree to help him find Jose and the priest before throwing him in the trunk of his car. After four weeks of hemming and hawing and dicking around, we not only get to see Carlos in action as the new and improved El Vengador, but an actual twist of the hunter becoming the hunted, as well as an actual joke in regards to the proceedings. We actually have something to latch onto when it comes to this plotline.
Moving over to Tommy, we see him being processed by the government along with having a tracking device implanted in his arm next to an artery. He’s then interrogated by Special Agent Cole Cutler (Dean Armstrong), where he drops the bomb on Tommy and tells him that he was adopted and that Anne isn’t his birth mother. Tommy teleports away, but before Cutler can track where he went, Tommy’s guardian angel shows up and asks him, “Penny for your thoughts, Agent Cutler?” Tommy transports back to the rental house they’re staying at only to find the landlord putting up an eviction notice on their front door now that Tommy’s Evo status has been exposed. After transporting into Emily’s room to tell her what he’s just found out, he transports back into Anne’s hospital room to ask her why she lied to him about who he is. After apologizing to her son, the guardian angel shows up and tells Tommy that he’s had to be on the run since he’s going to help save the world. And in the standard heroes journey arc, Tommy refuses the call and disappears.
And just to get Mailna and Farah out of the way, we pick up with them in St. Pierre, Quebec where Farah tries to find a man named Casper to help them out. But they’re found by a Harris who has an E.P.I.C. headset, he chases them, they fight back, The Shadow (who apparently is Phoebe, Quentin’s Evo sister) is deployed, Farah is shot and Malina sneaks away on a lumber truck with an envelope that’s supposed to help her when the time is right. Again, this plotline isn’t that great. But now that Malina is by herself, hopefully this’ll lead to some more interesting developments.
Back in Colorado where the majority of the plot for tonight’s episode happened, Noah, Quentin and Taylor are escaping through the bowels of Renautas while Miko and Ren are getting in through the front door with the cosplayers. As they try to find Erica, they come across a room that has dozens of containers all filled with varying kinds of seeds. Noah puts two and two together and realizes that this can only mean that Erica is making preparations for a global catastrophe. And after instructing Harris (Prime) to take Hiro’s sword to her place and to send a clone to track down Miko with an E.P.I.C. headset, she heads to an underground facility where Richard Schwenkman (Michael Therriault), the head scientist there, shows Erica their latest bit of Evo derived tech of a transporter device that sends a container of seeds to an undisclosed location. After marveling at this new success, Erica gets a call from a tearful Taylor who asks if they can meet at Erica’s place. This of course is a trap set by Noah for her. Meanwhile, after shaking the Harris clone (along with some recapping exposition that as a screenwriter is so painful to hear), Ren sneaks his phone onto the SUV Harris Prime has Hiro’s sword in so that they can track where it’s going.
Both of these plots converge at Erica’s place where after an argument with Taylor where Erica accuses her of using again, Noah cuts in and has a talk with Erica, whom she recognizes. After they talk and Erica tells him that Hiro perished on June 13th with “the others” and that Noah chose to forget in order to protect someone, Harris (Prime) gets the jump on Noah and hands over Hiro’s sword to Erica. With all of them in place, this is when Miko charges through the glass and distracts the Harris’ enough for Noah to get free, Erica to flee and Miko to grab her sword, unsheathe it and disappear. She then reappears behind Ren to celebrate momentarily before disappearing back into Evernow to find her father. And as Harris (Prime) is tied up by Quentin, Erica goes back to Richard, since he has important news. According to their data and simulations, it’s revealed that the magnetic poles are reversing and that it’ll leave the Earth defenceless to the massive burst of solar radiation that’ll kill 96% of all species on Earth in less than a week. “What did you expect, Richard? Starting over is never pretty.”
So now we know what the oncoming apocalypse is this time around and why the series has been leaning on the Northern Light’s imagery throughout its run. And while we’re still unclear as to what Erica’s endgame is, we can at least understand why she’s been capturing Evos to harvest their abilities. How the character’s we’ve seen are supposed to band together to stop the reversal of the magnetic poles is anyone’s guess, but at least we can’t accuse the series of being oblique. What we can accuse this episode of being is surprisingly lackluster in terms of execution. From its languid pace to moments and dialogue rehashing what we already know as well as two “chosen one” plotlines that aren’t handled particularly well, “The Lion’s Den” can’t help but feel like a let-down despite a major question being answered, a breather for the series’ best new character and some much needed forward momentum for its most problematic plotline. Here’s hoping this is just a momentary lull before coming back full force.
"The Lion's Den" is the first lackluster episode of Heroes Reborn despite having a plotline devoted solely to character, some actual momentum for its worst plotline so far and a big question answered.