Following last week's episode of "Heroes," "Five Years Gone," which saw Hiro and Ando jump five years into the future and bore witness to a grim future they may be faced with, we were inundated with questions for series writers/producers Joe Pokaski and Aron Coleite. "Five Years Gone" really got you all thinking, raising numerous questions and ultimately generating one of the longest editions of BEHIND THE ECLIPSE ever. Joe & Aron bravely made their way through all six pages of questions we had for them, as they do each and every week, and gave some exciting clues regarding the rest of the season, as well as season two! How's that for service?
In addition to the Q&A below, we've got video previews of tonight's episode, "The Hard Part," that you won't want to miss. If you need your "Heroes" fix while at work, this is the best way to satisfy that need.
This week's questions were from George Tramountanas, Remy Minnick, Dave Richards, Jonah Weiland, and you! To participate in these weekly conversations, simply send an e-mail to Jonah Weiland with the subject line "Heroes Question" and we'll consider it for inclusion. Keep in mind we only have two more episodes after tonight, which means you've got to get your questions in while you still can! If you want in on the action, the time is now.
Now, here's Joe & Aron.
What are you doing next year?
Season 2 will be all about global scope with some of our heroes going abroad and a few international heroes joining us as well. We'll be celebrating this by sending our cast all around the world on the Heroes World Tour just before we air in the fall. And nothing's official, Gabriel, but as of now, we have a South American Hero (or Heroine, rather) in the works.
Quinton Peeples writes to say, "First off - congrats on the new baby! Hope you're not sleep-deprived in the writers room. "
Thanks Quinton Peeples (best name ever). Charlie is keeping us up, but sleep deprivation is our friend - it helps us enter the dreamtime for those really good stories.
"And speaking of - who keeps track of all these interwoven histories? Everyone has such a complicated background, etc. Is there an official 'scorekeeper' on staff that throws a penalty flag or something?"
As for the histories, we live by them and in them every day, so we've all got a good handle on what's happened when. But there is so much information, and so much changing in the nitty-gritty of producing each episode, that every now and again a detail slips one of our minds. It is imperative upon the other writers to remind him of what he missed. Then imperative to make a snarky comment like "Heroes - Mondays at 9, you should watch it, it's a good show."
Silk-A-Thon (seriously) asked, "It's been mentioned that there's a hero Claude is hiding. Have we met this hero yet?" Around the office our money is on Molly Walker, but you guys have been known to surprise us many times before.
I wouldn't put any money down on Molly Walker, although it's a very good guess. We're hoping we can surprise you next year with the answer.
Suburban Hobbit (serious, we're not making these up!) asks about something s/he saw in the online graphic novels. "We caught a glimpse of Sparrow Redhouse in the recent online novel and that was very exciting for me! Will she be the important new female character we've been hearing about for the second season? And, if so, can you say anything about her personality or her role in the story?"
I can see how it was very exciting to see Sparrow, Suburban. It's hard in this world for a man to find a woman with two nouns for a name as he has. Sparrow was a character we've been kicking around since before the pilot got picked up. Like Hana, she will be living in the comic for a while, but we're waiting for the right time to spring her onto the screen.
The Hobbit continues, "On a related note, will we be seeing more of Hana on the show itself? I think Stana Katic is terrific."
Sadly, we won't be seeing Stana on the show for the remainder of this season, but that's only because Hana Gitelman is needed elsewhere. We have very special plans for her. The good news is that she will be starring in her own 22 page epic adventure, the bad news is that it's called "The Death of Hana Gitelman."
We wonder what happens in that story!
Megan was shocked by one of your revelations about the diner in last week's BEHIND THE ECLIPSE. She said, "So, the Burnt Toast Diner isn't actually a joke about Charlie's anyeurism, and how you supposedly smell it before the anyeurism goes off? I'm saddened by this news."
Meghan. Get help. Seriously. Call a hotline. Any hotline. Really.
Bryan Rosenberg has a great guess about Linderman's interest in Micah. "Could Linderman be using Micah to manipulate voting machines in Nathan's favor? Cause that's just silly, we all know voting machines are tamper-proof, even for a Hero!" We just want to know if Micah has ever visited Florida, Ohio, etc…
Hmmm, that's an interesting theory, Bryan. But if Micah could use his abilities to fix voting machines, that would allow Nathan to win by a large, almost undisputable margin. What do the pundits call that again?
Bryan had a second question we thought was absolutely necessary to include. "If Sylar cut into, say, Yo Yo Ma's brain or LeBron James' brain, would he then figure out how to be a virtuoso cellist/all-star basketball player?" The NBA would never be the same. Now, sure, the question's kind of silly, but it begs the question if Sylar were to kill anyone, not just someone with powers, would he also absorb their accumulated knowledge? Or does he just suck up powers?
So far it's just abilities. At least we hope so – because if Sylar has Charlie's memory and he runs into Hiro tonight, they might start making out or something. And I don't think anyone wants to see that (except of course the rare "Sylo" or "Hirlar" shippers, which we imagine must exist).
Oh, images we really wish we didn't have in our minds right now! Alex Pappas has a question based on the online graphic novels. "I have a question regarding Ma & Pa Petrelli. In the online comic, Petrelli Sr. had no powers, and if Mom has no powers, are Nathan and Peter really their children?"
I'm not sure we ever said they didn't have powers on screen or in the webcomic. But Volume 2 is entitled "Generations," so stay tuned for a more in-depth look at the Petrelli parents.
Janet Ordiway wrote in again this week and started with, "First, tell the writers they are fantastic, amazing, gifted geniuses! This episode was amazing ! Best one yet!" You've already done so, Janet. She wanted to know a bit more about something you guys announced at Wizard World LA, that there'd be a book published this summer called "Saving Charlie" that explains the story of what happened between Hiro and Charlie during the six months he spent with her in the past. Janet wanted to know if there's word on when this will be released and if there were other details you could share.
Well Dammit Janet, thanks so much for the kind words. It was a labor of love and we couldn't be happier that it got such a reception with the fans.
As for "Saving Charlie," we've got a publishing house and an author. Someone we hope to announce soon that will knock this story out of the park. We're hoping we can make an announcement by ComiCon as to a publishing date.
Janet also wondered a bit about Sylar. "We know the powers Sylar has from the people he's killed that we've met on the show. We don't know a lot about the people he killed that we didn't meet that FBI Agent Audrey referenced 'he's left a trail through X # of states' to Parkman or the abilities of those people. So, does Sylar have some kind of regenerative or super strength ability already? He has survived the fall with Peter in 'Homecoming,' being shot at, and some other incidents that seem hard to otherwise explain."
Sylar doesn't have any regenerative powers. If you remember in "Fallout" he falls with Peter, and steals away, but can barely make his way up the hill. When he does, he's easily dispatched by Eden and the Haitian (When Matt and Audrey get there, they see a good amount of blood as well). In fact, HRG tells a limping Sylar, "we've sewed you up the best we could."
As far as being shot, we've seen he is able to stop bullets or at least slow them down see our symposium on this last week. But in the webcomic "Roadkill," we see he's not healing Claire-style and needs a little help.
As for super strength, his telekinesis seems to be pretty strong.
Jason Fleiss asks, "So, in 'Five Years Gone,' we had a liar who stole the presidency and who was turning the collective grief over a national tragedy into widespread fear in order to withhold civil liberties and gain more power. I didn't realize 'Heroes' was a documentary. Seriously, though, were you trying to make as bold a political statement as you did, or was that just a coincidence?" We had a number of people ask similar questions about how much, if at all, the episode was a comment on current politics or inspired by recent tragic events in the US and around the world.
The episode was a cautionary tale about things going wrong for our characters after a moment of tragedy is abused by the wrong people for the wrong reasons. We're not sure how you could read into that politically…
Greg Woronchak from Canada had an interesting thought about Peter. "Is it conceivable that 'future Peter' can time-travel as well? If so, why couldn't he just go back and fix things himself?"
It is conceivable. But I'm not sure Peter has studied time travel or its effects so much as Future Hiro has.
Well, if Peter ever does catch up on his studies of time travel, we can ensure he'll have a major headache soon after he begins.
John Acevedo asks, "In 'Five Years Gone'/'String Theory,' Parkman states that Peter and Hiro couldn't use their abilities on the same floor as the Haitian, who apparently can block powers. If that's the case, then how come in 'Unexpected' Peter was able to use telekinesis and flight when confronted by Bennet and the Haitian on the roof? Is this an oversight, or will there be a more thorough explanation of how the Haitian's powers work in the future?"
We hope to expound on the Haitian's abilities as soon as possible, starting with a webcomic this summer devoted to his origin. As for the differences in his power in "Unexpected" and "Five Years Gone," you have to remember what the Haitian as someone who could have fine -tuned his ability in the last five years.
Like most viewers, we were all caught by surprise that Nathan was actually Sylar in "Five Years Gone." Adam asks, "In rewatching last night's episode, I noticed in the conversation Nathan is having with Suresh that he tells him, 'I fix things.' Was that an intentional hint that it was really Sylar? Were there any other clues in the episode that we missed?"
Absolutely intentional. We tried to layer in several clues for two reasons. First, so the twist was earned in the minds of the viewers, even if it were subconsciously. So when the reveal happened, it didn't seem cheap. The other is so the episode is as enjoyable viewing the second time around (And Adam, your letter seemed to back that up a bit).
We wrote in several moments and they were executed flawlessly. For example, the way Director Paul Edwards directed that great moment when Nathan turns his back to Mohinder in the Oval Office. Or when Editor Donn Aron handpicked the perfect shots when Suresh cut the strings in Isaac's loft. If you get a chance, take a look at Nathan seeing his world crumble.
But hands down, most of the credit should be thrown to the feet of Adrian Pasdar. He owned this role. He had Zach Quinto record all of his lines for him, which Adrian studied for inflection and character. From the surprise and enthusiasm that registered across the board from the fans, I think it's safe to say he nailed it.
You won't find us arguing with you at all. Both Adrain and Zach turned in amazing performances in "Five Years Gone." OK, on to more questions –DaysOfFutureTense (again, seriously) asks, "Is the final episode of the season a two-hour special or is it just the regular length? I have heard conflicting reports over the last few weeks and I know many people are anxious to find out what the exact status of the season finale is!"
The Finale is, in fact, three hours long. But in one-hour segments. Act one "The Hard Part" begins tonight. Act Two "Landslide" on the 7 th and the big third act "How to Stop an Exploding man" happens the following week.
Susan wants to know about one of the newer powers we saw Sylar display. "In 'Five Years Gone,' 'Nathan' pulls Peter through the door, so they can have their showdown in the hall. My question is did Sylar get that from D.L. or is that a variation of Zane's melting ability?"
He got this ability from DL. One thing that was really fun to do with this episode is to string some stories across all our characters. If you watch the episode a few times, you'll notice that Peter says DL is "gone" to Niki. Hiro will admit that he brought DL to Bennet. Bennet explains that he told Matt about some specials and handed them over to the government. And then we'll see the end result of Matt rounding him up in Sylar's phasing ability. It's all there, although we'll admit we certainly put the b in subtle.
Erich Keithly wants to peer into the future with you two. "Is it true that Tim Kring [Your Fearless Leader] knows the general direction of the story a few seasons in advance? And if so, how many seasons is he willing to admit that he knows the general structure and direction of?"
OFL and the rest of the staff have a general direction for the next three or four seasons, but, and this is the best part about Tim and about storytelling is that if and when an idea needs to change or the storyline goes in a new, unplanned direction – we shift and change direction. It's better for the story and more enjoyable for the audience.
Absoutely. OK, now this next question is easily the most asked one by our readers this week, so we've taken each of those and summarized the numerous points people made as best we could. With "Five Years Gone" we got a peak into a dark future that may be ahead for the Heroes. Future Hiro stated the reason why this bleak future had happened was because Future Hiro was unable to kill Sylar. Reason being, that Sylar had the ability to regenerate from the sword wound due to the fact he had killed Claire and now had her powers. So, Future Hiro had gone back in time and told Peter to "save the cheerleader, save the world," something that had not happened in the future reality's past. Yet, it is later shown that Claire is still alive in this future and even Mohinder knew of Future Hiro going back to talk to Peter on the subway. So, how did Sylar regenerate from Future Hiro's sword when, if Claire is alive in this future, he doesn't have that ability? Or did Sylar get regenerative abilities from another hero? Or has Hiro Prime's appearance in the future affected reality not unlike SuperBoy-Prime's punches during "Infinite Crisis?" Wow, we just showed our serious fanboy side, didn't we?
You had us at "Hiro Prime." This is as best we can explain it now without spoiling the next three episodes. As far as Future Hiro explains, it is a two step process. Save the cheerleader from Sylar. Then stab him. When he visits Peter on the subway, he'd stabbed him, but he regenerates. So he needs Peter to save the cheerleader. He jumps back to his time, expecting change but gets a similar world (Claire's alive, but in hiding). See the webcomic "String Theory" for the play-by-play. Then he finds the wild-cards sitting in his loft. Hiro and Ando. He needs to get Hiro back to complete the second part – stabbing Sylar.
And we hope you have a serious fanboy side. You're C-friggin-B-friggin-R. You guys are like the New York Times for fanboys.
There was a reason we had only seen them on the phone with each other until the very last moments of the episode.
And numerous people wrote in with the following question as well, but we figured we'd hand it over to one Javier Caro from Peru who asks, "If Peter absorbed Claire's powers, and he can heal, why does he have a scar on his face?"
We answered that question last week. We can tell you two things. First, it is not a mistake, Peter can regenerate, but he still has the scar. Secondly, we'll show you how later on in the series. We promise.
Mike Moyle writes in more with a statement than with a question. "Two words: Action figures." Any possibilities of a Hiro action figure one day?
Yes. We are actively pursuing it (we hear of meetings at NBC every week), but have yet to lock down specifics. We'll let you know as soon as we do.
Time for our brains to begin hurting with more time travel questions. Drew N asks, "Is the future we saw in 'Five Years Gone' a different one than the future that Future Hiro comes from? And by extension: is this future basically the future that would occur if Hiro and Ando didn't make the jump and find out new information from their future selves and friends that should prevent this one from happening? Or will we figure that out by the end of the season?"
It's slightly different from the world's future Hiro came from, simply because the Cheerleader was saved. But as Hiro notices the world hasn't changed all that much on its face. The bomb still went off. And as to whether Hiro and Ando's jump was important, that will play out "in the coming weeks."
Thanks everybody for your excellent answers this week. Keep 'em coming. To participate in these weekly conversations, simply send an e-mail to Jonah Weiland with the subject line "Heroes Question" and we'll consider it for inclusion.
Alright, our turn! In this episode, it shows a future where Sylar has taken over the U.S. presidency through deception. The thing that surprised us was that he advocated genocide of all powered people. We would think he wanted them alive so he could take their powers. In the writing staff's opinion, what is Sylar's long-term goal? He's collecting powers, but why? Just so he can beat up other powers?
Sylar's goal is simple - He wants to be the most special person in the world. There are two ways to go about this. Acquiring powers and getting rid of the competition. He's had five years of the former, but what remained is always that lingering doubt that there's someone out there more special. So "Plan B" as he put it takes care of the competition.
We know Sylar does something with people's brains to steal their powers, but it's unclear what that is and speculation has primarily been centered around eating 'em! Yum! Will we find out what he does before the season ends?
Nope. Not this season.
In our best "Napoleon Dynamite" impression possible, "Dang it!" Seeing the future was fun. We loved the stand-off between Peter and Sylar. Is there any chance we'll ever actually see that fight take place (either in the present or the future)?
There's a reason we only gave you a taste. It's called Episode 23: "How to Stop and Exploding Man."
Oh, like you really expect us to wait three weeks! Now, Future Hiro asked Mr. Bennett for the location of Molly Walker. It sounds as though she has an important power. Where is she at the moment and how soon will we see her again?
What are you doing tonight?
Watching "Heroes!" Future Hiro gave Ando some art with red on it. Was that paint or blood? And was this some of the art that Isaac managed to hide from Sylar that you alluded to last week?
It was blood. Yes it was it's a page torn out from Isaac's last "9 th Wonders" comic. A page that Hiro wanted to keep close to his heart. We'll find out what is on it tonight.
So, Matthew has a boy that's named after him, and his boy will have powers, too. Will we meet this kid in Season Two?
That's a good question...
Of all the characters in the dark future it seemed like the most surprising role change was Parkman. It seems like he's got something of a dark side that he's been keeping in check. Will we see more of Parkman's dark side in upcoming episodes? Or is that just one possible direction he could go?
It's just one direction, but as with most of our heroes, Matt has a power that comes with a lot of potential to corrupt. What would you do if you could read minds? Do you think you'd always be on the up and up?
The temptation to use it for personal gain would certainly be overwhelming, but we're all angels over here and would never use it, say, at a high-stakes poker game. Never. Yeah. Sure.
In last week's BTE you guys said, "Also, did you see how many paintings Isaac painted of his own death? They were all over the place. Isaac couldn't paint past his own death, but hopefully he left enough clues for Hiro and the others to help stop Sylar." Does that mean he could never paint the future past his death or that as his death drew closer (no pun intended) he was only able to paint that far ahead?
Isaac drew Suresh injecting the Haitian, so it's safe to say he can paint beyond his own lifetime (You guys really like "Quantum Leap," huh?). We imagine if you stated painting your own death, you'd want a second opinion, then a third, and it would be hard to focus on anything else.
You all did an amazing job creating a destroyed New York. How much did you know you would be able to recreate with computers and other means when you wrote it?
We always go into these things with no limitations – mostly because we have faith in the best. Mark Kolpac and the visual effects geniuses at Stargate Digital. Mark is not only one of the best in the business at making our dreams a reality, he's a fanboy. He just loves the show. And his love shows up on the screen (not in that way, Jonah. That's disgusting. Why would you even think that?).
Sorry. We're sick, sick kids over here.
Was there anything that was written in the script that was too grandiose to make it to the screen?
Nope. Ground Zero. Homeland Security. Nathan Flying. Fire. Ice. Peter stopping time. Even a packed strip club. The whole can of worms were in there…
Speaking of that strip club, we got a late question this weekend that we have to throw in here. Jimmy Delmonico wanted to know, "Hey, where was the strip joint you guys filmed in for 'Five Years Gone?' Was that the Industrial Strip in the valley?" I tell you, I don't make these up.
It was a place called "Rouge" in Van Nuys (I think that qualifies as the Valley), although our art department brought in a lot of the decorations, like the paintings, chandeleirs and Roses to give it its
Wow, yeah, for a strip club in Van Nuys, it did certainly look nicer than expected. Not that any of us here at CBR have ever been to a strip club in Van Nuys. Uhhh … moving on!
You've talked about the "9" and other concepts to track down to find influences and hints as to what is to come on "Heroes." As the season is coming to an end shortly and we won't be seeing you till the new season starts in the Fall, can you give us any "homework" for readers to check out over the summer?
We're going to think on that, so we can do it right. Ask us after the last hour of the finale…
Will do. A question on the universe that "Heroes" takes place in. Is the universe a multiverse, like the Marvel Universe or the DC Universe used to be? Where futures are all probable and stemming off of a main universe, where there are multiple realities, some with slight changes and other with many changes from the others? Or is it a single universe, more like "Quantum Leap," where the changes are retroactive but the only ones who remember the differences are those involved?
Yes. That one. Single universe.
Originally, "Five Years Gone" was titled "String Theory." Why the last minute change in title?
When we screened the Director's cut, some people were concerned that some viewers wouldn't know we were five years in the future. There was something about the title "Six Months Ago" that got the timing/departure business taken care of, so the viewer could focus on the character development and the story. We thought "String Theory," while quasi-intellectual wouldn't be as effective in that way, nor evoke an emotional starting place as well as "Five Years Gone."
How much of "Five Years Gone" was already decided upon/figured out when you first introduced the possibility when Future Hiro appeared on the subway to tell Peter the now infamous phrase, "Save the cheerleader, save the world?"
We knew in very general terms that this was a story we wanted to tell this season. It seemed the bold thing to do and we wanted to pay off the Future Hiro visit to Peter in a real way. The big question was where would it fall in the season. For a while it was at episode 10, but that went away.
Our hard rule with our "departure" episodes is that they always have to be relevant to the story we're telling at the time in the season we're telling them. So when we locked down episode 20 as a placement, the stories began to come organically from the previous episodes' stories as well as the ones coming up. For example, we recently explored the Hiro/Ando Partnership, the possibility of Nathan becoming President, saw Micah leave Niki's charge and Peter wrestling with whether or not he was the bomb. 20 allowed us to tell stories five years in the future that resonated with these very present stories.
Allright, here's the description from Yahoo! TV of tonight's episode, "The Hard Part." "Now knowing what is at stake if they fail in their mission, Hiro and Ando's determination to save the world is put to the test. Committed to the path, Nathan takes some surprising steps to guarantee his election. Jessica and D.L. begin to learn how their family fits into Linderman's plans. Thompson brings someone new into his company's fold. With more and more blood on his hands, Sylar visits his mom." Anything to add?
Remember back in September when everyone wondered how the season would end? It's the beginning of the end tonight. Just hang on and enjoy the ride…
We're ready! Everyone, my place, 9:00 tonight. Who's bringing the beer?
Thanks, guys. We'll see you both next week.
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