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I’ve written about Heroes on here before, and it was to point out how big of a disappointment the show was overall. But that doesn’t mean there wasn’t genius contained within it. Buried deep beneath the surface of this skidmark on the underpants of television history, there lie several pearls of superpower excellence. And unsurprisingly, in classic Heroes fashion, these powers were under-utilized, under-expanded upon, and ultimately abandoned before their potentials were portrayed. Several of these powers belong to minor characters, whose only existences were for the sake of filler, or to further contrive the plot. Post writer’s strike, the Heroes team was sitting on a gold mine and trying to sell the dirt covering it.
But before I begin to rant, here is my list of the best and most under-utilized powers from heroes.
Adoptive Muscle Memory
The muscle mimic ability belonged to Micah’s cousin, Monica. Hers was a thoroughly pointless subplot, only conceived because the writing team needed someplace to quietly do away with the character of Micah while they killed off his parents. So they stuck him with his second cousin, Monica, a sweet employee of a burger hut.
Monica developed the incredible ability of intuitive muscle memory, or “muscle mimicry.” Basically, anything she saw, she could do – be it on television or in real life. The potential of this ability is nothing short of awesome. One could essentially become a master of the martial arts world. Martial arts, painting, athletics, sculpture, surgery. Literally anything that the physical body does, she could see and flawlessly reproduce it. And rather than explore the potential of this power, the character of Monica uses it once to be a hero and then proceeds to suck and disappear from the show without explanation.
After Micah’s backpack containing his favorite comic books and a keepsake of his deceased father are stolen, Monica learns martial arts and gymnastics from television and tracks down the thieves. They turn out to be a couple of tough guy gangsters. She breaks in and gets caught in all of 45 seconds. This prompts Micah’s mom to give her life saving Monica’s. Monica runs off with Micah and isn’t heard from since.
This brings us to the next power on the list.
Micah’s ability of technopathy was definitely used in some cool ways, but on the whole, was not used to its fullest potential. The guy can make any and all technology do whatever he wants. He can get pay per view for free, make an ATM shoot out all its money, or even rig a presidential election. And he does all of these things – except it was an election for Congress, not president, but still. Pretty cool.
However, if we’re looking at the character of Micah after season one (before it’s forgivable that he’s not using his powers righteously – after all, he was still an innocent child at that time), his uselessness is unforgivable. Once both of his parents are dead and he’s taken on the moniker of “Rebel”, Micah’s lameness knows no bounds. While all the heroes are being hunted, he lurks around the interwebs until building 26 gets a hit on someone, and then warns them like 30 seconds before the agents show up at their door.
How about you erase their databases, Micah? How about you just burn all their computers? You could destroy everything that it took the operation months to build in about two minutes if you wanted to. And sure, they’d just begin again, but that would take months. I dunno, maybe you’re just super busy.
Enhanced Memory Recall
This power belonged to one of the most tragic characters in Heroes. And to be honest, her power is underutilized because she died so early after her introduction, and her death was totally necessary for the evolution of one of the most crucial characters in the show. But that doesn’t take away from how potentially awesome her power is, and how under-utilized it was.
Enhanced memory recall belonged to the character of Charlie, a waitress in a small town diner. Charlie, soon after being diagnosed with a fatal blood clot, developed the ability to suddenly remember everything she saw, heard or read. Not only that, she could recall all of it on command, whenever she deemed relevant. Potentially, Charlie could have become the most intuitive database in conceivable existence, short of some next-generation quantum computer that just spits out relevant information based on it’s perception of who you are and what it thinks you want to hear in a given moment.
And that’s getting abstract. If we want to be practical here, you could learn any language you want, have flawless procedural memory of any task, you could absorb entire textbooks worth of information to utilize in any way you see practical… Basically, barring physical boundaries, you can do or become whatever you want.
Maybe it’s just the creep in me, but I think this ability is pure cool. Psychometry is the ability to know the entire history of any object by touching it. Think about that for a second. Oh, I got my hands on the hat you were wearing that one time you “didn’t” kiss your cousin two years ago at the family barbecue? Sorry, bud. I saw the whole thing.
Weird voyeuristic fantasies of mine aside, let’s talk about how this could be useful. How about you take a stroll though a museum? Sure, you’re not supposed to touch, but with an ability like this, I’m sure you’ll find a way around that. You can see a side of history truer than any in documented history. How about you go touch the liberty bell and see it hung? Or try and get your hand on the declaration of independence and let me know what color socks Hancock was wearing? If you could somehow prove to the scientific community that your abilities were legitimate, there’s no end to the number of historical insights you could provide, or to the lessons humanity could learn from them.
In the show, this ability is one fed to our villain, Sylar, who absorbs the abilities of others by ripping their skulls off and playing with their brains. Once it’s in his arsenal, it’s more or less never used, except once or twice unwittingly. What a waste.