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For those of you who by some extremely unlikely set of circumstances happened to stumble upon this page, I apologize to you. For those of you who intentionally came to this page - yikes! As the title of the weblog indicates, these are my Ramblings About Whatever. There is a chance that I will ramble about just about anything (as I am in this introduction), but only a select few topics will actually make this site. Enjoy! (I guess...)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Heroes: Season 3 Premiere

Okay, I was as excited as ever about the premiere of the third season of Heroes - truly a great show. I watched the red carpet countdown special and barely left my sofa for the entire three hours that the premiere event lasted. And in case you have yet to see the episodes and plan to do so, I plan to say exactly what happened during the show's first two hours of this season. Yes, that means that there will be "spoilers." Does this anger you?

Now about the very beginning of the first episode, I was absolutely stunned that a future version of Peter Petrelli was indeed the mystery shooter of his brother Nathan Petrelli. I never would have seen that coming. There were some other interesting developments in the episode that I might discuss in greater detail later on (e.g., Sylar being Angela Petrelli's son and Mohinder being a veritable retard), but I must first address a troubling aspect of the storyline. This aspect is future Peter's attempts to change the past.

These attempts by future Peter are no different than the attempts by future Hiro in the first season to change the past and thereby change the future (all the way down to the use of the different colored strings to represent the lifelines of important characters). A certain phenomenon was hinted at by future Hiro when he encountered Peter in the subway car in the first season, and it was more strongly alluded to in the second episode of this third season (heck, it was even the title of the second episode), and this is known as the butterfly effect. Now I do not want to discuss whether the show used the idea properly (because it did not), but rather I want to discuss the more problematic nature of the show, the notion of causality.

In season one and season three, respectively, future versions of Hiro and Peter believe that they can go back into the past to alter events in order to prevent their own dystopic presents from coming to be. The problem with such attempts is that by each character going back in the past and altering events to prevent their own presents from coming to such disastrous ends, they would necessarily destroy their own causal loops.

Allow me to explain Peter's case. In the present day (or the just recently expired past), Nathan Petrelli is preparing to deliver a speech in which he reveals to world that there are superpowered individuals. This speech is a seminal event that sets in motion the other events that show a future Claire on the verge of shooting Peter. (For the life of me, I cannot understand why she thought that this would work in killing him, given the whole regeneration/immortality thing.) Peter swears that he can go back in time to "fix it," and he stops time just as Claire fires the gun, takes the gun from his frozen niece, and disappears. He finally uses this gun to shoot Nathan.

The problem with this attempt by Peter is that this Peter Petrelli cannot kill Nathan. In fact, it is probable that this Peter cannot even shoot Nathan. It all comes down to causality. There are several events that transpired in the past of the would-be fratricidal Peter that led him to believe that he had to go back in the past to prevent his brother from getting the ball rolling. However, if Peter succeeds in shooting or killing Nathan, he changes the chain of events that ultimately caused him to develop as he did and believe that he had to go back in the past to alter events. If Nathan dies or decides not to reveal the secret of the heroes to world, then Peter will have no reason to travel back into the past to stop Nathan from revealing the secret. In such a case, Nathan would reveal the secret, and Peter would travel back in time to prevent Nathan from revealing the secret, and thus, set about a chain of events that would cause Peter to not have to travel in time to stop Nathan from revealing the secret. Do you see how you could continue going on with this until your head hurts? In short, the future Peter cannot kill and (probably) cannot shoot Nathan because such an act would in effect erase this future Peter from existence.

The same sort of a rationale holds for future Hiro in the first season. That future Hiro could not possibly stop the bomb from happening that blew up New York City. Doing so would in effect kill that future Hiro and prevent him from helping to stop the bomb from blowing up the city. (And the more I think about it, the more the scene in Five Years Gone from the first season where present day Hiro encounters future Hiro and future Hiro is shocked to see his younger self seems absurd. Barring a colossal bout of amnesia, if these two Hiros are truly from the same timeline, then the future Hiro would have had to remember encountering his future self when he jumped through time at that earlier age.)

These paradoxes can potentially be explained away if you allow for the possibility of multiple realities, whereby a Hiro or a Peter of one reality went back into the past of another reality and changed the course of history, but this explanation does not make a whole lot of sense either since by virtue of the fact that a single change has the ability to create a divergent reality, there should be an infinite amount of possible realities. Why would this future Peter find it so important to try to change this singular one (the one that he in truth should be most unable to alter) when he can probably find any myriad realities to relax in that have rosier outlooks?

All of this aside, this still should be an enjoyable season to watch.

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