While I’m really just a Lost whore, as evidenced by the fact that I got suckered into watching the first two episodes of that dreadful Eli Stone just for the faintest further snippet of Lost, I have to watch something when Lost isn’t on. Kyle XY was pretty interesting, but ABC moved the show to ABC Family after Season One. I don’t have cable. And while I got cable once just to keep watching Lost [I’m a Lost whore. Did I mention that already?], Kyle XY was interesting, but not interesting enough to pay extra for.
Then along came NBC’s Heroes.
The X-Men without the idiot spandex costumes. Pretty cool show. The basis of the first season was that the Heroes had to thwart a nuclear disaster predicted by the paintings of Isaac Mendez. Over the course of the season, they saved a cheerleader [Claire] to save the world and “stopped” an exploding man, though it wasn’t revealed how until Season Two. By the end of season One, the murderous villain Sylar had killed Isaac to steal his powers, but Isaac had the prophetic foresight to make other paintings, comic books, et cetera to guide the Heroes. Now that Issac’s dead, only two people are known who can paint the future: Sylar and Peter Petrelli, who collects the powers of those he comes into contact with without having to kill them. [Unfortunately, as when he absorbed the powers of the Radioactive Man and became the Exploding Man, the very nuclear disaster the Heroes were trying to thwart, he initially has less control over his powers than Sylar.] Of course, there are those like HRG and Bob who know of Issac’s works and study them to try to understand and attempt to avert the future.
Except they can’t. Everything Issac reveals is written in stone. It happens. New York explodes. The world is infected with a virus that kills off most of the planet. Sylar fakes being Nathan Petrelli in order to finally kill Claire and take her power of invulnerability. A man explodes. HRG is shot in the head and killed. Only sometimes these things are in alternate futures, which can be averted so that the Heroes do not have to live in those awful futures. And sometimes the future occurs as painted but it does not end up as everyone supposes it must. Peter Petrelli explodes, but the healing factor he absorbed from Claire resurrects him. HRG dies but a transfusion of Claire’s blood revives him. But in each case, they actually happen.
Whether the writer’s continue this burden remains to be seen…
Then there’s Lost’s Desmond. After the Hatch explodes and the sky turns purple, Desmond wakes up butt naked in the middle of the jungle. He then starts having flashes about Charlie Pace dying. He cleverly averts the first few fates, but finally admits to Charlie that he can’t keep saving him forever. Eventually he will die. While Desmond’s flashes begin like Issac’s visions, as things to be averted, they do not remain so. Dezz sees a vision of someone coming to the Island, possibly to rescue them. He suspects it’s his sweetheart Penny Widmore. Hurley, Jinn and Charlie are also in the flash. In the flash, Charlie is killed by one of Rousseau’s jungle traps. Knowing Charlie will die, Dezz convinces him to join their camping expedition, but doesn’t tell him he will die as a result! And Desmond used to be a priest! Ouch! At the last second, Dezz comes to his moral senses and warns Charlie, saving him. The future is averted again, though Desmond wonders if he’s made a mistake this time.
He hasn’t. Desmond has a vision where he sees Charlie push a button and then drown, after which a rescue helicopter comes to get his girlfriend Claire and her son Aaron. This time, Desmond tells him, he has to die. And Charlie goes to his fate willingly. That’s where the future vision as a warning becomes instead the future vision as direction or guide for redemption or salvation.
Heroes taps this positive potential for prophecy when it has Peter going to Claire’s high school to save her and going to Canada with his new Irish girlfriend, based on Issac’s paintings.
That’s the real rub here. We never know what the future holds, whether good or evil. Even if we had flashes or snapshots of the future, would it be enough to determine whether we should seek to avoid them or fulfill them? That’s what makes shows like these so much fun. They keep you guessing because the future is certain to God alone. We can’t know whether to fight the future or fulfill it.
In a real world example, let’s say we go back in time and kill Hitler thereby eliminating the Holocaust and WWII. Would that create a better future? Or was Hitler the lesser of another evil we were mercifully spared from? Or let’s say we go back and save JFK from assassination. Does that create a better future or does it lead us down a darker path? We’ll never know, because alternate futures are only accessible to prophets, time travellers and God Himself.
Still it is fun to imagine!