I’ll just admit right now, in case someone reads this who doesn’t know me well, that I am on the Sylar side of the Peter-Sylar grudge match. However, most of my real-life friends are Mohinder fans who detest Sylar...and yet they are far nastier to Peter than I have ever been. One of them even ridiculed his choice of nursing as a career with “what kind of a guy wants to be a nurse? Only a wimpy whiny loser." And she’s a bleeding-heart liberal who normally can find something polite to say about the devil himself.
I know that a lot of people like Peter because he’s kind and gentle and emo. However, the downside of that is that he’s...well, wussy. What made me dislike Peter was that he either reacts to events like a starry-eyed 16-year-old, or he hides from things that upset him and looks for someone to soothe him and tell him everything is OK. Sylar, by contrast, reacts to obstacles in extremely wrong and violent ways, but at least he reacts like a man instead of a scared little kid: he gets to work and finds a way around or through the obstacle.
My hope for this season was that, whatever the story lines, Peter and Sylar would continue being mirror images of each other and would both be pulled back in from their extremes. Sylar works hard to cut himself off from emotion so that he can keep killing, and needs to have his defenses knocked down. On the flip side, Peter needs to grow a bit of a shell so that he can hold the emotions in check, he needs to be able to handle tough decisions, he needs to mature and grow up. If he could do that, he would indeed be the most powerful of all the Heroes. Until then, though...I think even right now, Sylar would stand a good chance against Peter in a fight because, even without abilities, Sylar could still taunt Peter and push his buttons till he’s lit up like a Christmas tree.
What we’re getting is the exact same
crap behavior as last season: Peter hides until some external force pushes him to do something. And yes, I’ll admit that’s in-character. Even in 5YG, Peter hid from his guilt by immersing himself in Las Vegas with Niki. During that episode, I initially went, “Wow...Future!Peter actually does things! I like him!”, but then someone pointed out to me that Future!Peter didn’t actually do anything until Future!Hiro showed up and prodded him into action. And that’s pretty much what we got this week in 4MA: Peter huddled in his cell and moped about the bad things he made happen, until Adam figured out the right thing to say to prod him into action.
The few times Peter has taken action independently—like running off to save the cheerleader—it hasn’t felt like the reasoned decision of a mature adult, it’s felt like a kid who thinks he’s finally going to be the Knight In Shining Armor he's read about in books. Living immersed in dreams and emotions may sound sweet and charming, but sooner or later, the guy who can assess the situation and make quick decisions without getting in touch with his feelings first, kills you. Twice.
I think it’s possible to see the imperfections of the world, and see that sometimes hard decisions must be made and lived with, without losing innate goodness. And that’s the point that Peter needs to get to if he’s going to fulfill his promise and truly be powerful.
This is why I was hoping it would turn out that the future of 5YG truly was better than the current timeline. I don’t want the Elder Heroes to be “right”, but I was hoping it would force Peter to finally completely accept that you cannot just idealistically divide everything into black and white, good and evil. Killing half the population of NYC sounded awful...but that would also have incinerated the lab where the mutated Shanti virus was stored, and because that didn’t happen, at least 93% of the entire population is going to die. I want Peter to realize this, and to accept that no matter how powerful you are, no matter how much of a hero you try to be, everything can’t always be rainbows and lollipops. I don’t say this in hatred, I say it because I want him to grow up and actually be a catalyst for good instead of a 5'10" kid blundering around with a "shocked" expression on his face.
Also: I really, really, really hope that Peter’s Oirish adventure will have actual lasting consequences and not just be something that the writers forget about now that Caitlin’s been dumped in the future. Because no matter what his motivation, the fact remains that Peter took part in an armed robbery, and when he used TK on Oirish Malcolm, he had a flash of a Sylar look. I hope that this comes back up and causes introspection in him about his capacity for evil. If you only see yourself as a Good Guy, you can end up like Sylar: convincing yourself that your actions are all perfectly acceptable because, hey, you’re a Good Guy! The ‘bad’ things Peter did before Ireland were pretty much all accidental, but the robbery and the TK-ing were his own choices. I want him to bring these things up and say, “What if...” Not because I want to cause angst, but because facing your own negative side is another part of being an adult.
Finally, on a more shallow note, I wish they'd put a damn shirt on the guy (and on Sylar). Because I equate "frequent shirtlessness" with "we don't really have any interesting plot ideas for this character, but we're hoping his biceps will distract you from that fact".
Adam Monroe / Takezo Kensei (warming up)
Elle (die die die)
Peter Petrelli (nicer than you'd expect from me)