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Heroes character opinions: Peter Petrelli 
12th-Nov-2007 12:00 am
Digital Blasphemy - "Cobalt Daisy"

Peter

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".  

Other opinions:
Adam Monroe / Takezo Kensei  (warming up)
Elle (die die die)
Peter Petrelli (nicer than you'd expect from me)

Comments 
16th-Nov-2007 09:30 am (UTC)
Alright, Peter. I don't know where I stand on Peter right now. I went into this season with high hopes for him, like I was fully prepared to walk the fine line between being both pro-Peter and pro-Sylar. I don't know why, for some reason my early hatred died down and I started to see the potential in him. And this coming from someone who stands with you on the Sylar side of things. All of my real life friends are pro-Peter, and I have spent many an evening debating just what it is that makes him the inferior choice. The thing is, the only thing my friends had to go on was "he has a lot of powers and was badass in the future!" Which, okay.. but what about now? And then, while when I started to be more accepting of him, it because he wasn't badass. Like, not at all. But he still did what he thought needed to be done, and I grudgingly gave him credit for that... no matter how boneheaded his moves often seemed to be. Of course I always followed this up with a derogatory remark about his chosen profession, but that is to be expected. I mean, it's just so easy.

But over the hiatus I heard about the whole amnesia thing and got excited, because the one thing that I thought held him back the most was his family. He relied on them too much to coddle him and tell him everything would be okay. He was kind of like a child in that sense, and that annoyed me. I thought that having him separated from his support system and any recollection of who he was would kind of give him the boost he needed, force him to grow up and be a man. And it did, for maybe 30 seconds. And then it was back into the same old trap. As soon as Caitlin said "I know what kind of man you are. I've seen you, and you're a good man" or whatever, I knew nothing would change. She was there to prop him up and tell him how good and worthy he was, he was there to protect/avenge her and I will not say anything else.. as then I will be making Petrellicest jokes, and it's all downhill from there.

I am hoping that maybe his alliance with Adam will finally be the event that really changes his character. I have a feeling that, if Adam is what I really think he is, Peter will finally be forced to do some things that, no matter how you cut it are "bad". And this is exactly what he needs. I think my issue with Peter is kind of the same as the one I have developed regarding Mohinder, and that is that once you reach a certain age, you just have to accept that sometimes you have to get your hands dirty. You may not like it. You may not want to do it. But it is a necessity. Sometimes you have got to hop down off of your high horse and stomp around in the mud with everyone else. Because otherwise you're Hiro... and one of those is enough, thank you. (Maybe this is my new "thing", closing with random instances of Hiro hate. I'd say that I'd be more positive in my Elle comment, but why even bother with the lie?)

18th-Nov-2007 12:16 am (UTC)
I think my issue with Peter is kind of the same as the one I have developed regarding Mohinder, and that is that once you reach a certain age, you just have to accept that sometimes you have to get your hands dirty. You may not like it. You may not want to do it. But it is a necessity.
I know! I was so hopeful that this season both Hiro and Peter would face up to this! One of the reasons I liked The Hard Part so much was that Hiro's spying on Sylar made him realize that even Sylar is still a human being, still has people who care about him, still feels guilt and sadness. It forced him to face the fact that his quest to save the world wasn't some movie where everyone is clearly all good or all evil. I was hoping that would continue with him this year, and also begin happening with Peter. We get so much "morally grey" crap with other characters, we need to start getting it with the Pollyannas too! Grrr.
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