SciFi Friday: Time Travel Edition

The theme this week is time travel, with the most significant occurrence being on Heroes. If there is anyone who watches this show only intermittently, this is an essential episode. As we saw previously, Hiro goes back in time to try to warn Charlie the waitress from going to work the day she is to be murdered. He winds up six months in the past, giving the two plenty of time to fall in love, but it turns out that Hiro cannot change the past. Apparently he is limited to returning from the future with messages such as “Save the cheerleader, save the world” but is limited in what he can actually accomplish in the past.

What was particularly ingenious about the writing of this episode is that besides seeing what Hiro did six months ago while in the past we also saw the other characters and learned a lot about many of them. The most interesting was how Chandra inadvertently caused Gabriel the watchmaker to take the name Sylar (off a watch) and begin killing many of those on his list.

While Hiro could not change the past, we learned that reality can be changed on Daybreak, which is sort of a cross between 24 and Groundhog Day. The protagonist relives the same day in which he is framed for murder, but each time he lives the day he investigates different clues and learns more about the people in his life. This week’s episode showed that how he interacts with others can even affect how they behave subsequent times the day is relived.

How I Met Your Mother isn’t technically science fiction, but it takes place in the future as the stories in our present are told as flash back (even if Ted does tell far more about his dating life than most of us would ever tell our kids). Last season ended with Ted using his force of will to get the universe to make it rain in order to advance his plans with Robin. That’s all enough for me to classify it as sci fi/fantasy, but the criteria here is a bit lax. I’m including this week’s episode since we get a glimpse of the future (or past from the perspective of the narrator).

How I Met Your Mother takes place in a parallel universe where Neil Patrick Harris, rather than being gay, is obnoxiously straight as Barney. This week we meet Barney’s brother James who is both gay and black. We never learn how Barney has a black brother (not buying the explanation based upon flavor of ice cream his mother ate while pregant) but that isn’t the real mystery. James has many of Barney’s attitudes despite never experiencing the life changing experiences seen in a previous flash back of Barney’s life.

Perhaps this came from Neil Patrick Harris, but the episode had a great line to turn around the usual attacks on gay marriage. Barney is upset to learn that James is planning to marry because, “Once the gays do something, everyone will start to do it.” He fears that gay marriage, rather than harming the institution of marriage as right wingers claim, will harm the singledom he worships. James marriage sets up the view of the future. We see the characters one year later at the wedding and learn that Marshall and Lilly are married. Ted and Robin dance together, but are they still together? They show too much single stamina (explained earlier in the episode), and when asked if they are going home they answer separately.

Getting back to Heroes, there are a couple of interesting additions to the cast planned. George Takei (Star Trek’s Mr. Sulu) is going to play Hiro’s father and Christopher Eccleston, who has played time traveler Doctor Who, will also become a regular. Speaking of Doctor Who, Captain Jack, who has been given his own spin off, will be returning briefly.

Lots of SciFi fans wish they could practice time travel to at least view next year’s episodes of several shows. Jericho has followed Lost’s lead in going on hiatus until winter after managing to throw multiple cliff hangers into the last few minutes of this week’s episode. Heroes is doing the same after next week.

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