[IMG:L]Heroes may have the most anticipated finale of the season. 24 will, most likely, just end with Jack saving the day at the last minute, and does anyone believe Lost will give us more answers than new questions? But Heroes promises to satisfy the year's worth of anticipation while still opening the door for Season Two, as the stars of the show confirm more details of the final episode of the year.
“I think we're all privy to what happens in the end,” said Adrian Pasdar, who plays Nathan Petrelli. “It does posit a brand new place that Season Two will pick up with – I can't talk about where. The very end of the finale is where Season Two will pick up. It shows you a good three minutes or two minutes or so of where that's going to pick up and I don't think anybody's going to guess where. It's a very, very interesting place.”
Greg Grunberg, who plays Matt Parkman, hinted that these last three minutes are set in motion even before Pasdar knows. "Even before that, there's a scene that I have with a character – I can't say who it's with, but that character says something to me that every time we shot it, every single take, it made the hair on the back of my neck stand up," said Grunberg. "And I have a lot of hair on the back of my neck! I was so scared and it really was awesome and it sets up next year in a way that you never see coming."
Hiro himself, Masi Oka, gave more hints about where the finale leaves us for Season Two. "The way the finale ends, it's a wrapping up of Volume One, which is ‘Genesis,’" said Oka. "It wraps up the whole bomb storyline so it's a nice finale and there's a great cliffhanger with everybody I would say. And then you do get to see a little bit of Volume Two, which is called ‘Generation.’"
Series creator Tim Kring was reluctant to expand upon the “Generation” title, but gave a little tease anyway. "Well, there has clearly been the idea [that] multiple generations have started to crop up on the show," said Kring. "In the second season, we'll deal with that more. So hence the title ‘Generation.’"
[IMG:R]Perhaps generations can exist within a single character. We've already seen Future Hiro. Perhaps there will be more incarnations of Oka's character. "Maybe middle Hiro you mean?" Oka teased. "There must be a present, past, future, post-apocalyptic Hiro. Who knows? Saturn Hiro, next thing you know, Space Hiro. Who knows? Every time you jump in time, an alternate universe gets created so we might have different [versions.]"
Whatever it is, when you see the end of Heroes, you'll know exactly where we'll pick up next year. "The last three minutes are the beginning of next season which is cool," said Grunberg. "That's what he means. The last three minutes of the season finale are the first three minutes of next season, which is something we've been doing on the show all year long."
Before that telltale denouement, the season finale proved mighty hectic for the whole Heroes cast. Between night shoots and bringing the entire ensemble together, the Heroes finale was a major production.
"We were downtown shooting nights for the last couple of weeks, so it was kind of a blurry time in all of our lives," said Jack Coleman. "But it was really fun because we sort of just shut down several blocks of downtown and took it over, that plaza. Everybody's powers come out. Everybody gets to do what they do."
Utilizing every character's power means a lot of visual effects too. "A lot of special effects, yeah," continued Coleman. "It's very stop and go filming but it ended up, I had one really fun sizeable scene with Milo [Ventimiglia]. Milo and I had never really worked together except in passing, but we have one really nice scene at the end."
[IMG:L]Oka revealed more specific details about the complicated finale shoot. "The big finale has been amazing because we had a lot of overnights," said Oka. "Because of the location, we had to shoot overnights. So we would have like 6PM to 6AM, day after day after day. It was tough on the crew, it was tough on the cast, it was tough on folks that come and did our set. They'd have to do separate people at 2AM, 3AM and they have a normal job in the morning. But it's going to be fantastic. The finale is going to be the bomb."
Wait a minute, Masi. We thought you were supposed to stop the bomb. "No, it's going to be DA bomb. In more ways than one."
With the entire cast coming together, actors like Leonard Roberts will converge with the main storylines. DL and Jessica/Nikki have been in their own little domestic world for most of the year.
"It's been a big payoff," said Roberts. "I love it. As an actor it's cool to get off the bench and do a little something. And then just for the fans, I think it's great to see the entire cast together for once on screen. I think that's going to be cool. When it all happens and you see everybody on the screen doing their thing, it's not going to disappoint."
Perhaps that also means that the gunshot DL took this week might not be so fatal, or that his ensemble scene is a funeral. Expect things to get physical between Roberts and Ali Larter, though you may interpret that physicality in multiple ways. Or he could have just been referring to the gunshot.
"There would be some physical – not Olivia Newton-John physical, but maybe a little Robert Rodriguez physical, possibly," joked Roberts. "It's funny, the first time we worked together and we had a big fight, that was kind of the payoff for the fans. That became a love scene. It was kind of cool. Tim was calling us Mr. and Mrs. Smith for a while. This one, not so much. My choreography's minimal for this one."
Roberts' on screen son, Noah Gray-Cabey, has already learned how to be vague about his work. "Everything excites me about it," Gray-Cabey said. "I think it's going to be a really cool episode."
Beyond that, even he doesn't know what's in store for Micah in the arc called “Generation.” "They don't give us anything. They're mean to us. No, I'm just kidding. They're all very nice, but they don't tell us anything which makes it actually really interesting. So all the cast members are all also on the edge of their seats."
Perhaps Micah will face come competition with new Heroes. Kring has promised to continue exploring new people with new powers. "There are several new characters coming in the immediate future," said Kring. "The idea of the show from the start was always to basically honor the origin story of the first sort of flush and discovery of these powers. So in order to do that, new characters will have to be cycled into the show. By extension, older characters will cycle out of the show."
Indeed, NBC has announced plans for a spin-off series-within-a-series, the six-episode Heroes: Origins, which will bridge the gap between arcs of fresh episodes in the second season with a half-dozen shows that will each introduce a new character into the Heroes mythology. The most popular fresh face, as chosen by the fans, will be added to the main Heroes cast full-time.
As for teasing the beginning of next year at the end of this finale, Kring is confident that viewers will not be left frustrated for the entire summer. "The idea was to end one idea of the show, one story and slingshot you into the next season so that was the basic idea. I think it will be intriguing more than frustrating – I hope."
Coleman gives fans his own assurances that the finale will be appropriately satisfying. "Big cliffhanger, but what it really is is a fantastic resolution," said Coleman. "Then it springboards to something completely unexpected. I just saw it. It's so cool I can't even talk about it. It's just fantastic. I'm telling you, people are going to go, 'What the… what?' They're just going to love it. It's just so out there and different. It's very cool."
The plan is to give each season its own story, rather than maintain one overall arc as Lost is attempting. "The idea was that we wanted to make it easy for viewers to be able to come on in the second season," said Kring. "We thought if we wrapped the show too tightly around itself so that you had to have watched 22 episodes before, it would be harder for the new viewers to join in the show. We always want to be a show that has the barrier of entry low enough so that new viewers can join whenever they want."
The producers have ideas for several seasons down the line, but they are always flexible. "In sort of big broad strokes, there are several seasons that are thought about as to what the major ideas of the seasons are," said Kring. "But anybody who works in this field, in series TV, learns that it's a very organic process. To lock yourself into certain ideas is to basically follow a path of frustration. Things change on a daily basis. The idea is to give yourself big tent poles that you can write towards but not try and lock yourself too much into the minutiae of what happens in every single episode."
The Heroes finale airs Monday. May 21, on NBC.
Q&A with Masi Oka
Q&A with Adrian Pasdar
Q&A with Hayden Panettiere
Q&A with Greg Grunberg
Q&A with Ali Larter
Heroes Season One Wrap Party
NBC Press Day Interview with George Takei