Continuing on with the month of TV, we’re covering the Amnesia episode. These are episodes where one or more characters lose their memories. These are often highly iconic because the characters do not remember how their relationships fit together. Often these come in many forms including spells, powers or good old fashioned hits to the head. So what are you waiting for?
No, please tell me, I’ve forgotten…
Heroes is one of those series everyone loves to hate. I do have a soft spot for it, and it does have its fair share of tropes. Going with the theme of Amnesia episodes, we actually have three candidates – all of which were continued over multiple episodes.
The first of which is where Peter loses his memory in the beginning of season 2 – where he is in a shipping container handcuffed. During this time, Peter meets new people, confronts new problems and is later forced to integrate that when his memory gets returned. I did find this storyline rather dull, but it did set him on course to team up with Adam (whom we know to be up to no good).
The second case is Hiro. He has his memories removed by Arthur Petrelli in season 3 and reverts back to being 8 (or at least his mental age). During this he forgets not only what’s been going on since he was 8, but also how to speak other languages.
Heroes is quite a special series – it had so much potential, yet I feel it had an identity crisis. It was partly mismarketed and partly didn’t quite know what it wanted to be. Heck, in the original pilot, Sylar wasn’t even a watchmaker, but a straight-forward terrorist. There’s some interesting events that happen throughout the series, which leads to the third – Sylar.
Sylar loses his memory (or at least his mind was partly ripped from him and spilt into Matt Parkman) in season 4. When Sylar wakes up, he first thinks he’s Nathan Petrelli, but later comes to find the person he was before is no more. He makes his way to Samuel at the mysterious fairground.
I’m glad Heroes is returning as Heroes Reborn – hopefully it will sort out the issues it had when it came to mismatched characters and storylines – some you found very interesting, others you found actually a little dull.
I suffer from memory problems, as a symptom of my dyslexia. Names, faces, directions – the whole shebang. I once forgot how to drive whilst driving, which was pretty terrifying. As a result, I live my life in a near-constant state of worry that I’ve forgotten something important.
So thank you, Stephen Moffat, for dreaming up the Silence. A monster that hides in the gaps of your memory, forgotten the instant you look away, is basically custom built to scare me specifically. The Daleks or Angels may be more immediately frightening, but the Silence are the ones who fill me with creeping existential dread. They may not cause the dramatic “Who am I?” kind of amnesia that we usually see in fiction, but their short-term version is no less effective. It’s actually more effective, because it’s so mundane and familiar – we’ve all experienced it at some point, which means we’ve all been affected by the Silence.
There’s one in the room with me right now, in fact. Staring at me with those awful, sunken eyes. It doesn’t care that I’ve seen it, because the moment I turn away I’ll assume I wrote that as a joke. I already do. I mean, of course it’s a joke – there’s nothing behind me, and TV monsters aren’t real. Except that, stupid as it sounds, we can never truly be sure. Memory is a fickle, unreliable thing – it lies and cheats and it cannot be trusted – and that scares me more than anything else in the world.
There are many TV shows that give their characters amnesia – but there’s only one that can make the audience feel like they might have it too…
Season four of Angel is an odd beast… It’s not my favourite season of the show, by a long stretch, but the theme is amnesia in TV, so I want to talk about this episode. It’s a slightly different take on amnesia than what you normally get in TV and film: most of the time a writer will concentrate on characters’ whose entire memories have been wiped away, but in this episode of Angel, our hapless protagonists instead have their memories wiped so that they think they’re 17 years old.
Of course we get to this point by a spell (what else would it be in a show like this) and the humour comes in from the fact that everyone still looks like what they did before the spell, and are still what they are before the spell. Cue Angel eventually finding out that he’s a vampire and completely freaking the fudge out, people freaking out over the discovery of Lorne with his green skin and red horns.
The episode plays a lot on humour more than anything else and it’s definitely one of the more lighthearted installments of the show. High point: Angel wondering why he doesn’t have an Irish accent. Low point: the way Fred is characterised by being obsessed with weed.