By Vaneta Rogers
The Heroes panel at San Diego Comic-Con had a capacity crowd on its feet cheering for the show's stars as creator Tim Kring introduced fans to the concept behind Heroes: Redemption.
But what got a lot of attention from the room was footage that showed Claire, the "cheerleader" from Season 1, kissing her new female roommate in college, confirming rumors about a lesbian kissing scene in the new season.
Along with Kring, the panelists included Jack Coleman, Masi Oka, Hayden Panettiere, Adrian Pasdar, Zachary Quinto, Milo Ventimiglia, Robert Knepper, Dawn Olivieri, Ray Park and Madeline Zima.
Kring explained the concept behind "Redemption" as being a "new wrinkle" in the show.
"The idea is that alongside the show that you've been watching all this time, there was this other group, this kind of family of people who had powers who had figured out how to live with us and alongside of us and hide in plain sight," he said of the next Heroes volume, which begins Sept. 21. "The idea was to create this idea of a carnival. If you can breathe fire, what better way to be in plain sight than to be in a carnival as a fire-eater?
"And now they're ready," he said. "The carnival will come out and present themselves."
Kring pointed out that the new "wrinkle" is the reason behind the carnival that was set up across the street from Comic-Con this year to promote Heroes. He also introduced the other part of the Redemption story arc – the idea that the stars who were hunted down last season are no longer in danger and can presumably return to normal lives.
"Every single one of them can go back to their ordinary lives, which is what we're going to do. The problem is, what does an ordinary life look like when you have powers, and how do you go back to being ordinary?" he said.
Fans were treated to footage from the first four episodes that revealed the Claire/college roommate kiss; Sylar with a baby and arguing with Parkman; the carnival, including a scene where Hiro meets himself as a young boy; Peter returning to life as a paramedic, with a mysterious tattoo appearing on his arm; and Knepper's character, named Samuel, who is in charge of the carnival gang and encounters Hiro and Peter. Samuel also uses his power to move earth to bury Nathan, but in the last scene a hand comes out of the ground and Sylar comes crawling out of the grave.
Each of the characters talked about what is happening with their character on the show, going in order as they were sitting:
Coleman ("Noah Bennet") said his character is setting up a new company, but the rest of his life isn't going as well. The actor also hinted that he would be in a dramatic scene that involved a car and water, jokingly referring to Chappaquiddick.
Oka ("Hiro Nakamura") finds that his nosebleed problem is worse and he might be terminally ill. He starts a business with Ando at Yamagato, but also decides that since he's dying, he should make a list of things to travel and complete before the end.
Panettiere ("Claire Bennet") said that her character just wants to be normal and have a friend to whom she can confide, which is played by Zima. She ends up revealing her power to her new friend by throwing herself out a window.
Pasdar ("Nathan Petrelli") said there's still some Jekyll and Hyde going on since Sylar is basically occupying Nathan's body. The actor said that he adopts a few tiny mannerisms of Sylar and uses them to show the audience that Sylar is still lurking underneath.
Quinto ("Sylar") said his character is "in two places: One with [Nathan Petrelli] physically and the other place is in Matt Parkman's head."I'm messing with his mind, giving him a taste of his own medicine," Quinto said.
Ventimiglia ("Peter Petrelli") said his character has been through so much (listing off everything from being shot to dying) that he's a little jaded, but he's still able to laugh about it all. But he said he's not afraid to fight back now that he's had so much experience, and the audience was shown another clip at the end of the panel where he did just that -- this time with Park's super-speed character, Edgar.
Knepper ("Samuel") said Samuel is a reluctant leader of the carnival's powered characters, and also that his brother just died. He decides to change the way he and the other people in the carnival are living and gets the "Heroes" to help him with the plan.
Olivieri ("Lydia") is part of the carnival and said she's "naked most of the time" and brings a lot of sex appeal to the show. She's a tattooed empath whose tattoos change, which somehow interacts with Samuel's power as an earth mover.
Park ("Edgar") is another of the carnies, and he "likes to play with knives," but his real power is super-speed. He has to do things for Samuel that he doesn't really want to do, and he's one of the characters looking for redemption.
Zima ("Gretchen Berg") plays the new friend to Claire. In the clip, she guessed that Claire was actually the cheerleader from Texas that had been in the news. The two become close friends. And yeah, they kiss.
During the question and answer portion of the panel, the stars were asked which powers they'd like to have, and Panettiere complained that she thinks it's unfair that Quinto and Ventimiglia's characters have so many powers, to which Coleman dead-panned, "Some of us don't get any." After the crowd laughed, he said, "I don't want to hear about only having one power. I have the power of impaired vision. It's not much."
Another fan asked Quinto who would win in a fight between Spock and Sylar. "I think that honestly, in the end, Spock will have to take it because ultimately, he's fighting for good. And I like to believe that good always wins."
Ventimiglia then asked who would win between Zachary Quinto and Leonard Nimoy?
"Leonard in one round," Quinto said. "Leonard would drop me in about 30 seconds."