Villain Spotlight: Sylar


Greetings all you diabolical evil-doers out there, it’s good to be back after my brief foray with the trolls last weekend, and I have decided to in kind kidnap the Villain Spotlight from Arthur and the geeks this week. It’s Joss Whedon week on, so let’s dive right in to my pet peeve of the week. I am personally still a little bit pissed that Heroes is getting a second go on television when Firefly has not been brought back yet, I mean, come on now! But seeing all the announcements about the new show Heroes Reborn this week made me fondly recall a villain from the television show’s first season that can make you scream in so many ways. There are so many types of villains out there that we all can admire for various reasons, but every once in a while you just need someone that’s cruel, brutal, and a cold-blooded killer to get you all hot and bothered. I think Sylar from the first season of Heroes is just the man for that job.

Our first several episodes of the show Heroes basically focuses on introducing the concept of the show: that several people scattered throughout the country seem to have been born with inherent superpowers of varying degree. A teenage cheerleader in Texas can heal from any injury, a Japanese man learns how to manipulate the time-space continuum, and a police officer in New York realizes he can read minds.

It is in the second episode that we hear a reference to Sylar. Our telepathic police officer Matt is helping investigate a house where two people have been brutally murdered by a serial killer who has been named “Sylar”. Matt rescues a trapped girl from the house after seeing a macabre scene there, spotlighting Sylar’s amazing work. There is blood everywhere, people strung up on the walls, and their skulls are cut open. It doesn’t get much better than that.


We don’t know how important this reference to the killer really is until the show unfolds further. But Heroes did a great job with building up Sylar’s eventual revelation. For several episodes we never actually see Sylar, just hear about his killings and try desperately to track him down before he kills again, especially since he seems to be tracking down other individuals with superpowers. All this foreshadowing and mystery cloaking Sylar’s identity just builds his reputation even further as a man to be feared.

You see, like I mentioned before there are so many types of villains out there to admire: the angry, the power hungry, the greedy, but there is something about serial killers that is just pure evil and yet simplistic. Maybe it’s because I read dozens of true crime novels as a teenager, but there is something inherently terrifying and inevitable about a serial killer’s need to kill, as well as something fascinating and petrifying at the same time with regards to the signature they develop in their killing. So what is Sylar’s method of murder? Opening the skulls of his superhero victims so he can inspect their brains and learn their powers.


After several episodes seeing only a hooded figure as he narrowly escapes his crime scene to evade law enforcement on multiple occasions, we finally get to meet Sylar face to face: played by the enchanting Zachary Quinto. Now I am a huge fan of Quinto for many reasons outside of Heroes, but I really do admire his inner-villain as he gives his all in playing the demented Sylar.


Once we are given Quinto’s face to the name Sylar, the character gets a lot more development. Sylar in many ways is a tortured serial killer, taunted by his mother’s unforgiving criticism of him and his need to be recognized and admired. He realizes that he too can be special by inspecting and teaching himself the inner workings of the brains of people with superheroes, much the way that he knew how to understand and repair watches as his former personality Gabriel Gray.

Quinto adds some great quirks to the character. In addition to some OCD like tendencies, Sylar has an appetite for food as well as his need for knowledge. Who wouldn’t admire a serial killer who stops with bloodied hands to pick up some potato chips or devour an entire birthday cake at the scene of his latest murder victim? And while Sylar is able to slowly saw open a victim’s skull using telekinesis, he also brutally murders his own mother in an act of anger and passion using a pair of cutting shears.


You might have noticed that I mentioned earlier that Sylar’s season 1 character is an ultimate villain. So I guess I can qualify that statement that while I still enjoy watching Quinto’s portrayal of the tantalizing Sylar, after the first season his villainy is not as terrifying as it was in the first season. He still has a hard time suppressing his murderous tendencies, but if you are looking for one of the most chilling villains out there I recommend sticking with season 1. I do like the character development in the future seasons, but there is too much time spent on Sylar trying to come to terms with his inner-demons and attempting to banish his serial killer ways. If I had it my way he would continue to embrace what he is good at: the perfect mixture of torture, death, and villainy. Hats off to you Quinto, Sylar is a villain of perfection.


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Posted on March 13, 2014, in Features, Geekology, TV, Villain Spotlight and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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