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Elle Bishop

Elle Bishop is a fictional character on the NBC series Heroes, a science fiction drama which tells the stories of ordinary individuals who discover that they have superhuman abilities. Elle is portrayed by former Veronica Mars star Kristen Bell, who had been a fan of the series and friends with Heroes co-stars Zachary Quinto and Hayden Panettiere prior to attaining the role. The concept of the Elle character, however, had been conceived by Heroes writers prior to August 2007 when Bell was announced to portray her. Elle appeared as one of the new characters introduced in season two and according to contract, would continue on the series for at least thirteen episodes into season three.

Elle is introduced in the episode "Fight or Flight" as an agent of the Company, an organization whose primary purpose is to identify, monitor and study those individuals with special genetically derived special abilities. The daughter of Company head Robert Bishop, she possesses the power to generate and manipulate electricity. Elle is shown to be mentally unstable, which is attributed to extensive testing condoned by her father to research her abilities when she was young.

Concept and creation

In 2007, following the cancellation of Veronica Mars, actress Kristen Bell had voiced interest in appearing on Heroes because she was a fan prior to being cast. In July 2007, during a train ride back from the San Diego Comic Con with Heroes actors Zachary Quinto and Masi Oka, and writers from the series, the writers had mentioned that if Bell "ever want[ed] to come on Heroes, give us [writers] a call", to which Bell said she would love to. Announced in August 2007, Bell was to portray Elle, a "mysterious young lady" with an "awesome power" for a total of thirteen episodes. Heroes creator Tim Kring and the writers had created the character of Elle with the idea in mind that she was a "cautionary tale" of what could happen if the other characters had known of their abilities for the duration of their lives as Elle did. Kring pitched Bell the idea for the character "which she loved" and soon they were "off and running. The casting of Bell, as Kring explains, "was not easy to pull off", but because of the large ensemble cast of the series and multiple story arcs, "we found a way to jump into a small window in [Bell’s] schedule."

The character Elle was created long before Bell was cast; however, Kring noted "when you do cast an actor ... you try to tailor that character a little closer to who the actor is. So it's hard to know when one starts to influence the other".

Appearances

Main series

Elle first appears in the episode "Fight or Flight" searching for Peter Petrelli in Ireland. Peter has no recollection of his past and is staying with the owner of Wandering Rocks Pub, Ricky. Elle questions Rick about Peter's whereabouts and when he pretends not to know Peter, she kills him with a large bolt of electricity on her way out the door. Later on, during a telephone conversation with Bob Bishop, her father and Company head, she dismisses the murder as trivial and insists she can find Peter. However, she is pulled off the assignment, much to her frustration.

Elle next appears in "Four Months Ago...". During this time, the Company made Peter their willing prisoner and in those months he was held, Elle seems to have developed a crush on him, later Peter confesses that he likes the little jolts which Elle gives him as a tease and kisses her. She confides in Peter that she has lived in the Company's holding facility for sixteen years. She also admits to being diagnosed as a sociopath; she explains at age six, she accidentally set her grandmother's house on fire and at age eight, caused a major blackout in Ohio. When he escapes from the facility, Elle is upset and angry to the point that she blasts him, setting him ablaze during his escape.

In "Cautionary Tales", Elle came back to the United States. Former Company employee Noah Bennet, captures Elle for collateral as Bob had managed to capture his daughter. He ties her hands to a chair and ties her bare feet together and puts them in a dogbath. Elle tries to use her abilities while in the dogbath, but she shocks herself. During this time, Noah tells Elle that Bob allowed the Company to perform tests on her which had begun as early as the age of seven. This included subjecting her to high doses of electricity, which led to her twisted personality. Elle has no recollection of the tests, and Noah suggests the Haitian had a role in causing Elle to forget her experiences. After an agreement is made, she is reunited with Bob and Claire momentarily reunited with Noah. However, Elle attacks Claire and West as they leave. She tries to attack Noah, but he shoots Elle in the arm before she can hurt him or anyone else. As it seems Noah is going to kill Bob, Mohinder Suresh, a scientist working with Noah and the Company, shoots and kills Noah. She leaves with Bob and Mohinder, giving Bob a look of distrust.

In the episode "Truth & Consequences", Bob chastises Elle for allowing West and Claire to escape. He then assigns Elle to perform surveillance on Claire and her family as they prepare to leave town. Claire, however, spots Elle from a distance, leading to a physical confrontation.

Elle's last appearance in season two is in "Powerless". She is reprimanded by her father for her mistakes, and to redeem herself, she attempts to re-capture the now powerless Sylar for the Company. She uses her ability to confront Sylar in Mohinder's research lab, but Sylar is armed with a gun and shoots at Elle. Sylar manages to slip away, leaving Elle unharmed. She comes out somewhat defeated, but is informed by Mohinder that if not for her arrival, Sylar would have killed him, Maya and Molly. He says the three of them owe her their lives, to which she replies, "Cool".

The episode marked Bell's previously expressed interest in performing in scenes with the character Sylar, as she and Zachary Quinto have been good friends for almost ten years. Bell had said that she "would love to see him and Elle face off one day". In November 2007, Bell and Quinto filmed scenes at a restaurant in Los Angeles, which was set as a "New Jersey Diner" and had involved police and paramedics. The filmed scenes have yet to be used on an episode.

In "The Butterfly Effect," after discovering that her father has been murdered by Sylar, Elle goes to Level 5, a high security ward for the most notorious prisoners of the Company, to attain assistance from Noah Bennet. However, Sylar is already there, and attempts to take her ability. When he begins cutting into her head, however, she releases a huge blast of electricity. Sylar is knocked out, but the blast also shuts down the power to the prison cells, releasing the prisoners. Elle is later fired by Angela Petrelli - the new head of the Company - who tells Elle that the only reason the Company kept her was because of her father's insistance.

Bell has said in interviews that in later episodes of Heroes, "You'll find out that Elle holds the key to Claire's future" and that Elle has "a [present] with Peter and a past with Claire's dad and a future with Claire".

Kristen Bell has five episodes left on her Heroes guest star contract.

In Heroes graphic novels

Elle also appears in the Heroes webcomics. Her appearances in the online series occur before her introduction on the television series. Elle's first webcomic appearance is in "Elle's First Assignment (Part 1)", which reveals her first assignment for the Company. Elle monitors Claire Bennet, posing as a student at Union Wells High School. After following Claire home, Elle ends up confronting Eden McCain. The incident is broken up by Noah Bennet, who informs Elle that he doesn't "want [Elle] hanging around his daughter any more". In Part 2, she finds out about the tape of Claire testing her power and tries to take it from Zach. She is stopped by the Haitian and Mr Bennet, who find out about the tape as well. Elle also appears in "The Man With Too Much Brains" to recruit the original webcomic character Matt Neuenberg to the Company. She also was teamed up with Thompson Jr. to capture Donna Dunlap, a woman with enhanced vision.

Powers and abilities

Elle has the ability to generate and manipulate electricity, discharging and directing it as electrical arcs. She has been shown being able to weld a lock, blast objects, knock people unconscious, and even kill a man. She is not entirely immune to the electricity she produces, however, as shown when she is drenched in water and attempts to create electricity — she gives herself an electric shock, causing great pain. Elle has endured a series of testing by the Company during her childhood that measured the extent of her power. Bob had stated that Elle was in a "different league" when comparing her to Claire. When inquiring about her abilities, Elle was able to learn from Noah Bennet that the Company had wanted to record the extent of her abilities (whether she could power a flashlight, a street lamp, or an entire city block) and Bob had often prompted to continue the tests further, even after Elle had passed out.

Characteristics

When Kristen Bell was cast, she noted that with Elle it would be "unclear whether she’s good or bad". In "Four Months Ago...", Elle admits to being diagnosed as a sociopath and previous to that, she had displayed sadistic behavior as a result of testing done to her as a child. Bell explains, "Bodies are not able to take that much electricity and pain, and so Elle’s psychologically a little off her rocker." Her sociopathic nature has resulted in her being able to kill without apparent remorse, although in one instance, she reacts defensively with a "is that any of your business?" comment when Mohinder asks her how many have died by her hand.

During an interview with thescifiworld.net, Tim Kring described Elle as "a little off", and Bell added that Elle is "a little messed up in the head" and a highly conflicted individual who does not have the ability to decipher between right and wrong. Because of that, Bell explains that Elle comes off as more of a victim. Bell also explains that Elle is one of the few characters with abilities that embrace their power and is almost on the verge of being addicted to her ability. Elle "enjoys the emotional power it gives her over other people" which causes her to be manipulative. She is described as one who is "always out to get what she wants" and someone who "doesn’t have many boundaries". Bell describes Elle as a vixen who "feels like she has a romantic connection to everybody", and in a few episodes, Elle is shown displaying a great deal of affection to men and flirting with both Peter Petrelli and Mohinder Suresh.

Bell noted the similarities between Elle and the character Claire Bennet, saying that they "relate to each other" and "are two sides of the same coin" because, while Elle's father sanctioned testing on her, supposedly causing her mental instability, Noah kept Claire hidden, preventing Claire from experiencing the same childhood that "really messed [Elle] up".

Reception

With of the cancellation of Veronica Mars, Variety reported that attaining Bell was a "major major coup for NBC" because of how in-demand the actress was. Universal Media Studios' Katherine Pope noted that "many studios [were] chasing [Bell] in both film and TV" and that Pope was happy that Bell "chose to star in our show." When Bell was cast, Tim Kring explained that because she had known several of the cast members for years as well as some of the writers, it "was already like part of the family by the time we cast her."

In an interview with Bell, Eric Goldman of IGN, commented on the Bell's "eagerly awaited debut" on the series. Matt Roush of TV Guide reported on Bell becoming a series regular on Heroes, and stated he "like[s] her more and more, especially as we see the tragic dimension of how Elle has been so cruelly used by her 'daddy,' Bob, and is much more than the flirty assassin we first met. Bruce Fretts, also of TV Guide, said that Bell's portrayal of Elle was responsible for "sparking Heroes to life." He explains that "[i]n just a few scenes... [Bell is able to] juice up the slumping sophomore drama" and her "live-wire performance turned Chapter 5 into this season's strongest episode yet." However, because of the large ensemble cast, Matthew Gilbert of Slate.com commented that season two of Heroes was "even more overpopulated than the last, expanding from a rabble to a veritable global riot of Dubiously Gifted Ones.

References

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