So after the much-ballyhooed return of "the villain you love to hate," this is how we find Sylar: Sitting on a beach Trading Places-style and being tended to by Candice, finally confirming those suspicions that it was she who dragged him into the sewers at Kirby Plaza. Of course, this is Candice, Mistress Of Illusions, we're talking about here, so Sylar's not really in Maui. He's actually convalescing in a dirty bunker somewhere, still suffering from a gaping chest wound and the complete and total loss of all his meticulously ganked powers. And of course, this is Heroes we're talking about, so actually "the villain we love to hate" doesn't really get to do much in this episode–besides turn in the season's first surprise death (more on that later).
While Sylar–and more importantly, Zachary Quinto–gets a welcome return from me, I wasn't exactly counting the hours until we saw Niki again. Now that she's supposedly banished (or melded with) that meddling bitch Jessica for good, it's back to the same old Not Without My Micah schtick that started the show. And now that D.L. is dead, Niki has lost the sole voice of reason in her life, agreeing to let The Company "cure" her in exchange for "something"–which we just know is Micah, right?–without even bothering to question all of that stuff she found at the end of last season. (You know, the stuff that revealed that her whole life leading up to that point was pretty much a complete fabrication, engineered by Linderman solely to produce Micah.) But then, thinking was never really Niki's strong suit, and to her the best way to make one of her patented "fresh starts" is to get rid of her powers completely, prompting Micah to say something plenty of Heroes watchers have been saying all along: "I don't see the point of having these abilities if we don't even use them."
Luckily, part of Niki's "starting over" involves dropping him off with a distant relative that just so happens to be Nichelle Nichols (a.k.a. Star Trek's Uhura), and from the way Nichols drawls that spooky "Welcome to New Orleans" alone, you just know she has a power of her own she's hiding, and that she's going to teach Micah more than just how to rob an ATM machine. Speaking of reusing old things (sorry, Nichelle), Mohinder's new lab back in New York just so happens to be in Isaac Mendez's old apartment, a coincidence so amazing it's actually totally ludicrous (not to mention lazy). While he pretends to poke around with blood samples under the watchful gaze of Company Bob, Mohinder is still secretly checking around for some of those mysterious lost paintings that for some reason Isaac kept working on, even though the timeline of the future he saw supposedly ended with the destruction of New York. Unfortunately, the one painting he's found spells bad news for his new pal Bennet: He's destined to get a bullet right through the old horn-rimmed glasses while Claire (?) is busy making out nearby. (Speaking of which: If Bennet is so concerned about establishing a new identity, shouldn't he get some contacts? Or at least some nice, subtle wire frames? It might save him from potential embarrassments like when he finally meets his daughter's new boyfriend and realizes that it was he who bagged-and-tagged him all those years ago.)
And as for Claire and her blossoming romance with Captain Emo, this week finally dispensed with the foreplay and got right to the, er, foreplay, with Claire discovering West's ability to fly in a gee-whiz scene lifted straight out of Superman. At least now that we know West still holds a grudge against Claire's dad, we can be sure that this budding courtship–all floating in the clouds and tickling on the beach–is fucking doomed. And of course, the same can be said for Peter's relationship with the Irish barmaid, who somehow convinces him that curing his amnesia isn't as important as hanging around Ireland's least popular pub and taking on sub-Lock Stock And Two Smoking Barrels schemes. Seriously, while it's obvious that Peter has been frightened into some sort of weird Stockholm syndrome not only by his amnesia but his unexplained powers (those "Sparks!" and "Lightning!" scenes were almost verbatim Spider-Man, by the way), are we really expected to believe he's "happy" there? Sure, everybody loves an Irish girl, but how is agreeing to a life of crime and Guinness considered a noble pursuit, and yet you won't even peek at your driver's license because you're afraid your scary telekinesis powers mean you might be a "bad guy"?
While Peter is trapped in Ireland, new heroes Maya and Alejandro are similarly stuck in Mexico, meaning this episode was another chapter in their Terrible No-Good Very Bad Immigration, which goes something like this:
"We've got to get to America!"
"I will never give up and/or leave you!"
"Oh no, we've been separated!"
"I'm freaking out and killing everyone by crying black stuff!"
"We're reunited! Don't worry, everything will be OK!"
(Shaky handholding scene)
"Hooray, everyone's alive again! Now, we've got to get to America!"
Luckily for the Toxic Twins, they managed to hitch a ride with some spring-breaking scofflaw type–in a Nissan Rogue with a "Go Conquistadores!" bumper sticker, no less, so it's either Claire's stolen car, or it belongs to a schoolmate who was similarly taken in by the Rogue's rugged versatility. (Really, have you seen these things? They're awesome. Buy one today.) It seems like all of the pieces are falling into place .
except, of course, for Hiro's Wacky Samurai Adventure, which teased me this week by appearing to wrap up finally and then, at the last second, getting right back to the fairytale crapola. So Kensei is invincible, he defeated the 90 Angry Ronin (spawning a dozen post-hardcore bands), and Hiro realizes he can't be with the princess he loves. So, uh, your work is done, right Hiro? You can finally rejoin your buddy Ando and get back to providing pop culture references and ameliorating the show's occasionally poisonous self-seriousness instead of perpetuating this groaning comedy of errors right?
At least this episode delivered what it promised, which was a "shocking" death, the first of the season: Poor glimmer-inducing Candice was done in by a power-hungry Sylar, who was desperate to steal her shapeshifting abilities (a move, by the way, that would have fulfilled at least one of the predictions of the alternate timeline in "Five Years Later"). Unfortunately for him, whatever he does when he does what he does (eating her brains?) didn't work out too well for him this round, and now he's stuck on a mysterious island that looks remarkably like Lost's–still weakened, and with no idea who Candice was working for or what the hell he's going to do now. Now I know Sylar is impulsive, uncaring, and most importantly eeevil, but would it have killed him to ask a couple of questions first before killing Candice? "Where are we?" might have been a good one to toss out. "Hey, can I use your phone?" might have been another. Also, it might have been good to get a little clarification on her powers: Candice wasn't actually saying she could whisk you away to London or Japan, Sylar. What part of "imaginary blonde twins on rollerskates" didn't you understand?
So that's where we are, true believers. The heroes are still scattered. Most of them–Claire and Captain Emo excluded–are struggling to contain their powers or get rid of them altogether. The Hiro and Peter storylines are still being deliberately delayed by unnecessary subplots. Niki still sucks. Next week promises the return of a clean-shaven Nathan and that a few more pieces of the murder-mystery will be dealt out, with perhaps a little more explanation on that damn "godsend" symbol–which is apparently mystical in nature, seeing as it appeared (and promptly disappeared) when Peter's tattoo was covered up by his regenerating skin. Plus, Molly's hissing about the "nightmare man," and the announcer is teasing that we'll learn more about the "original heroes" (yeah right). As for this week--other than my usual complaints about Peter and Hiro's pointless sojourns–this episode was closer to the Heroes I used to love than anything else we've seen so far, incredibly stupid leaps of logic and all. It's amazing what a little Sylar can do. (Too bad he's leaving soon.)
-- We've had both Sulu and Uhura (not to mention Zachary Quinto is playing Spock in J.J. Abrams' upcoming Star Trek movie). Unfortunately, both Scotty and McCoy are dead, otherwise you know they'd be popping up as Parkman's dad or Mohinder's untrustworthy new supervisor, respectively. Anyone want to place bets on when Nimoy or Shatner will show up?
-- Candice's transformation back to her actual, overweight self was one of the few times that I saw something I knew already from the graphic novels. Who says reading those isn't an integral part of the Heroes experience? Oh right. I did.
-- Doesn't the swordsman's daughter recognize the difference between the actual Takezo Kensei and the one who is so "gentle" to her? There's at least a foot difference in their heights, their voices are completely different This is like The Truth About Cats And Dogs, only it's not funny. Actually, it's just like The Truth About Cats And Dogs.
-- Alejandro's police sketch looked an awful lot like Chris Cornell. No wonder they can't catch him. (Although wouldn't it be awesome if they caught Chris Cornell and put a hurt on him for Audioslave?)
-- Favorite moment of the episode: Peter's wound spitting out its bullet. If nothing else, the special effects people have been having fun this season.