Heroes: "Our Father"

 

For those just reading the teaser blurb: This was a good episode. No, seriously. It was really good.

But how? The show was way in the crapper last week; what contributed to such a drastic shift? Well, watching "Our Father," I was reminded of when Heroes premiered three years ago. At the time, Lost was running over on ABC, airing a six-episode mini–Others arc in season three before taking an extended break. (Remember that whole thing? About how they were going to be able to keep one new episode every week for much longer this way? It feels so long ago.) Part of what made Heroes feel so fresh then–and, conversely, what made Lost suck so hard at the time–was that Heroes wasn't afraid to advance the plot in giant leaps. Sure they were treading on some key plot or character reveal, but the show had enough faith that, upon arriving at their new destination, there would be plenty of story to mine. Peter spends time dreaming he can fly, hinting that he wants to actually attempt a flight? Well, they had him do it really early, then went from there. Meanwhile, Lost was mostly rehashing unimportant backstory, only to move things forward by one line at the end. ("Run, Kate, run!") The new Lost is much better at that–hell, they (spoiler alert for those who aren't yet fans) advanced the story off the island, for chrissake!–but Heroes has been falling back into the trenches as of late. Overexplaining and quantifying were taking the place of story and character arc.

Things have certainly changed with this episode, though it's certainly not perfect. The beginning was rife with those delicious plot holes and obnoxious nonsequitors we've grown so accustomed to: Peter and the Haitian arrive back in the US in record, record time; Sylar shoves off from the beach he once shared with Elle, lights her on fire, then waits as the flames burn, slowly, in his eyes (it's a new power he's trying out: the ability to see when people are on fire); Tracy forces herself into the Pinehearst storyline, most likely to send out a press release; Daphne.

But thankfully, the episode took off from there. Claire and Hiro are still stuck in the past, but quickly figure out what they're supposed to do. Claire heads to her parents' apartment to stop HRG from giving her the catalyst; Hiro hangs around his mother, in the hopes that she'll kiss his head and make him a man again (she has healing powers). Claire's side isn't much of anything we haven't seen before–she has a blunt talk with her father about their relationship, or the future one at least–but Hiro finally sheds the scaredy-cat shadow that's been on him all season. In a wonderfully acted scene by Masi Oka, he reveals to his dying mother that he's, in fact, her son from the future, and demands she give "the light" to him instead of Claire. Then, just as the two 2008ers are getting ready to return, Arthur Petrelli–with the force he entered the show with–time travels in (how? We'll… let that one slide), steals Hiros powers, throws Claire back to present day, and leaves our former time traveler hanging by a flagpole 16 years in the past.

Someone needed to do something with the freakin' catalyst already, because Suresh's formula is finally (thank the lord) near completion. Now, thanks to Arthur, he can inject it into a marine and give him super strength. Then he'll throw a chair into a wall and the future of all humanity will be suspect.

Well, that's most likely how Tim Kring imagined the drama going down–he's been building up this army of heroes thing since episode one of the season. But I was much more interested in Arthur's death a few scenes before. Again, it was something that the show had been hinting at for quite some time, and finally just had to happen. For the first time, we see the Haitian struggle with his abilities; and more importantly, we witness Sylar, now with a built-in lie detector, torment his fake father by letting Peter's bullet slowly find its mark. It seems they've finally decided to just let Sylar run amok–a rogue superpower, if you will–and even though it was hell to arrive to that point, I'm glad things are finally figured out.

C'mon, winter finale. Let's do two in a row, for the first time in a long time.

Grade: B

Stray observations:

- But as much as things change, some things stay the same… Daphne, Ando and Parkman: When you read a comic book, you don't have to debate every individual frame. Read to the end! Do it! Reeeeead!

- In regards to the scene where Sylar kills lie-detector girl, plus three coworkers, a friend I was watching the episode with had a thought: "I'm much more interested in the person who comes into the room five minutes from now and finds four dead bodies. 'Moooooore presents!' "

- Now that Hiro is of his normal age, let us never speak of that dreadful prepubescent mindwarp again.