It's all about the love as Gabriel and Elle connect, Matt and Daphne declare their love for each other, and even Arthur cops to some feelings for Angela...if only inside her head

‘Heroes’ recap: Opening new doors

There are times when I have to give Heroes some credit. It’s not often, given the nature of this past season and a half, but every now and again the show touches something genuine. This week, it was Gabriel and Elle. Granted, their interaction was set up by Arthur Petrelli, who told Gabriel that the way to control his all-consuming hunger was to learn a little empathy — in other words, Sylar’s got to turn on his heart light. But once he got into that barely-lit room with a shackled Elle, their face-off was something to see. Finally, the producers had given Kristen Bell something to do besides pout and smirk. She helped make you feel Elle’s pain and frustration — she did, after all, create the man who killed her father — and her lashing out at Gabriel was a potent release. And the redemption of Sylar continues.

If I had two quibbles about the way this went down, they’d be these: (1) I didn’t buy the quick little romantic reversal at the end of this plot thread. First she was trying to poach him like an egg and then she was sidling in like a handsy tennis pro trying to teach him to serve? A little quick, n’est ce pas? (2) Imagine how much more resonance this would’ve had if the Elle-Gabriel events of last episode weren’t revealed…in the last episode. Had this seed been planted seasons ago — when we first saw the origins of Sylar — it would’ve felt a lot more meaningful than it did. This only lends credence to the idea that the producers are making this up as they go; that beyond a few half-formed concepts, there’s no real grand design at work.

And if you needed more proof, look no further than Hiro. In case you’ve forgotten — and it’s understandable if you have — Hiro was the breakout character of the first season. His journey from amiably goofy wage slave to time-traveling, katana-wielding hero played like an international gloss on the Spider-Man mythos; regular guy discovers great power within himself and makes good. The fact that Hiro has sunk to a whole new level of annoying — a feat that I previously thought impossible — troubles me to no end. So, lemme get this straight: Arthur, who we’ve established has nothing against killing people or planting thoughts in their brains, thought that the best way to deal with what can only charitably be called the Hiro Threat, was to erase the last 18 years of his life. So that he thought he was a waffle-obsessed 10-year-old. Really?

And while we’re on the totally asinine decision to buck Hiro down to Private Nakamura, how exactly did Ando manage to teach young, stupid Hiro to use his powers? By mashing his eyes shut and making his cheeks wobble. I can’t say for sure, but manipulating the space-time continuum has got to be more difficult than that. (And how exactly did Hiro and Ando come across a new issue of 9th Wonder, given that the comic’s writer-artist, Isaac Mendez, was scalped by Sylar a couple of years ago? Unless the Mystical African Spirit Tour Guide was moonlighting as a work-for-hire fill-in artist.)

NEXT: Parkman saves Angela

Given that those were the highs and lows of this week’s episode, I’m going to treat them like football penalties: They offset and cancel each other out. So, what did that leave us with?

Claire boasted to Knox and Flint — who showed up at Peter’s apartment to nab her — ”I’m the defensive player of the year,” and then jumped out of the window. Which is not really playing defense…it’s running away.

Arthur Petrelli dropped a pretty heavy ”Join me, and together we’ll rule the universe as father and son” on Nathan. He must’ve watched lots of The Empire Strikes Back when he was in his coma. But it raises the question: If Nathan was born with the destiny to lead a nation, then why did Arthur try to kill him in the first place? (And a buddy of mine also wondered why a dude with the power to control minds would need to kill someone to keep them quiet.)

Parkman did a little brainpan diving into Angela’s noggin to try and free her from Arthur’s grip. Not only did Matt help save Angela, but he declared his love for Daphne, who loves him right back. Yay! I wonder if Molly and Mohinder will approve. That’s gonna be one crowded crappy Brooklyn apartment.

Speaking of Mohinder — which, as a general rule, I try never to do — he figured out that there’s a missing ingredient to the giving-people-powers formula. Apparently, the blood of a human is needed to complete the serum. A catalyst, and only Kaito Nakamura knew who it was. Claire thinks that because Sylar told her she was special she’s the catalyst. Isn’t it just like her to think the world revolves around her? That whole ”save the cheerleader” business must’ve gone to her head. (Me, I think it’s Ando. He’s the only straight-up human left on the show, and he’s the only person that Kaito would’ve known that no one else did.)

So, hey, another week, another episode. Better than some, nowhere near as good as others. I just wish that Heroes would surprise me again. And not the paper-cut-while-opening-the-mail kind of surprise that Hiro’s become. I feel like that kid in The Incredibles who rolls by the Parr household on the off chance of seeing something awesome. Awesome would be nice.

What did you think? Is it me, or is it getting abundantly clear that Nathan isn’t a Petrelli? Given that all of the Petrelli men seem to be able to steal/absorb powers…and Nathan can’t. Maybe he’s Nathan Linderman. And am I alone in thinking that Elle is the mother to that kid that Peter saw Gabriel raising in the future? How long before we get the big Primatech-Pinehearst blow-out? Company fight!

And check out this clip of Hiro’s shenanigans, and then tell me it’s not out of control.

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