The Peter-Sylar story line defined the season's third episode, as we find out if redemption is possible for the Big Bad
Zachary Quinto, Heroes, ...
Credit: Chris Haston/NBC

Heroes (TV series)

‘Heroes’ recap: A return to glory days

At this point, I know what you’re expecting from me. I’ve read the comments. I know what you think of the way, week in and week out, I take Heroes to task for the way it continues to squander its promise. It doesn’t bother me because I am a man of steel, impervious to message board flame. But I am aware.

So, for those of you who think my heart is made of kryptonite, I will say this right up top: I Am Become Death was, hands down, the best episode of Heroes of the last two years. Hands effing down. I still think it was a mistake to rehash the same ”Days of Future Past” storytelling conceit year after year — but for the first time since that first season, it has yielded something glorious.

That’s not to say that all of ”I Am Become Death” was a masterpiece. It wasn’t. There’s still stupid Hiro and Desert Parkman. There’s still the oddness of Dead-Head-Linderman. But the Peter-Sylar/Gabriel story line was so strong it made up for all of that.

Why? Because it presented us with a complete story. It showed us a Sylar who, over the course of four years, has come through to the other side of villainy and found a man named Gabriel. A man who understands what he is and has come to terms with it. A domesticated vampire who is content to sit in his kitchen and make waffles for his son, Noah. And when Present Peter showed up, looking to adopt the Sylar-power in a bid to — what else? — save the world, he rained destruction on Gabriel and everything he’d built. These two characters are the axis upon which Heroes revolves. Mirror images, the same man seen in two different lights. Brothers, both metaphorically and literally. Wouldn’t it be stunning if, now that Peter’s got Sylar’s power and corresponding hunger, he turned into our Big Bad?

When Claire and her hit squad show up, the show finds a way to make us root for Evil Sylar to return. For the first time, we want to see the monster, because only the monster can save young Noah, threatened by Knox the Fear Smeller. And when he does, Gabriel’s rage becomes our catharsis. Sure, it’s manipulative to introduce a cute kid simply to foster empathy and then snuff him out to evoke a shared anger. But, damn, if it didn’t feel good to watch the world burn…or at least Costa Verde.

That, my friends, was some mighty fine broadcasting.

NEXT: Mohinderfly

The more I think about it, Heroes might not actually be a show about saving the world. It’s about the futility of trying to save the world, and the fact that we try anyway.

I didn’t even mind the Tomorrow Land lead-up to the showdown at the Bennet house. Claire, Daphne, and Knox killed Future Peter; there was the revelation that Daphne is married to Parkman and they’re raising both Molly and a baby of their own; we found out the fate of Mohinderfly, who was clearly not an insect at all; and saw that Claire’s Hit Squad served at the pleasure of President Nathan Petrelli.

I’ve gotta say, I dug the transformation of Mohinder into a cross between Medusa and Voldemort. (And I really dug the little ”rattle” cues on the soundtrack.) Watching He Who Must Not Be Named slither around his apartment, talking to/hunting Present Peter reminded me of Perseus navigating the Gorgon’s lair in Clash of the Titans. And since I love Clash of the Titans to death, that worked for me.

As for the rest of the episode, parts of it worked, parts of it didn’t. I like the idea that some of the heroes we know weren’t born, but were made. (And I think that Hiro’s one who came off the factory floor.) I’m gonna go on record saying that Tracy will be the key to Mohinder stabilizing the formula: she’s walking, talking evidence that DNA modification can work.

Hiro was still in proud possession of the idiot ball — bumbling like a putz trying to escape from Level Two, painfully mending fences with Ando, and blindly following Angela’s directive to bust Adam Monroe out of his tomb — but Parkman was frantically waving his hands that he was open. Get him back to reading minds and moping around the States, and take that stupid chipmunk make-up off his face.

Even for all of that, this hour of Heroes was head and shoulders above any in recent memory. For the first time in a long time, I’m actually looking forward to next week. And that’s saying something.

So, what did you think? Were you as jazzed by the Peter-Gabriel pas de deux as I was? Is Dead-Head-Linderman a figure of Nathan’s imagination or are there other forces at work? Dr. Zimmerman gave abilities to triplets — how long until we meet Barbara, and what surprises will she hold? If, in the future, people are flying around like so many pigeons or running off like the Flash, why are there still so many cabs in New York?

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