On the season 2 premiere of ''Heroes,'' while Claire, Nathan, and Parkman lie low, Hiro learns that his samurai idol was just a greedy drunk
Credit: Mitchell Haaseth

Heroes (TV series)

The season 2 premiere of ”Heroes”: Hiro’s journey

Well, hello, Heroes fans! Welcome back to prime time. It’s been…how long since we’ve checked in with our extraordinary friends? Ah yes, four months. Four long months during which we all fretted that Peter was a fireball goner, Parkman was a perforated piece of dead fuzz, and Hiro was about to become sod under the hooves of 17th-century samurai horses.

But of course not. All the main players are back in the season 2 premiere, called, simply, ”Four Months Later.” Sure, Tim Kring and Co. tried to make us believe that Peter Petrelli is dead — nothing says ”grieving brother” like an unkempt beard and a booze problem — but at the end of the hour, in the episode’s very best scene, there sat poor, shirtless Pete, chained up in a metal cargo bin on a dock in Cork, Ireland. Wha?? Despite ostensibly going kaboom way up there with the stars in the season 1 finale, Peter has nary a scratch on him. Could his survival be the result of his absorption of Claire’s regenerative powers before his high-flying brother scooped him up? Did the nefarious Company swoop in and take him, marking him with that telltale symbol he wears on a necklace around his neck? What about his inability to remember his name? Did the supersonic air travel with big bro zap his memory? At least we know that wherever Petey’s been these past four months, it was somewhere with a decent barber shop. Spiffy haircut, pal. (By the way, did the Peter-in-chains scene remind anyone else of the episode from Buffy season 3 when the Slayer finds a disoriented, feral, back-from-hell Angel similarly tied up?)

So Peter Petrelli lives. The question is, does his family know? It would appear brother Nathan, mama Angela, and niece Claire do not. Speaking of Miss Indestructible, she and her family have left Texas for the SoCal town of Costa Verde, where she goes by the name of Claire Butler. (Ms. Bennet’s last name isn’t the only thing that’s changed. New hairdos must run in the family.) To fly under the radar of those evil mutant hunters, in her new life she must be as ”unextraordinary” as possible. We know that’s an impossible goal, but the idea is soon echoed by West, a flirtatious classmate who almost ran Claire over on her first day of 11th grade. Then, after sidling up to her desk during science lab, he asked her repeatedly if she was a ”robot” or an ”alien.” Simple high school jargon for a popular kid or a freak? Well, yes. But it’s more than that. West, like Claire’s own biological daddy, can fly. Can’t say I was really all that surprised that West was more than your average teenage misfit. And I didn’t even need next week’s teaser to guess that he and Claire were destined to get all smoochy. Good for Claire. Girl deserves to cut loose a little and make goofy eyes at a cute boy. Especially now that her cheerleading days are over. (Was it me, or did her back-to-school sweater look kind of cheerleader-y?)

Also not dead? Parkman. Divorced but fully recovered from those four bullet wounds, the former flunky is now a full-fledged NYPD detective. Dude relocated to the Big Apple, where he and Mohinder are looking after I-Spy-With-My-Superpower-Eye-a-Boogeyman” Molly. Poor Molly. She’s been falling asleep in school because of nightmares of the Big Bad, a creature that can see her (yikes!) and, according to her crayon drawings, looks like a deranged reject from a casting call for The Lion King. He too bears the slithery mark of imminent doomsday. Right between the eyes. Who is this monster? Compared to him, Sylar seems like a lightweight. But are the two baddies connected? Do either have anything to do with the hooded guy who pushed Mr. Nakamura off the Deveaux rooftop to what we were led to believe is his death? Mr. Nakamura recognized his attacker, who, come to think of it, has a little something of Sylar about him. And since everyone else survived the season 1 finale, why should Sylar be any different? Are we really to believe he’s gone for good? (Obviously not, if you watched the teaser.)

As for Molly’s other adoptive daddy, Mohinder’s been lecturing around the globe, seemingly trying to spread the scientific gospel of his late father but actually offering himself up as bait to the Company so that he, with H.R.G. (a.k.a. Noah), can take the whole thing down. That was a nice little twist. But I should have seen it coming. Stephen Tobolowsky, who plays the Midas-touched rep from the Company who turned up in Cairo to offer Mohinder a job, just had that bad-guy look about him from the moment we first glimpsed him in the audience.

NEXT: The big reveal

So yeah, a heavy episode over all — especially all that stuff with the ominous torn photo showing Mr. Nakamura and Angela Petrelli marked for death. Then there was the introduction of twins Maya and Alejandro, on the run from the law in Honduras for murder. Judging by the damage Maya did to all the passengers in the ”coyote” truck taking them across the border into the States, gal’s got some temper-control issues. Dark stuff. Even H.R.G. seemed to be having a rotten time in his new job at the Kinko’s-like Copy Kingdom, where he answers to an infuriating punk of a boss who takes his paper-pushing job more seriously than Dwight Schrute — and with far less unintentional charm. (”The paper business is dog-eat-dog,” he told H.R.G. Ooh! Scary!) Ultimately, though, no one effs with Noah. ”I am done eating your crap,” he calmly told his manager — right after he grabbed the jerk’s finger and flipped him over onto the table. Take that, jackass. Still, this being Heroes, it’s hard not to wonder if the boss from hell will have some other function down the road. Bad guy? Good guy? Nobody?

Like lots of Heroes episodes, the season 2 premiere had scenes strong enough to make me shiver (e.g., Nathan seeing the reflection of his burned brother in the mirror — creepy!), but it also felt a tad overloaded to me. Now, we’re always forced to juggle a dizzying number of plotlines in the show — such is the nature of Kring’s sprawling superpowered universe — but it would have been nice to see this particular hour paced a little more delicately. Instead, we got a lot of Here’s Claire in gym class! There’s Molly’s talking in her fitful sleep! Whoops, now there’s Claire again, still in gym class!

And then there’s our beloved Hiro, stuck in 17th-century Japan. His scenes provided a welcome bit of comic relief — especially his discovery that his childhood hero Takezo Kensei — he whose sword Hiro stole to kill Sylar — is nothing more than a gaijin, which is Japanese for a tow-headed British lush. (Kidding. The word means ”foreigner.”) Hiro spent a lot of time wrapping his head around the fact that he was altering history with his little four-century jaunt backward. Seems our guy is poised to do all the arse-saving that Kensei is too lazy — or drunk — to do himself. Which in essence means that Hiro will become Kensei in the history books. Will it mean he gets the girl, too?

Okay, TV Watchers. It’s way, waaaaay past my bedtime. So until we meet again next week, I’ll leave you with a few questions to ponder: How long before Claire realizes she can’t hide her true ”extraordinary” nature, no matter the danger? Did any of you actually miss the Niki-Jessica-D.L.-Micah story line? What do you think of newcomers Maya and Alejandro? Back in high school, were you a robot or an alien? (Full disclosure: I was an alien.) And most important, when oh when do we get to meet new cast member Kristen Bell?

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