Man, the show took a week off, and look what happens. Two writer/producers are out. TVGuide.com, EW.com, and The New York flippin’ Times all get in on the “what’s wrong with this show?” bandwagon. And when the show comes back, its name changes?
All right, well, that part was just a clever title conceit. This week’s episode, titled “Villains”, played a nice trick with the opening logo. It was pretty literal, as Hiro’s vision quest allowed him to see a number of critical flashbacks linking Papa Petrelli, Linderman, Sylar, Elle, Flint (named Flint because he makes fire! Ha!), and Meredith, among others.
There were some good bits in this episode, but two major hurdles flew in the face of the positive accomplishments. First off, fire-man Flint is Meredith’s brother?! Good freaking Lord, he’s Claire’s uncle? How many people does Claire have to be related to on this show? With all the entangled family drama, it’s like Heroes of Port Charles at this point. By my count, Claire has her Petrelli grandparents, bio-dad Nathan, bio-uncle Peter, two half-siblings via Nathan, bio-mom Meredith, her bio-uncle Flint, her adoptive brother, and her adoptive parents. That’s eleven, and a bit much.
The other problem was putting an exact clock on everything with “18 months ago”. Doesn’t it seem like all the things that we’ve seen on the show should have taken longer than that? Honestly, consider Nathan’s political bids, the accident that injured his wife, Peter’s obtaining of a degree AND the job taking care of Shaft, Meredith’s company adventure converging on Claire’s train rescue, the FBI becoming aware of Sylar as an ongoing threat (necessitating the story in Season One with Parkman and Clea Duvall, remember that?) . . . not to mention that the 18 months wound back to before Mr. Petrelli’s supposed death . . . sorry, but I don’t think I buy that timeline.
Among the good bits: Eric Roberts was back as Thompson! It’s a shame that they smoked that guy early in the game, as he’s got more personality than a lot of the background villains. That makes two great guest-spots by Roberts this season; the other was as himself in the desert episode of Entourage. I did enjoy the stealth Claude reference (“an invisible man tackled me”), but that seems awfully compressed, too; I got the impression that Claude had been off the reservation a long time in season one, not mere weeks.
As has been the norm lately, some of the best material came from the veteran actors. The interaction between the Petrelli parents and Linderman was top-notch, as was Angela’s play to poison her husband. Adrian Pasdar had several good moments here as well; he seems to be at his best when he plays angry. Brief shout out to the brief return of Peter Petrelli’s floppy hair; nice of them to remember that vision-impairing detail.
Honestly, this one did fill in some background elements nicely, but it did grind the overall narrative to a halt. Coming out of the flashback, Hiro and Ando (the absolute worst wingman/lookout in recorded history) discover that Usutu has quite literally lost his head. The culprit? Arthur Petrelli, and he’s there for Hiro.
So what did you think, kids? Back on track? Careening off the rails? You were watching football? Let us know.