This week's Heroes was a sort of The Good, The Bad, and The Other Thing situation. As a whole, it was definitely leaning over toward the positive side. The three storylines didn't really gel together as a single narrative or complement each other intellectually, but each separate pice was enjoyable in its own right - and, of course, each had some weak points as well.
MATT & SYLAR
I was thriled to have Parkman vs. The Syluccination back on. They're one of the funniest comedy teams ever on Heroes - not that there's a whole lot of competition, but still. It's an hilarious contrast to the good old Season One days when Sylar had no face and Matt was just a cop trying to bring him to justice. Always great to have a reminder of those days...
In terms of the present story, the brain battling is brilliantly written and has definitely been one of the strong points of this season so far. Their rapport represents new and enduring elements both, which is good for consistency points (and the show does need those), and it gives Greg Grunberg and Zachary Quinto, two of my favorite actors on the show, the chance to really show their stuff.
The end result of this episode was maybe not a surprise...although I didn't expect it. Not yet, anyway. It was a good move though, and I'm definitely looking forward to seeing Greg Grunberg do Zachary Quinto (go rewatch "Five Years Gone" when Adrian Pasdar does it - it's fantastic). The problem I had with this new development is the way we got there. Sylar the Sex Master and Matt the Alcoholic? Really, guys? Really? The fx for Sylar fading away were awesome, but not awesome enough to make up for that crackiness.
Oh, last note on this storyline: Matt called Mohinder. Is he going to come back at long last?
HRG, JEREMY, TRACY & SAMUEL
I was not happy to see Tracy back in HRG's part of the world AT ALL.
...I'll get back to that in a moment. But first, HRG and (more importantly, oddly enough) Jeremy. This is quite possibly the greatest thing that has happened on Heroes for the last couple of seasons. Season One was all about the reactions people have to discovering their abilities, and the process of becoming a hero, a villain, or a victim. Jeremy and his story represented an entirely new take on the process and it is probably the truest tragedy ever on Heroes. It was horribly sad and it was absolutely beautiful, and it took on a greater meaning than its basic function to provide a character transitioning/transforming catalyst for Tracy and HRG.
HRG definitely needs a new sort of direction if he's going to continue being an asset to the show, so that makes sense to me. What does not make sense to me is why Tracy got thrown into this whole song and dance. Looking back at her from introduction to present, this newest development makes absolutely no sense. I've never liked Tracy as a character. We know that. I did like Niki. We also know that. But I do not like Tracy as Niki, and that's sort of what seems to be happening here. As a part of the future of the whole narrative, I can see why Tracy needed to get put on this trajectory. It doesn't work at all using hindsight.
And just WHY? Why did Samuel Sullivan decide to go after Tracy next? I didn't even know she was on his radar. Was it just because she was the weakest link? (Y'know, 'cause she is.) Is he looking to recruit everyone? (I really was not understanding that at all.) Color me confused.
Also color me gray. I don't approve of Samuel Sullivan at his baddest, generally speaking - I mean, the mansion in the sinkhole? Not cool. But I was fully in support of him burying that asshole cop. Because someone on the show needs to answer to karma. Even if it isn't genuine karmic punishment.
CLAIRE & GRETCHEN
I do not have a whole lot to say about this. Because not a whole lot went down. What I will say is that my only real question/complaint here was wondering if sorority hazing is actually that intense. Otherwise, this was admittedly not bad. If I weren't predisposed to hate all things Claire Bennet on principle, I might actually have enjoyed it.
We'll call the final response to this episode mixed. There were things that worked - and some that REALLY worked. There were things that didn't. I definitely really enjoyed it, though. The episode was definitely filler/transition in terms of the overall season plotline, but it was pretty excellent filler (a few unfortunate misfirings aside).
(This review also posted on my blog at http://meltedbrain.wordpress.com)