I think my brain just exploded from awesome. I know the folks at Heroes and NBC have been promoting the hell of this episode. Despite that - or maybe because of it - I had some serious misgivings going in.
Because the announced plotline of Hiro going back in time to save Charlie, revisiting one of the better episodes of Season One, just screams "desperate measure." What possible value could such an episode actually have to the show? How could it possibly not lead to disappointment at watching the writers beat the hell out of an old piece of solid work? Answer: JUST FREAKING WATCH IT.
Once upon a time Heroes had the capability to be so awesome it would send me into fangirl conniptions. The craziness is back! Just the credits were enough to drive me into hysterics - Robert Knepper is officially part of the regular cast (as opposed to being a guest star), Elisabeth Rohm is on board (because Heroes can always use another square-faced blonde), and Jayma Mays and Santiago Cabrera and Nora Zehetner!!!
And then came the episode itself.
For the first few minutes, the expansion of the world of the Burnt Toast Diner worried me a little. I felt like giving Sylar a face and a name back in the days when his whole identity was fear in a black ball cap would ruin the mood. I guess I was forgetting that we're not in Season One anymore. This is Season Four, and the rules have most definitely changed. The effect of combining the two was basically magic.
The back-and-forth between Hiro and Sylar, Sylar and Charlie, and Charlie and Hiro were at once brilliantly nostalgic and a fascinating kind of new. I don't remember Hiro and Sylar ever having this sort of a face to face confrontation and it seems long overdue, given that their values and characters are so completely at odds. The writers definitely delivered in this part. As did the fx guys doing all the time-stops and whoever designed that Western-style face-off camera shot. And, best of all, after all the wackiness in the "present" of this season, it was SOOO refreshing to have a dose of good ol' evil as anything Sylar. Zachary Quinto is always a badass, but there are few things better than his early-style Sylar.
The whole Hiro and Charlie bit, which was of course the crux of the whole episode, was saccharine like nothing else. If Hiro weren't so cheerily hilarious in his earnestness, and if Jayma Mays wasn't RIDICULOUSLY adorable, it might have been vomit-worth. As it was, other than the necessarily sickening "happily ever after" conversation, that part of the plot was so genuinely sweet even my dark, shriveled heart that screams for blood and gore couldn't help sighing happily.
I could have gone for more Ando time in this episode, since there hasn't been nearly enough of him this season. But I guess the hilarity of deep-voiced Hiro and his assurance that "Actually, the cheerleader's going to be...fine" will suffice for now.
Over on the other side of town, HRG.
I'm not sure why that happened, to be completely honest. My best guess is that the writers are setting up for some upcoming twists and developments - possibly Lauren (Elisabeth Rohm) in the present? Hopefully there is a purpose beyond just expanding the already massively-complicated enigma that is Noah Bennet. Not that I'm complaining, mind you. HRG is and probably always be the most fascinating and favorite character on Heroes for me. I don't like that he went and almost had an affair. I could have done without Claire and her fake ponytail and totally unnecessary screentime. But I would be lying if I said the nerdfangirl didn't die of happiness at Jack Coleman doing Shakespeare. Cheesy? Yes. Made my life? ABSOLUTELY.
The closing portion of the episode was unquestionably the most phenomenal part of a magical, masterful episode. Bringing Charlie into the present might actually work out, and I never in a million years would have expected to say that. But it really might. (And I definitely would be in favor of that because, again, Jayma Mays is the cutest thing in the universe.) Even if that's not how it all pans out, Hiro is in the clutches of Samuel Sullivan now and I am dying of anticipation. Robert Knepper's unravelling of the Samuel Sullivan manipulation puzzle was one of the most delectably evil performance pieces I have ever seen, especially since he also delivered it with some stirrings of a sort of sick remorse that fascinates and nauseates in equal measure. (For the first time, Sylar has some serious competition in the villain department, in terms of evil and in terms of delivery.) All of it led to the most genuine surprise I've had all season. I got so caught up in the episode that I forgot about Sendhil Ramamurthy being in the opening credits but never showing up in the episode. And then there he was BAM! in the floor full of bullets (or maybe they were rocks, I couldn't tell...). My eyes almost fell out I was so suprised and amazed.
I am soooooooooo looking forward to the next couple weeks. And I say "couple" because next week looks like it's going to be a lot less fun because it's a lot more Peter And The Weirdest Thing To Happen To This Show Since Maya. So we'll probably have to wait a bit before all the doors opened in this episode actually lead anywhere.
...I'm REALLY REALLY EXCITED.
(This review also posted on my blog at http://meltedbrain.wordpress.com)