After the disappointments of the two-part "eclipse", my expectations for this episode were fairly low. So I was a bit surprised to find that most of this episode was quite enjoyable. It gave me some small hope that a tighter focus with a stronger sense of direction could restore the series to its former glory.
The episode focused on Hiro and Claire, so it's probably no surprise that I liked those plot threads the most. In particular, I found them poignant, which is not something I can say about "Heroes" very often. Both situations required a bit of hand-waving and contrivance to work as intended, but after a while, you learn to accept such things (to a certain degree).
I know a lot of people have come to despise Claire, and to an extent it's understandable, but I think the majority of the problem is the writing. Hayden wasn't phoning anything in on this episode. Was it a little too convenient for Noah to listen to the babbling teenage girl with an unknown ability standing over the baby he was just ordered to protect at all costs? Probably. But I couldn't help but smile when he said, "Claire-bear", and realized what was happening.
Similarly, while it seems a bit odd that Hiro's father wouldn't notice the similarities between his son and the mysteriously befuddled "chef" that appeared out of nowhere, the scenes between Hiro and his mother were simply golden. I'd like the writers to bring this generational aspect of the show to an end, to be honest, but this worked. At least, it worked until Arthur came along out of nowhere and undercut Hiro's heroic decision to take on responsibility for the catalyst.
So where the catalyst came from is completely vague, but it can be transferred and apparently works like "the glow" from "The Last Dragon". Wonderful. But why give Hiro the first meaningful moment in the entire volume, only to snatch it out from under him? There's a certain shock value to it all, but the plot necessities seem to be driving that moment.
After all, the writers needed the catalyst to be revealed so that Arthur could steal it, use it to activate the Not-Promicin (because it's red, not green), power up the first batch of Super-Soldiers (beginning, ironically, with a former cast member of "The 4400"), thus setting the stage for a serious Sylar killing spree. After all, once Arthur is conveniently out of the way, Sylar is in the perfect position to force the soldiers to take the Not-Promicin and then steal the resulting abilities.
As usual, Sylar's character motivations are all over the place, and now, his supposed hunger has turned him into a Dexter clone. Now it's not about parental approval, or the hunger for power; it's about the hunger to kill in the process. It's suddenly a liking for violence. This may swing him back closer to the amoral characterization of the first two seasons, but it doesn't ring true with the rest of the third volume at all.
At the very least, Sylar's arrival should put an end to Arthur's plan, regardless of Nathan's intentions. Sylar might even wipe out Nathan and Tracy in the process of taking control of the facility. But I'm not sure whether or not this will end with Peter and Hiro's powers restored. A lot is still up in the air, and the writers still need to bring all of this to a meaningful conclusion.