This show is becoming increasingly difficult to review, not because of its complexity, but because of its chaotic inability to settle into meaningful plot threads. The story is propelling along towards something, as this complication-laden episode attests, but it's hard to know what the endgame might be, beyond setting up yet another powerful villain from the days of the Twelve.
Arthur Petrelli may be the worst of them all at this point, because he has the ability to steal abilities (just like his sons Peter and Gabriel), but the process takes them from the original "owner". This is an important distinction, especially for Adam, as it meant instant death. It also means that Arthur has immortality from Adam, a hunger for power from Sylar (via Peter), and a wide array of offensive and defensive powers from Peter. In short, Arthur is the kind of villain that Sylar was supposed to be by the end of the first season, only far more powerful.
Making him this powerful by the middle of the third volume should give the writers the opportunity to take the season in a logical direction. Arthur has been assembling those with abilities he wants or can utilize in other respects, but despite Angela's best and equally questionable efforts, there's no assembled team ready to counter Arthur at the moment. So for a little while, at least, Arthur will have his way.
Ironically, I think Sylar is going to be the focal point of the resistance against Arthur (in a nice bit of generational strife, harkening back to the second season). I think he'll do it in the name of his mother, the only person who treated him as someone special. And in turn, he will make himself into something special, perhaps explaining the process how he could overcome the negative aspects of his ability. If the writers want to make something of this mess they've made, that's the most direct way to accomplish it.
The trick is going to be making sense of the journeys for nearly every other character. In particular, Hiro's journey is becoming a major annoyance. The second season supposedly advanced Hiro's character out of his awkward phase into something more assured. This season, he's once again the bumbling idealistic fool. Hiro is one of the most powerful of the metahumans when given the chance to express his ability properly, so why reduce him to a laughing stock?
I was relatively happy with the direction they took with Claire in the previous episode, but I'm not so sure what this episode was supposed to accomplish. Was this experience meant to toughen Claire by showing her what kind of animals have abilities, thus increasing her already potent fear of being victimized again? If so, then the writers didn't quite sell it in that fashion. Instead, it felt like a way to pad the episode.
The time spent on Denise and Matt;s "first" meeting was a little better, because it began to explore some of the divisions growing among the metahumans and Denise's faltering faith in the rightness of her actions. Similarly, it was great to see Peter and Sylar have a little family spat while they still could. But I have no idea what Mohinder's role in all of this will be, or why Nathan and Tracy had to wind up in his clutches.
I can speculate that Mohinder's ongoing work to find a cure to remove abilities will eventually succeed, despite Peter's trip into the future, and the result will be a weapon that could be used to defeat Arthur Petrelli at the end of the "Villains" arc. Perhaps that's why the next arc is called "Fugitives"; one would imagine that Arthur's minions would run for the hills and need to be apprehended.
The problem with "Heroes" is the same as it's been since the first season finale: wasted potential. The first season had its issues, but it still made a strong case for future growth. The first season finale was a huge letdown, and the show has struggled to find itself since that defining moment. There are some great ideas and good stories