After posting my review for the previous episode, I read a long director's blog from Greg Beeman, a longtime producer for the series. As it turns out, Beeman was equally dubious regarding the eclipse, its effect on the metahumans, and the claim that the previous eclipse gave them all their powers. He pointed out, rather simply, that the powers were already there (and others agreed, pointing to the Twelve as the most obvious examples). Apparently this was a matter of contention within the writers' room, and it's not hard to figure out which side won that battle.
Therein lies this season's eternal debate. I've been criticized for misinterpreting apparent gaps in continuity, but here we have an example of a producer for the show pointing out the very same issues. And that didn't even begin to cover the lack of character continuity, which is a problem when the whole point of the eclipse (rammed into our brains through the monologue) was to bring out the "truth" at the core of each character.
Sylar's character was a mess in this episode. At the beginning of the episode, he's contemplating the wonderful virtues of being powerless and no longer feeling the hunger. Whatever happened to the entire second season, when he was equally powerless? He was still a murderous psychopath. The fact that he returns to that state by the end of the episode (and kills without self-interest, which doesn't make sense either) doesn't excuse the lapse in logic.
There are still shades of the familiar Sylar in the character as presented. Noah points out that Sylar's serious "mommy issues" are still pushing him to question his worth and seek approval, and one could note that a sane person wouldn't allow their beliefs to be shaken so often. Sylar's changed personalities about 14 times in about a week's worth of story time!
The glaring McGuffin of the eclipse was designed to expose the true Sylar, the one hiding behind a veneer of heroism. The net effect was to render his third season character arc entirely moot. What was the point of it all? To show what might have been, had Sylar not been so psychologically damaged? That he might have learned to analyze and absorb abilities without killing, but now it's too much of an addiction? The character's been all over the map for so long that it's unclear what the intention was.
Perhaps the problem is the wasted opportunity presented by the eclipse itself. The coming of the eclipse was heralded as a major event, as if it would change everything for the characters and the world they inhabit. Instead, it was little more than a momentary diversion. Nothing that happened during the eclipse seems to have mattered. There were no lasting consequences, except for the apparent killing of Elle (way to waste Kristen Bell).
Let me be more clear. Whose motivations changed appreciably from what they were before the eclipse? Even Nathan was already on the path; he didn't really need to go all "Authority" based on a side trip to Haiti. Nor was there any chance that Peter was going to be allowed to sacrifice himself to feel heroic. But at the very least, wouldn't it make sense that if the eclipse took away the inability to be harmed or die, as with Claire, that death during that period would be permanent?
Other moments were hobbled by the massive amount of plot. Whatever point the writers were trying to make with Daphne and her father was completely undermined by the lack of time and effort. Three lines of dialogue and a hug do not constitute meaningful character development. And the Haitian situation suffered from a distinct lack of context. As a result, these supposedly pivotal character moments felt unearned.
That, in the end, is the central problem: a large majority of the plot twists feel rushed, half-baked, and completely out of nowhere. There's no sense of momentum, no build to an anticipated climax. The story is still so disparate that the coming conflict between Arthur an