Either I'm lowering my expectations for "Heroes" this season, or this was a relatively strong episode. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that the writers are finally getting around to pulling some of the disparate plot threads together and making sense of it all. I really like the idea that many of the established metahumans or "Specials" are being manipulated into villainy, not because it's remotely original, but because of the characters involved.
It's always more interesting when the villains believe that they are doing the right thing, because it's more authentic. Far more authentic than, say, the notion that people go bad because of a "hunger" that drives them to do harm. I'm still annoyed that they took that direction with Sylar, and it looks like the same thing is happening with Peter. The only saving grace is the strong possibility that Peter will go completely rogue, and Sylar will be the one dispatched to stop him. It would be a nice way to bring about their long-promised full-powered confrontation.
To be honest, I don't remember much about Arthur Petrelli, but considering how much of the season has been about family issues, I suppose it makes sense for him to be the mastermind this time around. Here again, we have an original founder of the Company threatening the world. From what I recall, wasn't Arthur Petrelli a normal human being? Perhaps he gave himself a power, just as he did with the children he experimented with; he could have thus concluded that the world would be better off if everyone had a power.
Whatever the case, one must question a number of unusual circumstances in the current season, now that we know that Arthur has a "Mastermind" character in his employ. That said, I think Matt's current spiritual journey will hold particular importance. Unless the writers claim that Matt's experience is one big illusion, it probably holds the key to the resolution of this threat. Arthur may not know what Matt has been shown, and that would allow Matt to infiltrate the "villains" and make the difference.
Hiro is another character with a questionable vision of the future. The rift between Hiro and Ando was already hard to reconcile, especially the speed of their friendship's apparent decline. This episode only compounds the issue with one of the more ridiculous scenes in the history of the series. Does anyone really believe that Hiro stabbed Ando to death? Hiro's supposed betrayal was so quick and contrived that it nearly undermined all the other material in the episode on its own.
In contrast, the writers are doing exactly what I had hoped they would do with Claire: they are making a strong case for her eventual descent. Claire acts out on her own, ready to take extreme action, but her compassion leads her to a different path. If Mr. Bennett hadn't first shown up with Sylar, then hadn't used the renegade as a pawn to kill Sylar, Claire might have retained some trust in the "good guys". But now that faith is shattered, it makes sense that she would be vulnerable to anyone who presents her with a sense of self-security.
"Heroes" is still suffering from the same lack that keeps it from running with the best genre shows currently on the air. "Lost", "Supernatural", and "Battlestar Galactica" feature outlandish situations, but the focus is on character psychology. We have some insight into how the characters view themselves in this episode, but with the exception of Claire, it lacks depth. The focus is all too external; the show would truly excel if the focus was on internally consistent growth.