(Note: This review covers the second half of the two-hour season premiere event. The first half was covered in a previous review.)
The season premiere was all about setting up the plot threads for this third volume ("Villains"), regardless of how ridiculous some of the required plot acrobatics might have been. But sometimes it's necessary to sacrifice one episode's credibility in the hopes of breathing new life into a concept. With a little cribbing from the best stories of comic book history, the writers might have done just that.
Villains are always fun, and whenever a band of heroes is brought together, the bad guys follow suit. The Company's little dungeon, a fixture since the first season, is the site of a Sylar-induced breakout, and now some of the most powerful and socially repugnant metahumans are on the street, killing and pillaging without a care.
It takes some time to get there, and the theme of the episode is "unintended consequences". Future Peter tried to do the right thing by killing Nathan, but his actions set events in motion. Angela Petrelli is more than happy to blame him for everything, but as noted in the review for the premiere, the coming apocalypse seems to be the result of a convergence of several issues.
In particular, the breakout at the Company was the result of Elle's failure to stop Sylar. Sylar managed to get his hands on Claire, and subsequently, had the power to invade Level 5. Elle intervened, and the result was the breakout. That seems to be more an indictment of Elle's unusual upbringing and lack of judgment than anything Future Peter might have caused. And how exactly is Angela's decision to toss Elle out on her own going to work out well?
In an interesting twist, Sylar does not get away during the breakout, and Angela seems to have plans for him. Not only that, but according to her, it's a family issue; Sylar is apparently another Petrelli brother. At this rate, the Petrellis are going to be as large and dysfunctional as the Summers family from the "X-Men" books.
On the other hand, it's building up the rivalry and parity between Peter and Sylar more than ever, and the writers have once again set things up to delay that inevitable confrontation. The real Peter is stuck with the villains; if Sylar goes after them, and eventually he will, then the two will battle. Future Peter is the wild card, but if Sylar is pursuing the villains, it's possible they'll be allies rather than foes for a time.
Claire, on the other hand, is well on her way to becoming a villain. Her ability to experience pain was a touchstone, however disturbing as that might sound. She could at least pretend, on some level, that she was human. One has to wonder if Sylar did something intentionally to set Claire on her current path. Whatever the case, she's losing perspective very, very quickly, and her descent seems assured.
Mohinder appears on the same path, but the state of his transformation might delay any true villainy. One would also imagine that it would delay the release of the metahuman serum long enough for the villains to expose the presence of the metahumans on their own. Future Peter may have changed the precise circumstances, but as Angela, Hiro, and Magical African Minority Man can attest, the future is still looking dark and dreary.
Speaking of Hiro, he's being ridiculous with Ando. Ando tosses out a few good explanations for what Hiro saw in the future, but Hiro is being rather stubborn with his own interpretation. Will it ever occur to him that his distrustful attitude might be the main reason why Ando eventually turns on him? It's a fairly old story, after all.
Still confusing, however, is this business with "Tracy". Not only does she claim not to be Nikki (or Jessica, for that matter), but she also has this unexpected freezing power. That power seemed to be a bit of a shock to her as well, actually, which just adds to the confusion. The mystery is more