Spoilers for "Heroes" episode four coming up just as soon as I call the cable guy...
Glory be: an episode where things actually happened! Maybe not a lot of things, and maybe not the most exciting things, but the last few episodes have so lowered the bar that I'll take any episode where the stories aren't all running in place like manna from heaven.
It helped, of course, that of our three most foot-dragging stories, two (Peter and the Lucky Charms gang, Hiro playing Cyrano in feudal Japan) didn't appear at all while the other (Maya and Alejandro's road trip to nowhere) was livened up considerably by its intersection with our favorite brain-eating monster.
(Unless I'm misremembering, by the way, Hiro's absence would make this the first episode of the series not to feature Masi Oka, which would leave Hayden Panettiere and Jack Coleman as the only regulars to be in every episode, even briefly. Right?)
While West still creeps me out, I think (or hope) that he's supposed to, and I have to say that the show's digital FX team is doing a bang-up job with all the flying scenes, both last week and this one. If they don't always look seamless, they're usually close enough and really capture the wonder of flight in a way that we rarely got last year with Nathan's all too brief and infrequent trips into the sky. And if I don't like West, I like that he allows Claire to talk about and question her powers in a way that a real person might under these circumstances, where usually this show's characters are too busy talking about the plot (often in lieu of the plot moving forward) to actually stop and note, "Hey, I can do all this stuff; what does that mean?" I don't want too much navel-gazing, but it feels right that somebody's doing it on occasion.
Meanwhile, lots going on in the New York portion of our story, with Parkman and a freshly-shaved Nathan (who keeps seeing those odd glimpses of his own radiation-scarred reflection) joining forces and Parkman's dad appearing to be this year's Big Bad. (My money, though, is on the woman next to him in the photo -- who unless I miss my guess, was Joanna Cassidy -- being the real danger.) That revelation put some real tension into the My Two Dads arrangement with Mohinder and Molly, and the sequence with Molly looking for Parkman's dad and going comatose was a much better cliffhanger than the last few have been. When season one was arranging all the pieces at a leisurely pace at this time last year, the writers at least managed to keep things interesting with those cliffhangers; maybe if the last two episodes had ended on more surprising notes, we wouldn't all be quite as disenchanted.
(Nah; it's still the first season finale that has everybody's expectations lowered. Never mind.)
Maya and Alejandro continue to be duds, but placing them with Sylar has some potential. I assume sooner or later that he's going to eat one of their brains, and my guess is Alejandro, which would in turn force Maya to follow him around on his evil errands, since he'd be the only antidote to her black oil powers.
I'm far more into our newest newcomer, Micha's cousin Monica, though that may only be because she appears to have the same "photographic reflexes" powers of the Taskmaster, one of my favorite Marvel Comics villains. (Though his costume, pictured above, is kinda goofy, the idea of a guy who can mimic any fighting move by Captain America or Iron Fist or Daredevil really appealed to nine-year-old Alan.) Most of her dialogue thus far seems to be either in the Emo Peter mode (she feels like she's meant for bigger things than a McJob) or about Katrina (in a way that allows "Heroes" to stick it to flailing timeslot rival "K-Ville"), but her power is one that can be shown in interesting but inexpensive ways, meaning she can probably show off more regularly than, say, Nathan or Hiro.
So, mediocre episode, but better than the last couple. I hope this all starts going somewhere, soon -- or, failing that, that we get another "Company Man"-style spotlight episode. Who's in for an all-Tobolowsky hour? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?