Spoilers for last night's "Heroes" coming up just as soon as I figure out how much the American pie-makers lobby has paid to have its product integrated into so many shows in the last few weeks...
I have to applaud Arthur Petrelli for decapitating our African spirit guide/plot device, because hopefully it means we'll be spared any more episodes in which one character eats the special paste and then spends the rest of the hour watching flashbacks or flashforwards of nebulous plot or entertainment value.
Both "Villains" and "I Am Become Death" felt like clumsy attempts to recapture the magic of first season episodes like "Five Years Later" and, to a lesser extent, "Six Months Ago." It's like Tim Kring, Jeph Loeb and Jesse Alexander(*) got together and said, "Well, everybody's mad at us. How can we give the people what they want?" "Well, they liked some of those time-bending episodes we did back in season one. Why don't we do more of that?" "Brilliant!"
(*) The various stories about the axing of Loeb and Alexander aren't exactly filling me with confidence that this will somehow be a cure-all for the series. Not only will their absence not be felt until very late in this season, but it sounds like they're being scapegoated. In the New York Times story on all the changes, Edward Wyatt compares the axing of Loeb and Alexander to George Steinbrenner firing the Yankees' pitching coach in the '80s because the team was slumping.
I don't feel like we learned enough -- or enough of interest -- about our various villains to justify the time spent watching Hiro watch their stories, and other than a reminder that HRG used to be a very, very bad man, none of the stories were particularly entertaining. If anything, they served as a reminder that The Company, whether it's supposed to be good or evil, is among the dumbest ultra-secret organizations in the history of filmed entertainment, even though it employs some of the show's allegedly brainier characters like Angela Petrelli and HRG. Encouraging Sylar to become a power-stealing serial killer? Again, brilliant!
What did everybody else think?