Heroes ? Episode 313

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It’s been a rocky third season for Heroes but, fortunately, the last few installments of the “Villains” storyline have done a great deal to redeem it. The final “Villains” episode, “Dual,” doesn’t necessarily tie up all of the season’s loose ends, leaving them for Volume Four: “Fugitives” in 2009, but many of the show’s relationships and moral dilemmas are given some satisfying resolution and should leave most fans craving the next batch of episodes. Oh, and there are lots and lots of explosions. That’s never a bad thing, right?

This episode—as has been the case for the entire season—is at its most intriguing when it centers on Sylar, who has proven to be even more evil than ever after his brief foray into the “heroic” side of things just a few episodes back. In “Dual,” Sylar locks Claire, her mother Meredith, her adoptive father Noah and her grandmother Angela inside the Primatech building where he forces them to make difficult, sadistic choices. All the while, he torments them over a loudspeaker.

“Before the night is over, I’m going to prove to you, one by one, that you’re all monsters…exactly like me,” he taunts. No longer torn between right and wrong, the calculating Sylar has clearly chosen a side. And the scary thing is, he really seems to be enjoying himself. Heroes is the type of show that needs a villain viewers love to hate, and Sylar fits that bill phenomenally.

Sylar jabs Meredith in the chest with an adrenaline shot, making her unable to control her flame abilities. He then locks Noah in one of Primatech’s bulletproof Level 5 cells with her armed only with a single bullet. Clearly, the only way for Noah to escape certain flame-broiled death is to kill Meredith, but his "Clairebear" uses her own self-regenerating body to crash through the glass and save him. Unfortunately, her combustible biological mom must be left behind as her out-of-control powers threaten to set the entire building ablaze.

As Claire is busy rescuing Noah and Meredith, Sylar interrogates Angela and learns the truth about his heritage. No, he’s not a Petrelli, and Angela was only using Sylar as a blunt instrument to kill her husband. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of that family?

Claire knows that despite Sylar’s healing ability—which he stole from her earlier this season—he can be put out of commission by being stabbed at the back of his head, thereby shutting down his brain until whatever object plunged into his skull is removed. In this case, that object is a shard of glass, with Claire—who has been struggling with her inability to defend herself this season—taking down the series’ most sinister super-powered murderer, albeit surely temporarily. Three cheers for the cheerleader! Moments later, however, the entire building goes up in flames with Claire’s mother still inside and, apparently, dead.

Over at Pinehearst, Meredith’s brother Flint is helping Peter Petrelli and Knox trash the lab, destroying all traces of the formula despite the protests of Mohinder Suresh, who desperately needs to inject himself with the formula to cure himself of his degenerative condition. Powerless, Peter is beaten down by his brother Nathan, who is becoming more and more like his late father Arthur by the minute. Tracy, Nathan’s assistant, freezes Knox to death, but he fires her when she suggests that they both distance themselves from Pinhearst for political reasons. Peter and Nathan come to blows in the lab, with the highly combustible formula coating just about every surface. Flint lights the lab up, Pinehearst explodes and Peter—who injects himself with the formula in the nick of time to restore his powers—grabs his brother and escapes. The formula is destroyed, Arthur is dead and Mohinder, after getting doused in the formula, is cured of his scaly condition.

While all of this is going on, Ando, Daphne and Matt are still trying to figure out how to rescue the powerless Hiro, who remains stuck 16 years in the past and dangling from a flagpole. The trio plans to steal a sample of the formula from the pre-exploded Pinehearst—made far easier thanks to Daphne’s speedy abilities.  Ando injects himself with the formula, and is somehow convinced that he will be granted time-traveling abilities simply because he wants them at that moment. This huge logical leap seems only to set up some comical sequences during which Ando attempts to “scrunch” his eyes and travel through time—a Hiro trademark. Instead, Ando is granted the ability to super-charge the powers of others. Ando boosts Daphne’s running abilities, enabling her to travel around the world, in true Superman: The Movie fashion, at such speeds as to actually travel back in time and rescue Hiro. The two former nemeses then travel to where Tracy has the physical paper copy of the formula stashed away and destroy it. Hiro then knocks Tracy out cold with a well-placed punch for good measure. Hey, what would you do if someone called you "Pikachu?"

If you haven’t been following the series all along, the last few paragraphs must have been utter nonsense to you, and even if you’re an avid Heroes viewer, the series is difficult to keep track of due to the exhausting number of storylines at play. At times, it’s frustrating, but when it pays off as it has in this season it all seems worth it. This Heroes story arc has been the most ambitious yet, and while it has stumbled along the way it has accomplished everything it set out to do. It has explored the ethical duality in each of the series’ primary characters, shifted their allegiances and even questioned their individual ideologies. It could have been very easy for Heroes writers to cast aside their introspective aspirations and transform the series into a “villain of the week” affair, but it’s clearly not that kind of show.

Volume Four looks to put the show’s super-powered characters on the run from the federal government, as Nathan proposes to the President of the United States (played by Star Trek: The Next Generation’s Worf, Michael Dorn) that all super-powered people be locked away. It will be difficult for this storyline to avoid some obvious X-Men comparisons but, hey, that’s never stopped Heroes in the past, has it?

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