The Dilettante's Guide To Heroes: Volume One

Heroes premiered on NBC in the fall of 2006 to strong ratings and critical acclaim. Created by Tim Kring, Heroes concerns a group of individuals around the world who, through an apparently natural genetic progression, develop various special abilities. It's a far from perfect show -- the characterization can be uneven, the dialogue can be clunky, and the multiple plots sometimes veer from preposterous to tedious. Still, when Heroes hits, it really hits: Season One provided some of television's most exciting visuals and exhilarating moments.

Heroes has a vast glut of characters. Here are some of the major players:



Hiro Nakamura: A relentlessly good-natured and charming Tokyo office worker, Hiro (Masi Oka) discovers he can time-travel and teleport. This makes him really, really happy. Then again, life makes Hiro really, really happy. Hiro is never far from his best friend and coworker Ando (James Kyson Lee), who is only slightly less guileless than Hiro. Ando also serves as a translator for Hiro, who speaks very little English.



Peter Petrelli: A floppy-haired bunny rabbit of a human being, sweet-natured hospice nurse Peter (Milo Ventimiglia) comes from a powerful yet disreputable New York family. He's got the ability to absorb powers from other people, which makes him dangerously unstable.



Nathan Petrelli: A wolf in wolf's clothing, Nathan is a corrupt politician who fiercely loves his family, especially his idiot kid brother Peter, but probably loves power just a little bit more. Also, he can fly. As Nathan, Adrian Pasdar does some of his finest work since Solarbabies.



Claire Bennet: A high school cheerleader with the ability to regenerate from horrible injuries, up to and including death. While Claire (Hayden Panettiere) is often a self-absorbed brat, she does have her moments of genuine pluck and heroism. Let's hope she has more such moments in Season Two. As it is, the best thing about Claire is her sorta-evil adoptive father, Mr. Bennet (Jack Coleman), who works for a secret organization known only as the Company, which tracks and captures super-powered individuals for its own dastardly purposes.



Mohinder Suresh: A geneticist with the key to finding the super-powered individuals, Mohinder comes to New York to investigate his father's murder. Critics often fail to see the point of Mohinder, arguing that he's incompetent and his plotlines go nowhere. To which I reply: Yes, absolutely, but have you looked at him? Mohinder, the most exquisite creature ever to come from Chennai, India, is played by Sendhil Ramamurthy, the most exquisite creature ever to come from San Antonio, Texas. Mohinder has no special abilities, unless being insanely photogenic counts as a super-power. Which, really, it should.



Niki Sanders: Niki (Ali Larter) is a meek Vegas stripper with a mean alter ego, the super-strong and murderous Jessica, who emerges whenever Niki is threatened. Niki's got a young son, Micah (Noah Gray-Cabey), who has amazing technological abilities, and an estranged ex-con husband, D.L. (Leonard Roberts), who can phase through solid matter. If D.L. were an X-Man, he'd be Kitty Pryde.



Sylar: Every superhero saga needs a supervillain, and Sylar (Zachary Quinto) fits the bill nicely. First seen only as a shadowy figure with a multitude of powers and a murderous agenda, Sylar has the ability to take on the powers of other Heroes by removing their brains and doing... something unspecified but no doubt nasty to them. Is he eating the brains? It's a definite possibility. Sylar starts out as a nebbish watchmaker from Queens and gets steadily cooler and better-looking the more evil he becomes, until by the epic climax he's decked out in a black trench coat and eyeliner. Sylar rocks.



Matt Parkman: A likeable yet underachieving LAPD officer, Matt (Greg Grunberg) can read minds. His subplots are often pretty tedious and domestic, but I like him anyway.



CHAPTER ONE: GENESIS
The series opens with the first of many iconic images: Peter, poised on the edge of a building, dives forward and soars into the air. He wakes up at the bedside of invalid Charles Deveaux (Richard Roundtree), then flirts with Deveaux's daughter, Simone (Tawny Cypress). Later, Peter's older brother Nathan, who is running for congress, openly scoffs at Peter's babblings about how he thinks he can fly. This is our first indication Nathan might be kind of a dickwad.

In India, beautiful genetics professor Mohinder Suresh gives one of his typically nonsensical lectures at the University of Madras. It's scenes like this where the show could benefit from a good science advisor to help poor Mohinder sound like less of a flake. The lecture is cut short by news of Mohinder's father's murder in New York. Chandra Suresh was an iconoclastic geneticist who resigned his position at the university and moved to New York six months earlier to pursue his theories about the evolution of people with special abilities. When Mohinder drops by his father's office at the university, he spies an American with horn-rimmed glasses rifling through Chandra’s belongings and carrying on a phone conversation about Chandra's work.

Niki Sanders, a stripper in Las Vegas with a young son, Micah, runs afoul of thugs looking to recover thirty grand she borrowed from a shady figure named Linderman. After thugs attack her, Niki blacks out. She wakes to find the thugs brutally murdered and her own reflection in the mirror smirking at her.

Odessa, Texas: Cheerleader Claire Bennet repeatedly mangles herself in various grotesque ways to demonstrate her remarkable ability to regenerate from crippling injuries. Claire's attempts are documented on camera by Zach, some random guy from her school who she doesn't know very well or like very much, yet who she nonetheless entrusts with her most valuable secret. Also, she's kind of bitchy to him. That's our Claire. Claire thinks having this remarkable ability is, like, a total drag, because she just wants to be a normal teenager. Hey, I really liked this show when they were calling it Buffy the Vampire Slayer. When Zach and Claire come across a fiery train wreck, Claire rushes inside to test her abilities. Rather incidentally, she saves some guy's life, then rushes off.

So thus far, our two major female characters are a blonde stripper and a blonde cheerleader. At this rate, I'm fairly certain Season Two will introduce us to Becki, the blonde superpowered Hooters waitress.

Hiro Nakamura, a cubicle drone in Tokyo, squints reeeeeeeeally hard at a clock and manages to stop time for a second. He's ecstatic about this development. He's pretty sure this (somehow) means he'll have the ability to bend space as well as time, as he explains to his dubious coworker Ando.

Meanwhile in Manhattan, Isaac Mendez (Santiago Cabrera), comic-book artist, boyfriend to Simone Deveaux, and one of TV's more adorable heroin addicts, can paint spooky images of future catastrophes while high.

Looking for answers about his father's death, Mohinder goes to New York and moves into his father's Brooklyn apartment, which has been ransacked. In the apartment is a giant map with pushpins marking the locations of possible genetically-advanced individuals. Like his father before him, Mohinder gets a job driving a cab, which he seems kind of sullen about – Mohinder, honey, if you need the income, maybe you could try modeling? Randomly, Peter Petrelli gets into his cab and yammers on about being special; Mohinder yammers right back at him about genetics. After Peter leaves, the sinister man in the horn-rimmed glasses gets into the cab, strikes up a highly self-amusing conversation about Mohinder’s father, and eventually gets around to sort of vaguely threatening Mohinder. Mohinder freaks and bolts.

We're introduced to Claire's upper middle class suburban life, complete with a scatterbrained mother and an odious little brother. The only interesting twist to this, and it's a good one, is the discovery that her father is the man in the horn-rimmed glasses, who has just returned from his recent geneticist-menacing jaunts to India and New York.

Hiro, on a crowded Tokyo subway, manages to teleport himself to the middle of Times Square. Once again, he's ecstatic.

Isaac overdoses. Simone summons Nurse Peter to help him through it. In Isaac's loft, Peter notices one of Isaac's paintings, which features Peter flying. Inspired, Peter jumps off a building. As it turns out, Peter can't fly. Fortuitously, it turns out his brother Nathan can: Nathan soars up from the ground and grabs Peter in midair. For a moment, it appears Peter is able to fly as well... then he loses his grip on Nathan and plunges to the earth.

CHAPTER TWO: DON'T LOOK BACK
Peter is in the hospital. Nathan denies any knowledge of this flying business and tries to convince Peter he tried to commit suicide by jumping off the roof. Evidence strongly suggests Nathan is a dickwad.

Mohinder returns to his apartment to find an exterminator messing around with the floorboards. Jumpy these days, he attacks the exterminator with an ornate elephant statuette. The exterminator, who is indeed up to no good, pulls a gun on Mohinder, who's rescued by Eden, the stunner who lives across the hall. Eden talks to Mohinder about his father's work. They play Chandra's answering machine tape and find a creepy message from a man named Sylar, who mentions something about murders. They also find a hard drive containing super-important research about a possible way to locate genetically-advanced individuals.

Druggie Isaac paints a precognitive image on the floor of his loft of a nuclear bomb exploding in the middle of Manhattan.

Hiro, having teleported to New York, finds a comic book all about his journey to America. Isaac Mendez is the artist; Hiro goes to Isaac's loft, the address of which is printed on the back page of the comic. As is so often the case with comic books. When Hiro arrives at Isaac's loft, he find him dead, the top of his head cut off and his brain removed. The police arrive, guns drawn. Hiro takes the only sensible course of action and faints.

We're treated to a number of tedious scenes of Claire's high school. Claire gets pissy when evil fellow cheerleader Jackie takes credit for the rescue of the guy from the burning train. Jackie's a bitch, but Claire's no great shakes either.

Mr. Bennet watches Claire's tape that she made with Zach. He doesn't seem surprised by his daughter's invulnerability.

Niki goes to pick up Micah, leaving behind the mutilated corpses in her garage. She loses track of a few hours and returns to find the garage miraculously cleaned up.

We're introduced to telepathic Matt Parkman, an underachieving LAPD cop, directing traffic at the scene of a grisly double murder: the wife's been pinned to the railing, the husband is frozen solid at the breakfast table, the top of his skull removed and his brain missing. Sound familiar? The FBI arrive, led by hard-as-nails special agent Audrey (Clea DuVall, proving this show can in fact write good female characters). Audrey believes the family was murdered by a serial killer known as Sylar. Matt's telepathy leads him to the family's young daughter, Molly Walker, hiding in terror under the stairs. Suspicious of this very convenient discovery, Audrey arrests Matt.

Peter, unsure whether he really flew or if he's just going crazy, once again goes up to the roof. Nathan tries to talk him down and reluctantly confirms they both flew. Peter hugs Nathan. Nathan looks pained.

In Isaac's loft, Hiro is interrogated by the cops. Hiro calls Ando in Tokyo, who claims Hiro has been missing for five weeks. Hiro checks a newspaper: it's five weeks in the future, and Nathan Petrelli has just won the congressional election in a landslide. As Hiro tries to process this, there's a blinding light: a nuclear blast goes off, obliterating the Manhattan skyline. Hiro squints his eyes in terror... and finds himself back on the Tokyo subway.

CHAPTER THREE: ONE GIANT LEAP
Hiro relates the story of his New York excursion to a skeptical Ando. He proves it by showing Ando Isaac's comic book about their adventures, which also reveals that they're supposed to go to New York to prevent the explosion. Hiro and Ando duly fly to the U.S., but decide to drive to New York from Los Angeles. This is allegedly because the comic tells them to, but mostly it's to pimp their rental Nissan Versa. Thus begins the most shameless and gratuitous product placement on television: Heroes has whored itself out to Nissan so wholly that I hope every single cast and crew member, down to the extras and interns, got a free shiny new Versa out of the deal. Otherwise, it hardly seems worth it.

Peter gets a copy of Chandra Suresh's book about the evolution of special abilities. He tries to discuss it with Nathan, who blows him off. Nathan is nothing if not consistent.

Meanwhile in Brooklyn, Mohinder wears a tank top and frowns prettily at a computer screen. He's been going through his dad's research and not having much luck with any of it, until he finds a journal with Sylar's home address. Mohinder and Eden break into Sylar's creepy apartment, which features a secret room o' craziness with a map like the one in Mohinder's apartment, labeled with photos of people with special abilities. Mohinder sees Nathan Petrelli's photo on the map and deduces he might be one of Sylar's targets. Later, when Mohinder and Eden bring the police to Sylar's apartment, they find the place cleaned out and abandoned.

Matt tells Audrey about his ability to read minds. She offers him the chance to work with the FBI to catch Sylar. At FBI headquarters, Sylar arrives and attacks little Molly Walker, then telekinetically tries to force Audrey to shoot herself. Matt pumps him full of bullets and saves Audrey and Molly, but Sylar disappears.

Simone breaks up with Isaac. Dating a junkie just isn't much fun as you'd think it's going to be.

At a keg party, Claire goes off with the hunky quarterback, who tries to rape her. In the struggle, Claire falls on a random tree branch, which drives into her brain and kills her.

We then meet Matt's wife Janice and learn about their marital problems. We will learn more about their problems as the series goes on. Much, much more. Matt heads to a bar, where he meets a mysterious man from Haiti (who will henceforth only be known as "the Haitian"). Matt gets drugged and falls unconscious.

In Vegas: Niki is stopped by police who take her to Linderman.

At a fundraiser for Nathan's campaign, Peter and Simone flirt some more. Nathan gives a speech about Peter's rumored suicide attempt. Peter storms out of the benefit; Simone follows him and kisses him in the rain. Isaac paints one of his precognitive images of their kiss. Thus we have the start of a lukewarm and soggy love triangle.

Claire returns to life on the autopsy table, her torso open and her internal organs revealed.

CHAPTER FOUR: COLLISION
Matt is analyzed by Mr. Bennet, who works for a shadowy Company. Afterward, the Haitian wipes Matt's brain so he remembers nothing of this.

Hiro and Ando make it to Las Vegas, where they waste time by using Hiro's power to cheat at cards.

Niki meets with Linderman's henchman, played by one of the mean cheerleaders from Bring It On, who orders Niki to seduce Nathan to repay her debt.

On the autopsy table, Claire heals up her chest cavity and sneaks home.

Mohinder meets Nathan, rants about how Nathan’s life is in danger from Sylar, and comes across as a very beautiful lunatic. Nathan, who is on his way to Vegas to get a campaign donation from family friend Linderman, gives Mohinder the brush-off. Peter stops by Mohinder's apartment. By now, Peter's figured out that his power is the ability to absorb other powers. To demonstrate, Peter takes Mohinder to Isaac's loft. Isaac's in one of his trancelike stupors and doesn't answer the door. Not that he'd be terribly interested in socializing with the guy who just slept with his ex-girlfriend, anyway.

Isaac paints Claire fleeing from an unidentified attacker.

Claire seeks revenge on the quarterback by hitching a ride with him and smashing his car into the wall, gravely injuring him.

Nathan and Niki hook up in Vegas. Mr. Bennet and the Haitian kidnap post-coital Nathan from his hotel room.

Peter and Mohinder take the subway back from Isaac's. Mohinder is skeptical about Peter's claims... and then time stops for everyone except Peter and a mysterious figure, who turns out to be Hiro from the future, now speaking perfect un-accented English and carrying a samurai sword.

This show just got really, really cool.

CHAPTER FIVE: HIROS
Peter talks with Future Hiro, who delivers a cryptic message: Save the cheerleader, save the world. He also tells Peter to go to Isaac's loft and wait for Hiro's call. Time resumes; Future Hiro vanishes. Peter tries to explain what just happened to Mohinder, who decides he's crazy.

Matt returns to Janice with no memory of being captured by the Company.

Nathan flies away to escape Mr. Bennet. Hiro and Ando, at a diner outside Vegas, squabble over their mission. Ando storms off, leaving Hiro by himself. Nathan lands in the parking lot – Hiro is the only one who notices that Nathan can fly. This delights Hiro.

Peter visits Isaac and sees multiple paintings of Claire being attacked by Sylar. The paintings fit together like the panels of a comic book, with the first panel missing and the final one unfinished. Peter, who has absorbed Isaac's precognitive ability, finishes it: It shows Claire dead, the top of her head cut off.

Niki returns home from her tryst with Nathan. The police alert her that her husband, D.L., has escaped from prison.

Linderman's goon tries to blackmail Nathan with a tape of him with Niki. Nathan somehow manages to turn a blackmail attempt into a $4 million donation from Linderman to his campaign fund. Nathan is slick.

Hiro and Ando reunite in Vegas. When Hiro calls Isaac to warn him about his looming decapitation, Peter answers with a message for him.

CHAPTER SIX: BETTER HALVES
Peter passes along the "Save the cheerleader, save the world" message to Hiro and Ando and tells them about his encounter with Future Hiro. Hiro is duly impressed. Peter asks about the missing panel in Isaac's series of paintings about Claire's murder and discovers Simone sold that painting to Linderman.

D.L. sneaks into Niki's home and confronts her. He was arrested for allegedly stealing two million from Linderman, though he claims he was framed.

Mohinder arbitrarily decides to return to India. Mohinder is a flake. A heart-rendingly beautiful flake. He gets smooched by Eden before he goes. Eden is not blind. She's also sort of evil – after Mohinder leaves, Eden calls Mr. Bennet to pass along the "Save the cheerleader" message. Mr. Bennet, understandably concerned, tells Eden to bring Isaac in.

Niki figures out that her murderous split personality, Jessica, was the one who stole the money, framed D.L., and killed the men in the garage. Jessica takes over and retrieves the $2 million hidden in a crawl space. D.L.'s own ability is revealed for the first time when he and Niki/Jessica fight – he punches her and phases his hand through her stomach. D.L. takes off with Micah, leaving Niki/Jessica unconscious on the floor.

CHAPTER SEVEN: NOTHING TO HIDE
Nathan and his family, including his wheelchair-bound wife (Rena Sofer) and mother Angela (Cristine Rose), have a pained brunch with a journalist, which is crashed by Peter. After Peter covers for Nathan when the journalist reveals his affair with Niki, Nathan agrees to get Isaac's painting back from Linderman for Peter.

Matt and Audrey find a burned corpse, which Audrey thinks is another victim of Sylar. Actually, it's a victim of radioactive Ted Sprague (Matthew Armstrong), who they track to a hospital, where he's sitting with his wife, who is dying of radiation poisoning from exposure to her super-powered husband. They arrest Ted without incident.

Matt finds out a buddy at the LAPD is having an affair with Janice. Matt punches him and gets suspended.

Micah's own ability is revealed when, while on the run with D.L., he fixes a broken payphone with his touch and secretly calls his mom.

There is no Mohinder in this episode. And that makes me sad.

CHAPTER EIGHT: SEVEN MINUTES TO MIDNIGHT
Oh, look, there's Mohinder! He's in India, scattering his father's ashes. India bears a suspicious resemblance to coastal California.

Eden squirrels Isaac away to the top-secret Company headquarters in the Primatech Paper factory in Odessa and gets him clean of heroin. Now that he's off the junk, he can no longer paint. Artists. Mr. Bennet orders Eden to get Isaac back on heroin, if that's what it takes to get him to paint more about Claire's fate.

In a Texas diner, Charlie (Jayma Mays), an adorable waitress with the ability to remember everything she reads, waits on Hiro and Ando. She and Hiro flirt, adorably. Sylar sneaks up on Charlie in the pantry, slices off the top of her adorable head, steals her brain, and escapes. This, understandably, makes Hiro very unhappy. He decides to go back in time to warn her and teleports away, stranding Ando at the diner.

Back to India, which now bears a suspicious resemblance to the Universal backlot. I love Mohinder to pieces, but right now the most vibrant part of this plotline is his tangerine-colored shirt. It takes a brave man to wear tangerine. Mohinder returns to his father's office at the university and discovers a computer program that's been left running for... the entire six months since Chandra Suresh moved to New York? Can that be right? Mohinder has a bunch of mystic dreams (with the help of a super-powered soccer-playing urchin... oh, don't ask), in which Mohinder discovers his dad was kind of a dick who never loved him. Mohinder also discovers he had an older sister, Shanti, whose death from a rare blood disease spurred on Chandra's genetic research. Defying all probability, this will turn out to be a key plot point. Mohinder also dreams about Sylar, who murdered Chandra by smashing his face against the window of his taxi (Sylar's watch stops at seven minutes to midnight, hence the episode title) and breaking his neck.

Ted Sprague escapes federal custody.

Ando, waiting in the diner, finds a photo of Hiro tacked on the wall, taken six months ago at Charlie's birthday party...

CHAPTER NINE: HOMECOMING
There's some nonsense about Claire being elected homecoming queen, much to the dismay of evil Jackie. If I wanted to watch She's All That, I would have rented She's All That.

Nathan gets the painting back from Linderman. It features Peter's broken corpse lying under the homecoming banner at Claire's high school. Nathan destroys the painting to protect his brother, but Simone shows Peter a photo of the original. Determined to save the cheerleader and thus the world, Peter heads to Texas.

Jessica, fully in control of Niki, comes after D.L. to get Micah back.

Mohinder's still in India. Still beautiful. Not much is happening there.

Isaac paints a man exploding like a nuclear bomb.

In the locker room before the game, Sylar attacks Jackie, thinking she's Claire, and slices the top of her head open. When he figures out his mistake, he goes after Claire, who is rescued by Peter. Sylar attacks Peter. They both fall over the side of a building. Sylar escapes; Peter dies, but comes back to life, thanks to his exposure to Claire's regenerative ability. The police find Peter covered in his own blood and arrest him for Jackie's murder.

Sylar runs into Eden, who reveals her own ability for the first time: persuasion. She orders Sylar to go to sleep and captures him easily.

CHAPTER TEN: SIX MONTHS AGO
Six months ago: Hiro teleports to the diner in Texas and tries to warn Charlie of her dreadful fate. He and Charlie embark upon an adorable romance. Before he can save her, however, he accidentally teleports back to Japan.

Six months ago in Los Angeles: Officer Matt stops Eden in a stolen car. She uses her powers of persuasion to get him to let her go. She's apprehended by the Haitian.

Six months ago in Texas: Claire becomes a cheerleader and discovers she can regenerate.

Six months ago in Las Vegas: Niki attends an AA meeting where she meets her estranged father. She doesn't remember that he killed her sister Jessica. Niki's alter ego remembers, however – the Jessica personality emerges and beats up her father.

Six months ago in Manhattan: Peter graduates from nursing school. Nathan wants Peter to testify against their corrupt father as part of a scheme to take down Linderman. Later, Linderman's goons run Nathan's car off the road. Nathan flies to safety, but his wife is paralyzed. Peter and Nathan's father commits suicide.

Six months ago in Brooklyn: An awkward young watchmaker named Gabriel Gray is approached by Chandra Suresh, who claims Gabriel's genes hold the potential for a special ability. Gabriel is all too willing to believe it, though Chandra's extensive tests show nothing. Chandra has a list of individuals with special powers. Gabriel calls up one of the people on the list, Brian, and invites him over. Brian demonstrates his telekinetic power for Gabriel. Gabriel's own power finally kicks in: he kills Brian, takes his brain, and gains his power. Gabriel takes the name "Sylar" after the brand name of his watch.

Present day, Texas: Hiro rejoins Ando at the diner, dejected. He can't save Charlie, he can't alter the past, and he seems to have lost his powers somewhere along the way.

CHAPTER ELEVEN: FALLOUT
After Jackie's murder, Claire tells her father about her ability. He tells her he's known for a while. This marks the start of a long stretch of episodes of Claire feeling wounded and resentful.

Matt and Audrey are in Texas, investigating Sylar's latest exploit. They deduce he's been captured.

Jessica attacks D.L. and accidentally hurts Micah. Niki takes control again and turns herself in to the police.

Sylar, injured, is in a cell in the Primatech factory, his abilities stifled. Eden wants to kill him. Bennet’s unseen superiors order him to keep Sylar alive.

Matt and Audrey interrogate Peter, who is still in custody for Jackie's murder. Matt tries to read his mind, Peter absorbs his power, and they both end up giving each other crippling headaches.

Mohinder returns to his father's Brooklyn apartment and rededicates himself to his father's work. This puts him in exactly the same place he was at in the pilot episode. Do I pay special attention to Mohinder's plotline even when he's not doing anything interesting just because he's so beautiful? Yes. Yes, I do. Do I cut Claire this kind of slack? No, I do not. No one ever said the world was fair.

Eden gives Isaac a phone and a security card so he can leave Primatech. Isaac, Hiro, and Ando meet. Hiro tells Isaac about seeing his future death by Sylar and the bomb in Manhattan. Isaac tells them about his painting of an exploding man.

Claire returns home and discovers her brother's and Zach's memories have both been wiped by the Haitian. The Haitian arrives to wipe Claire's brain on Mr. Bennet's orders, but instead he lets her keep her memories. Thus we discover: a) the Haitian can talk, and b) he's kind of a nice guy.

Eden calls Mohinder. She tells him she lied to him, but she's trying to make things right by killing the man who killed his father. She enters Sylar's cell and gives him a gun. She uses her powers to order him to kill himself. Instead, Sylar pulls her telekinetically through the glass protecting her from him. Eden blows her own head off rather than let Sylar take her brain. It says something about the show that this seems like a pretty savvy decision.

Nathan gets Peter out of jail. Peter, looking like hell, has a ghastly vision about himself exploding and blowing up all of Manhattan, then collapses in a coma.

CHAPTER TWELVE: GODSEND
Niki is in jail. Jessica keeps reemerging and kicking the hell out of everyone.

Sylar is still getting tortured and examined by the Company. Matt and Audrey, suspecting Bennet is hiding Sylar, raid Primatech and find nothing.

New York: Convinced it will somehow return his powers, Hiro tries to steal a sword owned by legendary samurai Takezo Kensai from a museum. It turns out the sword is a reproduction -- the original is owned by, yes, Linderman.

Isaac returns to his loft, where he's visited by Nathan and Simone. Nathan sees the painting of the exploding man, who he fears will turn out to be Peter.

Mr. Bennet visits Mohinder to mope about Eden's death, try to recruit him for the Company, and threaten him vaguely. Is Mohinder wearing paisley? Wow.

Peter, who’s been in a coma for two weeks, has another vision about destroying the city. He wakes up and leaves the hospital, where he runs into Christopher Eccleston (Christopher Eccleston! Christopher Eccleston!). Eccleston plays Claude, the grumpy invisible man. When he realizes Peter can see him, he tries to strangle him.

CHAPTER THIRTEEN: THE FIX
Peter convinces Claude not to kill him – he wants his help in learning to control his powers. Claude, an antisocial sort, turns him down.

Sylar, still in the hands of the Company, is not doing well after all the tests. He has a shunt stuck in his brain at this point. After everything he's done to various other brains, this seems only fair.

Nathan, searching for Peter, stops by to see Mohinder. It should be noted that Mohinder is wearing a pink sweater. Nathan and Mohinder visit Peter's apartment. Mohinder, perhaps feeling the pink sweater is insufficiently festive on its own, pairs it with a vivid blue striped scarf. Peter ditches them and gets nabbed by Claude, who reluctantly agrees to play Obi-Wan to Peter's Anakin.

Hiro and Ando get captured by goons, who turn out to work for Hiro's father, who is played, awesomely, by George Takei.

Niki/Jessica, who has been doing all kinds of damage in prison, gets bailed out by Linderman.

Matt gets suspended from the LAPD. In other exciting Matt news, his wife is pregnant.

Sylar finally dies. Or not. The medical technician removes the restraints from Sylar’s corpse. Silly man. Mr. Bennet arrives at Sylar's cell and finds Sylar very much alive, on the loose, and extremely pissed off.

CHAPTER FOURTEEN: DISTRACTIONS
Claude adopts a tough-love approach to training Peter: He drops him off a thirty-story building to see if he can remember how to fly. Peter can't. Luckily, he can remember how to regenerate.

Sylar locks Mr. Bennet in his cell, taunts him, and merrily heads off to murder Claire. He shows up at the Bennet house, charms Mrs. Bennet into inviting him in for dinner, and attacks her. Mr. Bennet breaks free of the cell in time to save his wife. He has the Haitian wipe her memory. Again. Sylar escapes.

George Takei wants Hiro to come back to run the family business. Hiro convinces him that his sister, Kimiko, is the better choice.

Claire tracks down her presumed-dead birth mother, Meredith, who has the ability to start fires. Meredith is played by Jessalyn Gilsig, who played the mother of Christian's baby on Nip/Tuck, which led me to hope wildly that Claire's father would be Julian McMahon. Alas, no. Claire's real father is... Nathan.

CHAPTER FIFTEEN: RUN!
Linderman gives Jessica an assignment to kill a man named Malsky; Matt, working private security, gets a job protecting Malsky while he purchases some diamonds.

Hiro and Ando return to Las Vegas in a plotline I won't bother to summarize, because it’s far too late in the season to still be dithering about Vegas.

Meredith contacts Nathan and asks for money to keep the knowledge of his illegitimate daughter secret until after the election to avoid an embarrassing scandal. It turns out Angela Petrelli already knows about Claire. This is the first sign that she might secretly be kind of awesome.

Jessica kills Malsky and throws Matt out the window. Matt survives and steals the diamonds. For shame, Matt.

Nathan meets with Meredith, gives her the money, sees a photo of his daughter, and gets a little teary. Claire, hiding in the bushes, sneaks a peek at her real father and tosses a rock through his windshield.

After fifteen episodes of dithering, Mohinder (today's sweater color: cantaloupe) decides to do something interesting. He gets a message from Zane Taylor, one of the names on Chandra's list, urging him to come see him in Virginia Beach, as he just developed his abilities and is having difficulty coping. Alas for poor Zane, Sylar reaches him first. Mohinder shows up on Zane's doorstep only to be greeted by Sylar, doing a damn good job of pretending to be Zane. A million fanfiction writers fire up their laptops, because Mohinder and Sylar have outrageous chemistry together. It's all kinds of awesome: Sylar as Zane is super-friendly yet innately creepy, what with all the meaningful stares and intensely personal observations, whereas poor gullible Mohinder is just happy to have found a friend. Sylar demonstrates the new ability he stole from Zane (melting solid objects) and offers to tag along with Mohinder while he looks for other people with abilities.

This is the best idea this show has ever had.

CHAPTER SIXTEEN: UNEXPECTED
In a remote cabin in the Nevada desert, radioactive Ted Sprague encounters Hana Gitelman, who has the ability to access the internet without a computer. We're not going to see much of Hana beyond this quick appearance, but she's cool, she's sexy, she's competent, she's not blonde, and thus she might be my favorite female Hero. Ted Sprague calls Matt, who is getting all kinds of grief from Janice about the stolen diamonds. Ted convinces Matt they need to go after Mr. Bennet to find out the truth behind the Company.

The Hiro/Ando Vegas plot is still going on, and it really shouldn't. It culminates, finally, with Ando getting wounded and Hiro sending him back to Japan for his own protection.

Mr. Bennet and the Haitian sneak up on Claude and Peter. Peter flies them both to safety. Claude, upset Peter led the Company straight to him, disappears.

Fun couple Mohinder and Sylar travel to Montana to meet Dale Smither, who has super-hearing. She agrees, reluctantly, to undergo some tests in the morning. In the middle of the night, however, Sylar sneaks off and lops off the top of Dale's head, which makes for a pleasant discovery the next day. No, it doesn't dawn on Mohinder that this might be the work of his new best friend. Mohinder is beautiful, not brainy.

Peter arrives at Isaac's loft, knowing Isaac tipped off the Company to his location. Isaac tries to shoot Peter, who turns invisible. Isaac ends up shooting – and killing – Simone.

CHAPTER SEVENTEEN: COMPANY MAN
Ted and Matt storm the Bennet home and hold the family hostage to get some answers about the Company. Oh, Matt. Matt, belatedly, starts to suspect radioactive Ted is a loose cannon.

Flashbacks to fifteen years ago: We meet the Company boss, Thompson (a suitably menacing Eric Roberts). Mr. Bennet's former partner is none other than Claude. George Takei is involved with the Company as well; he orders Mr. Bennet to adopt baby Claire after her home burned down during the attempt to capture fire-starter Meredith.

More flashbacks: the Company discovers Claude has been secretly aiding targeted Heroes. Under orders to kill Claude, Bennet shoots him. Claude turns invisible and goes on the lam.

A whole lot of chaos goes on in the present. Ted's out of control. Mr. Bennet telepathically tells Matt to shoot Claire to keep Ted from killing Mrs. Bennet. Mr. Bennet, it should be noted, is about eighty times smarter than anyone else in this situation. Matt kills Claire, but she spits up the bullet and comes back to life. It ends with Ted blowing up the Bennet family home, Claire knocking out Ted, and Thompson arriving in time to capture Matt and Ted.

Thompson orders Bennet to bring Claire in to the Company for examination. Bennet gives her to the protection of the Haitian instead. As Claire sobs, Bennet has the Haitian shoot him in the chest and wipe his memories to prevent the Company from using him to find Claire.

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN: PARASITE
Simone is still dead. Isaac takes a few more shots at Peter, who turns invisible and gets the heck out of there.

Hiro is in Vegas, still trying to get the damn sword from Linderman.

Thompson is dubious about Mr. Bennet’s claims not to know what happened to Claire. Matt reads Mr. Bennet's mind and confirms his ignorance.

Their road trip concluded, Mohinder and Sylar return to Mohinder's apartment. Mohinder finally gets a clue in a big way and serves Sylar a steaming cup of poison, then straps him to a chair, hooks him up to an IV of curare, and gives him an impromptu spinal tap. Everyone who guesses this episode will end badly for Mohinder, raise your hands.

Nathan, getting less dickwaddy all the time, secretly works with the FBI to bring down Linderman. Hiro meets up with Nathan in Vegas. Nathan helps him get past the guards so he can steal the sword. Hiro steals the sword and gets caught, then is saved by Ando, who's been secretly trailing him. Now that he has the sword, Hiro's powers return. He and Ando teleport to...

...Safety? No. They end up five years in the future, overlooking a devastated Manhattan skyline.

Jessica kills the FBI agents working to take down Linderman, then goes to kill Nathan. Niki takes over and warns Nathan that he has to kill Linderman.

Mohinder shoots Sylar to avenge his father's death. Sylar telekinetically stops the bullet. He breaks free of his restraints and advances on Mohinder.

Distraught over Simone, Isaac shoots up again. He paints charming precognitive pictures of his own corpse with the top of his head cut off.

Their home destroyed, the Bennets stay in a hotel. Missy Peregrym makes an entrance as Bennet's new partner, Candice, who has the power of illusion. Candice disguises herself as Bennet's wife and tricks him into admitting he helped Claire escape. Thompson shows up and takes Bennet into custody.

Claire is on the run with the Haitian, who sets up a new life for her in Canada. Claire gives him the slip and heads for New York, hoping to reunite with Peter. Instead, she meets Angela Petrelli, who calmly introduces herself as Claire's grandmother.

Nathan sees Linderman, who is played by Malcolm McDowell. The casting coups just keep on coming. Linderman knows everything: he knows Nathan is there to kill him, knows about the special powers, knows Peter is destined to destroy Manhattan. He promises Nathan he can make him President within two years. This sufficiently motivates Nathan to keep Linderman alive.

Peter drops by Mohinder's apartment and finds the place wrecked. Blood drips down on him. He looks up and finds Mohinder telekinetically pinned to the ceiling, beaten and bloody. Sylar pins Peter to the wall and starts slicing off the top of Peter's head.

Peter's floppy bangs drop to the floor in a puddle of blood.

CHAPTER NINETEEN: .07%
Mr. Bennet, Matt, and Ted Sprague escape from the Company and go on the run together. Bennet convinces them they need to go to New York to destroy the Company's special tracking system.

Linderman knows Peter's going to explode and destroy half of New York – thus killing .07% of the world's population. Linderman tells Nathan he's destined to unite people after the disaster.

Peter and Sylar battle. Peter regenerates after Sylar cuts open his head, then breaks Sylar's hold on himself and Mohinder. Peter turns invisible, so Sylar hurls a bunch of broken glass around the room. A big old shard embeds in Peter's brain, killing him. Mohinder takes out Sylar with the map board (yeah, he does. Completely knocks out the nigh-invulnerable supervillian with a map. Just go with it) and gets the hell out of there. He takes Peter's corpse to Angela Petrelli’s home, where Claire is staying. Nathan returns from Las Vegas to mourn his dead brother. Claire yanks the shard of glass out of Peter's brain, and Peter comes back to life.

Jessica meets with Linderman, who wants to use Micah’s abilities to help Nathan win the election. Jessica refuses. Candice impersonates Niki/Jessica and kidnaps Micah.

Mohinder tries to contact Mr. Bennet to ask for help stopping Sylar. Thompson shows up instead and offers Mohinder the chance to work together. This seems like a bad idea on so many levels.

Sylar, having recovered from being hit by the map, goes after Isaac, who seems pretty resigned to his death. Sylar pins him to the floor with paintbrushes and cuts off the top of his head. Aw. Goodbye, Isaac. You shouldn’t have shot Simone (and no, “I was trying to kill Peter instead” is not a good excuse), but you didn’t deserve to have Sylar steal your brain. Sylar absorbs Isaac's power. He paints.

Nathan officially meets his daughter. Claire's going to be sent to France for a while until after the election.

Hiro and Ando, five years in the future, run into Future Hiro.

CHAPTER TWENTY: FIVE YEARS GONE
Evil Alternate Future episode! Evil Alternate Future episode!

I'm sorry. I'm very excited. I love a good Evil Alternate Future episode.

In keeping with the grand tradition of Evil Alternate Future episodes, everyone has weird hair and disfiguring scars and unlikely partnerships. It's pretty awesome.

Hiro and Ando meet Future Hiro, who is grimly competent. It's five years after Sylar destroyed the city with a nuclear blast. Future Hiro went back in time and contacted Peter to urge him to change the timeline by saving Claire – in the original timeline, Sylar killed Claire, took her power, and was thus unable to be killed. Now that Claire's alive, Sylar’s vulnerable. Hiro must go back to the past and kill him.

We discover that Evil Alternate Future Matt, now head of Homeland Security, is a total douchebag. Matt arrives and captures Hiro, while Future Hiro and Ando escape. Future Hiro and Ando teleport to Las Vegas to find Peter to get him to help them rescue Hiro. In Vegas, Niki is still a stripper. She's hooked up with Peter, who now has slicked-back hair and a way cool scar across his face. Peter won't help them, so they next turn to Mr. Bennet at Primatech Paper, who’s been helping all the genetically-advanced people escape capture. After the nuclear blast, the government cracked down on super-powered people and herded them off to camps. Yeah, I read that issue of X-Men too. Lots of ham-fisted parallels to September 11th in this episode, too.

Evil Alternate Future Nathan's the President, with Mohinder as one of his advisors. The future is dark indeed: Mohinder has a beard, and he's wearing brown. Noooooooooo!!! President Nathan is running amuck, trying to set in motion his grand scheme to execute all super-powered individuals. Mohinder doesn't think that sounds like an especially good idea, but he doesn’t actually do anything to, you know, stop it or anything.

Evil Alternate Matt interrogates Hiro. In Future Hiro’s loft, Mohinder finds Isaac's final unpublished comic book.

Primatech Paper: Matt attacks. Peter comes in, freezes time, gets Future Hiro and Ando, and teleports them to safety.

Matt’s been secretly working with Mr. Bennet to get some of the super-powered people to safety. It starts looking like Evil Alternate Future Matt might be somewhat redeemable... and then he goes and shoots Bennet in the head.

It's revealed that it was Peter, not Sylar, who destroyed the city.

Claire, now a brunette, works as a waitress in a Texas diner. Matt tracks her down and takes her to Evil President Nathan. The father-daughter reconciliation goes poorly: Nathan is actually Sylar, who has stolen Candice's power of illusion. Sylar lops off the top of Claire's head.

This is very high up on the very long list of awesome things that have happened on this show.

There's a big messy final battle where Sylar faces off against Peter, Mohinder rescues Hiro, Future Hiro dies, and Hiro and Ando teleport back to the present with Isaac's final comic book – which reveals that Hiro will kill Sylar in the final showdown.

Awesome.

CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE: THE HARD PART
Sylar, in Isaac's loft, paints a picture that suggests he'll destroy New York. Sylar has a fit of remorse, so he calls Mohinder. You know what's creepier than a brain-eating serial killer? A brain-eating serial killer who calls you just to mope. Mohinder fails to give him the desired sympathy, so Sylar hangs up and calls his mom instead. No, really, he does.

Mohinder and Thompson team up to stop Sylar. Thompson wants Mohinder to cure Molly Walker, the little girl Matt saved from Sylar at the beginning. Molly, who has the ability to track people, has a rare virus -- the same one that killed Mohinder's sister. Tired of everyone else on the show having special powers, Mohinder discovers he has super-special miracle blood with super miracle antibodies that can cure Molly's virus. Oh, why not?

Sylar visits his mom. It goes poorly. He ends up killing her. Yeah, that was pretty much a given. When Hiro attacks, Sylar freezes Hiro's sword and breaks it. Hiro teleports to safety.

Peter gives Claire a gun and tells her to shoot him in the head in case he starts to go nuclear, to prevent him from destroying the city.

Angela Petrelli, it turns out, is in on this whole destroy-the-city scheme with Linderman. Nathan is reluctant to be complicit in mass murder. Not that he won't do it, just that he's reluctant.

Claire and Peter meet up with Bennet, Matt, and Ted. Peter absorbs Ted's radioactive power and starts to glow ominously...

CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO: LANDSLIDE
False alarm! Peter calms down before Claire has to kill him. Sylar spies on them and anonymously calls the FBI. Audrey arrives and takes Ted Sprague into custody.

Hiro and Ando get the sword repaired. Hiro runs into George Takei, who gives him a crash course in sword fighting and prepares him to fight Sylar.

Election day. Candice makes Micah use his powers to rig the electronic voting machines. It's a landslide victory for Nathan.

Matt and Bennet infiltrate Company headquarters to take out their tracking system. Niki and D.L. are also in the building to find Micah and kill Linderman. Mr. Bennet kills Thompson, then goes to kill Molly -- she's the Company's tracking system. Matt gets knocked out by Mohinder, who aims a gun at Mr. Bennet.

Sylar attacks the FBI truck carrying Ted Sprague. He takes Ted's brain and steals his radioactive power.

Niki and D.L. confront Linderman. Linderman shoots D.L, but D.L. phases his fist through Linderman's brain and kills him before he can shoot Niki.

CHAPTER TWENTY-THREE: HOW TO STOP AN EXPLODING MAN
Niki and a gravely injured D.L. try to find Micah.

Mohinder and Mr. Bennet continue to wave guns at each other until Matt regains consciousness and convinces Bennet not to shoot Molly

In Isaac's loft, Sylar paints scenes of the final battle.

Nathan and Angela Petrelli make plans to leave the city before the explosion. Claire and Peter meet with Nathan. Peter realizes Nathan's planning on letting the city be destroyed. Nathan and Angela nab Claire; Peter takes off on his own. Claire jumps out a window to escape from the Petrellis.

Molly uses her ability to locate Sylar at Isaac's loft. Matt goes after Sylar on his own. Sometimes Matt is not too bright.

Ando attacks Sylar at the loft. Ando is also sometimes not too bright. Hiro comes to the rescue and teleports Ando back to Tokyo.

Niki battles Candice and rescues Micah.

Matt enters Isaac's loft. Sylar has already left. Matt sees his painting of his battle with Peter at Kirby Plaza.

Everyone converges on Kirby Plaza. The showdown between Sylar and Peter begins. Matt opens fire at Sylar and gets his bullets telekinetically tossed back at him. Hiro runs Sylar through with his sword. Sylar manages to telekinetically hurl Hiro away. Hiro teleports to... feudal Japan. Yeah, I don't know. Sylar collapses and ostensibly dies.

Peter, his powers out of control, starts to go nuclear. Claire tries to kill him and can't pull the trigger. Nathan flies in, grabs his brother, and flies off. There's an explosion in the sky.

So we're left with Peter and Nathan presumed dead, D.L. and Matt dying, Sylar slithering off in a trail of blood, Ando in present-day Japan, Hiro in fricking seventeenth-century Japan, Claire reunited with Mr. Bennet, and Mohinder stuck with looking after little Molly.

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