The fourth episode of Heroes was the strongest one this season. A big part of that is that two of the stupidest, least interesting plotlines (Hiro in Feudal Japan and Peter in Ireland) were entirely absent. Another part was that they finally, *finally* introduced a new character I didn't immediately want to throttle. And another part is that they seem to have hit upon a main story that actually seems potentially as interesting as the Sylar/Lenderman mysteries of season one. Now if only they can focus in on that and ditch all the extraneous garbage.
The new character and her family are cliched in the extreme, with a cringe-worthy inclusion of a "topical" Hurricane Katrina story. However, the new actress (Dana Davis) is quite good in a cliched role, and her powers (Taskmaster-esque photographic reflexes) are pretty cool, and well done. I'm finding it really, really hard to believe Tim Kring's assertion that he doesn't read comics... if that's the case, he has the super-power of accidentally ripping them off in every episode. Which is fine, just... acknowledge your influences, don't try to pretend you're one of the cool kids who doesn't read superhero comics when you're trading on the cool factor of the genre to shore up your B-list writing.
Was that harsh? No harsher than the feelings I continue to have for Maya, Alejandro and West, the three new characters whom I would like to see die in a huge fireball. Or a quiet gas leak. Really, whatever gets rid of them the fastest. I was actually stunned by the stupidity of coincidence that Sylar stumbled into the path of Maya and Alejandro, but that whole story gained a 50% boost in charisma with Zachary Quinto's arrival, and even better, maybe it means Sylar will kill Maya and Alejandro and we can be done with the whole stupid subplot. I confess, I didn't think bringing back Sylar was a great idea, but I don't really know exactly what his motivations/goals are at this point, nor do I know what's up with the cockroaches left at the scene of the crime, and I'm actually interested in both those mysteries.
The main mystery, which is actually interesting, is about "The Company" and how it relates to the original band of not-so-heroes. Sure, Parkman and Suresh are in a hilarious superhero version of My Two Gay Dads (surely the writers see this, right?), but I like where they've taken the characters, and I liked Parkman interacting with Petrelli. In fact, seeing some of these characters cross paths reminded me of the biggest misstep the show made in season two, which is splitting them all up again, when just building on the relationships and going forward would have been *so* much more interesting. Hopefully the connections will come faster from here on in, and we won't have to wait until midseason (or longer) before the various plots are connecting and I don't find myself wanting to fast forward through large chunks of the story.
Seriously, every time West is on screen, I keep hoping for him to either spontaneously combust or be revealed as a devious bad guy who's manipulating Claire. Because if this great boyfriend act is meant to be sincere, it's a little too saccharine for me.
At any rate, seeing Kristen Bell in the teasers gave me hope, as she shines in just the few seconds of screen time there, and if she can bring Peter back from his stupid, contrived Irish mis-adventure, so much the better.
Even though the show was better tonight, it was still weaker than pretty much any of the episodes from last season. And there were some weak, weak episodes last season. I'm still watching, but my finger's on the "Cancel Season Pass" button, and I won't be recommending to my two friends who've given up that they come back at this point.