Best episode yet. Which at this point is damning with faint praise. But it does seem like they might finally be on the right track, they've moved most of the characters into more interesting places and the scope of the dual threats (which are no doubt related somehow) is pretty good.
Another week with no Maya/Alejandro, yay!
Another week with no Veronica Mars with Lightning Action, boo!
Hiro finally back from Japan, yay!
Suresh again has boomerang plot-driven characterization, boo!
Terrific scenes of Peter in the future and the amnesia story is finally dead! Yay!
Still don't give a crap about West, and I'm increasingly fed up with Claire. Boo!
Basically, it does seem like they could have gotten to this same place in, say, two or three episodes instead of six. Cut out West and the Black Oil twins and you've shaved at least one episode entirely, cut down the Hiro/Kensei arc to two episodes and you've saved another. And that's without eliminating any of the other pointless stuff, like amnesiac Irish Peter for four episodes. And all of this stretching out was clearly to keep us guessing, so that when the shock reveals of this episode hit, we'd all go "Wow, they've really been planning it."
Except that the reveals were so painfully predictable that we all knew they were coming from much earlier on. Adam's true identity? Guessed the second Kensei's powers were revealed, which incidentally should have been a first episode reveal. Hiro is Kensei? Actual guess from the first episode we met the "real" Kensei. And all this stuff with the Company is so much more interesting than almost anything from the first three episodes... shame they didn't lead with that.
At any rate, with Tim Kring and the rest of the writers on the strike lines, it's probably irrelevant that the show has made a minor comeback. And even though it is a comeback, I'm still uncertain about whether the show can be all that good with four episodes or so of pointless filler in its backstory and West, Maya and Alejandro still lurking in the wings, waiting to suck the life out of the show at any minute. But this was a better episode, and I felt less like I had wasted an hour of my life in watching it.
Of course, I watched it on Tuesday, and watched Chuck on Monday. Chuck is actually getting better with each episode after starting fairly strong, which puts it way out ahead of Heroes. And indeed, ahead of most of the Fall season, except for Pushing Daisies, which is terrific.
Again, though, with the strike, I think getting attached to any of the new shows this season is probably foolish. We're no doubt going to lose a few that might have stuck around in a different situation.