The Husband:

After a lackluster second season — come on, you all know it’s true — Heroes returned Monday night with story and attitude to spare. Instead of basically spinning its wheels as it did last season, creator Tim Kring and the writers took fan/writer criticism like men (and women) and figured out what we as an audience needed — a strong forward momentum that gets you pumped for the next episode. I don’t recall ever feeling that way during the strike-truncated s2, especially not for the Wonder Twins or the New Orleans story (although I did like Saint Joan). Was everything in the two-hour premiere perfect? No. It’s going to be very hard to capture the magic and overall awesomeness of s1, which had so much goodwill going toward it that the writers blew their load early and basically wrote themselves into a corner by season’s end.

Hiro/Ando: Upon the death of his father (the fabulous and recently married George Takei), Hiro decides, upon being given a video will, to find the valuable one-half-of-the-formula — which I will call F0.5 — and do…something with it. Doesn’t matter that he didn’t want to be a F0.5-protecting sentinel, because he’s going to have to accept that title. Why? Because within seconds of retrieving the small piece of paper, Miss Fasty McFast Pants (hot nerd chick from Friday Night Lights) super-runs in and steals it, thus giving Hiro a proper nemesis. Soon he’s on a collision course with destiny — once again — in a mission to find the other half of the formula before it’s too late.

You are not faster than me!

You are not faster than me!

It’s also super-awkward between him and Ando, as when Hiro jumped into the future to see the result of the formula’s menace, only to apparently view his own death at the hands of a lightning bolt-wielding Ando. Depending on which Time Travel Rules the show wants to follow this week (more on that later) I’m not sure if I’m even supposed to care, since we know from earlier that future Hiro is still alive when future Ando is dead.

Mohinder/Maya: Mohinder discovers a way to harness the hero/mutant gene and inject it into his own skin. After a few Spider-man moves and some hot bangy-bang with Maya, he discovers that his skin is peeling off in big honking chunks. Come on, you’re a doctor. You know that you should always test on animals first. But hey, at least his character has a reason for being on the show, because last season I honestly didn’t know why they simply didn’t kill him or make him disappear, which pretty much happens to every character on the show once they become irrelevant.

Mohinders new super powers make him super sexy.

Mohinder's new super powers make him super sexy.

Parkman: Future Peter comes into the present and sends Parkman to some remote African desert, where he meets some kind of soothsayer. It took them two hours to get through this five-minute story. Hey, that’s the problem with having such a large ensemble — one story is always going to feel extremely awkward.

Tracy Strauss: Ali Larter + actual purpose on show = newfound relevance. I think my wife has more to say on the subject than I do.

Sylar vs. Claire: Despite her main character status and her pretty sweet powers, Claire has finally succumbed to a Sylar attack. She is spared from a top-of-the-headless existence only because of Sylar’s declaration that she has a greater role in fate or the Apocalypse or something — honestly, the show already has a dozen of these, so they all tend to run together in my head — and soon she begins to feel that she may have no soul. Is she going to be a villain? As we see in Future Claire, what with her black hair and evil grimace, it’s starting to look that way. (This is a far cry from her romance with stupid-flying-boy in s2.)

Mr. Muggles will never steal your super powers. Or will he?

Mr. Muggles will never steal your super powers. Or will he?

I also have a feeling that Zachary Quinto is disappointed that, now that we have seen how Sylar takes hero powers from one’s brain, it isn’t nearly as gross as he hoped. I recall an online interview that, when asked how he personally thought Sylar would drain powers, responded, “Yummy yummy.” Now, he just kind of points and pokes. Boooooring.

Nathan: After being shot by Future Peter at the end of s2, he has come back to life and has found Jesus. Seriously. That’s his story. I really can’t point to why Nathan suddenly feels this way, because it was pointed out to him that he survived the s1 finale explosion without giving credit to the J-Man, but I guess his purpose is to become a self-righteous, potentially dangerous martyr. (And no, I’m not being anti-Christian. The show is outright telling me that.) You would think that being “graced” with the presence of Linderman’s invisible spirit/ghost/power would tell Nathan that it’s not any kind of Christian spirituality that is ocurring, but…oh well. The show seems to do what it wants to do.

Future Peter: It seems another Big Bad Thing is looming ominously on the horizon, and Future Peter carries this story with him. Apparently, all Supers, as a result of Nathan opening his big mouth re: his ability to fly, will soon be hunted down in a sort of Hero Genocide, and Future Peter can’t have that. He has traveled into the present, shot Nathan, then in his doing accidentally sets free three villains from Level 5: a firestarter (wicked firestarter…HEYHeyhey), a sound manipulator (Weevil from Veronica Mars), the German and…some guy (Marlo from The Wire) who apparently finds somebody’s weakness and…exploits it. (So, he’s a lawyer?) During all this, Mama Petrelli is screaming at Future Peter to stop messing in the present, because his attempt to change the past will have a butterfly effect on the future.

Here’s where I get a little pissed at the show and its idea about Time Travel Rules.

Time Travel Rules: Honestly, it’s very hard for any show or film to deal with time travel, because it only complicates matters to the point where it’s just simply not worth it. I happen to subscribe to the “Bill & Ted Theory” of time travel, where if you have to go back into the past to change something, then technically you were already there in the past, and your presence then made history what it already is. I’m always fine with other theories of time travel in movies and on TV – I loved how the first Futurama movie became so helplessly complicated that they basically admitted the idea’s fault by parodying it within its own running time – but you have to own up to it. In the underrated 2006 movie Deja Vu, the wriers at least attempted to explain away changing one’s present by journeying into the past with their insistence that there are many different branced timelines as a result of each of our decisions, thus allowing the audience to jump into another branch by film’s end. (Brain hurtee. I know.) On Heroes, though, it seems to lack consistency.

This season, one can in fact change the future by changing the present, but finally posits that their meddling has equally negative effects on the future. By Future Peter changing the past, he has unleashed another kind of evil. (But it’s not like the recent Guy Pearce version of H.G. WellsThe Time Machine, where whenever he changed the past to save his wife, fate always found a way of killing her, thus rendering everything he did useless.) The show hasn’t done this so far. In fact, its notions of fate and destiny go against what the new season is trying to tell us.

Take Isaac’s prophetic paintings for instance. He predicts the future, and no matter what knowledge the characters have of his prophecies, they always ended up in that picture one way or another. Peter had his vision of the New York explosion that would have rocked New York at the end of s1, and everyone who was supposed to be at that location on Manhattan as prophesized was there at the end, once again with the characters already knowing the future and trying to change it.

But then they all save the day, so the future can be changed. So it’s sort of “Back To The Future Theory” in work.

But…Isaac’s paintings. You see what I mean?

How about Hiro’s presence in the past in Feudal Japan with Takezo Kensei? Hiro was told stories as a young boy about this fierce warrior, but then grown-up hero is thrust back into that time, finding that Kensei is just a cowardly drunk. It was Hiro that turned Kensei into a hero, and I can only assume that the stories kid Hiro was told was a direct result of his own meddling in the past. See? That’s “Bill & Ted Theory.”

Which is it, Heroes. Can you change your present or not? Future Peter is changing his present, but with the butterfly effect in…effect. But in s1, the heroes taking Sylar down didn’t seem to have much of a butterfly effect.

What the fuck, Heroes? Pick a theory and stick with it. Right now you’re just doing whatever is useful for the story that is happening at that very moment. But you can’t have your cake and eat it too. Not when I’m around.

The Wife:

I do indeed have more to say about Tracy Strauss because Ali Larter’s character on this show has always been a weak point. Having a split personality is not a super power. It’s just not. My husband has spent far too much time trying to convince me that her Nikki/Jessica is like the Incredible Hulk. Yeah, I don’t buy that because I don’t care for the Hulk much either. I mostly think he’s just a big green asshole. I spent two seasons hating on Nikki/Jessica because I was tired of Nikki being nothing but weak and Jessica being nothing but a bitch. And then there was that third personality, Gina. Do you remember her? Her basic character trait was being a party girl. She showed up in one episode and was never heard from again.

Hi, Im Ali Larter, and I no longer totally suck.

Hi, I'm Ali Larter, and I no longer totally suck.

Now we meet Tracy Strauss, who has depth and intelligence and is chillingly adept at getting what she wants. Tracy spends this episode trying to coerce Nathan Petrelli to accept a vacant senate seat, and insisting to some political gossip rag reporter that she is not, in fact, Nikki Saunders and that she did not, in fact, have sexual relations with that man, Mr. Petrelli. Tracy is referred to as “The Ice Bitch” or “The Ice Queen” by the reporter and it turns out that this nickname refers to more than just her demeanor, as Tracy has the power to FREEZE PEOPLE TO DEATH. Now that, my friends, is a fucking superpower. Ali Larter went from playing my least favorite character to my new favorite in the course of two hours. Nice work, Tim Kring.

I also enjoy the return of Jesslyn Gilsig, who I last saw getting fucked off a building on Nip/Tuck, as Claire’s mommy, as well as the addition of The Speedster, who I think is awesome and adorable and looks so cute in those silly red pants. It’s good for Hiro to have a proper nemesis, indeed.

Also nice to see: Eli “Weevil” Navarro (Francis Capra) and Veronica Mars (Kristen Bell), together again. Albeit, together in the sense that Weevil was behind the glass for the majority of the episode and the only scene they had together was when Weevil (who plays Jesse on Heroes, a dude who can manipulate sound whose body is currently inhabited by Present Peter) saved Veronica after she wasted all her energy electrocuting Sylar. Francis Capra got gypped in the episode. I want Peter to get out of his body immediately so that I can see Francis Capra actually do some acting and not simply bang on glass or appear as a reflection in a mirror.

On a final note, I want to see more Milo Ventimiglia-Greg Grunberg eyeball-offs. That was amazing, and hilarious. And then Grunberg ended up in Africa. I thought for sure Future Peter was going to teleport him to a remote island in the middle of the Pacific where he’d be dying in the cockpit of a plane.