Heroes is going through great changes over the past few episodes. While they have not been without flaws, they have managed to harken back to the old form of storytelling that fans enjoyed so much. 1961 reminds longtime fans of what the show can be, while entertaining them and newcomers with a comepelling story of the past.
1961 returns us to Coyote Sands where our heroes are well underway excavating a burial ground. From the first scene this episode grabs viewers with the disturbing images of the sea of skeletons wand simultaneously gives as a look into the past to give us our first hint of what is in store for us in the episode.
The flashback story was fantastic. It displayed the raw emotion that Cold Wars (also a flashback episode) lacked. The connection between Angela and Alice was gripping and at last told the long awaited Angela orgin tale.
Seeing other old faces, such as Charles Devaux and Daniel Linderman was exciting for longtime viewers, although I found Linderman's accent to be quite annoying. However, while the flashback sequences were exciting, some things felt a little forced. Doctor Zimmerman was unneeded and reminded me of the tragic mess that we now call "Villains." The writers redeme themselves though when Angela lies to Alice, resulting in the massacre of Coyote Sands, durring which we see a sign reading "Bldng 26 Lab" a connection to the present that will hopefully be explored in the final 2 episdoes of "Fugitives."
In the present, we are shown another incredible story. The longterm affects of Angela's past are shown clearly, and her scene with Claire was a bit of a tearjerker. This storyline feels a little slow in the first twenty minutes of 1961 or so, but quickly becomes even better than the flashbacks.
When we were finally introduced to Alice, it is implied that she is slightly crazy, having never left Coyote Sands. Also, we were FINALLY given a sweet but simple answer to Angela's shoplifting of socks.
The episode really gets interesting when Alice learns of Angela's lie to her 50 years earlier that caused the destruction of her life. Angela tries to convince Alice that she is sorry, and once again it seems like Heroes is on its predictable family-forgiveness route. So the surprise I felt when Angela says, "Say goodbye, Alice," and Alice answers with an angry, "No," can hardly be imagined.
Heroes did a fanatastic job this week. Even the cliffhanger, a clear set up for next week's first half of the finale, was wonderful. Sylar has taken on Nathan's appearance and is holding a press confrence. Something I expected, but not this soon.
Ultimately, 1961 is a hard episode to judge. There is a lot of good done, along with some bad, but Heroes still is several steps ahead of where we were when "Villains" ended. While 1961 was a good stand-alone story, its true value won't be clear until we see if there are longterm affects of what is shown here.
NOTE: My score for this episode is 9.4 but is listed as a 10 to counter the haters who negatively review Heroes episdoes for the sake of negatively reviewing Heroes episodes.