All we need now from Heroes is for Mohinder to keep his pants, his trousers, his shirt and well, his everything on, thank you very much… which, thankfully, this week, he does. So much so, in fact, that he's not even in the episode. Which I can't say I'm complaining too much about. What is in 'One of Them, One of Us' is, for the most part, rather good however, although it is a far slower, more methodical episode than the rip-roaring season opener. It essentially lays the groundwork for future plot developments and moves important pieces into position, while providing enough intrigue of its own to keep the water cooler busy. Sylar is very much the main talking point here – from finding out that the even-more-evil than usual Angela Petrelli (Christine Rose is, as usual, simply devine, dahling) is his biological mother to teaming up with HRG, the world of the show's principle villain is turned decidedly on its head and Zachary Quinto rises admirably to the challenges that come along with it. The actor gets a chance to explore the world of the man behind the insanity, to three-dimensionalise Gabriel and offer him his own set of emotional conflicts rather than hanging on to a 'I hunger for powers' modus operandi. Partnering him up with Noah Bennet is inspired and, while slightly clunky in light of their history, it works very well, primarily because the two of them have oodles of delightfully mistrusting chemistry. The same can arguably be said of Claire and her biological mother, whose journey of 'self-discovery' culminates in a superbly written and directed sequence in which Meredith traps Claire in a burning building and attempts to suffocate her. You know, as moms do. Although the outcome is somewhat telegraphed (and as is Claire's subsequent rebellion), it is perfectly in keeping with young Bennet's character and, as a result, is the only logical, and satisfying, result. How logical Matt Parkman's trip to see African Isaac Mendez is remains up for debate, it must be conceded, but, in all honesty, I have absolutely no issue at all with this particular storyline. It seems to be bugging the hell out of the Heroes fans though, and the complaint generally seems to be that they don't like the writers repeating powers. Well, to that I say: deal with it. It happened last year with West and Kensei and you weren't complaining then, were ya? (Actually, they probably were). I don't feel the need to see an original power with every new hero and, in any case, this guy's is slightly different. He only sees Parkman's future, not everyone's. And in any case, it reintroduces the stunning season one artwork into the show; all the desert sequences are simply beautiful to observe. Oh and before the whiners start, Parkman is not necessarily going to paint the future. His eyes roll back yes, but he's on his 'spirit walk', his journey of discovery. It will probably affect Matt differently (it told the other dude to paint, it didn't make him paint)… Parkman did not touch a brush of any kind. Don't get worried yet.
There are some minor problems with 'One of Us, One of Them', however, and they largely revolve around the villains and Peter. While the sequence in the bank was rather entertaining, with some nice use of powers (particularly Jesse's sound manipulation) the narrative was, ultimately, a bit of a damp squib, wasn't it? After building Jesse up last week, he gets two minutes to show his 'true force' and then he's dead at the hands of Sylar. Not the best decision, guys. The flamethrower's back in level 5 too, and God knows where Knox is. Really, not enough has been made of these guys, especially given that such gravitas was placed on their escape in the previous episode. Their level of threat was well sold in 'The Butterfly Effect'… but the ultimate execution leaves something to be desired. I do, however, have faith in the writers: they know what they do, and one imagines they have something else up their collective sleeves (a dozen escaped from Level 5… and Angela's premonition only included Knox in the line-up of no-gooders who murder our heroes). Hiro and Ando's narrative was a little lacking too; while it was nice to see the Haitian again, and Daphne continues to be brilliant, the Japanese duo's squabbling was completely predictable, and the speedster's taking advantage even more so. The feeling of disappointment at their story is probably a bi-product of slowing the pace of the plot down, allowing for considerable concentration on character development in some areas and downsizing the others to B or C storyline status. There's nothing essentially wrong with such a process: a more refined, and reflective, episode is produced as a result, but without the benefit of foresight to see where the building blocks being placed will ultimately fit, it can potentially come across as a little lacking. Still, on the whole, this is a well-written and executed hour of a show that continues to excite, intrigue and beguile.