At this point, the backlash against "Heroes" has generated a backlash of its own. There's no doubt that some of the criticism is due to a bandwagon effect. Too many people in the world (and on the internet) love to kick a man when he's down, and Tim Kring has fallen right on his face with his recent comments and his decision to scapegoat his previous showrunners.
Unfortunately, it's not all about tearing down a good thing. There are legitimate criticisms that are being dismissed amidst the noise. Apologists tend to ignore those criticisms anyway, citing the notion that some critics and disaffected fans just don't pay attention, but that glosses over the many continuity errors that have cropped up this season.
This particular episode is just the beginning of whatever process is underway with the universal loss of abilities, so it's hard to comment on what has yet to play out completely. A couple of things immediately come to mind. It's a comic book staple to have some event wipe out powers across the board, at least for a little while, and it always manages to knock over the anthills a bit. The question is how long it will last, and how it will change the approaching war.
One big question does come up, however: why is the eclipse suddenly so important? The first season started with the hint that the eclipse had some greater meaning, but previous continuity has established that the various abilities came about long before the eclipse in the pilot. For that matter, Hiro appeared in Japan during an eclipse, and it had no discernable effect on his powers at the time.
This episode, however, states that the abilities emerged when the previous eclipse took place, and ties that to the apparent significance of the current crisis. Perhaps worse, the writers use that as plot justification in and of itself. They simply borrow the importance of the previous eclipse, even though its own significance is tenuous at best!
I'm also a bit annoyed with the characterization of Sylar in this episode. While Elle does seem like the type to focus on self-interest, Sylar's character arc went from relatively straightforward to all over the map. Is Sylar being set up as the ultimate wild card? Or is he just shifting his desire for approval from Angela to Arthur to Elle? I've been frustrated with Sylar all season, and this episode is no exception.
If "9th Wonder" was the comic book written and drawn by Isaac in the first season, and Isaac is dead, who is generating new issues of the comic book now? That would seem to be a fairly obvious continuity error. It also doesn't help that the writers took a page from "Lost" and pulled a John Locke with Daphne. So her ability allows her to overcome her disability. It's an interesting twist for the character, but sadly, it felt derivative.
All that said, I did end up enjoying the majority of the episode. I loved the interplay between Noah and Claire, especially her decision to save his life. She may have thought that her ability would make it a low risk proposition, but it's the thought that counts. I liked seeing the Petrelli brothers have it out for a while, though I think that they still need a good brawl to get over themselves.
A lot can be forgiven if the rest of this volume's arc can deliver on its promises. The first season ended with a whimper, and the second season was only marginally better. It would be a very good sign if the third volume could round out the end of 2008 on a high note.