Last night's episode of Heroes, "Our Father," brought on the superhero sentimentalism you'd expect from an episode about supervillain parents and their ambiguously ethical offspring. Once you got past the tearful reunion scenes, this episode turned out to be a great example of how Hiro's power to control time can actually change the past - and the future - in a pretty interesting way. Plus, there was a really weird scene with time-travel-enabled diaper changing. Spoilers ahead!
Two plot developments really stood out in "Our Father," and both were related to the "catalyst" that Papa Petrelli wants so he can complete the formula that will give anyone who injects it a special power. In fact, as supervillian PR lady Tracy explains to Nathan, they can even bestow whatever power they want. I love this scene where Tracy gives Nathan a crash-course in how they'll use the formula. First she refers to it as "intelligent design" (an idea this show obviously classifies as evil), and then she unveils the cadre of PTSD-borked soldiers who are willing to throw their lives away to try what they've been told is a new supersoldier therapy.
So how will the bad guys at Pinehearst get the catalyst? We learned in "The Eclipse" double episode that Claire is the catalyst, and last night we found out why. If you recall, the brain-mangled Hiro rescued Claire from Sylar last week, and took her back in time sixteen years to the day when Hiro's dad asked HRG to take care of baby Claire for the Company.
As regressed Hiro and Claire watch in astonishment, Hiro's father discusses "the light" with Hiro's ailing mother. It turns out Hiro's mom was a healer who possessed the catalyst herself, and had the ability to hand it off. She wants to give it to Hiro, but Hiro's dad says no - he thinks his son is too obsessed with manga and videogames to bear the responsibility of the catalyst, so he wants to hide it in Claire. As they watch, Claire and Hiro figure out what they have to do: Claire has to try to stop her father from letting the Nakamuras implant her with the catalyst; and Hiro has to get a healing kiss from his mother (yes her power really is a healing kiss - bleah).
In the process of carrying our their missions, grown-up Claire gets to help her mom take care of her baby self. This includes a scene where she CHANGES HER OWN DIAPERS. Yes, people, this is some kind of fetish taken so far that it's actually become a new fetish, or maybe a meta-fetish, or something even weirder than that. Posing as a neighbor, Claire achieves this new level in fetishism by babysitting herself while her mom sets up her nursery. When HRG arrives home, she reveals only that she's got a special knowledge of his future, and convinces him that he must always guard "his Claire Bear" and not to let Nakamura put anything in her.
Meanwhile, Hiro reveals himself to his mother and she heals his damaged brain so that he's got his memories back. Once he tells her that he's saved the world twice and is the master of space and time, she puts the glowing light of the catalyst inside him and then dies. Much sadness!
But also: Much coolness. This is one of those subplots that works because going back in time actually allows Hiro to significantly change the present.
Except, and here's where things get a wee bit unexplained, somehow Papa P travels back in time and catches Claire and Hiro before they can get back to the present. How does he have time travel powers? He couldn't have stolen them from Hiro, because Hiro still had them. Was there another master of space and time whose powers Papa had already plundered? Is there some time paradox where he has time travel powers because he went back in time and stole them (yes this is really about as logical as many Heroes plot developments)?
OK, whatever, so it makes no sense. It's still totally cool because now Papa really does steal Hiro's power, and the catalyst. He tosses Hiro off the roof, where he dangles dorkily on a flagpole, and sends Claire back to the present. Meanwhile, speedy Daphne, Parkman and Ando have managed to use their combined powers to wrest Isaac's last comic book from the hands of a bicycle messenger who says he's being pursued by "every fanboy in the city." They're reading about how Hiro is "lost in time" just as he's getting lost.
Then Papa heads back to Pinehearst, where he releases the catalyst into what looks like a flagon of red punch. Once the catalyst flows inside, it sort of hardens into red jello and Suresh tests it out on the most PTSD soldier of them all, who promptly has some kind of seizure and flares his nostrils and then becomes super strong. Interestingly, the actor who plays the PTSD soldier was in the much-missed superpower/time travel show The 4400, taking a drug (Promicin) which gave him superpowers.
Peter had one thing to do in this episode, and that was to bring the Haitian to Pinehearst so that he could shoot Papa while his powers were being muffled. But he's saved from having to be a mean murderer just in time when Sylar arrives. He's just eaten the brain of a woman whose superpower is knowing when people are lying, so he's able to figure out that Papa's been lying about being Sylar's daddy. He takes control of the bullet that Peter's shot at Papa, first stopping it, and then restarting it so that he can be Papa's killer while Peter stays emo.
More supersoldiers are coming next week, which means we can get back to having interesting new plot developments instead of watching Sylar act like Sylar again. Come back, Gabriel! We loved those glasses and sweaters!