Cast your mind back, to the days on Heroes when Hiro was semi-badass and Sylar was actually scary. Those days were here again, briefly, on last night's time travelly episode. Plus, HRG is closer than ever to getting laid!

"Once Upon a Time In Texas" was about the most important item on Hiro's "things to fix before I die" agenda. And that item was Charlie, the cute waitress whose life he tried to save from Sylar three years ago by traveling back in time 6 months. This time, Hiro traveled back three years to the moment when Sylar ate her brains, in another attempt to save her life. Then Hiro has the great idea to freeze time and pack Sylar away in the baggage bin on a Greyhound bus outside the diner where Charlie works.

Up until that moment, things had been going so well! Hiro was acting like a grownup (more or less) and HRG of the past was having a heretofore unknown office romance with a fellow agent. I liked the HRG retcon, where he has a budding romance with a competent, tough woman who is his equal and with whom he can talk about anything - unlike his family, whose minds he wipes on a regular basis.

But then Hiro once again used his powers in a way that once again reminded me why this show makes me regularly leave weird sweaty marks on my TV screen where I bang my inflamed head against it. (See clip.) First of all, he can stop time. SO WHY NOT JUST FREAKIN RIP SYLAR'S HEAD OFF WHILE HE IS FROZEN?! Second, if Hiro is going to inexplicably avoid the face-rippage, why not contain Sylar in a way that makes sense? How will a little duct tape and a bus stop Sylar from eating Charlie's brains? This is Hiro of the future - he knows how deadly Sylar can be. And yet this is his big solution? The thing he's done despite knowing it will push him closer to death than he already is? I am completely mystified, people.

Not surprisingly, Sylar escapes from Hiro's lameass trap, so then Hiro saves Charlie's life a new way. First, he sends his 3-year-old self back in time 6 months, so that he can fall in love with Charlie and not alter the paranormal romance timeline. (When you fuck with paranormal romance narratives, things really get ugly.) Then he convinces Sylar to fix the aneurism in Charlie's brain by promising to reveal lots of neat things about the future. Why Sylar falls for this is as mysterious as why Hiro continually does not freeze time and kill Sylar.

So Charlie is saved and Hiro says something like, "In the future you will be powerful but all of us will band together and destroy you and nobody will shed a tear." Oh boo freakin hoo. You think Sylar cares if anybody sheds a tear for him?

Then Charlie gets all whiny about how Hiro should have let her die, which is lame. It just feels really forced, like OK we get that she doesn't like that he cuts deals with serial killing madmen, but why would she whine about "why did you save my life when other people die?" He SAVED HER LIFE. That is an unqualified good thing, no matter how random fate is and blah blah blah. So there's a lot of narrative flailing that eventually leads to Hiro and Charlie making up (duh). But then! Evil carnival Samuel sticks Charlie into some nethertime region using the last juice from his dying time travel carnie pal.

Big reveal: Samuel has been trying to use Hiro all along, but has until now inexplicably not made any direct effort to control Hiro except through passive-aggressive mumblings about "changing the past." How was Hiro even supposed to know Samuel wanted anything from him, anyway? And why does he need to imprison Charlie? Anyway, the point is that Hiro gets all worked up and non-kidlike again, which is such a huge relief that you don't even mind when HRG's potential office fling gets her mind wiped so she'll forget about her crush on HRG. It's like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind plus some episode of The Hulk show from the 70s.

Will Hiro help Samuel change the past (which has something to do with a glimpse we get of a dead Suresh) in order to rescue Charlie from the nethertime? Unfortunately we won't find out next week, because it's back to Head Sylar - or Head Matt . . . or something.