Monday's episode of Heroes, "Thanksgiving," represented one of those rare moments when everything wrong with this show suddenly became right. It was a soapy tale of three intertwined, dysfunctional mutant family dinners - and it was old-fashioned freaky fun.

For some reason, everything related to Claire is great this season. Her lesbotic leanings brought in a cool new character, Gretchen, along with the chance that we might actually see some homo action on this rather straightlaced series. Her father, HRG, has left the mutant oppression business and is trying to find himself, along with his long-lost special agent partner/proto-lover Lauren (another great character). Meanwhile, Claire's mom has found a boyfriend who loves dogs as much as she does. And lucky for us, all these plot developments make for a beautifully awkward Thanksgiving dinner at HRG's apartment.

What I thought was genuinely fun about this scene, excerpted for you above, is the way it seamlessly combined an ordinary moment of family meltdown with HRG's evil agent past and Claire's mutant powers. This is Heroes at its best, speculating about how extraordinary people continue to lead rather ordinary lives. Even better is when Gretchen finally shows up, flirting ensues, and the two girls secretly decide to roadtrip out to Samuel's carnival with a compass that Claire stole from HRG. Lesbotic road trip with carnie action, here we come!

And then there was the Petrelli family dinner, which began with scary Mama P having her servants bring a bunch of prepared food to Peter's apartment where Nylar (AKA Body Sylar, Head Sylar, and Head Nathan) are brooding broodingly about being all screwed up by Mama. All the emo ends quickly when Sylar returns in an insanely cheesy burst of lightning and eats an entire pumpkin pie (but leaves the crust! WTF?). So now Sylar is back, but Nathan is still somehow able to fight him. In fact, by the end of the episode Nathan has emerged again to take over Body Sylar. The whole thing was a perfect scenario for a family controlled by scary Mama, whose sons are just pawns in a game so complicated we've completely lost track of it.

The episode was capped off by a lovely moment with the carnie family, where scary Samuel toasts everybody menacingly and Sprint sponsored a subplot where Hot Tattoo's hot daughter is in danger of becoming Samuel's little plaything. While everybody prepares turkey with their mutant stove powers, Hiro and Hot Tattoo sneak off into the past and witness (bum bum bum!) Samuel murdering his brother! It turns out his brother had given HRG that compass so he could find Samuel and reel him in.

Before Samuel shoots a rock into his brother's neck, he also reveals that Samuel's power could move mountains and cities and "kill millions," which gets our boy pretty excited. "I knew I was missing out on something!" he cries. Yeah, putting on eyeliner and black nailpolish all day is nothing compared to making whole cities do the pogo. So now Hot Tattoo and Hiro know the truth about Samuel's brother, and Hot Tattoo told Edgar too. But Edgar isn't really that smart, especially when he's not wearing his Sith gear. So he jumps up at the T-day table and accuses Samuel of doing the dirty deed, and then Samuel counter-accuses him of doing it.

You've gotta love a carnie Thanksgiving where the guys argue over who killed their brother. Meanwhile everybody else is all "this is aaaaawkward" and tries to pretend the mutant stuffing is super tasty. When Samuel tries to hurl rocks into Edgar, Hiro stops time and rescues the speedy knife-thrower. Then he puts the smackdown on Samuel and is like, "You need me. I'm not going to do anything for you until you tell me where Charlie is." I like Hiro with a backbone. But then one of the carnies does a brain-mangle on Hiro that is supposed to make him easier to control but instead causes him to disappear. Samuel's plans are just not going well! That's just what happens when you get the carnies together for family dinner - fratricide, time-hopping, dirt-hurling, and mind-scrambling. It's a fine American tradition.