‘Heroes’: Greg Grunberg Becomes a Man

Photo: Courtesy of NBC

So where was the ecofriendly episode of Heroes we were promised by Ben Silverman? After all the hoo-ha about "energy-saving fixes" and "engaging the audience and providing a positive social message," all that was left of NBC's green initiative was a little lime-green peacock logo in the corner of the screen.

And so it turned out that the only thing recycled in last night's Heroes was …

You thought we were gonna say the plot, right? Nope! The only thing recycled was our sense of excitement when the show gets off its ass and provides some thrills! Last night's Heroes wasn't a return to form, exactly, but it was a substantial improvement over the past few aimless weeks. In great part, it was better because it had an aim — because we finally began to see the outlines of the story that Heroes, season two, plans to tell. (At least until December 3, which may well be the early season finale.)

Our various Heroes, scattered across the globe and throughout time, are starting to come together. Hiro blows up Takezo Kensei and returns to meet his old buddy Ando. Noah Bennett comes home from the Ukraine and busts Claire for her extracurricular activities. Peter learns about the future Shanti virus pandemic, which will kill 93 percent of the world's population in a year's time, and then jumps back to the present day. Once there, he learns that the mysterious "Adam Monroe" who's been killing the elder generation of Heroes is none other than … Takezo Kensei, seemingly unaged.

But best of all is an outstanding set of scenes between Maury Parkman, his son Matt, Molly, and the still-sort-of-unhinged Niki in the Company's headquarters. Who would ever have imagined that Greg Grunberg would transform from J.J. Abrams's mascot to a heartfelt actor? He even sells a scene set in a nightmare version of his childhood home, in which he faces off against his father and consigns him to his own personal hell. By the end of the scene, Molly is rescued, Maury is trapped, and Niki is infected with a virulent strain of the Shanti virus — one that seemingly has no cure. To save her, Suresh is sent out to find the key to the cure: Claire.

Next week seems like exactly the kind of episode the show needs right now: one that fills in a lot of blanks. What happened to Peter and Nathan up there in the sky? How did Peter meet Adam? What is the story with Veronica Mars? It's a good impulse on the part of the show's creators to answer a whole load of questions all at once, and it's a good sign that perhaps — just perhaps! — their knack for effective comic-book storytelling is finally returning after a seven-episode absence. Another good sign: They ditched Ben Silverman's eco-baloney and just told a story.

Earlier: Ben Silverman, Friend to the Environment
‘Heroes’ Plans an Early Exit