For some reason the obvious similarities between Heroes and The 4400 escaped me until now, maybe because I only saw the first season of The 4400, a competent show but hardly memorable. Both dramas deal with the emergence of a group of metahumans (my preferred "cool" word for superheroes, via Kingdom Come), but where The 4400 adopted an anthology approach with an overriding arc, Heroes is full-on serialised in a fashion made popular by 24 and Lost, with with many concurrent threads that have already started to intertwine.
I assume that the five week deadline introduced last episode will run out at the end of the first season, though I suppose the nuclear explosion could be averted mid-way through with another threat taking its place. But if not, this equates to just over a day per episode, roughly the same timeline adopted by Lost. This implies that the series will be quite densely plotted, especially given that Heroes won't be spending half its time on flashbacks.
The writer of this episode is Jeph Loeb, also a producer of the show and someone with plenty of experience in superheroes, serialised TV drama and serialised superhero TV drama.
Each of the main characters is surrounded by one or two supporting characters. This is because television exposition is done 90% via dialogue, and if the character doesn't have someone to talk to then the writer (unless very clever) is forced to use voice overs, talking to oneself or some other artificial technique. I think it's likely that as the heroes start to meet each other that the appearances of at least some of the supporting cast will get scaled back.
There was a quip about not wearing cape and tights - ha! as I predicted. The other appearance of a cape so far - the little kid in the playground - was also played for laughs ... though I half expected the kid to give Peter advice on how to fly drawn from the kid's knowledge of comic books.
The cop introduced last episode (whose name escape me) seems like the quintessentially decent guy, marriage problems aside. He was immediately sympathetic.
Peter - Nathan's betrayal was a good move, story-wise, dramatising a personal conflict well.
Niki - of course I pointed by browser at lasvegasniki.com ... and was disappointed by what I got. Word of advice for the producers: Verisimilitude people! Verisimilitude!
Hiro - returned to Japan. An unexpected move and one I liked, though, invariably, by episode's end, he was back in the US. The actor is starting to grow on me too.
But how did Hiro and his buddy come to be stuck with the woman in between them on the plane? It makes for a more interesting shot composition, a cheap laugh and drives home the point about the ability of the comic to tell the future, but I can't think of a good reason how they actually ended up in those seats without getting into convoluted explanations. (For instance, if those were the only seats available, then the woman must have deliberately selected the centre seat ... and who does that?) Okay, could be I'm getting just a tad nitpicky here...
Speaking of the Hiro comic - there's something not quite right about it. It's too convenient, and it's a writer's cheat that we only ever see the page of the comic that we're up to in the episode. And that's not being nitpicky.
It seems the series has introduced its first supervillain in the form of Syla, who is connected to two of the heroes. But why would a guy with so many super powers need to drop the little girl just because he was discovered? He got in without problems, killed two people, can't be shot, can take control of other people's bodies, is able to leap tall buildings at a single bound (or at least climb ladders very quickly) ... you'd think he could just take the girl with him. Unless there's something about the girl that interferes with his powers ... but I suspect not. I think the real reason was just to introduce a temporary TV threat (girl in danger), a fallback to a cliché unfortunately.
Claire - for someone who's invulnerable, she sure keeps on getting into (what would have been) fatal accidents - first the football player last episode, now the attempted rape gone awry. It's a highly convenient way to show off her powers. Too convenient in fact.
But it was a nice way of generating another "gotta keep watching" ending. The cliffhangers have been the best thing about the series so far.