Heroes: Trae Patton
Gilbert Cruz
November 14, 2006 AT 05:00 AM EST

”Heroes”: Hiro meets a girl

Aww, yeah. Looks like Hiro’s got himself a special lady friend — a button-cute Texas waitress named Charlie who has super memory, works at the Burnt Toast Diner, and likes the way Hiro’s cheeks wobble when he concentrates. Funny, I thought he looked constipated, which is not very cute. It’s uncute. Is it not actually the complete opposite of cute? They crush on each other for a bit, flirt in Japanese, and then…she gets the top of her head sawed off (while using an industrial can opener — subtle) by Sylar, our baseball-cap-wearing, shadowy-faced bad guy. Seriously, for a show whose daylight shots are so super-exposed with light, it’s amazing that we don’t have a better grip on what this guy looks like. Maybe he’s like the Blank, from Dick Tracy. Maybe he has no face.

So, we have our characters with super superpowers, and then we’ve got some with slightly above average abilities. They’re all special, but as show creator Tim Kring has stated in several interviews, ”this is not X-Men.” In other words, every person is not going to be powerful enough to stop a deadly supervillain. I suppose that’s where Charlie fits in. Super memory, very cool. She could be a superb politician. (Hire her as your assistant, Nathan.) Saving the world, however? Not so much. Same with Eden, who has the power of suggestion, à la the very famous Jedi mind trick (”These are not the droids you’re looking for”). Probably useful for pacifying jerk-face New York City bouncers. Pacifying jerk-face New York City nuclear explosions, however? Not so much.

So poor Charlie got her skull cut open, just when she and Hiro were meeting cute, with our favorite manipulator of space-time looking as bashful as a red panda. Having stood by while Niki/Jessica slaughtered a bunch of shady Vegas card players last time around, Hiro wasn’t going to make the same mistake twice. ”If I’m too scared to use my powers,” he said, ”then I don’t deserve them.” Plus, she’s cute. So he constipated himself back in time to save her life. He made it there, because we saw a picture of the two of them celebrating her birthday (with Hiro looking a little drunk), but the present time doesn’t seem to have changed much — Ando is still walking around in a diner filled with stunned cops and waitresses. Did his friend succeed?

This episode — the eighth, titled ”Seven Minutes to Midnight” — gave us mo’ Mohinder. It opened on him scattering his father’s ashes into the ocean and, along the way, we got glimpses into his contentious relationship with his father, met a former love interest, and learned that his sister, who died when he was very young, was somehow ”special.” We also saw him experience a series of revelatory dreams about the past that may have been induced by Sanjog Iyer, a young Indian child whose file was hidden behind his father’s university office drawer. (In one dream, Mohinder witnessed his father’s death at the hands of what looked to be Sylar sporting a watch stuck at — you got it — seven minutes to midnight.) I thought it a bit odd to focus so intensely on Mohinder and leave out Peter Petrelli, who last we saw was in search of the painting that would lead him to Claire’s rapidly approaching homecoming. Where’d he go? Couldn’t we have saved Mohinder and the dream child for some future episode?

But more so than any other character, I am so digging Horn-Rimmed Glasses right now. The man works in a paper factory, albeit a paper factory with keycard-activated doors. We learned that he’s been doing this for a long time, this hunting down superheroes. For at least 14 years. It’s how he found Claire, whom he adopted when her birth mother died following a shady incident. (”Other times,” he told Isaac, ”well, let’s just say, some people misinterpret our motives, and then it can go very wrong.”) H.R.G. knows a lot. He knows about Sylar, knows that Sylar is going to try to kill his daughter and that he has killed other people with abilities. He appears to be on the side of righteousness, and he wants to save his daughter. And if he has to make Isaac a junkie again, so be it. Did anyone else get emotional when H.R.G. started choking up about his little Claire? He’s tender enough to well up, tough enough to take revenge on quarterbacks. I wish he were my dad.

Seriously, if next week is not freaking awesome, if next week’s episode — an episode that they have built an entire slightly cool, slightly cheesy catchphrase and ad campaign around — if that episode does not thrill and satisfy on a basic gut-tacular level, then I will be seriously disappointed. The show up to this point has been like the opening stages of a supernova — gathering all its plots and characters toward the same central point just before it explodes and sends everything back out into the galaxy. We’re about to see that supernova core, to see some saving the cheerleader, saving the world. Do not disappoint us, NBC! We will not abide going into Thanksgiving week with an unsettled feeling in our stomachs!

So, what do you all think? Are all these new powers they are introducing just a case of diminishing returns? Is Hiro going to win one for love? Is Matt a sucker for taking back his wife, and will he find the Haitian? And does anyone else feel bad for poor Ando, Hiro’s powerless sidekick?

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