Give credit where it's due: writers Adam Armus and Kay Foster took a premise that could have imploded big-time – Sylar coming unraveled – and turned “I Am Sylar” into a taut, capable lead-in to next week's season finale.
Tying it all together, of course, was the Big Bad's stumbling all over his new power. The story starts 18 hours before the final shot of “1961,” as we see the implausible occur: the Man with the Plan losing himself so badly in his new shape-shifting power, he wakes up wearing the face of a recent victim. Things get so bad for him he actually takes advice from Danko, who wants nothing more than for his heaviest hitter to keep racking up the metahuman notches.
Along the way, though, an equally unlikely voice emerges on Gabriel's other shoulder: the much-missed Micah. Whereas maybe even a few weeks ago, Sylar would have shredded Micah like so much confetti, his state of confusion allows the kid to urge him toward something better. That appeal gets Micah a reprieve and an assist from Gabriel, but it opens up a whole other can of worms.
See, Micah's pep talk seems to lead Sy toward dreaming big – like, Presidency big. It also, however, references Sylar being the one to ultimately stop the superhumans from being hunted. And here, in a very nice touch, is where the Benetrellis rejoin the story, with Nathan promising to stop his newfound doppelganger on his own. So now we face two questions: who's the bigger dead man walking between Nate and Danko, and is there a chance Sylar could (gulp) sincerely want to do the right thing here?
The episode also took promising steps in bringing more of the major players back to the nation's capitol in the name of the right thing: Hiro and Ando, er, the Crimson Arc make their way to Building 26, where they hope to ... uh, it doesn't seem like they even know what they're doing. Worse yet for them, just before they stage their assault or whatever, Hiro's power shorts out, hinting at more than just emotional damage. And seemingly not far behind is new papa Matt, whose sense of duty pulls him back into action, and away from his seemingly reborn family ties.
And not far behind any of them are the rest of the First Family, who are sure to figure in next week's proceedings, for better or worse. The biggest question I had coming out of this episode was: why do we always have to go through 8-9 weeks of mindless chaff with this show before a (usually) passable end to the Volume?
The Racialicious Scorecard: Micah: Ask and we shall belatedly receive, I guess. The upside to Rebel's sporadic appearances is, he's not around enough to be damaged by the creative team. His breakthrough with Sylar, however implausible, was a feel-good moment and provided a nice counter-balance to the "talks" Gabriel was having with his interpretation of his dead mother.
Hiro & Ando: Another week, another adventure toward couples therapy. This week, we learned that Hiro is apparently “a little fascist.” Well, yeah, the guy is short, but Ando might have been over-swinging there. As Hiro learns (again) to get over Ando's own heroic ambitions, though, his time-freezing power glitches big-time, hinting at deeper problems ahead. Oh yeah, one more thing: can somebody write Hiro to call more people BY THEIR FIRST NAMES?!
Mohinder: Doing the voiceovers and getting shot and captured. Some things just never change.
Next Week: Tim Kring's writing the Volume IV finale! What could go wrong?
Besides writing my thoughts and reviews here, I'm a Special Correspondent for Racialicious.com and the co-creator and co-host of Hour 42, a podcast covering superheroes -- in the air, on the air and all around us.
I'm not a good person. I'm the guy who whistled "Always Look On The Bright Side" during Passion Of The Christ. I've gone to SCA battles and yelled, "WHAT'S IN YOUR WALLET?!" You can say it, it's okay: Smart-ass. Jerk. Bigmouth. This is where I share my take on ... well, basically everything. But especially the geeky stuff in life.