Recap: Season 3, episodes 1 and 2 "The Second Coming" and "Butterfly Effect"  No one would blame you if you gave up on Heroes last season, not even the writers. But after watching last night's episodes, I'm ready to believe that they're back to what made the show great in the first place. So, take a deep breath, because we have a lot of ground to cover. And this recap is going to go by character, not in the order of the show, only because it will cause less heads to explode that way.

The start:
At the show's open, we find future Claire pointing a gun at future Peter Petrelli. She tells him that she "has always loved" him and then fires, but he uses his time-stopping power to snag the gun and go to the past. Then he shoots his brother at the press conference. He stashes the gun in the back room and takes off running. Claire wants to come to Texas to save her dad, but Peter talks her out of it. Once they get to the hospital, the docs declare Nathan dead, but, like everyone else on this show, he comes back to life mysteriously.

We jump over to Hiro who is now in charge of his father's enormous company. But being rich isn't enough for him. He wants adventure. A package shows up from his family lawyer containing a video will from his dad, which tells him never to open the safe in his office because it contains a secret that could destroy the world. Of course, Hiro and Ando immediately open it and take out half of a formula. It's immediately stolen by a new character who can run at the speed of sound and isn't affected by Hiro's ability to stop time. Curious to find out what the big deal is about the formula and steadfast in his refusal to go to the past anymore, Hiro heads into the future to see what's going to happen. He sees Japan in total panic and watches himself get zapped by Ando, who now mysteriously has powers.

Hiro hires some personal investigators to find out who stole his half of the formula, only to find out that the speedy girl's name is Daphne and she lives in Paris. They teleport to her house, where they find a huge stash of stolen goods, including the Mona Freakin' Lisa. They sit and wait for her to return, holding he high school track medal hostage. When she comes back, they face off and she threatens to kill Ando unless he gives back the medal. He does so, but only after putting a tracking device in it. He is Japanese, you know, and if The Goonies taught us anything it's that they're very good with technology.

Since Claire stayed home instead of going to visit her dad, she gets a visit from our old buddy Sylar who chases her around the house until she eventually locks herself in a closet. She realizes that there's no point in hiding, so she comes out to confront Sylar and his huge eyebrows, only to stab him in the chest but eventually lose the fight. He opens her brain and starts poking around, looking for her power. When he finds it, he puts the cap of her skull back on and leaves, telling her, as he leaves, that she's immortal. She, of course, takes that as a bad thing and boo hoos for the rest of the episode. That certainly wouldn't be my reaction if I found out that I was immortal. I would probably celebrate my ass right off of a bridge, just because I could.

After her encounter with Sylar, Claire discovers that she can no longer feel pain. That sounds like a good thing to me, but apparently she doesn't like it because the pain was the only thing that made her "feel human." She decides that making a video of throwing herself in front of a train will help her feel a little better, but she's saved just before impact by future Peter. They have a long talk on the beach and then they part ways. Once she gets home, she finds that her dad is back, but he's leaving to go catch the bad guys who have just escaped. She wants to go with him and embrace her super hero abilities. Instead, Noah brings Claire's mom around to take care of her while he's gone.

Dr. Suresh:
Upon getting back to Maya, the good doctor thinks that he's done with his research. Maya gets all fired up and starts to all blood tears, only to save herselft at the last moment. The near death experience helps the doctor figure out that the abilities don't originate in the blood, instead they come from the adrenal glands. It seems like something his dad would've figured out, but sometimes it's the most obvious stuff that's the easiest to miss. Once he has it all figured out, he realizes that the stuff he has created can give powers to anyone. Maya begs him to destroy it because she loves to be annoying. He thinks about it, but eventually injects himself with it, giving him all kinds of ridiculous abilities, including Spiderman-like wall climbing. He then climbs down off the wall and uses his new super strength to bone Maya on a table in the lab. It's the first time the doctor takes a little time out from whining like a little girl to do something cool. After a long bone session, he wakes up feeling like crap and goes to look in the mirror only to find out that his skin is peeling off and he has something extremely gross growing out of his back.

Peter Petrelli:
When he goes back to the site of the shooting to get the gun, Parkman follows him and questions him about why he knows where the weapon is. When he tries to go inside of future Peter's mind, he finds himself blocked out. Then, in order to cover his tracks, he teleports Parkman to the middle of a desert in Africa. Once he's back at the hospital, he's confronted by his mother, who we find out dreams the future. She tells him that his time travel has royally screwed up the way things were supposed to be. That's a mom for you, always criticizing your time travel no matter how hard you're trying to save the world. When future Peter goes back to level 5 to get the real Peter out of the prisoner he stashed him in, he finds that the only inmate left is Sylar. His mom comes around to say "I told you so," and we cut back to the real Peter who is stuck inside of one of the villains. He watches his new buddies burn a woman alive and steal a car. They seem like a fun bunch.

Nathan Petrelli:
After he wakes up in the hospital, he puts on his suit and walks across the street to a church where he has a big, and kind of boring, religious experience with a Mexican family. He makes a long statement to a news reporter with future Peter ready to cap him should he make mention of the fact that he can fly. After heading back to the hospital and having a talk with future Peter, we find out that Linderman is the one who saved his life. After Tracy (or Niki or whoever) offers him the job, Nathan confronts Linderman, throwing him out of his hospital room. Later, he's back and they're playing chess when the nurse comes in and tells him to go to sleep. He then realizes that he's the only one who can see Linderman, which means he's either completely insane or magic. I'm leaning toward the latter.

Ali Larter (Her character has too many names)
She's shacked up with the governor, who wants to make Nathan a senator. She's confronted by a reporter who knows about the stripper shenanigans. He threatens to take the news of her past and her affair with Nathan to the press, so she grabs his arm and freezes him solid, at which point he falls apart into tiny piece, like Wesley Snipes at the end of Demolition Man.

He wakes up in the middle of the desert with a scorpion crawling conveniently on his face. He wanders for a long time, until he finally passes out only to be woken up by what he thinks is a talking turtle. It turns out to be an African native who can paint the future and keeps painting an image of the world exploding all over everything.

After screwing up and letting Sylar get out, she gets in trouble with Bob. She thinks she knows where he's going to go, though, since he's on a mission to steal powers and Level 5 is full of really bad guys with really awesome abilities. She eventually finds her dad without the top of his skull, realizing that Sylar is already in the building. She gives Noah a gun to try and stop Sylar, but with his new found healing abilities, the bullets don't have much effect. He takes down Elle and is about ready to steal her powers, when she lets out a shitstorm of electricity, knocking Sylar on his ass and releasing all of the extremely bad guys that were held captive there before. Peter's mom, who is now in charge of the The Company hands Elle her walking papers in her trademark unfriendly tone.

The end:
During the last scene, we find out that Peter's mom also squeezed Sylar out of her loins. I guess it makes sense, since their powers are so similar. That should lead to quite a sibling rivarly in future episodes.

There certainly is a lot to think about after all of that. Ultimately, though, it seems like this show is back on track to be interesting. The story seems really similar to the first season, what with the world eventually going to blow up and all, but this time there are more villains to make things interesting. Peter is a total bad-ass now instead of a little pussy like he as before and Elle is going to have a bigger part, which means more Kristen Bell. I was glad that Micah didn't show up because his story was getting a little boring. Hopefully he stays away. I also wouldn't mind if they killed off the doctor or he turned fully into some kind of huge monster. I got really sick of all his whining over the past two seasons and it's time he either transmutates or gets killed off.

If the rest of this season can even come close to keeping up with this pace, I think it can regain all of the fans it lost last year thanks to the strike. It might even pick up a few more since they made the show pretty accessible, even to total noobs. But, for all of the die-hards, feel free to correct any mistakes in the comments. And try to be really smug about it, that way everyone will know how cool you are. It's kind of like your super power.