Season finale! I can’t tell you how pumped I was for this episode when it first aired. And I can’t tell you how similarly disappointed I was once I’d seen it. Really a let down, in my opinion. This is an awesome show that never seems to be able to stand up to the pressure of expectations. Everyone and their mother was tuned into the second season premiere and we all saw how well that turned out. But we’ll get to that disappointment later.

I didn’t hate the whole episode. Far from it. There were some pretty great little scenes in here, and my issues are few and far between (they just add up to enough that the whole episode is colored by them). I liked the initial scene between Matt, HRG, Mohinder, and Molly: the continuation from the last episode’s final scenes.

I really liked the reveal of Nathan standing by the pillar in the underground garage. The way the camera follows the view of the car around the turn was elegantly done. The rest of the scene was nicely done, too, well-acted by all parties. Especially the nasty little look on Adrian’s face when Peter hears Nathan’s thoughts. Oooh.

Kudos to Milo for his dry-run in the alley after Claire disappears. In a dark alley, with no CGI glowing hands to work off of, he does a fantastic job of looking thoroughly freaked out, and his faint is perfect. Most guys can’t pass out and still maintain their cool-factor, but Milo, you managed it. Nice job.

Continuing on in the Milo compliment department, his dual Peters in the flashback with Simone in the greenhouse is great. Milo’s done a great job of gradually lowering Peter down all season, getting darker and darker. It’s a mark of a really decent actor who can switch back to the original form of the character after playing the evolved form for several months. Most actors don’t pull it off as well as he did. Past!Peter was every bit as sweet and optimistic as he was in the pilot.

I liked the way Sylar picked Ando up by the neck and telekinetically pushed him away to the wall and held him there. The stunt was smoothly done. I also liked how after a moment Sylar lowered his hand, as if keeping Ando pinned there took so little effort he didn’t even need to hold a hand up in his direction. The problem I have with the episode starts here, though. If Hiro was precise enough to pop over to Ando and pop out of Isaac’s loft with him before Sylar could figure out what was going on, why couldn’t Hiro, at any future point in the events of this episode, pop up right next to Sylar and run him through?

Ooh, creepy Claire sandwich between Angela and Nathan. Complete with icky look between mother and son over Claire’s head. I did enjoy watching her follow it up with a swan dive out the window, though. Her healing, stumbling walk away from where she fell was well done, too.

Very nice camera move on Peter as we cut from his flashback of sorts to him lying on the pavement in the alley. And yay! HRG has a first name. Nice to meet you, Noah.

Most of my problems start as Noah, Sylar, and Peter converge in Kirby Plaza. How did Sylar sneak up on them like that? There’s no way. He can’t become invisible, he can’t fly, he can’t turn into anything else… How did he do that? I like that Peter is as scared of Sylar as he is, and I like the shot that mirrors Sylar’s painting vision. Another positive in this scene is the exchange: “Haven’t I killed you before?” “Didn’t take.” Followed by a great, creepy telekinesis grab by Sylar. Even Matt being shot back by his own bullets didn’t bother me too much (although it felt a little hasty, like they were trying to get him out of the way as quickly and easily as possible).

The single most annoying part of this scene is Niki. She shows up and smacks Sylar with a parking meter—Sylar should have gone flying! This chick rips doors off their hinges; she would be able to do more damage to this guy than just knock him over. I don’t think it would have been that tough to hook a stunt guy up and hurl him a bit. Plus, a whiney cry from Micah makes her run from a fight that will determine whether they all get microwaved in a few minutes? She’s not a doctor, how does DL need her help? Get Mohinder! Again, it would have been easy enough to write Niki into the fight. Have Sylar toss her across the plaza. Get rid of her that way. Basically, I feel more people should have been flung in various directions.

I liked the villainous laugh Sylar gives as Peter’s hands begin to glow, and I again want to congratulate Milo on a great performance as he begins to light up. But before I discuss Nuclear!Peter, I want to mention how dumb Hiro’s stabbing of Sylar is. First off, he yells his name in warning. Don’t do that, it gives the bad guy time to react! Which, really, he should have been able to do, considering it takes Hiro about 8 minutes to run at Sylar, yelling, with his sword out. Sylar could have telekinetically stopped him, easy. Poorly done. The saving grace of this moment is Hiro’s hardened, low-voiced, “Yatta,” as well as the flashes we see in Sylar’s eyes before he “dies”. But again, the battle was too quick, not messy enough, and just seemed all around thin.

Okay, back to Nuclear!Peter. I like that the music cuts out for a moment, and Peter seems almost peaceful in his resignation to the fact that he’s going to have to die in order to save New York. The only remaining problem I have with the Nuclear!Peter exchange is that as Nathan arrives, he answers a question posed that he could not possibly have heard. Otherwise, I think Adrian and Milo do a wonderful job. The make-up on Milo is perfect, and Adrian’s look at the sky as he asks, “You ready?” is fantastically subtle (I think I remember the director’s commentary on the DVDs mentioning that the look and line were adlibbed by Adrian during one take and they loved it and kept it).

…And then things just go downhill from there. DL was so badly hurt before that he passed out, bleeding from his gut in the building by the elevators. Now he’s up and walking around? I did like the CGI blast and scattering clouds. That was pretty cool. But the cheese factor just gets unbearable as Molly sobs, “Please don’t die, Officer Parkman! You’re my hero!” Ugghhnnn…

Cockroach tally: one crawls along the manhole cover (5) as “END OF VOLUME ONE” crosses the screen.

I liked that we were given the beginning of Volume 2 included in the season finale. Masi’s fall was cartoon comic genius, and the whole scene was so surreal that it was the perfect amount of odd-ball information to leave us with at the end of the season. And are we ever going to be told the significance of the solar eclipses?

Bits and Pieces:

* I love that Sylar’s paintbrush mars the chapter title.
* Why in the world is Zachary Quinto a guest star in the credits?
* I liked HRG and Mohinder’s argument over Molly. Sendhil: nice job.
* Nice job on the hints for next season, writers. In an episode rushing to wrap up the season, you manage to drop clues about The Nightmare Man and Hiro’s trip to the future. How far in advance do you plan these things out?
* I want Claire’s wardrobe! And her eyelashes. Those are bordering on unholy.
* Peter’s hair is grossing me out by this point in the season.
* So, Linderman had a power, Angela obviously has a power, and I’m guessing Charles Deveaux had one, too. Did the late Mr. Petrelli have one, too? What were they all?
* After all the Niki/Jessica mental fighting and screaming through mirrors all season, I liked the physical match up between Candace-as-Jessica and Niki.
* Another problem I have with this episode is that in the busy city of New York, not a single stray person wanders by Kirby Plaza while the final battle is going down.
* Niki pulled that door off it’s hinges pretty easily. Does this mean, perhaps, that Niki had the strength all along, but Jessica was the only one who was willing to really access it? My guess is that both Niki and Jessica had powers, and that Jessica’s power was the ability to move her consciousness into another body when she died. I’ll come back to this in the review of the Volume 2 finale.
* Cute line: “You look bad ass.” “Really?”
* So happy to see that blood trail leading to the manhole at the close of the Kirby Plaza scene. I was going to lose a lot of interest in this show if Sylar died.

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