Season 3 of NBC’s superhero drama Heroes starts up tonight in a special two-hour extravaganza that will introduce a season called "Villains." If you’re at a loss to recall exactly what transpired among the heaps of characters in this intricate, cliffhangery series, you’re not alone. So here’s a little five-point redux to get you back up to speed. (Spoilers from the last three seasons ahead.)
(1) Nathan Petrelli: Seemingly Dead. Then Alive. Now Seemingly Dead Again. At the end of season one, the burgeoning politico saved the world by using his powers of flight to zoom his his radioactive little brother, Peter, into the air — so he detonate in space. Nathan was severely burned . . . until a self-healer/immortal named Adam Monroe befriended Peter and convinced the sibling to let him heal Nathan. The latter made a full recovery. However, at the end of season 2, the older Petrelli faced mortality once again when a mysterious person in a black coat shot him just as he was about to out himself while giving a public speech about superhumans. See video for even more on this plot below. Click to view
(2) The Company and Safe Virus Formed in 1977, the Company set out to monitor, and sometimes perform tests on, mutant superpowered individuals throughout the world. After discovering the fatal Shanti virus—which shuts down the enhanced abilities of evolved humans—the Company developed a safe strain of said virus that would inhibit powers without inadvertently whacking the superhuman. This strain was used to control the erratic, schizo She-Hulk, Niki/Jessica Sanders, and stifle the abilities of the power-sucking villain/psycopath Sylar. Sanders willfully subjected herself to this research; Sylar, however, has been on a warpath to obtain an antidote so he go get back to his badass self. The only cure comes from mixing the blood of self-healing cheerleader Claire Bennet and geneticist Mohinder Suresh. At the end of the season, Sylar obtains the serum from Mohinder through felonious means, then appears to “heal” himself. Muhahahaha.
(3) The Company and the Fatal Virus As mentioned in No. 1, Peter Petrelli exploded in the sky and was presumed dead. So why is he alive (and frequently shirtless)? He actually healed himself after the fireworks, then had a run-in with the Company; they ran tests on him and Adam Monroe, the guy in the next cell over. After the duo made a break, Adam duped Peter into chasing after a vial of the original Shanti virus stored in a vault. You see, Adam is an immortal dude who was kicked out of the Company back in the day for his dubious morality, and in season two his mission was twofold: to (a) kill off his old Company compadres, among them Hiro’s dad; and (b) use powerful Peter to obtain the Shanti virus (under the guise of disposing of it) to obliterate humanity. After Peter realized what’s what, a scuffle ensued with himself, Adam, and Hiro Nakamura—the time-traveller who knew Adam's past as baddie from the feudal era. Peter grabbed the vial and destroyed it, while Hiro teleported Adam into a grave where he’s buried alive. Meanwhile, both Peter and Hiro have traveled into an alternate future where the virus has ravaged the planet.
(4) Niki/Jessica: Possibly a Goner The newly widowed, schizo-unstable mom moved her technopathic son Micah to New Orleans, where he could live with relatives while she went to the Company for help in stripping her of her out-of-control alternate personality Jessica (who has super-strength). Meanwhile, Micah discovered new powers — in his cousin Monica Dawson, who can imitate anything she sees on TV, including ninja skills, though that proved moot when she was kidnapped by thugs. The newly powerless Niki—conveniently back in town—came in for the save and freed Monica from the burning building where she was held captive. Mama, however, did not emerge from the embers.
(5) The Horn-Rimmed-Glasses Man: Still a Tried and True Company Man Claire’s adoptive father, once a stoic, fearsome agent, quit the Company after they attempted to capture Claire. Last season, he teamed with Mohinder to take down the organization, with the latter as an inside man. But the scientist switched sides, and helped the Company nab Claire because he wanted to use her blood’s regenerative abilities to save other people. In retaliation, Bennet kidnapped the feisty, lightning-hurling Elle (daughter of another Company operative), bullying the Company into swapping the two abductees. Once free, Mohinder shot Bennet, who was taken to a Company hospital where they used Claire’s blood to heal him. To protect his family, Bennet agreed to work with the Company. Need more information? Everything io9 has ever written about Heroes (without spoilers) News, trivia, goodness. Official NBC Heroes Website Includes webisodes, trivia, and character backstories. Heroes on Wikipedia Lots of information on the show production, as well as a handy guide to the main characters. Insanely-detailed plot recaps of every Heroes episode from Television Without Pity Yes, they are insanely detailed.