Heroes got pleasingly skin-crawly last night, delivering the darkest (non-laughable) subplots we've seen in a while. There were homoerotic evil doubles and psychological tortures involving hot Russian ladies. What could go wrong? Spoilers ahead!
"Turn and Face the Strange" might well have been one of the best episodes this season if it hadn't been for the festering annoyance that is the Hiro and Ando subplot. I keep thinking the show is going to abandon its quest to turn these guys into some kind of terrifying embodiment of the most cheesy, cutsey part of Zelda characters - but somehow things always just get worse. As they try to reunite Baby Matt Parkman with his dad - who is busy engaging in mind controlly revenge (more on that in a second) - Hiro and Ando discover that "Stop and Go Baby" will shut down their car if he's crying. Cue the "let's make funny faces" montage to keep Stop and Go happy. ARGH! It hurts. Really, it does.
Thankfully the horror of the Bad Cute is stopped in its tracks by the horror of Changeling Sylar. He's turning into everybody, including Hunter Danko, just to manipulate the hell out of the world around him and do his psycho Spock eyebrow. I love this scene in the clip above, where Sylar, in Danko's skin, is basically cruising Danko in the men's room. It's over-the-top in a way that works, and underscores the manic glee that Sylar brings to his world domination schemes.
Unfortunately there is no Danko-on-Danko man love, nor Sylar-on-Danko, because it turns out that for some stinky reason Danko is doing the hetero tango with a hot Russian ex-hooker. We find this out in a really intriguing subplot where Matt decides to get revenge on Danko by hunting down and killing the person who is most important to him. As he explains in a freakish tirade to Suresh, he wants to make Danko feel what Matt felt when he lost girlfriend Speedy Daphne.
Suresh, for his part, mutters about how Matt is "following a destructive path" or something and then hightails it to India. Let's not even get into how many flip-flops his character and Matt's have gone through: friends, co-parents to the still-missing Molly, enemies, friends, evil, good, etc. We can set that aside because Matt's revenge is just plain cool.
He stalks Danko until he's within brain-scrambling range and then implants a paranoid thought that makes Danko need to check in on the person who matters most to him. That's how Matt finds out about Hot Russian Girlfriend, Danko's secret love. He's lied to her, saying he's a textbook salesman who will leave his wife and kids for her when the time is right. We find this out after Danko takes off and Matt confronts Hot Russian. With a helpful mind-warpage, Matt worms out of her that she's suffered so much as a hooker and whatever else that she's OK with Danko's (fake) tale of infidelity as long as she knows he loves her. Which he does.
But her appreciation of Danko crashes into a pile of poop when Matt tells her who Danko really is, and that he killed Matt's love Daphne. Matt then drags her to Danko's place at gunpoint, threatening to kill her so that Danko can find out "how it feels." At the last minute, of course, the smushy nice part of Matt's soul won't let him do it and he lets Hot Russian go. Of course Hot Russian now hates Danko, so Matt has still gotten his revenge. All in all, it's a pretty great scene - especially because it echoes another character's destruction.
Sylar, who has vowed to destroy HRG, does it by posing as Claire's mom and serving HRG with divorce papers. "I don't love you anymore!" he/she yells, breaking HRG's heart and brain. Pretty quickly HRG uses handwriting analysis on the papers to figure out that Sylar was shapeshifted into his wife, and realizes the charade that's been going on with the Sylar/Danko sexless loverboy shenanigans. And then the shit really hits the fan for poor HRG.
First he tries to confront Sylar in his wife's body, but accidentally attacks his real wife, throwing her to the floor and beating on her before she can convince him that she's the real person. Now she totally hates him even more than before, and orders him out of her life. Then he confronts Danko about Sylar, and Danko pulls a pretty slick trick. He reveals that Sylar is posing as one of his soldiers, and HRG shoots that soldier in front of all the shock troops, screaming, "It's Sylar!" When the soldier goes down while hosing blood out of his face, everybody thinks HRG has gone nuts and killed the guy. So HRG runs out of the building as fast as he can, with Danko's shock troops in hot pursuit. And Sylar peels himself off the floor, vomits up a bullet, and gives a big bloody grin.
So Danko and Sylar are still together, doing their dastardly deeds. And even though Danko keeps leaving whiny messages on Hot Russian's voicemail, we know that his heart lies with the man who can be anyone. Sylar should just change into Hot Russian and get some Danko action.
Alright, enough of my homotastic harangue.
The episode ends on a pretty good note, with Peter, Nathan, Mama Petrelli, Claire, and HRG all converging on what looks like an old campground or barracks called Coyote Sands. Mama P makes them dig a bunch of holes in the ground, which reveal a lot of skeletons with bullet holes in their heads. Uh oh. I sense a big revelation coming.
Meanwhile, Baby Matt is reunited with Papa Matt. While Ando and Hiro smile like they've rescued the princess, Matt lifts his son into the air and looks irritatingly beatific. Get me back to the Coyote Sands subplot, where there are skulls and Nathan is suddenly wearing his ultra-butch sunglasses, jarhead chic hair, and retro black parka. Can't wait to find out what's up with Manly Nathan next week - though I fear the episode may be all flashbacks.