Monday's Heroes was precisely what this show should be every week: Compelling, tightly-plotted, and giving us intriguing plot twists that actually lead somewhere. Plus, flashbacks to 1961! The only thing missing was Sylar. Spoilers ahead!
"1961" focused entirely on one group of characters in one place - the extended Petrelli family, including HRG and Suresh, at Coyote Sands. That point-of-view stability gave us a chance to dig into some serious plot development, as well as digging into mass graves stocked with dead bodies back in 1961.
It turns out that the conspiracy-of-mutants Company began almost 50 years ago at mysterious Coyote Sands, with a fateful meeting between teenager Angela, as well as cuteypants Charles Deveaux (the father of Peter's now-dead girlfriend from season 1), emo snot Charles Linderman (who grows up to star in A Clockwork Orange), and nerdotron Bobby Bishop (later to be Elle's dad). I truly love this scene where the four of them escape the camp for one night and go out for fries and a little small town racism. I would pay good money to watch a 1961 spinoff of Heroes where Angela and Deveaux fall in love and go on a cross-country spree where they mind-control everybody into letting them do the interracial tango. Eventually they'll just brainwash all racism away and the plot of the show will converge with the plot of Hairspray (the original, you dumbasses, not that awful remake with John Travolta) and one of the mutants will bring Divine back from the dead and television will be awesome again.
Anyway, in reality, Angela wants to sift through the dusty ruins of Coyote Sands, where scientists (including Suresh's smokin' hot dad) experimented on "special kids." So that's why Angela has gone there, gathering together sons Peter and Nathan, granddaughter Claire, adoptive papa HRG, and mad scientist sidekick Suresh.
Oh, and also? She has had an apocalyptic dream about her sister Alice being alive. Wait, what? There is a sister Alice? Oh yes, as we discover in more flashbacks (helpfully filmed in the black and white that permeated all of reality before 1970). She was pretty whiny and annoying, always calling Angela "banana," but she had weather-controlling Storm-esque powers. Honestly, are there any X-Men powers that Heroes hasn't plundered yet?
For reasons that are never explained, Banana and Alice's parents have brought them to Coyote Sands so that Suresh can stick giant needles in them. Also, there are a ton of other mutant kids there and somehow Angela gets picked by Deveux, Linderman, and Bishop to join their boy band. While they're out dancing and brainwashing white people into tolerating them, Suresh Sr. tries to experiment on Alice with a giant needle. She freaks out and brings a giant storm that shoots lightning into bad guys, who then start shooting all the good guys, and then we have to assume that everybody dies except Suresh and Alice (who hides under a building). Unfortunately, Angela lied to Alice right before she left, telling her that she'd had a prophetic dream that as long as Alice stayed at Coyote Sands she'd be safe.
And stay she did, for decades, in some kind of cement bunker that is inexplicably full of newspapers. Apparently she's been stealing canned food to live on and reading kids books all those years, but has somehow miraculously morphed into a sexy aging hippie with beautiful curly hair and lots of scarves. So she's feral, but she's an aging hippie mama? So confusing.
Anyway, Angela finally finds Alice and they have a tearful reunion full of dry-mouthed apologies (Angela) and freaky-eyed raving (Alice). But when Angela admits she lied to Alice all those years ago, Alice flies into another lightning rage, nearly kills Suresh, and disappears. So no more Alice. And then Suresh decides to stay at Coyote Sands when the rest of Banana's Clan leave because he wants to live in broken down shacks and watch old movies of his dad torturing people with big needles in 1961.
The best parts of this episode were the flashbacks, because we see how the early members of the Company - which later became evil - came together out of a desire to protect each other. Also, we see that Angela could have gotten together with somebody way cuter than Papa Petrelli.
What else happened? There was an atrocious and thoroughly worthless scene where Claire tells her two daddies that she wishes she wanted to be normal, but that she likes digging up graves or something. And then they both tell her that she's just a teenager and that's normal. Also, Banana tells her that she's really strong and if only Banana had been as strong as Claire then nothing bad would have happened. Seriously, why is everybody licking Claire's butt? Has she done anything fabulous lately?
Speaking of butt-licking, there was also a boring scene where Nathan tells Peter they have to forgive each other and Peter says something completely incomprehensible about how Nathan stole his tickets to some obscure sporting event in 1985. Just in case you are wondering, Peter and Nathan are TOTALLY MANLY because they like sports. Unfortunately we are totally bored because we came to watch mutant action not to hear about golf or hockey or lawn bowling whatever the hell they were talking about. Anyway, for some reason Peter eventually forgives Nathan because they are "family, not a company." And apparently the difference between families and companies is that there is room for forgiveness in families. OK, fine. I like the whole Sopranos feeling associated with that kind of talk, and there is a very Sopranos family dinner scene at the end of the episode.
Banana's Clan is eating at the Coyote Sands Cafe where back in 1961 Deveaux brainwashed the mean white dude. But now her family is all together and everything is french fries and Peter is forgiving Nathan for the hockey thing and the annoying Alice is banished again and they're all talking about how they're going to go back home and be better people. Nathan is reassuring everybody that he'll "clean things up" in Washington and talk to the president (which - why couldn't he do that BEFORE?!). But then they look up at the TV, and there is Nathan, the way he looked pre-retro parka and butch haircut. And he's talking about "big changes."
Yes, it's SYLAR! Pretending to be Nathan! I know you didn't see that one coming. The truly weird part is that Angela gives this creepy little smile when she sees it. Is this part of her ongoing creepy plans? Or is it just that her face is so tight and dry that every expression looks like a creepy smile?
Tune in next week, when an absence of Dancing With Deveaux will make everything suckier.