Sean is still dealing with his NBC issue, so I'll be handling things for the foreseeable future (at least until this volume is complete). He'll be missed around these parts, but I'll do what I can to keep things in line.

So let's get one thing out of the way right up-front: Last week there was a lot of chatter about Marionette Guy, and what exactly the show would choose to do with him. Was he in a one-off scene and would vanish forever? Was he a villain now? Or, like Stephen last week, would he do his darndest to infuse the show with some much-needed freshness, but find himself furthering an already tired story line only to be out by credits time? We all know the answer to that question, now don't we? And not a surprising answer at that.

But I don't want to harp too much on the Bennett family and the tension Eric Doyle exposes–nay, drags to the top, kicking and screaming–between Claire's feelings towards her spunky, power-packing real mom and her decidedly more normal, though still fringe foster parents. Nor is there much to say about Mohinder, who, truly, does nothing. And I certainly want to steer clear of desperate Parkman trying to score with a 15 year old (or whatever) because he saw it in a future dream he had in "Somewhere in Africa."

Because something cool happens in "Dying Of The Light"–something I don't expect. And I haven't known what that's felt like since Parkman's dad trapped Matt and Nathan in their own nightmares in season two.

Arthur Petrelli takes Adam Monroe's hand, sucks away the ability to heal, grabs his feeding tube and yanks it from his throat. It was as if he's been watching me watch Heroes this whole season from his surprisingly elaborate bed–seen my anger, my shouting, my frustration bordering on rage–and said, "Enough of this horse shit!" in defiance. Sweet, uplifting defiance. Then, later, he gives his son a hug, his own son, and steals his power too. Needless to say, this guy is a bad-ass, and I'm genuinely curious as to what he's capable of.

The sudden entrance of Mr. Petrelli also has me thinking about the current Petrelli family dynamic. Both Nathan and Peter were raised to resent their father, and judging from the way he acts in these few scenes, it's understandable why their mother would make them that way. But at the same time, he's their father–and in order for Heroes to end this season strong, it's going to have to play up the longing both brothers have for dear ol' pops. (Not to mention the fact that Nathan and Peter have spent a good portion of this season separate, save for their talk in the future. Reuniting the brothers could be smart.) The more we see Peter–the dialogue has made quite clear that he's once again the central character–become a monster, the more we long for him to show some semblance of humanity; and at this point, the show has a tremendous opportunity to do so.

But where new guy Petrelli has the potential to soar, old favorites Hiro and Ando continue to demonstrate their complete uselessness. The cliffhanger from the last episode, of course, gets neatly resolved with some sort of time travel something-or-other. ("But first," says Ando, "I need to change my shirt": What, no shopping montage?) Then they're sucked into even more stupidity when Hiro tries to time-blink his way around a shovel to the head–a gag I was praying would continue for the entire 42ish minutes. Oh, and Hiro learns he has to be brave. And take down villains. Because he's a hero. Not a villain.

But at least things are moving forward now, and my hope is that they quicken the pace. After Arthur's defiant stand, it's become clear that the time spent in hero-villain purgatory isn't helping anyone.

Grade: C-

Stray observations:

- So if it's a prop sword, how does it puncture the bag of blood in Ando's pocket?

- Man, for someone who's been locked up in Level 5 for years, Eric Doyle sure had some G-rated unfulfilled needs.

- Ando's a racist! Who knew?