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‘He’s Not A Paper Salesman!!’
L-Prime Gives Tonight’s HEROES (The Jack Bennet Flashback Installment) FIVE STARS!!

I am – Hercules!! “Heroes” 1.17 aired Oscar night in Canada, a full day before we here in the states get our look. Tonight's episode at last tells us the secret origin of Claire’s bespectacled pop. Ain’t It Cool’s main TV Canadian gives the episode five stars. Which shouldn’t surprise anybody, because it was written by “Dead Like Me”/”Wonderfalls” creator and all-around ubergenius Bryan Fuller. Here’s “L-Prime”: What’s it called? “Company Man” Who’s responsible? The wonderful Bryan Fuller handles the words; Allan Arkush the lenses. What does TV Guide say? “The Bennets are taken hostage by Matt and Ted Sprague, which leads to a tragic showdown---and some insight into Mr. Bennet's mysterious past. Eric Roberts guest stars.” That tricky little TV Guide hiding anything? Not really. This is more of a visceral, stripped-down hour than this usually multi-tiered/plotted series is used to, but man is that single story a doozy. How long do we wait for the first surprise? About two minutes into act one. It has to do with the rumoured scene with HRG conversing entirely in Japanese. The next one? Not even an act break. We go all flashbacky this week? Boy do we. We hop back 14 years and meet HRG’s recruiter, HDC (High Dark Collar), Claude (Mr. Invisible), the Haitian, and two other familiar faces too good to spoil. Do we find out which side HRG’s people are on? Not completely. We start in one place, migrate to another. Do we find out which side HRG himself is on? We see a good chunk of his motivation. But whether they apply when the hour is out will be another story. So we knew it would be HRG intensive, but does it open the man up completely? How does Coleman acquit himself? Not everything about the man is laid bare (no first name for one), but we get a much more concrete sense of where his ultimate loyalties lie, and the forces he has been navigating. Coleman also definitively proves himself to be one of the show’s major bedrocks when it comes to gravitas and carrying the dramatic weight. Top drawer. Do we find out what or who is behind ‘the company’? We’re definitely presented with one huge, shocking answer, but nothing is fleshed out. Suffice to say the Heroesverse got a little smaller tonight. What else is crazy? How about friggin’ everything! The Haitian reveals a secret motivation! We (kinda) find out how Claude fell out of HRG’s peoples’ good graces! There’s a hell of a fireball! Multiple people are shot! A mind is set to be wiped! Plenty of exclamation points!!! How about Peter, Simone, and Isaac? No sign. Hiro and Ando? Absent (mostly). Nathan? Nope. Noticing a trend? Suresh and Sylar? Negatory. Niki, DL and Micah? What do you think? Basically, except for the flashbacks and one trip to Primatech paper, this could be a stage play set in the Bennet house. If you could light that stage on fire. And, interestingly, in a reflection of the scarcity of regular cast, the main credits are truncated to Grunberg, Panetierre and Coleman, plus supporters. Don’t know if I’ve ever seen that before in a series like this. What’s good? “I wouldn’t hurt … Mr. Muggles.”; “So tell me, how do you feel about paper?” “Wildly enthusiastic.”; Claude’s initial intro; “He’s not a paper salesman.”; the track a bullet takes to exit; “I wanted to put it in the front of my fridge.”; basically every moment of HRG’s backstory; Claude’s exit; “Just one more thing: when should we be expecting Claire?”; we witness the birth of HRG’s nickname; the cliffhanger, a real hum-diddly-dinger, leaving the fate of … let’s just say watch the damn show. What’s no good? Absolutely nothing. As perfect an hour of TV as this series has yet to deliver. Some questions answered, others raised, menace presented, stakes pushed. How does it end? “I love you, Clairebear.” Rating for Heroes 1.17 (out of five stars)? *****. Emphatically. On another show, it might have been a bit of a gamble to depart from formula so heavily and zoom in on just a focused story, but this installment worked in the tradition (flashbacks and all) of the very best of Lost — and I do realize just how high that’s setting the bar. And I realize that for a spoiler site, this wasn’t terribly spoilery, but that’s cuz you all need to watch it for yourselves. Possibly the best ep of Heroes yet, and one of the best hours of TV yet this year. 9 p.m. Monday. NBC.

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