I can’t believe I’m saying this, but…tonight’s episode of “Heroes” was really good.

I’m not even going to limit my praise to calling it the best episode of the season (although it was), because it deserves more love than that; it was legitimately enjoyable across the board, with only a few moments which gave me pause.

Hiro and Ando: Clearly, we knew Hiro hadn’t really killed Ando, but doing a flashback which showed Hiro visiting a joke shop was pretty funny. As aware as Papa Petrelli and his secret society of super villains are, it wouldn’t take them long to figure out that Ando isn’t really dead, but since Ando doesn’t have super powers, then the only person who’d really care about it one way or the other is Knox, and his ability isn’t one that lends itself to him finding out the truth. It was a nice touch that, when Daphne left, Ando pointedly released the breath he’d been holding. Why was it so nice? Because it showed that someone behind the scenes at “Heroes” finally realized, “Hey, the fans are actually noticing stuff, so we’d better start covering our asses a little better.” If Ando hadn’t released that breath, someone would’ve said, “Didn’t Daphne notice he was still breathing?”

When Hiro and Ando tried to catch Usutu the precog in Africa, it was a little bit like watching Austin Millbarge and Emmett Fitz-Hume at work, but, c’mon, who didn’t laugh out loud at the caption of “One minute before Hiro got hit”? The sequence was funny, but the writers actually had fun with the notion of Hiro going back in time…and, again, I have to think that was in response to all the moaning about FuturePeter not choosing a better time to go back in time to change the past. If I didn’t love Usutu already, watching him smack Hiro over the head with the shovel would’ve cinched the deal. His otherwise Zen-like manner makes him my favorite new character of the season, so it should be interesting to see how things go when the villains attempt to make him for them.

Claire, Sandra, and Meredith: Charlie’s Angels these ladies are not, but, again, kudos to the writers for including a moment where Claire did something really stupid and actually was aware of it…namely, when she tried to sneak into where Meredith was being held hostage and made a huge creaking noise in the process. Did you see the “whoops” look on Claire’s face? We haven’t seen nearly enough of that acknowledgment. Eric’s a creepy guy, and the scene where he was torturing Meredith with the broken glass was very well done, but, heck, even the Russian roulette sequence had some tension to it, since 2/3 of the women don’t instantly heal back from bullet wounds. Obviously, we knew Claire would recover if she took a bullet, but both Sandra and Meredith are both pretty expendable in the grand scheme of things.

Matt Parkman and Daphne: Parkman had the line to beat this week – “High five, turtle!” – and the sequences between him and Daphne were cute and sweet, with the latter getting a laugh by referring to his comments as “stalker-y.” Her guilt-inducing Linderman vision from Maury Parkman was well utilized, as was her reaction to everything she saw in Mohinder’s lab. Speaking of…

Mohinder: Wow, even Mohinder’s “Fly”-like tendencies were played down this week…aside from the cocoons all over the lab, that is…in favor of giving him more of a mad scientist vibe. Shame we can’t team him with Nathan and Tracy more often; that grouping brought out the best in all three characters.

Peter and Sylar: All I’ve got to say is, who would’ve thought we’d see the day when Sylar was a more sympathetic character than Peter?

Papa Petrelli: Ah, it’s good to see Robert Forster up and around again without having to make all his moves in dream sequences. Shame about Adam…but not really. I enjoyed the gathering of the villains and Papa’s speech to them at the end of the episode, but the removal of Peter’s powers made for a great finale.

A really good “Heroes” episode? I know, I’m as shocked as you are, but this was the most fun I’ve had between 9 – 10 PM on a Monday night this season. With Kristen Bell on deck for next week and Zeljko Ivanek waiting in the wings for an upcoming story arc, can it be possible that Season 3 is on the verge of a proper comeback?

Well, let’s not go that far. But we can hope, anyway.