Two full-fledged “comic book” episodes in a row? Has “Heroes” ever managed to pull that off…? If so, it’s been ages. Tonight’s installment may well have been the most successful portrayal of Sylar as a complex villain in the show’s history, revisiting the character’s established mythology in the midst of his new shapeshifting abilities and the curse they bring with them. Plus, c’mon, Clint Howard? Are you kidding me…? The show’s coolness factor just jumped exponentially.

Obviously, Sylar’s storyline has consistently been one of the strongest parts of the “Fugitives” saga, but this took it to new heights. I never would’ve guessed that the path to his mimicry of Nathan would take him on a psychological journey of such magnitude. When he questioned his identity as Agent Taub in the initial moments of the episode, it became clear that he was having some issues dealing with his transformation into other people. You don’t get much more disconcerting, however, than that sequence where he was flip-flopping back and forth from himself to his mother – once again played by Ellen Greene – in order to rationalize her death and his ongoing existence. (I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who felt the echoes of Norman Bates’ relationship with his mother in their discussions, was I?) Given that we’ve seen Sylar’s semi-soft spot with the youth of America in the past, I guess it shouldn’t have been too surprising that he was willing to give li’l Micah a pass. I don’t know how well the kid’s poignant speech will work in the long run, but, hey, it worked long enough to prolong his life for a bit, so that’ll do for now. Zeljko’s constant grumblings through the episode were highly entertaining, and you knew full well that he was eventually going to view Sylar as a loose cannon who couldn’t be controlled and needed to be taken out permanently (which he clearly must’ve known all along, anyway), but the one-two punch of the thrusting of the knife in the back of Sylar’s skull being followed up with Sylar’s brilliant episode-closing line was totally awesome.

Zachary Quinto’s performance this week was tremendous. Sometimes he takes his villainous rantings too far over the top for you to be able to take him seriously, but not this time. This was definitely a well-considered look at a complex character.

Indeed, the episode was so Sylar-centric – not that it was a surprise, what with it being entitled “I Am Sylar” – that the other storylines of the chapter often felt significantly less important than they might otherwise have. Still, in the grand scheme of things, they had significant weight to them.

Based on Greg Grunberg’s comments during my interview with him for Bullz-Eye’s TV Power Rankings, I couldn’t help but view Parkman’s conversation with Hiro and Ando about how he wanted to be sure his boy would grow up with a father as a season finale set-up. It seems pretty clear to me that, when we get the moment Grunberg’s promised, where Parkman does “something that he will regret forever,” it will be a moment where he’s forced to do something because it’s the only way to save his son’s life. Maybe at the expense of his wife’s life…? We’ll see.

The Crimson Arc? Yes, it is dangerous and ladylike at the same time. I enjoyed the whole Batman / Superman comparison between Ando and Hiro, particularly when Ando likened his introduction to Hiro’s time-stopping power to Batman visiting Superman’s Fortress of Solitude. I still think Hiro’s decision to use Ando as bait was a shady one, but at least he came around by episode’s end. That nose bleed can’t be a good thing. Are we to presume that there’s some sort of protection in place around the building to prevent heroes from utilizing their abilities? I’m not sure how the science behind that would work, given the variety of abilities, but I guess we’ll see what’s up in next week’s season finale.

By the way, thank you, NBC, for already having provided me with an advance screener of the finale. Given how late I ended up posting tonight’s blog (my daughter just would not go to sleep!), it’ll be nice to have my write-up ready to roll before the episode ever even airs!