Warning: Major spoilers for Volume 3 and some for Volume 4.
It’s difficult to distinguish between season two and season three, especially when you’re binging and especially when it’s likely that a lot of the story in season three was supposed to be covered in the previous season. So to refresh your memory and mine:
Volume 2 ended with Peter destroying the virus, Adam trapped in a coffin, and Nathan being shot before he could announce to the world that he can fly.
Volume 3 began with the reveal of Nathan’s shooter. But honestly? Any Milo Ventimiglia fan worth their salt could recognize him, even from behind like we saw at the end of the previous season.
What I appreciate about “Villains” is that it doesn’t really take much time to ramp up. In fact, we’re quickly thrust into the season with Peter and Claire’s standoff in the future as well as Peter chasing his future self after Nathan was shot.
It’s worth it to note that one of my favorite parts of this season is actually one of the slower scenes. As Sylar pokes and prods at Claire’s brain, finally fulfilling his wish that was left unrealized during “Homecoming”, they have an actual heart-to-heart. This sets Sylar’s season three arc up nicely. Ironically, in the volume entitled “Villains”, our biggest villain becomes a hero (for a short time, at least).
While Volume 2 was centered around the virus, Volume 3 was centered around a formula. Because of these thematic similarities as well as the similarities I’ve already mentioned, the two volumes do tend to blend together a bit. Especially since the second half of Volume 3 lost its clear “Villains” theme. In fact, it became unclear who the villains were since the formula was so divisive. The virus was clear. Those who supported the virus supported the death of those with abilities (and eventually the death of those without abilities too). But in the case of the formula many thought the formula would bring everyone on the same level, but something went wrong. So wrong Peter had to come back in time to shoot his brother. This vilified Peter for the first half of Volume 3, and made his agenda murky at best in the second half.
In the end, Peter prevailed, but not before Mohinder accidentally ingested some of the formula and Peter and Ando injected themselves with the formula. Now Mohinder’s body chemistry has balanced itself out and he’s retained his powers, Peter has at least some version of his powers back, and Ando has a new power that he has yet to fully understand (mostly he’s a super charger for other people’s powers, but we know from the future that there is probably more to his ability than that.)
As for the other half of the Petrelli family, the parents are more messed up than we originally knew. Arthur is not actually dead, he originally planned to kill Nathan, but Angela got to Arthur first. Arthur then, close to death, faked his death and waited until a regenerator (Adam) could be brought to him so he could heal himself. It turns out Arthur has a similar ability to Peter’s, but when he says “I took your power”, he really means he took the other person’s power. The original owner has no abilities anymore, which happened to Adam, Peter, and eventually Hiro.
For a moment it seems this control over abilities runs in the family when Angela reveals to Sylar that she and Arthur are his biological parents. And it does make sense. For the most part we’ve seen genetic connections in people with abilities. Plus, Sylar looks like a cross between Nathan and Peter. And since we find out that Nathan was injected with the formula when he was a baby, this could prove even further that when left alone genetics plays a huge part in the development of abilities. Meredith and her brother Flint both have fire-related abilities. Arthur and Peter are able to transfer abilities. I’m actually pretty disappointed that Sylar didn’t end up being a Petrelli. In the end it had been an effort to manipulate him, which is what made him who he is today after Elle and HRG pushed him to become a murderer when he first discovered his ability to prove he was dangerous.
Also, it’s pretty clear Elle was supposed to be the mother of the son Sylar–ahem–Gabriel had in the future. Too bad something went wrong in the timeline and he reverted back to his old ways, killing Elle. Well, too bad for Gabriel. Great news for us.
So even though Sylar was supposedly killed in a fire after Clair embedded a piece of glass in his skull, something tells me we haven’t seen the last of him. (Mostly because I’ve already started Volume 4, which is actually the last half of Season 3…it’s about to get really confusing folks!)
Next up: Volume 4: Fugitives