After a very long wait, and a somewhat disappointing second season, Heroes has finally returned for Season 3: Villains.

At the end of season 2, Sylar (Zachary Quinto) had just gotten his powers back, Noah Bennet aka “HRG” (Jack Coleman) had just gone back to work for “the company” in order to spare his family, and Nathan Petrelli (Adrian Pasdar) had been apparently fatally shot just as he was about to reveal his ability to fly to the world.

BTW, full-on spoilers in the review below.

Heroes is run by folks (led by series creator Tim Kring) who actually listen to the fans, take their complaints to heart, and use that information to improve the show. This season there will be no slow, dragged out story arcs, and Kring says there will not be any new characters introduced (although this episode seems to contradict that). This season will also be comprised of two “volumes.” The first half of the season will be called “Villains,” but there is no title for the second half yet.

Enough of that… on to the season opener!

The episode opens with Claire (Hayden Panettiere, looking all “Matrixed” out in black leather) trying to kill Peter (Milo Ventimiglia), four years after Nathan’s announcement of his powers. Peter goes back in time to change the past, since it seems that things became very bad for super-powered beings after Nathan’s revelation.

So yes, the assassin is Peter Petrelli from the future.

Cut to Japan, where Hiro (Masi Oka) now owns his father’s corporation. He’s quite bored by the whole thing and yearning for a new quest. Of course, the show is happy to oblige. He watches a video left behind by his father stating that he needs to guard the contents of a safe (without ever opening it), the contents of which could lead to the end of the world. It is half of some sort of chemical formula.

Of course, he opens it.

A blonde girl who moves as fast as The Flash promptly steals it. And here lies the first thing that bugged me about this episode: Why didn’t Hiro just go back in time 60 seconds and put that piece of paper back in the damned safe?

Instead he goes to the future, sees his best friend Ando (James Kyson Lee) who is now super-powered kill him, and the destruction of Tokyo.

Nathan was dead for all of five seconds, but came back to life somehow – and claims to have seen God. I’m curious how they develop this and how it comes across to fans as he comes across downright born-again. Linderman is also back despite the fact that he seemed definitively dead during last season. Turns out he healed Nathan and has big plans for him.

Sylar finds Claire, intent on once again trying to take her healing power. He does the skull slice trick on her, sucks her powers… but surprisingly, leaves her alive after a very creepy scene in which he talks to her while he has the top of her skull off. Sylar tells Claire that she is not like the others – she is special and she can never die. And now, neither can he.

Suresh (Sendhil Ramamurthy) is with Maya (Dania Ramirez, who unfortunately is still on the show) and she still wants to be cured. He flashes on the idea that the abilities are not based in the blood but in the adrenal gland. Suddenly he shifts his research (and ridiculously quickly creates a serum) from curing super-powers to being able to give them to anyone via an injection.

(“Click here to continue reading Heroes Season 3 Premiere Review“)

Actually, another thing that didn’t make sense was the utter and complete 180 degree turn by Suresh on the super-power thing. Now he’s excited as a kid on Christmas Eve about the prospect of giving people powers. I also didn’t get why he couldn’t “cure” Maya of her powers when his other serum was able to take away Nikki’s and Sylar’s powers.

Turns out, it seems that he’s been envious of all these super-powers. He ends up injecting himself while out on the nice, unsafe docks one night. He is awoken by a couple of muggers upon whom he demonstrates his newly found super-strength.

And all that was just within the first hour!

In the second hour Claire finds that while she can still heal, now she no longer feels pain. Turns out that Peter coming back from the future and his meddling kept Claire from leaving for Odessa – so she was home when Sylar came looking for her.

Peter’s mom is NOT pleased and keeps trying to get him to go back to the future.

Meanwhile Suresh not only has super-strength and agility, he also has Spider-Man-like powers, allowing him to scale walls – which seemed out of place to me (as much as something can seem out of place on a show like Heroes). Oh, and one of his new powers also seems to be that he is super-horny (with Maya).

Matt is still out in the middle of the desert, where future-Peter sent him during the first hour (rather cruelly).

Jessica (aka “bad Nikki” and now known as Tracy Strauss and played by Ali Larter) is now her own separate person, involved in politics. However she doesn’t remember that she was once the evil twin of Nikki Saunders – and THIS version has a different power: the ability to freeze people and objects. Terminally.

Sylar has invaded “Level 5″ at the company and is out to nab the powers of the most powerful super-folks yet, who are incarcerated there. When he tries to take Elle Bishop’s (Kristen Bell) electrical powers, she explodes (not fatally) with enough electric power to incapacitate him.

“Present” Peter Petrelli is trapped in the body of one of the prisoners, all of which have been freed by her power discharge.

And unfortunately for Suresh, at the end of this episode he begins to transform and look like Seth Brundle from The Fly as he starts getting huge sores that peel away on his back.

And that, as they say, was that. Seemed like more happened in these two episodes than in all of the previous abbreviated season. So far I’d say we’re off to a very good, action-packed start that should please fans big time.