Unlike last week's rather uneventful episode, "Distractions" gave Heroes a lot of forward momentum. By the episode's end, Sylar was on the run, Niki was out of jail, Claire had met with her birth mother and Peter was beginning to realize the true extent of his power.
With lessons being taught and girlfriends being followed, Peter and Claude's storyline was the highlight of the episode. Claude's tough love approach which forced Peter to make an attempt at controlling his power - the purse snatching was fun - was a nice change of pace for a character that has tiptoed around his ability. The character of Claude, as the bitter but wise old man, isn't an entirely new idea, but Christopher Eccleston brings such a fiery passion to the invisible man that the concept doesn't feel at all tired.
Another highlight was seeing Sylar in fresh surroundings. Finally free from his cell, we got to see Sylar out and about after having spent the last few episodes unconscious on a table. Watching the villain calmly talk with Claire's mother, slowly escalating the terror, was intense. The episode reminded us of the power Sylar can wield in the wave of two fingers and how unstoppable he would become if he ever got his hands on Claire. The episode also made clear that Peter, once he's able to control the powers he absorbs, is the good version of Sylar.
With all that was great about this episode, there were a couple things that let us down a bit. The meeting between Claire and her birth mother was necessary to keep that story moving, but their actual encounter seemed very lacking. Claire cuts herself and heals, her mom makes fire in her hand, and that's all we got between them. Claire's been dying to have her questions answered, yet there was no actual discussion. You'd think she'd skip getting home in time for dinner now that she finally had this chance.
An even bigger letdown was the entire Hiro storyline from the past two episodes.
The introduction of his father seemed to make no difference to Hiro's quest for the sword (except he no longer has an intact painting) and actually worked to change the way we view Heroes' most popular hero. Before this episode, Hiro was just a cubicle drone - an unremarkable person just dying to be different. We could all relate to this feeling, and when Hiro discovered he truly was special, blessed with a power, we all rejoiced with him. But now that story's been rewritten.
Hiro was always special. He's the heir to a Japanese business empire but simply chose not to follow that path. This completely changes our perception of Hiro. He's no longer the underdog. We'll still be rooting for him, for sure, but we'll have to see how this new information affects the development of the character. Personally, we preferred Hiro being a complete nobody. Maybe, in a future episode, his family ties in Japan will come into play and make for a compelling story, but right now, it just feels like a misstep.
Still, it was a small price to pay in a really enjoyable episode. The reveal of Nathan has Claire's biological father, though not completely unexpected, gave us much to look forward to as we wait to see how this family will be reunited.