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"Heroes" cheat sheet 

et caught up on this fall's most engrossing new show

Hero complex

Been holding out for some "Heroes"? Now's the time to get in on the fall's Number 1 new drama. NBC's Monday-night hit features a handful of seemingly regular people who discover they have extraordinary abilities (teleportation, rapid healing, hearing people's thoughts, etc.). But what really makes the show fascinating are the twists and turns and secret connections drawing these disparate people together. It's like "Lost," except stuff actually happens.

Internet message boards are abuzz with conspiracy theories and guesses at how the heroes' powers actually work. Even though we're four episodes in, you're not too late to get in on the action. Below are a few central questions that will give you a basic understanding of the show thus far. To catch up completely, check out character bios at or watch the mini-marathon Sunday, October 22, starting at 8 p.m. on NBC.

1) What's the deal with brothers Nathan and Peter both flying?

It might not be that simple. The Petrelli brothers --- Nathan, alpha dog politician; Peter, dreamer hospice caregiver --- discovered their powers after Peter's repeated flying visions led him to jump off an apartment building in front of Nathan, who was waiting below. Right before Peter turned into street pizza, Nathan miraculously took to the air to catch him, and later admitted that Peter helped keep him afloat. But Peter seems unable to fly, merely hover. And how do you explain the limited precognitive abilities that caused him to believe he could fly in the first place? Abilities awfully similar to future-seeing artist Isaac, who he's connected to through gal pal Simone? Don't be surprised if Peter's actual power is to "borrow" powers from other people.

2) What's up with Niki's powers?

Arguably the most fascinating character on the show, Internet stripper Niki's reflection has a mind --- and seemingly life --- of its own. Whenever Niki is in danger, she blacks out for hours at a time, and when she awakens finds disturbing surprises. Example: a couple of mob goons sent to collect on a debt are found murdered and stuffed in the trunk of a convertible registered in her name. When she follows a map in the car, she finds a desert pit filled with corpses. Multiple-personality disorder is hardly a superpower. But could her supposed felon husband somehow be a part of her? Or is her dark side responsible for the murders that got him into trouble with the law to begin with? One thing's for sure: she's hardly a hero. Perhaps that distinction refers to her preternaturally bright son, Micah?

3) Who is Sylar?

Every hero needs a villain, and thus far it seems all our heroes will have to contend with the mysterious Sylar. Little is known about the madman, except that 1) He was previously involved with Dr. Suresh's father, who was trying to crack the code of the super-powered humans; 2) He has incredible powers that include, but are not limited to, freezing people, super strength, insanely fast healing, and mental powers; 3) He's nuttier than a fruitcake and seems to have a thing for brains, most likely the brains of other super-powered people.

4) Why is Claire's dad trying to kill Dr. Suresh?

Claire's adopted father is another of the shadowy figures stalking the "heroes," and his scariest move by far is taking the young woman under his wing. Claire is a seemingly ordinary Texas cheerleader who has amazing regenerative powers: she cannot be killed. Her caretaker clearly knows what she can do and is on the trail of Dr. Suresh, and very likely killed his father and stole his research. Is he Sylar? Working with Sylar? Or, more likely, working with some government operation tracking the "heroes"? Either way, $10 says the pixie-cut gal hanging out with Dr. Suresh now is a plant working for the same shadowy group as Claire's dad.

5) How funny is Hiro?

Way funny, despite his storyline being the most gripping on the show right now. The geeky Japanese businessman discovered he can bend space and time. After accidentally teleporting into Times Square six weeks in the future, Hiro witnessed a nuclear explosion obliterate Manhattan. He zapped himself back in time and, with trusty sidekick Ando and a comic book detailing precisely what he should do on his adventure (courtesy of Isaac, the artist who draws the future), is determined to stop the nuclear holocaust from happening. But as any sci-fi aficionado knows, screwing with the past in an effort to change the future often has unforeseen consequences, and Hiro could very well make things worse rather than make them better.

--- Eric Rezsnyak

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