During a critique session at Viable Paradise, Teresa Nielsen Hayden talked about how unresolved items in a story create baggage that the reader has to carry around. If you put too much baggage on the reader, eventually they collapse under the weight and give up. It's also called "opening doors" and "closing doors". Unresolved things open doors. You want to regularly close doors.
In this episode of HEROES, I learned a lot about what happened to the characters in the aftermath of the events of the first season finale. I also learned where new characters had come from. Unfortunately I didn't learn this information until this episode, which was eight or nine episodes into the season!
Many elements of "Four Months Ago" would have worked really well as part of the premiere episode of the second season. A simple example is to ask the question: What would have been cooler: to have the modern Adam revealed to be the historical Kensei (who didn't see *that* one coming) or to have the historical Kensei revealed to be the modern Adam?
The second option (if done in the first couple episodes) would have been a "holy cr*p" moment, where I the watcher start thinking "that guy, who Peter broke out of prison, who has been attacking all the old heroes, was around 400 years ago? Hiro knew him? Oh my gosh, did Hiro cause all this to happen?" Then the historical Hiro scenes would have had weight in advance and the viewer would get an impending sense of dread rather than wondering "why is all this stuff important?"
I know that Heroes is in a bit of a pickle. The show was successful and new and different. At that point, there's two choices: try again to do something new and different, or repeat what you did last season. We know what direction "standard Hollywood" likes to choose: if it worked last time, it will work this time.
So this season feels, in many ways, like a repeat of last season. And now the show is going to wrap up all these plotlines in 3 more shows (This was always the plan, and isn't necessarily due to the writers' strike). I worry it will smack of blatant manipulation and feel hollow. As always, we'll just have to see how it goes. But maybe things will take the spark of "Four Months Ago" and catch fire. One can hope.