Hooray, Heroes is back to its breakneck-paced, rock-’em-sock-’em, keep-the-viewer-so-busy-with-OMG-moments-that-they-don’t-even-notice-the-huge-plot-holes self! I had almost given up hope. If the show has spent most of this season spinning its wheels, then tonight’s episode, “Cautionary Tales,” is the part where it peels out and starts roaring down the track. Spoilery notes below:

Matt seems to have finally gotten started on the character arc that he should have been on from the very beginning: when a weak schlub suddenly finds himself able to read thoughts — and now, to influence them as well — will he allow himself to give in to the urge to use those powers, and what kind of slippery slope will that send him down? Hopefully, Matt won’t wait for his uncle Ben to get shot before figuring out where he stands, although I think it would be kind of fun to see Greg Grunberg playing a villain.

It’s still unclear what the elder heroes’ superpowers are, but Angela Petrelli’s seems to be the ability to make cutting remarks under extreme conditions. Watching her talk circles around Matt even as he tore the thoughts out of her head was pretty awesome.

In other intergenerational face-offs, HRG vs. Elle was a highlight of the episode — not just for the snappy one-liners, but for the way they really dug into the evil-goatee parallels between Elle and Claire. HRG’s mixture of pity, contempt, and disgust at Elle and her sociopathic upbringing was palpable, and Elle’s own seething rage and nagging doubt was vintage Veronica Mars. I kind of rolled my eyes when I heard that Kristen Bell had been (stunt-)cast on the show, but Elle is the perfect part for her, with multiple layers of trauma and resentment lying under the shiny surface.

More intergenerational stuff (do you sense a theme to this episode? [Or to the entire series?]): The B-plot with Hiro and Kaito felt hurried (“I will save you! Or maybe I will just explain to myself why I won’t!”), but it was really nice all the same, and hey, any George Takei is good George Takei.

Oh, and that thing? At the end? With HRG? And then HRG again? TOTALLY RAD. (And Mohinder must be getting regular visits from Bad Decision Dinosaur.)