As promised, here's my Q&A with Heroes series creator Tim Kring. But before we get to that, I have to tell you what I did last night: I watched the next original episode of Heroes! You know, the one not slated for public consumption until Jan. 22? Don't hate me. Instead, look at all these pretty spoilers I brought back!

* A female character is written off (possibly forever).
* Hiro has a run-in with a T-Rex.
* A major scene from the pilot gets reenacted.
* Christopher Eccleston makes his debut.
* An estranged couple patches things up.
* A hero's powers begin to diminish.
* There's an unexpected (and pretty frakkin' hilarious) reunion between two heroes.

And if you think all that sounds insane, wait until you hear what the show has in store for February sweeps and beyond. On second thought, no need to wait - read on!

Ausiello: We already know that Jessalyn Gilsig is playing Claire's birth mother. When will we find out about her father?
Tim Kring:
We'll reveal that in February sweeps.

Ausiello: Is it fair to say that that'll be a big shocker?
Kring:
Yeah. A really big shocker.

Ausiello: Is it true that Episode 17 will flash back 15 years to show how Claire came into H.R.G.'s care?
Kring:
Yeah. You'll see the inciting incident that allowed him to gain possession of her.

Ausiello: Will the entire episode be set in that time period?
Kring:
No. It's framed in a very tense, present-day story where the family is forced to deal with the past.

Ausiello: Masi Oka dropped some hints last week about a new love interest for Hiro. Care to confirm?
Kring:
Oh. Um....

Ausiello: Not to put you on the spot or anything.
Kring:
It's not for a long time. He has a Season 2 love interest that we're already talking about.

Ausiello: Can you confirm that there will be another death this season?
Kring:
Yeah, I can confirm that.

Ausiello: A major character?
Kring:
It'll be someone who was in the opening minutes of the pilot.

Ausiello: A burning question from the fall finale: Was that really Peter in the flash-forward, or was it Sylar in disguise?
Kring:
Well, it was just a dream. And the dream obviously had all kinds of strange, surreal dream imagery in it.

Ausiello: Really? I just assumed he was seeing the future.
Kring:
I never intended for that to be a flash-forward. It's a dream. He falls to the ground and you zoom in on his face, and the next time you see him he's in a coma in the hospital. It has all the vocabulary of a dream. Greg Grunberg is in his police uniform, Claire is in her cheerleader uniform.... They're all in sort of primary colors. But he's had dreams before, and they've had premonition qualities to them.

Ausiello: OK, another burning Q: How was Sylar able to break through the glass to kill Eden? And why didn't he do it earlier?
Kring:
Well, there may be a reason he wants to stay in custody.

Ausiello: Interesting.... I'm also getting a lot of questions about the statement you released last month about Zach's botched coming out. Lots of folks, me included, don't understand why, if Thomas Dekker's management balked at the gay twist, you didn't just recast him with another, willing actor?
Kring:
It all boiled to a head very quickly, so there wasn't a lot of chance to recast. This wasn't something that came up months ago; it came up very recently. There wasn't a lot of time to do that. ( FYI: Thomas Dekker's manager declined to comment.)

Ausiello: Any lessons you took away from that experience?
Kring:
It was not a very big issue internally in the building here. I made a couple of phone calls. It was [one of many] brush fires that I try to put out every day. Just another thing that I had to deal with. It was an unfortunate miscommunication. One of the problems with a show like this is that not everything is planned out months in advance. You take things very organically. You can't always plan which direction the characters are going to go in. [Ideas] present themselves and you say, "Let's go in this direction!" And by that time, the character is already on screen and cast and playing his part. If they were all planned out in advance, you could anticipate these things.

Ausiello: Do you have any plans to introduce a gay character?
Kring:
It's something we've always talked about. If this is truly a show about... if we're positing the idea that this is happening all over the world and to all kinds of people, then... I'm very interested in Latino characters, Asian characters... I want it to be as diverse as it can possibly be. I certainly fold a gay character into that idea.

Ausiello: One personal favor I have: Can you please cut Milo's bangs?
Kring:
[ Laughs] He would like that, too.

Ausiello: Do you like them?
Kring:
They work for a lot of us. It has a kind of comic-book quality, when he's looking through his hair like that. It's certainly a signature [characteristic] that people are talking about, and I don't know whether that's such a bad thing. But we do have some plans for changing the way he looks in the near future.

Ausiello: Like the next episode, perhaps?
Kring:
No, not the next episode. We're sort of locked into a chronology here for a while. As soon as we're able to jump off of that, he'll have a change of look. It's going to be the end of the season.

Hallelujah!