For months, the thing about Heroes that bothered me most was Milo Ventimiglia's hair: specifically, that dreaded dangling forelock Peter Petrelli kept playing with, as if in thrall to a fetish. I've long wanted the boy to get a haircut. But not like this!

Quite the horrifying climax to the March cliff-hanger (no new episodes until April 23), as Sylar pinned that dupe Mohinder to the ceiling while slicing into Peter Petrelli's skull to see why Peter ticks like Sylar, only less murderously. Blood drops from Peter's forehead onto the floor, followed by that hank of hair. I cringed, then I cheered. Well done.

The episode was a crackerjack thrill ride with one reversal after another. Simone rising from the dead? Shut up! It's really Candice, the slinky shape-shifter! Mrs. Bennet betraying her hubby, in cahoots with The Company? Shut up! It's really Candice, the slinky shape-shifter! What fun.

By the way, I love how the writers have evolved HRG from sinister man of mystery to one of the more heartfelt good guys, immeasurably aided by Jack Coleman's terrific performance. Learning that HRG had enough foresight to clue his wife (who knows a thing or two about "playing dumb") into Claire's secret before having his memory wiped was probably the episode's most inspired twist. But the victory didn't last long, thanks to Candice's impersonation of said wife. And how about Claire's unexpected welcome from Grandma Petrelli, who's been in on it all from the start? Didn't see that coming.

Other cool bits: Ando popping up as a security guard to save Hiro's bacon ("I knew you'd set off an alarm eventually"); Mohinder getting the upper hand on Sylar, even momentarily; Nathan working undercover with the FBI against Linderman, at least until Jessica interfered.

Speaking of Jessica... or is it Niki: the show really needs to do a better job of setting the rules where this split character is concerned. While I enjoyed most of the other reversals in this episode, with Jessica/Niki it often comes off like a cheat. In one scene, she's Jessica, executing the FBI stooges. In the next scene, she's Niki, alerting Nathan to the danger he's in and giving him career advice. I thought Jessica was in control. Except, I guess, when she isn't. Or maybe it was Jessica pretending to be Niki, and her assignment all along wasn't to kill Nathan but to manipulate him into taking Linderman's power-broking offer.


Otherwise, though, sensational finish. Way to leave us hanging.

On to 24, which I so very much want to like, but where events keep conspiring to ebb my enthusiasm lower by the week. Jack storming the Russian consulate, rather clumsily to be honest, was, if not the last straw or the straw that broke our collective impatient backs, certainly a straw we could have done without. We didn't need Bill Buchanan to point out the illogic of Jack putting himself in the same bind that got him into such trouble with the Chinese.

I actually laughed when Jack announced to Consul Von Sweatybrow, "I don't have time to ask nicely." That was before Jack flashed the pincers that took off the consul's little finger. And the cliff-hanger was so lame, so much a replay of past setbacks. Jack spills everything to one of the consulate goons, and the goon actually grants Jack's wish and calls CTU to warn them about the drones, only to stupidly leave a door open so another goon can kill the stooge before CTU can take his message. You know you've succumbed to Jaded Viewer Syndrome (see the March 2 edition of Ask Matt) when you react to this killing not with an "Oh no!" but with an "Oh well."

That said, I am curious to see if Karen Hayes, on her way back to the presidential bunker, will now become an ally with her former nemesis, Tom Lennox, against Vice President Cy Tolliver McEvil, now that the veep is putting Lennox's fascist civil-liberty-busting agenda into play. Lennox, compromised by the aftermath of the assassination attempt, now realizes what a monster he has created.

And though I can't help feeling like Charlie Brown running for Lucy's football, I am curiously excited about next week's episode, which, according to the promos [ Spoiler alert for those who avoided it] will introduce Ricky Schroder (according to the new issue of TV Guide, he's going back to Ricky) as the new ops chief spearheading Jack's rescue. The episode will also bring back the fabulous Jean Smart as former first lady Martha Logan and, perhaps even better, Glenn Morshower as stalwart Agent Aaron Pierce (who apparently has been keeping company with Martha while the disgraced prez has been on house arrest).

Finally, a little nod of the cap to CBS' The Class, which quietly and prematurely ended its freshman season Monday night, with seemingly grim prospects of seeing a second year. (For me, The Class's fate was sealed when Rules of Engagement came on strong, holding onto a good chunk of its Two and a Half Men lead-in. With Rules' survival assured, that leaves little room for The Class.) Though far from perfect, and still awkwardly finding its way even in this final episode, The Class was easy to watch and easier to like. With sharp direction from the legendary James Burrows, and with winning performances, especially from Lizzy Caplan as the snarky Kat and Jesse Tyler Ferguson as the hapless Richie, the show had just enough promise that if the climate were more generous toward half-hour sitcoms, and there were more slots available for them, it might make sense to nurture the show through a second season.

Cocreators David Crane ( Friends) and Jeffrey Klarik left the primary characters in enough juicy turmoil for there to be a strong springboard for a second year. Yonk's untimely heart attack, just as Nicole was packing to leave him for Duncan, forces her to pledge her loyalty to her ailing husband, leaving Duncan on the outs again. Sulking over a bad Keanu Reeves-Sandra Bullock movie (one in which nothing blows up), Duncan reaches out to Kat, herself smarting over her latest breakup, unaware that Ethan is waiting and pining for her with rose in hand. Meanwhile, Richie proposes to Lina (awwwww) and the back of the head of Kyle's lover returns from Chile for a public gay hug.

If The Class were to return, the writers probably would have some tough choices. Should they even keep the marginalized Kyle in the show? Lately, he's been little more than a sounding board for Ethan. Would they ever explain why Perry (the giddy Sam Harris) is still hanging around, camping it up, with nary a mention of his wife Holly (MIA since Lucy Punch was dropped from the ensemble)? Would they think of beefing up the part of Duncan's mom (the reliably hilarious Julie Halston)?

All probably moot questions. Which is a shame. The Class may not have been at the top of anyone's sitcom honor roll, but you'd think it would have earned at least a passing grade. Hard times for TV comedy, to be sure.