Adrian Pasdar, <EM>Heroes</EM> Adrian Pasdar, Heroes

Here comes the bride. This week on NBC's fantastically popular Heroes (Mondays at 9 pm/ET), viewers will finally meet the thus-far (and conspicuously) MIA wife of Adrian Pasdar's political contender, Nathan Petrelli. (Just Shoot Me's Rena Sofer fills the bill as Heidi, the Mrs.) Might the arrival of his better half shed new light on Nathan's secret "ability," to fly? Or might her presence instead only introduce new questions?

Surveying the marrieds' obviously fractured relationship, Pasdar tells, "It was predicated on what I think is a common understanding of what it would take to be a politician's wife, and all the things that go along with that. And love, of course, factored in, heavily in the beginning." (Suddenly, Nathan's penchant for rapturously rendezvousing with the likes of Ali Larter's Niki becomes more clear.)

Adding yet another dose of mystery to an already compelling series is the fact that Heidi uses a wheelchair. But why? As it turns out, Nathan's ability  perhaps its first appearance, or maybe a time when it failed him most  plays into that answer. "There's a sense of guilt that has permeated Nathan's existence since [his wife's] accident, which we get into in [tonight's episode]," Pasdar previews. "It's something that Nathan feels guilty about. The accident also shows something that we... well, that I can't really talk about too much. But we get information from this accident on a few fronts, not just the one that explains why she's in a wheelchair."

Heidi, of course, may be burning mad  if not burning rubber  should she discover that her hubby recently stepped out on her with Niki (or, at least, the online porn queen's take-no-prisoners alternate personality). After summing up why Nathan and Niki sizzle  "She's hot, he's powerful," he states with a chuckle  Pasdar elaborates on the dynamic, noting, "There's an attraction there based on the classic dichotomy of him being a politician and her being a stripper. One of the best things the writers have done was put Nathan with the person who can hurt him most. That's great drama."

Great drama is the phrase being used by many to describe Heroes, which just last week set a new ratings record for itself, and merited a TV Guide cover after only a few weeks on the air. Reiterating a common explanation for such a show's success, Pasdar says, "It's cyclical. When every corner of the globe seems to be experiencing some kind of threat, imminent or immediate, this type of escapism takes root." But what makes Heroes a hit and not hokey, he continues, "is it speaks to people's sense of fantasy and escapism in a real way. It doesnt add the fantastic elements of the cape and spandex. It's more based in reality than any superhero show that has come along on TV."

Every hero (or Hiro, for that matter) needs a villain, and while the easy money is on H.R.G. (aka Claire's adoptive father, aka "Horn-rimmed Glasses") being this series' No. 1 baddie, there is some speculation that Nathan may not have intentions as noble as his otherwise-empowered kid brother, Peter (Milo Ventimiglia). Allowing that his alter ego has "a dark side that needs to be dealt with," Pasdar refuses to say that any character we have met thus far is an absolute of any stripe. "The people who you think are good are probably going to turn out the other way, and vice versa," he ventures, "so it would do me no good to speculate on how Nathan is going to end up. I'm as much a fan and as along for the ride as you are."

Whoa, back up a second. A dark side to deal with? What does Pasdar mean? It all goes back to the secret that, when prompted, Nathan can defy gravity and take flight from a sticky situation. Impressive, yes, by all means, but not exactly a reliable platform for a take-me-seriously politician to run on. "There will probably be somebody who finds out about [his ability], and has to be dealt with, as a liability," Pasdar says. With a wink, he adds, "That's if I were to imagine what might happen."

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