I bid thee farewell...
About a year ago my parents bought home the DVD box set of season one. Having heard pretty much nothing about the show other than that it was good and was very comicbook-esque, they sat down the entire family and we all watched the pilot together.
It quickly became apparent, however, that this was NOT a child's show. My younger sister disappeared because of the violence and sex, and my brother found the subtext and thematic messages a bit too much for him to handle, but my parents and I had an amazing time watching the entire first season within the span of about a month.
A great deal of the reason I loved the show was due to the main villain, Sylar. At first, he was simply creepy, an unknown entity that lurked in the shadows and left a trail of broken bodies behind- you worked up to the great reveal, and we had no idea who or what he was when Gabriel was first introduced. And then his storyline emerged- his backstory especially hit me hard because I emphasized with him. He was special, and he knew it, and he was trapped being normal with normal people with normal lives who were complete oblivious to the fact that a) there was something bigger and better out there, and b) that he belonged right in the thick of it. I've been there. Granted, I was about twelve at the time, and I like to think I've matured, but it still hit hard. I looked at Gabriel and thought to myself 'Wow, if things were different, that would totally be me'.
So, Sylar worked on a purely character level. Check.
He was also good for the story. He was nebulous and creepy when we needed a faceless villain. He was manipulative when he was stalking Mohinder and Sandra and we needed some reason for him to interact with those characters without alarm bells ringing in their heads. He combined both when he was Nathan!Sylar, and we could still see little throwbacks to poor frustrated Gabriel when he snuck in to grab some sprinkle-topped frozen yogurt before going to stalk his next victim and when he spoke to Mohinder about being special and being saved by him. He was also something the character's had in common; the villain to Peter and Hiro's heroics, the catalyst for change for Nathan and the Company, an obstacle to be removed for Bennet, the boogeyman for Molly and, to a lesser extent, Claire, the subject of intense and personal hatred for Mohinder, and a dangerous criminal for Matt. He bought them together as much as the Company did, as much of their powers did, and the plot of the first season wouldn't have worked without him.
So. Sylar is good for plot, while keeping his characterization palpable. Check.
There is also the matter of theme. The series opened with Mohinder talking about some pretty far out stuff- about cockroaches being the pinnacle of evolution, specifically, because they could survive no matter what. And that's Sylar through and through, doing whatever he has to in order to make sure that he can survive anything that's thrown at him. One of the main thematic elements of the first season was the struggle for stability against change- change for the better, change for the worse, even just trying to cope with something different is hard for people. But... there needed to be change. Things couldn't remain the same after you found out you could read minds/rip people in half/ walk through walls/ walk through fire/ kill people with your mind. And Sylar was a symbol of the extreme of that- a cautionary tale about moving too quickly and leaving your roots behind.
So, Sylar works thematically, all while moving the plot along and having a coherant character. Check.
And now we have season three. I could excuse Sylar's season two characterization (which is best described as OTT) as compesation for the fact that he had woken up with his powers missing. Suddenly, he's back to where he was when he first met Chandra; but at the same time, he's not Gabriel. He's done too much- changed too much- to go back to how he was. But, once we get to season three...
First off, his power of choice is gone. At best, it's greatly reduced. One of the creepiest aspects of Sylar's character was that everything he did, every step he took, was deliberate, right done to the clothes he wore and the words he used. He choose each and everyone one of his victims, he choose his path, and, even after all the death and bloodshed and betrayal, he didn't regret it. He was going to be special. He was going to be the most special person ever- and because of that, no one else mattered. Morality didn't enter into it, it was, as he described it, a biological imperative to weed out the weak and to grow stronger himself.
A biological imperative to eat brains is not the same thing. Not even remotely the same thing at all. Honestly, this really smacks of a nod to Marvel Zombies, which, really, I thought we were trying to move away from the zombie jokes?
Actually, it underminds his character. It does away with a good season and a half's construction of motives.
And then we have Syelle. Skipping over the OOCness, it also undermines the subplot of his complex relationship with the Sureshes. Anyone who knows me knows that I am NOT a Mylar fan, but, my God, Sylar and Mohinder did have amazing chemistry, filled with twisted loathing and a side order of inadequacy issues that center around Chandra. In a lot of ways, they have a sibling rivalry taken to the nth degree. Sylar was the 'good' son; he possessd abilities, believed in Chandra, helped him in his work, won his approval and affection, and basically got everything Mohinder wanted. And then he killed him, which implies that all of that was meaningless when faced with the prospect of more powers. This really sort of pisses Mohinder off, especially when you compound that with the fact that he nearly went the same way- he'd liked 'Zane', trusted him, and it was played the fool. Plus we have Mohinder's father/daughter relationship with Molly, who was orphaned by Sylar (with strong implications that she witnessed the death of at least one of her parents), is so terrifyed of him that she calls him the boogeyman, and has, to date, been targeted by him at least three times. So, complex, emotinally intense relationship with the Sureshes.
In fact, he does't seem to even remember her, which makes the whole 'romance' seem tacked on and fake. And, really, let's skip over the whole "everyone is a Petrelli" thing. Please. Spare me.
In my heart of hearts, the only way I can excuse this is to think that you are planning on killing Mohinder off, and need to have other characters for Sylar to torment in interesting and emotional ways. I hope not, because I *used* to like Mohinder, but I can see you headed in that direction. But you can't just magic relationships out of the past, and pretend that they exist all along. You have to let them build. You have to let them grow. Simply saying "Okay, here are characters X, Y, and Z, and X loves Z, who hates Y, but X and Y are siblings..." is fine when you're introducing new characters and setting up a show. In the third season of a show, with characters who already have existed for a fair bit, it doesn't work nearly as well.
Sylar isn't the only problem I have with your show. Not by a long shot. But he does exemplify what I see as a lot of its major flaws.