Heroes Volume Five, Chapter Eleven: The Fifth Stage

I’m fighting off a cold, folks. Shall we see if Heroes improves when I’m floating on Alka-Seltzer cold tablets?

Lydia tells Samuel she knows the truth. She doesn’t elaborate, but it’s probably safe to assume she’s talking about Joseph’s murder. She tells him she has a daughter to look after, so his secret is safe. If she really wants to keep her daughter safe, perhaps it would be smarter not to let Samuel know she knows he killed his brother in the first place. Samuel doesn’t reply, and indeed looks bored to tears with her. He’s more interested in the arrival of Eli, his brand-new replacement henchman, now that Edgar has fled the carnival. Samuel instructs Eli to retrieve files from Noah Bennet’s apartment. Says Samuel, “They’re in a box marked ‘Primatech.’” Sheesh, like that’s going to narrow it down. Eli, FYI, can form multiple copies of himself. Somewhere, Jamie Madrox is not amused.

Lauren drops by Noah’s apartment, ready for a hot date. Does Lauren have a power? Lauren really, really needs to have a power, or else it kinda punches holes in Primatech’s much-vaunted “one of us, one of them” policy. After Noah discovers his no-good daughter stole his compass, Lauren uses her CIA connections to triangulate Claire’s cell phone signal, mentioning that she can then pinpoint Claire’s location using Google Maps. She name-checks Google Maps like it’s this terribly exotic, very high-tech, CIA-specific program that no one in the audience could possibly know about.

Noah and Lauren determine that Claire is somewhere in southern Ohio. While sorting through files on the carnival, Noah tells Lauren about how they almost had an affair before Rene wiped her memories. To her credit, Lauren doesn’t seem thrilled about this. They’re interrupted by the arrival of Eli, who introduces himself as an emissary from Sullivan Brothers Carnival. Immediately, a swarm of multiple Elis invade the apartment. Lauren and Noah try to fight them off (if Lauren has a power, she’s sure not using it), then they go hide in the bathroom. When they emerge, all the Elis are gone… as are Noah’s files. So that worked well.

The compass guides Claire and Gretchen to the entrance to the carnival. After driving from DC to Ohio, Claire decides it wasn’t worth it. She’s ready to go home, but Gretchen drags her to the entrance, where they’re greeted by Samuel. Hmm. The plotline I loathe the most this season has just intersected with a plotline I rather enjoy. Which plotline will reign supreme? Claire and Gretchen launch into a conversation about how the popcorn at the carnival is, like, sooooooo good, and I think I just got my answer.

Claire and Gretchen enter Lydia’s tent. Lydia doffs her top, as she does every episode, and instructs Claire to take her hand and ask her a question. Claire asks, “Am I supposed to be here?”, and a tattoo of herself appears on Lydia’s skin. I gather from the dialogue that the tattoo shows her wearing the outfit of a carnival performer, but my television screen is very small, and I stopped recording these episodes for posterity as soon as it dawned on me that this season has zero rewatch value, so I can’t really tell for sure. Anyway, Gretchen and Claire continue their tour of the carnival. Gretchen is not impressed, but Claire is amazed to see everyone using their abilities out in the open. She starts daydreaming of a new career path as a carnival freak. Living the dream, Claire. I mock, but it’s nice to see Claire -- or anyone on the show this season, really -- forming something resembling a goal. This is the most wishy-washy, noncommittal, tepid group of wafflers I’ve ever seen, and trying to get emotionally invested in their adventures has been an uphill battle this season. Samuel pops up and offers to show them backstage, which sounds skeezy as all hell, but Claire leaps at the chance.

A swindled carnival customer barges backstage and picks a fight with Samuel, who refuses to defend himself. When Claire intervenes, the dude slashes her across the face with a bottle. Heroes really doesn’t believe in middle ground, does it? This guy can’t just be mean and dumb and cranky about being swindled out of his money, he has to be a total psychopath who slashes a teenaged girl across the face. Claire heals up, and the guy runs off in terror.

Claire bathes Samuel’s bruises, and they talk about how awesome it would be if Claire joined the carnival. It’s a long-ass scene, and it’s entirely unnecessary, since it’s been a done deal since the opening minutes that Claire would join up by the end of the episode. To seal the deal, Eric Doyle, working a pink and blue tux, shows up and gives Claire a big hug. He explains that he’s happy to have found a place where he belongs with the carnival. Claire tells an unenthused and unsurprised Gretchen she’s going to stay for a couple days.

Lydia tells Samuel she hopes Claire is worth it. Samuel, watching Gretchen drive off, tells her he’s not really after Claire. In the carnival parking lot, there’s a flatbed truck with a body in the back, and once again, my television is too small for me to identify who it is.

Angela arrives at the hospital to see how Peter is coping with the loss of Nathan. Peter insists he has a plan to get rid of Sylar and restore Nathan. The Haitian -- Rene -- shows up, and Peter absorbs his ability (presumably the Haitian can turn on and off his ability at will, or otherwise Peter’s power-absorbing ability would have been neutralized by Rene’s power-neutralizing ability). Peter explains to Angela that this way he’ll be able to make Sylar powerless. Not a terrible plan, but here’s a better one, Peter: Keep the vast array of abilities you absorbed from Sylar, then take Rene along for the ride when you go after Sylar.

Peter gets in the elevator with a nurse, who starts checking him out shamelessly, then grabs him by the neck, hurls him through the (open) doors, and shape-shifts into Sylar. Sylar and Peter find themselves in the hospital’s Danger Wing, complete with dangling electrical cords from the ceiling, stacks of two-by-fours, and random power tools lying about. This, of course, is the same hospital where a little urchin was randomly lying unconscious in a supply closet with a collapsed lung.

Peter neutralizes Sylar’s abilities and starts whaling on him while demanding he give him his brother back. They slug each other for a while, which is always nice to see, then Peter picks up a nail gun and proceeds to staple Sylar to the floor. Naturally, he has to lie on top of Sylar while he does this, and hey, it’s good to see the blatant homoeroticism making an eleventh-hour return to Heroes! He uses Rene’s mind-wiping ability to wipe away all of Sylar, leaving only Nathan. Sylar shape-shifts back into Nathan, who, presumably, is still stapled to the floor.

Later, an unstapled Nathan and Peter go up to the roof of the Deveaux building and talk about the good old days, before the show went all to hell and started sacrificing consistent, believable character development for a bunch of ill-conceived and poorly-explained plot ideas. Nathan breaks it to Peter that he’s still really Sylar. Peter insists Nathan is stronger than Sylar -- after all, that’s why Sylar came to find Peter at the hospital. Nathan replies, “I found you because I wanted to crucify you in Times Square.” Nice! To prevent Sylar from taking over, Nathan jumps off the edge of the roof. Peter grabs his hand, Nathan tells him he loves him, Peter lets go, and Nathan plunges to earth, where he smashes into a car. And then Sylar heals up and saunters off, leaving behind a devastated Peter.

Samuel stands at Joseph’s graveside and lectures to his flock -- including Claire -- over a montage of the other characters. There’s Sylar, and Tracy, and even a fleeting glimpse of Hiro, Ando and Mohinder booking it through trees somewhere (it looks like they’re maybe breaking Mohinder out of the asylum, A-Team-style, which I could get behind).

Huh. Well, that’s it for Nathan and Adrian Pasdar, rumor has it. His death scene was emotionally effective, but, like so many things on the show, it didn’t hold up under scrutiny -- Nathan had no reason to believe jumping off the rooftop would kill Sylar (maybe he thought the effects of Rene’s power would last longer?), and if he was hell-bent on destroying Sylar for good, maybe he could have suggested Peter go crazy with the nail gun in the hopes of destroying that part of Sylar’s brain that controls immortality. I don’t see how getting rid of a good character and a good actor will ultimately help the show.

Let’s focus on the good news: This was the last Heroes episode until January, and I think many of us could use the break. Let’s also focus on the even better news: Sendhil Ramamurthy just got cast in a new NBC pilot with David Tennant. If it gets picked up, there goes my final reason to keep watching this toxic mess.


Comments

Dan said…
I'm not sure whose body was in the truck outside the carnival either. I blame generally very bad vision on this.

I thought at first it was Emo Sylar. But I'm not sure that makes any sense any more. Then I thought it might have been the Puppet Guy. But I don't think his clothes matched what he was wearing earlier.

So I dunno. Maybe it was Tim Kring.
averys said…
I gather from the dialogue that the tattoo shows her wearing the outfit of a carnival performer, but my television screen is very small, and I stopped recording these episodes for posterity as soon as it dawned on me that this season has zero rewatch value, so I can’t really tell for sure.

http://i991.photobucket.com/albums/af35/Averys/Screencaps/tattoo.jpg - a screencap of the tattoo. I'm not entirely sure, but it looks like Claire is wearing her S1 cheerleading outfit. It would be a nice clothing choice for performing at the Carnival.

Sadly, I have to agree about absence of rewatch value. So far I've rewatched only "Brother's Keeper" without skipping anything. S4 has too much fillers and new characters I don't care about.

Does Peter count nail gun torture as sufficient revenge? I really can't tell. I'm interested in whatever he's going to do next. I'd love to see him ally with Mohinder, since the latter has broke out (if the escape with Hiro & Ando is not a drug-induced dream, of course). Same for Sylar, I hope to see him ruining Noah Bennet's romantic date with Lauren. Sylar also could do us all a favour by pressing Lauren with "Do you have an ability?" question.

In the carnival parking lot, there’s a flatbed truck with a body in the back, and once again, my television is too small for me to identify who it is.

http://i991.photobucket.com/albums/af35/Averys/Screencaps/theguy.jpg - this is the aggressive guy, most likely beaten to death.

So, Samuel is not after Claire? My money's on Peter, then.
Ingrid Richter said…
Excellent screencaps, averys! I was going to blurt out that it was the disgruntled carnival guy in the back of the pickup truck (what?! Samuel's evil?!?), but there's no need now. No stuffed unicorn for you, sir.

Claire's new role in the carnival got me thinking about the ending of The Prestige. I think the carnival just amped up the surreal/grotesque factor several notches by taking her on.

Farewell, Pasdar. I retain hope that Claire's magic blood might eventually reanimate Nathan's corpse in Angela's storage locker. Zombie Nathan!
Morgan Richter said…
Ah, the carnival thug. That makes sense. Thanks for the screencaps, averys. (What? You mean Samuel's "turn the other cheek" act was fake? I for one am shocked.)

Things I liked: Peter with a nail gun! Nathan/Sylar telling Peter he was planning on crucifying him in Times Square! The newly-Zen Eric Doyle! Sendhil getting cast in a new show! Also, incorporating Claire into the carnival plotline might finally give her some direction; I resent the amount of time we've been forced to spend this season watching her being aimless and moody.

Things I didn't like: Stating the obvious here, but Heroes isn't strong enough to withstand the loss of Pasdar. Ingrid pointed out to me yesterday that it's going to make Peter a whole lot less interesting, for starters (maybe he'll seek vengeance against Sylar, which could be fun, but it's more likely he'll return to glumly romancing Emma).

Also, Lauren. Please tell me there will be some future purpose to Lauren, apart from her crackerjack ability to use Google Maps (in which she pinpointed Claire's location to "southern Ohio." Use the zoom function, Lauren!).
levitatethis said…
I really don’t like the retconning of Bennet’s past. I know (and liked) that he was a shady character in season one. And I hated him for mindwiping his wife repeatedly but I always believed he loved her and thought he was doing the right thing. The reveal not only of an emotional affair with his partner back then and now seeing them as a viable couple rubs me the wrong way. For all the things wrong in Bennet and Sandra’s marriage I still really liked them…also, I love that yet again Lyle does not get mentioned amongst the list of people Bennet has loved and lost. When will Lyle get any love on this show? He and Mohinder need to hang out.

This leads me to a moment of confusion. I’m going to say it was just clunky dialogue or I’m misremembering something. When Bennet suspected Claire took the compass and Lauren asked him how he knew, he said “She was here last night.” So then last night was Thanksgiving? Because it was right after Thanksgiving dinner that Claire left with Gretchen…right…or no? I can’t remember how last week’s episode ended. Did a couple of days pass between Thanksgiving and then Claire getting in the car with Gretchen?

I AM happy that Lauren was at least less than impressed with the reveal her mind had been wiped. However I think she's up to no good...which might make her more interesting. I did find it a bit creepy that when she arrived for their date she looked like a more adult version of Claire. Bennet may want to explore those issues.

I think I need to let go of certain couplings on this show. I get the impression I’m supposed to like the “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” feel of Bennet/Lauren facing off with Eli the Replicator, but I liked when he was working this underground job and trying to balance it with a “regular life”.

The plotline I loathe the most this season has just intersected with a plotline I rather enjoy. Which plotline will reign supreme? Claire and Gretchen launch into a conversation about how the popcorn at the carnival is, like, sooooooo good, and I think I just got my answer.

I had the same reaction. Only Claire and Gretchen could make me roll my eyes with dread every time we went back to the carnival. But then Samuel still brought the manipulative creepiness and that made me happy.

Peter gets in the elevator with a nurse, who starts checking him out shamelessly, then grabs him by the neck, hurls him through the (open) doors, and shape-shifts into Sylar.

Before the nurse turned into Sylar, but after she went all “Terminator” on Peter, I was ready to put her at the top of my list as one of my favourite characters.

Yay to Peter and Sylar bringing the homoeroticism during a violent fight. It was one part of this storyline (Peter wanting to bring Nathan back..even though Nathan is bloody well dead and there’s no bit of his soul in Sylar’s body) that I found enjoyable. It also made me miss Mohinder all the more. He always brings the UST.

I have to admit that as much as I hate how dumb Peter has been acting about “saving” Nathan, when they were on the roof, for the first time I truly felt Peter’s turmoil. Not only did he lose his real brother but he never got to say goodbye. This was his attempt to hold onto someone he loved immensely, someone he had an incredible bond with. And he had to finally let go.

There’s Sylar, and Tracy, and even a fleeting glimpse of Hiro, Ando and Mohinder booking it through trees somewhere (it looks like they’re maybe breaking Mohinder out of the asylum, A-Team-style, which I could get behind).

Best part of the montage was seeing Mohinder with Hiro and Ando. I don’t know where they were running, but the idea of a breakout was awesome.

Let’s also focus on the even better news: Sendhil Ramamurthy just got cast in a new NBC pilot with David Tennant.

What fantastic news! I’m so excited. Sendhil and David? I think I may have a new pairing to ship :-)
Morgan Richter said…
When Bennet suspected Claire took the compass and Lauren asked him how he knew, he said “She was here last night.”

I'm assuming it was the day after Thanksgiving, because Claire and Gretchen mentioned something about driving all day to the carnival, and southern Ohio is only about 350 miles away from DC. It confused me too, especially since Lauren would of course know that Claire was there at Thanksgiving, seeing as she was there herself. I sort of resolved it in my brain by assuming Noah had instead said "It was here last night," in reference to the compass.

I get the impression I’m supposed to like the “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” feel of Bennet/Lauren facing off with Eli the Replicator

Yeah. And as far as that went, it sort of worked (not a bad battle, especially by Heroes' recent standards), but I still really don't understand the point of Lauren. I hope you're right that she turns out to be up to no good, because right now she's the Cousin Oliver of Heroes (not the best analogy, but maybe you know what I mean -- she's the new character who apparently has an extensive back history with our characters that we've heard nothing about prior to her mysterious appearance, and thus we're supposed to immediately embrace her even though her presence further messes up what was already a pretty fragile balance).

What fantastic news! I’m so excited.

Me too. That casting is so great that I'm terribly afraid it's too good to last and the whole project will fall through. After all the various shenanigans this season, I'm glad NBC is showing a big vote of confidence in Sendhil.
levitatethis said…
Every time I see Lauren I think about when the actress was on "Law and Order". When the character eventually got fired (?) I believe she uttered the line, "Is this because I'm a lesbian?" (or something along that line)...which was a big WTF moment since there had never been any mention or indication about that part of her personal life. For awhile that line became the "go to" one when anything happened on any show, because the line had nothing to do with anything.

Lauren could be an interesting character if: 1. She actually turned out to have more layers than Bennet's emotional fuck buddy AND 2. I wasn't expected to like her. Let me figure out what I think about her on my own. I'm all for tough, multilayered female characters, but they have to actually be that.

BTW I think referring to her as Cousin Oliver is a nice call. So far that's what it feels like.
Dan said…
also, I love that yet again Lyle does not get mentioned amongst the list of people Bennet has loved and lost. When will Lyle get any love on this show?

I had the same thought. HRG listed the first few people and then paused. I felt like saying 'Lyle, his name's Lyle'.

Re: Lauren's powers or lack thereof

While I would much prefer a reveal that showed her with secret awesome powers (or, y'know, a secret awesome life or key ring or, hell, anything), was it ever said that she was HRG's field partner?

Maybe she had her own powered partner. Maybe she worked in the typing pool. Either way, they could have had breakfast before heading off to the office every day without necessarily being partners.

Unless, of course, the episode that introduced her stated they were partners, which it might have. I don't remember anything about it.
Morgan Richter said…
Oh, LevitateThis, I've been so wanting to make an "Is this because I'm a lesbian?" joke ever since Elisabeth Rohm's first appearance as Lauren, but I figured no one would get it. For those who missed that particular L&O, the line is so random it's hilarious (we'd never seen any indication, in the entire four seasons she'd been on the show, of her character's sexual preference one way or the other, and it's the very last line she ever delivers on the series). Good times!

Thing is, I like Elisabeth Rohm. I liked her on L&O, and I liked her on that first season of Angel when she played a tough detective. She's always seemed kind of cold and grim, which appeals to me, so it's disheartening to see her in this kind of smug, giggly role as Lauren. Even with the way they weirdly dropped her into the continuity, I want to like her here, honestly, but they're not making it easy.
Morgan Richter said…
was it ever said that she was HRG's field partner?

I don't remember if it was specified in her first appearance or not (I think it was, but I'm not sure), but during the shootout with Eli in this episode, either she or HRG made some kind of reference to using the same strategy they used during another mission. So I think it's safe to assume that, yep, they were partners, and that it's only a matter of time before we see antlers sprout from Lauren's forehead at will or whatever her super-awesome power turns out to be. (I'm hoping for the antlers. Dunno why. It'd just make me happy.)
Ingrid Richter said…
Quick question: Didn't Sylar string up the Puppetmaster and leave him as a present for Danko last season? Was that before or after Claire set him free with a new identity?

(I think I'm losing my mind... or my internal continuity with the series)
Morgan Richter said…
Ingrid, after Sylar left Doyle for Danko, I believe we saw Doyle unconscious with all the other super-powered people at Building 28(26? 56? 58? Does it matter?). So presumably he was set free with everyone else at some point after the messy conclusion of Volume Four. I guess. I don't know. Point being, I guess, is that we never saw him dead (he was still visibly breathing after Sylar strung him up), so I didn't have a problem with him popping up this episode.
Ingrid Richter said…
Many thanks, Morgan! I could have sworn Sylar left the Puppetmaster's corpse as a present for Danko. He must be mellowing in his old age.

That said, glad to see Eric Doyle hale and hearty and wearing pastels at the carnival.
Morgan Richter said…
Building 26! I had to look it up. I'd entirely overwritten that brain cell with episodes of "Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders: Making the Team."

I, too, was glad to see the kinder, gentler, pastel-clad Eric Doyle. As much as I'd like to forget all of Season Three, it gave us some good characters, Doyle among them.
levitatethis said…
Morgan, it warms my heart that you knew the lesbian line I was referencing. Good tv times built on "where did that come from?" moments.

I also liked her when she was on "Angel". "Law and Order" is the only thing I was never crazy about her in...she just didn't seem to fit. But I thought she was good on "Angel" and if she's sticking around on this show then I need the character to be way more interesting than a potential love interest for Bennet.

I had the same thought. HRG listed the first few people and then paused. I felt like saying 'Lyle, his name's Lyle'.

That was pretty much what I was yelling at my tv. Either the writers really don't care/remember Lyle or purposely "forgetting" him is now an inside joke. I feel bad for the kid. Mr. Muggles (who is awesome, I have to say) gets more love.

As for Lauren and Bennet being partners...Morgan's right that it was never stated, but it was certainly implied in parts of the dialogue that they had worked together on at least one or two assignments. I'm sure the writers will retcon the retcon by the next episode to make it work.
Dan said…
Either the writers really don't care/remember Lyle or purposely "forgetting" him is now an inside joke

If I had more faith in the writers, I'd declare it an awesome inside joke and chuckle along each time they did it.

As it is, I'm not sure... (But, see writers? Earn my trust and I'll believe the very best of you. Betray it and even cool in-jokes will be treated with suspicion.)
Morgan Richter said…
if she's sticking around on this show then I need the character to be way more interesting than a potential love interest for Bennet.

Yup. That's it exactly. Which is one of the reasons why I'm so eager for them to give her a power -- at least that'd be something concrete about her. If she turns out to be evil, or just duplicitous, that'd work too. As it is? Nothing.

(But, see writers? Earn my trust and I'll believe the very best of you. Betray it and even cool in-jokes will be treated with suspicion.)

I know! That's exactly it! Here's the truth: Everyone wants to like Heroes. Seriously. We think it sucks eggs that the show has fallen as far as it has. Throw us a bone -- a fiendishly clever running gag about Lyle's complete non-importance in his family's life -- and we'll leap for it.

There have been far too bones of late, though. Sad.
levitatethis said…
(But, see writers? Earn my trust and I'll believe the very best of you. Betray it and even cool in-jokes will be treated with suspicion.)

Absolutely.

As Morgan points out, we want to like this show. If I hated this show completely I wouldn't still be watching it. Loyalty to something I once loved only goes so far. I watch because I still see glimpses of what could be, but it's bogged down in so much crap that it makes it very difficult to deal with.
Morgan Richter said…
Loyalty to something I once loved only goes so far. I watch because I still see glimpses of what could be, but it's bogged down in so much crap that it makes it very difficult to deal with.

The crap:good stuff ratio has been out of whack for a long time now. By the lowered standards of this current season, this was a pretty strong episode -- good Peter-Nathan interaction, good Peter-Sylar interaction, a pretty good fight scene, Sylar being an in-character rat bastard, an introduction to a pretty decent new character, Eli -- but overall, the thought of continuing to follow the adventures of Claire just wanting to fit in, or Peter and Emma wanly romancing each other, or HRG falling in love with Lauren, just makes me feel exhausted and sad. And now that Nathan, one character who could generally be relied upon to bring a pretty entertaining plotline, is dead, that's one less reason to stay invested.
violet-anchovy said…
During the fight with Multiple Man, I thought I saw Lauren momentarily use something like telekinesis to deflect a blow or move a gun or something. I could've imagined/misinterpreted it, though.
Morgan Richter said…
Really? Violet Anchovy (good to see you over here, btw), that'd be very cool. I missed it, but you could be right -- there was a lot going on during that fight scene, and it would make a whole lot more sense if Lauren had a power.

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