This show finally -- FINALLY! -- starts to get interesting by moving the plot forward instead of just going around and around in circles. Still, I reserve the right to take back this positive opinion of the episode once I've seen the end result (and, really, once I've rewatched it), but so far, it's mostly not bad. But first, the bad: Sylar wants his powers to go away and forces Parkman to try to remove them by threatening Parkman's family. Matt finally buries Sylar's powers and puts him in some sort of nightmare version of his head, then decides he'll put him behind a brick wall (a la Cask of Amontillado and Oz). He's well on his way when Peter shows up looking for Sylar (after having his mom's dream that Sylar's the only one who can save Emma and everyone else), steals Parkman's power and realizes Sylar's in his basement, and heads down to free Sylar from his own nightmare. Parkman warns him not to get trapped in it, and then he seems to. If Sylar's "nightmare" is empty New York City streets. That's where we leave them, but since Emma finds her way to the carnival by the end of the episode, Peter & Co. are surely just behind.
In the Land of Storylines That Don't Suck, some boring buildup eventually brings us to Claire warning Lydia the Tattooed Lady that her dad's coming to kill Samuel and he should surrender so no one gets hurt. Samuel agrees, and Claire calls to tell Bennet (who's watching with Lauren -- and with Samuel in his crosshairs), and he agrees to the surrender. So, Samuel stands on his soapbox and tells his people what he's agreed to. Some of them are upset because they still trust him, even though he sinkholed a town. Then gunshots begin, and the first one hits Samuel. The next one hits Claire, though, which is when anyone who's ever seen this show knew it wasn't HRG firing. Another one hits Lauren, but she's still alive enough to eventually call Tracy Strauss (who?!), since Noah told her to call her if anything went wrong. And the deadly one hit Lydia, who Samuel knew was becoming the leader of the carnival, so it's the one he most needed. HRG sees Eli the Replicator shooting and tries to shoot him, but it's a dummy Eli. The real one knocks HRG out and takes him back to the carnival, where everyone's calling for his head for killing Lydia. Claire tries to tell them he didn't do it, and then Samuel pretends to be merciful and has Bennet tied up in the Funhouse instead of killed. It's very creepy-Jim-Jones-manipulation, which seems like it would work on the same type of people that join cults and carnivals. In the end, Emma shows up to doctor up Samuel's wounds and get sucked into the madness. Claire's locked in Samuel's trailer, and HRG's tied up. But we all know Hiro, Peter, Parkman, Tracy (who?!), and apparently Sylar are going to swoop in and save the day. I'm just not sure when.
Previously: Samuel told Claire she could always come back. Mama Petrelli told Peter Emma's going to kill people and he can't save her. So he took his mom's gift and saw that Sylar could save her. But first, Sylar came to Claire to find out how to be more human. He took the shape of her bff/girlfriend and taught her a very important lesson: Go gay! And he learned he needs to get rid of all his powers, then he showed up at the Parkman House. Vanessa turned down Samuel's offer to make her dreams come true, so he sinkholed a town.
We open on Samuel's trailer, which says, "Chapter Sixteen: The Art of Deception," for a moment before a snake-skin cowboy boot steps onto it. It's attached to Samuel, who's looking all mopey wrapped in a blanket. He sheepishly watches carnies pass, then finds Lydia. He asks why it's so quiet, and Lydia says the carnival's closed since everyone saw what he did to that town. He asks if they're all afraid of him, and she asks if he can blame them, since they finally had a home here. He says she doesn't trust him anymore, and she asks why she should. Samuel says, "Out of trust is faith" (whatever that means), and it must be hard for her to come by since she can look into people's souls. He says he's done so much for all of them, but he's the villain and she seems to be the one who's replaced Joseph in their eyes. She tells him no one respects him anymore, and he says he'll win it back, then adds menacingly that he loves them, needs them, and will do whatever it takes to prove his worth. Opening title.
Blurry dream vision of Emma playing a bloody cello as people scream. Then Sylar comes in on his white horse (he might as well, anyway), all, "Don't worry. I'm here to save you." Peter bolts upright in bed, panting, and calls Emma. He leaves a message, then his phone rings and he answers: "Ma?" Quick cut to Matt Parkman arriving home with groceries. Sylar greets him, and Parkman asks if he's back inside his head. Sylar: "That's so two months ago." Sylar responds to Parkman's fear with, "Calm down, Parkman. If I wanted you dead, we wouldn't be talking." What Sylar wants is complicated; he's on a fact-finding mission. Janice interrupts, though, and says she took Matty to daycare, then her client canceled so she was there to greet "your friend, Gabriel." Which is odd, since Janice was holding Matty when Sylar showed up at the end of last episode. Janice and Sylar tell Parkman that he's been filling her in on "stories" from when they were partners on the force together. So, Janice has put together a late lunch so they can catch up. Sylar actually tells him to "take a load off, have a nosh..." I prefer snarky Sylar to whispery evil Sylar. Commercials.