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DeAnn Welker: A- | Grade It Now!
Gunfight at the O.K. Carnival

Carnival. Claire's already there. She finds Lydia, and tells her they need to talk, but instead of talking, Claire holds up her hands and Lydia grabs them and feels what Claire's thinking. But Lydia is obviously as dumb as Claire because she says it out loud: "Your father is coming for Samuel?" Defeats the purpose of not talking, doesn't it? Claire says she came ahead because she's seen things like this go wrong before and she doesn't want her dad or anyone else to get hurt. She says there's not a lot of time, and then the camera pans away from them to Eli the Replicator, who's listening. Back with Claire and Lydia, Claire's laid out a plan off-screen and Lydia says Samuel will never go for it; he'll never turn himself in. She says he's not listening to her anyway, so she's going to get Amanda. Samuel interrupts and asks if it's come to her running away, though he can't say he blames her after what he did to that town, all those people. He acts apologetic to Claire, saying he wishes he could take it all back, like so many other things. Then he talks about watching trapeze as a kid and thinking they had powers, but they didn't: It was just gravity. He's come to realize gravity's different things to people, and Joseph used to be his. Which is why he's losing his way, and his family's afraid of him. Claire tells Samuel to take responsibility and turn himself in to her father; she promises he won't hurt him if he gives himself up. Lydia pleads with him to listen.

Up in the trees outside the carnival, HRG and Lauren are ducked down looking through a gun scope and binoculars, respectively. They spot Samuel, but then Lauren notices Claire. She picks up her phone and then his rings. She asks where he is, and he says "Close." Then he thanks her for stopping by with coffee earlier. She tells him Samuel wants to surrender to protect his family. He asks if Claire trusts him, and she says they have to try doing this without anyone getting hurt. He agrees, and says to tell him to meet them in a field outside the carnival. "See you soon." He hangs up and tells Lauren Samuel's surrendering. Lauren doesn't think he's just going to give himself up, but Noah says Claire thinks he will and he has to trust her. Claire tells Samuel it's a deal, and Lauren asks Noah if he's sure. He says if it's a set-up, he'll just get a better shot at Samuel out in the open, away from everyone. Except couldn't a "set-up" mean he might not come alone? I would say Claire gets her lack of brains from HRG except they're not biologically related. Lauren tells HRG she'll go down and walk Samuel out. She tells him to keep Samuel in his crosshairs, and he tells her to be careful. She starts out and Noah does keep him in the crosshairs.

Eerie music picks up as Samuel puts out his arms in surrender and walks to a platform. Lauren makes her way to the carnival. Samuel speechifies as Claire starts to worry. The gist of his speech: He regrets what he's done, which has brought an agent to their door, so he's turning himself in. The carnies are all, "No! What?" Samuel says they just want him, and he knows they won't all agree, but it's the only way, since the safety of them all matters most to him. A gunshot fires and it hits Samuel. People start to scream and scatter, and for a minute I really did think HRG was the one shooting. But the fourth or fifth shot hits Claire, and that's when anyone who's ever watched this show knew it wasn't him. Gunshots keep on going. I don't know much about guns, but it seems the shooter would have to stop and reload at some point. I guess commercials are that opportunity.

Parkman's house. Sylar says he let Janice go, so now it's Parkman's turn. He tries to go into Sylar's head but it seems to cause him physical pain. Sylar's irritated nothing's changed; he knows Parkman can do this. Parkman doesn't know what's wrong, so he tries again. Once again: Physical pain and heavy breathing. Sylar tells him to try again, but Parkman says maybe it's him not wanting to let go of the powers. Sylar yells, "You're lying!" And Matt yells back, "I'm not lying!" -- just like five-year-olds fight -- when Janice comes back and asks Matt what's going on. Sylar uses his pointy power to push her up against the wall. Parkman begs him to let her go, and he'll try again, but Sylar says that's not good enough. "You will purge me of these powers, Parkman, or I will use them. I will use them all. And, trust me, I can get really creative."

Gunshots are still ringing out at the carnival. HRG looks confused and finally spots a Replicating Eli through his scope. Replicating Eli shoots Lauren, and she falls down. Noah doesn't seem to see this, but he shoots Replicating Eli, who just evaporates, since he's not the real thing. Noah: "Daaaaamn." Then he turns and Replicating Eli hits him in the face with the butt of his rifle. Back at the carnival, Claire picks her bullet out and tosses it aside as others gather and worry about the wounded. Damien drags Samuel to Lydia, who's been shot. She tells Samuel to put pressure on the wound, then tells Doyle she needs his help and takes off with him. Lauren's sitting up against a tree in obvious pain when Replicating Eli carries Noah by. She hides behind the tree and holds up her gun to shoot, but she can't risk shooting Noah. Samuel's alone with Lydia, holding her. He kisses her, and she musters all the scream she can, then pulls away and utters her final words: "You... did... this?" He says he's sorry and she cries as he says they needed a villain worse than him and she gave that to them. He thanks her and kisses her on the forehead and she dies. Claire comes back, but Samuel tells her it's too late and he cries. Everyone stands around, heartbroken, including Claire. It's pretty genius, actually, and exactly what you'd expect of a cult leader, to kill the person everyone loves the most and make it look like the person you hate did it. The camera pans out, and there's a really weird light shining in from the side as it slides out at a weird angle. It ends up behind Claire, but starting with her lower body before we see her face and, honestly? I hate myself for saying this and it might just be the angle, but she might want to cool it with the carbs if they're going to shoot her from this angle. More commercials.

Claire's calling her dad, pleading for him to pick up, when Samuel comes out of his trailer. She glares at him, and he just stares silently back, until Replicating Eli yells, "Samuel!" Then he tells everyone he found HRG on the hill with a gun. Claire asks him if he's okay, and he just tells her, through his pain that he didn't do it, he didn't shoot. Everyone shouts, "Murderer" and that Claire's one of them for bringing him here. Doyle makes Claire his puppet, and others start using their powers threateningly. Samuel stops them all and says, "We're better than this." (See? So stereotypical cult leader. I don't love a lot about this season, but I do love how well Robert Knepper portrays this character.) He tells his people to tie HRG up in the house of mirrors, and has Claire taken to his trailer. Doyle loosens his puppet grip as Replicating Elis carry her away. She fights and screams, "No! Dad! Dad!" As they drag her off. She still seems to think there's something redeeming enough in Samuel that she explains, "Samuel! He didn't do it!"

Back at Parkman's, he's still begging Sylar to let Janice go. Sylar says one cruel thought is all it takes with his powers, which make it so easy. Okay, maybe I do feel for him, because if all it takes is a cruel thought, I'd have killed a lot of people. Far more than Sylar. Maybe he really has the most amazing self-restraint in the history of the world. Parkman tells Sylar he doesn't have to use them like this, but Sylar says he does because his powers are him. He asks Matt how he compartmentalizes (did you ever think you'd hear Sylar ask about that?) and keeps the powers from overrunning the rest of his life. Parkman says he starts by accepting the fact that he's more than just his ability. He says they're people first, and asks Sylar to let Janic

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