Adrian Pasdar gets a hero's farewell that's not quite earned, but he and Milo Ventimiglia sell it the best they can. It all starts with Peter on a mission to keep Nathan alive and get rid of Sylar. Rene shows up for a split second, so Peter can borrow his power, then he sets out. He finds Sylar right away -- in the hospital elevator, where he's shape-shifted into a nurse. They fight, with Peter using his Haitian power and a nail gun to gruesome (and awesome) effect. Then Nathan comes out, and Peter tries to talk him into staying in Sylar's body and fighting. But Nathan's tired and jumps off a building. Peter catches him, just like he caught Peter in the first episode, and after a tear-filled goodbye, he lets him go. When Nathan lands, he's Sylar again, and presumably Nathan's gone for good. It would be a lot sadder if it weren't the third or fourth time we've had a Nathan death scene. This show sure is good at temporary goodbyes.
Meanwhile, Claire and Gretchen show up at the carnival, and with Hiro not there to fill her in, Claire falls in love with the place. And even though she wanted nothing more in her life than Gretchen just last week, she's ready to give her up to join this traveling freak show. All of the Samuel's carnie friends help sell it, through lies and manipulation. So Claire gives Gretchen a hug on what has to be Friday night (at the earliest), and cries as she says she'll see her Monday. The tears make Gretchen and me think it's a lie. Lydia the Tattooed Lady isn't sure what good someone as innocent as Claire will be to Samuel (but then, she doesn't know what he's up to, now, does she?), but he says she's not the one he's after. Given that Nathan reminded Peter to take care of Claire, could it be him?
Or maybe it's Bennet, since Samuel's obsession with him is still going strong. This week he sends a new eyeliner-bedecked friend (a multiplier, or "The Replicating Man," depending on whether you're asking bag-and-taggers or carnival planners) to get files from HRG, which the guy has no problem accomplishing, since Lauren and HRG (on a date that ends up being more of a recon mission) give chase from him, leaving him alone with the files. So, now we have Sylar on the loose, Claire at the carnival, HRG and Lauren hunting for her, depressed Peter, missing Hiro and Parkman (and Tracy and Mohinder and Ando and... you get the picture). But we don't get another episode until January 4th. The good news is that there are no episodes until January 4th.
Previously (said, notably, by Adrian Pasdar): Lauren had Thanksgiving with HRG, and then he asked her on a real date. The Petrellis had a disturbing Thanksgiving in which Sylar-as-Nathan found out he was actually Sylar, but Peter promised to bring him back. Claire stole her dad's compass and set off for the carnival. Lydia the Tattooed Lady went back in time with Hiro and watched Samuel kill his brother, Joseph.
No fancy chyrons, just white letters on black background tells us this is "Chapter Eleven: The Fifth Stage." Then Lydia's walking through the carnival in a flowy, pink shirt. She finds Samuel and tells him she knows the truth, but she has a daughter to look after, so his secret is safe with her. Wow, that's quite a reversal from her reaction last week, isn't it? A guy with even heavier eyeliner than Samuel's or Lydia's shows up and asks if Samuel wanted to see him. Samuel starts talking about how he reads the newspaper, and it makes him wonder if we're destined to be the last generation of our species. The guy doesn't give it much thought, but Samuel spins around and talks to another version of this guy. He asks him if he'll be his new right-hand man (or men) now that Edgar's gone. It would be Eyeliner's honor, so Samuel tells him he needs some files from Noah Bennet's apartment. And he can definitely bring along his "friends." (Oh, and I guess the multiplier/replicator/cloner's name is Eli, so I'll go ahead and call him that. Though I don't think we learned that on this episode, but in the graphic novels, which I don't read.) Title card.
Bennet's staring at a newspaper (what's with it with newspaper in this episode; haven't these people heard of Twitter?) articles about the compass and the sinkhole, a post-it that says just "Danko," another one that says "Samuel," photos of Danko's dead body, and some other sciency-looking articles. Then he writes, "How does the compass work?" on another post-it, and sticks it up there. So ... not really getting very far, is he? He's interrupted by a knock. It's Lauren, looking lovely in her own eyeliner. He says he could have easily picked her up, since she lives closer to the theater, but she says she asked him out so she's picking him up. She asks if he's okay with that, and he says he is, but it's so long since he's dated he sort of skipped over the sexual revolution. She asks who said anything about sex, and he realizes what he's just said. Oops. But instead of dwelling on it, they move on to talk about his wall of weird. And she pronounces compass like "CALM-pus," which bugs me. Is that how people say it? Anyway, it's basically all leading up to him realizing Claire stole his compass. He calls her and leaves a voicemail that he knows she took it, and to please stop doing whatever she's doing now, because it's much more dangerous than she knows. Lauren cutely says, "Let me guess: We're not going to the movies?" Then she asks for Claire's number and says working for the CIA has some benefits, one of which is the ability to triangulate cell phone signals (using Google maps! Is that product placement?). Bennet thanks her for being so awesome.
Then we transition to a close-up of the compass in Claire's hand, and it pans out to Gretchen saying, "We came all this way to go to a carnival?" Claire guesses, since the compass is pointing right at it. (I'm skeptical about the practical use of this particular compass, especially by someone like Claire.) Claire says she never really took the "freak show" thing literally before. Back in New York, Peter's getting off work when his mom shows up to tell him he needs to leap over all the other stages of grief and get right to acceptance. That's easy for her to say, since she's been living in denial since last season's finale. But Peter's his mother's son, because he insists Nathan's in there, with Sylar. He says he's going to fight Sylar and take him down once and for all. She wonders how he's going to fight him with his powers, and the Haitian shows up. Peter says it won't be too hard once he takes the powers away. He thanks Rene for coming, and Angela tries to stop him, but he won't. She asks what happens if he finds there's no Nathan to get back. Peter: "I guess I'll just settle for revenge."
Claire and Gretchen are out of the car, but Claire's having second thoughts. Gretchen will have none of it, though, since they've been driving for over twenty-one hours. That's a long drive to make Thanksgiving night when you have school the following Monday, especially since it's roundtrip. Or maybe the compass led them in circles and all over the place and the drive back will be, like, ten hours. That would be nice. Claire says it was a stupid idea, and what if they run into psycho Becky. Gretchen says Claire will protect her, won't she? Then she tells her she's here to support her no matter what, because they've been on the road for a day, but Claire's been on it her entire life so she must at least check it out. Samuel comes out of the carnival and tells Claire he's glad she could make it. She smiles, but she doesn't look so sure she's glad she could make it.
In the carnival, Samuel gives Gretchen and Claire free passes to everything. He asks if they like carnivals, and Gretchen says she guesses. Claire's the friendly, happy one now, and Gretchen's suddenly the skeptic -- a quick change from that parking lot conversation, if you ask me. Samuel says they're on the move, from town to town, at least until they find a better, more permanent way to live. Then he gives them popcorn. He's the weirdest character ever. He tells them to stay until they've finished their boxes of popcorn, meet everyone, then after it's gone, he'll walk them to their car and they can leave. They agree. Gretchen wonders what they're supposed to be looking at, and Claire doesn't know, but she's got lots of popcorn left. They enter a circus where Samuel's voice is inviting people to step right up to see Lydia the Tattooed Lady's skin. We also see posters of Eli, advertising "The Amazing Replicating Man." And Lydia's "Tattoo Girl." That's original. Someone lets Claire and Gretchen into the tent, where Lydia's back is on display. Gretchen thinks Lydia's sexy back looks promising. Lydia tells them to ask a question, then take her hand. Claire asks if it's like a crystal ball, and Lydia breathes, "Something like that." Claire touches Lydia and asks if she's supposed to be here. A tattoo on Lydia's back shows Claire in her cheerleader uniform with an "Indestructible Girl" banner. Claire wonders if she'll have a circus act, but Lydia says this is Claire's desire, not the future. Because who doesn't desire to be in the circus? Gretchen, uneasy, suggests they get out of there.
Peter hops in a hospital elevator, which might as well be on Grey's or Private Practice once we find out who bumps into him here. Oh, but it's just Hiro's nurse. But once the elevator's closed and they greet, the nurse grabs Peter and chokes him. When the elevator opens, the nurse is Sylar, who has Peter's bag and is going through all the medications Peter had hoped to use to knock him out. Sylar: "You shouldn't have. No, seriously, you really, really shouldn't have." The ticking has a much more musical sound to it, less subtle. Which is appropriate considering how much less subtle Sylar and Zachary Quinto have gotten. Peter gives chase and Sylar slowly walks after him. He asks Peter if his plan was to syringe him in the neck with drugs, then adds, 1 2 3 4 5Next