When we come back. Peter's actually putting nails into Sylar's hands. It's pretty graphic and disturbing, and Peter's loving it. He asks if it hurts, doesn't it, with no healing power. Then he puts a nail into Sylar's ... knee, perhaps? Peter wants to make a deal to get his brother back for good, but Sylar thinks it sounds pretty one-sided, and Peter's going to need a lot more nails in that thing. Peter throws the nail gun aside and says it's fine; he'll just take away everything in Sylar's brain until Nathan's the only thing left. Sylar would like to see him try. So he does. And that is actually not a bad idea. Sylar eventually becomes Nathan, and they smile and look happy, as Peter caresses Nathan's face. Neither of them mentions the fact that Nathan's nailed to a board, a la Jesus. Which you'd think would be one of the first things you'd notice if you came to after a period of time.
Gretchen and Claire are still roaming through the carnival. Claire's amazed at how all of these people have figured out a way to use their abilities. Gretchen points out they're carnie people, but Claire says at least they're living in the open. Gretchen, who I finally, actually like, says, "Yeah, in a freak show." Claire says having the government hunt you is worse, and she could be the girl who gets sawed in half. Gretchen mocks that that's something to aspire to. Then they happen upon that carnival game where you throw a ball and try to knock over three metal milk bottles. A guy's doing well until he ponies up more money and acts like a jerk (cutting in front of a cute little girl's turn), and then it's clear the carnie's causing his ball to go way off-course. The guy accuses the carnie of cheating, but Claire finds it delightful. She even explains to Gretchen how he's doing it. Gretchen thinks the carnie doesn't have a right to rip him off. Then the guy helps the little girl win, and even Gretchen's heart seems to warm. The popcorn's gone and Samuel arrives and says he hopes they liked what they saw. Gretchen says, "Not really." He asks them if they'd like to see back stage, where they live. Claire would, but Gretchen wouldn't. Samuel tells Gretchen she's welcome, since they don't exclude anyone here. Claire follows him.
Lauren and HRG have apparently narrowed Claire's whereabouts to all of Southern Ohio (is that actually a twenty-one-hour drive from D.C.?), which he says is like a needle in a haystack. Lauren's looking in his files, but he says she won't find any leads in there since the carnival's a nest they never came across. She wants to try cross-referencing some of his files with the CIA databases, though. He stares out the window, as Lauren tells him to let it go: Girls lie to their fathers; he's not the only one. He says he deserves it, since you reap what you sow. She tells him if he'd like to wallow, have at it. Go ahead and unload. He says he's driven everyone away with his suffocating need for control: Sandra, Claire. ... "You." She says this ought to be good, and he tells her they had something together at Primatech. She admits to thinking he was cute, but they never had feelings for each other. He tells her about their breakfasts and that she Haitianed herself. He says he didn't want to tell her like this, but she deserved to know. She asks if now that he's newly single, he thought he could reignite the flame. You can tell the answer's yes, but he doesn't want to say it.
There's a knock at the door, and Lauren instinctively turns off her Sprint-whatever-gadget that's helping her cross-reference files. It's Eli, of course, and he does introduce himself as such. He says he's an emissary from Sullivan Bros. Carnival and asks if he can come in. HRG says no, but his multiples are already all over the place. They don't want anyone to get hurt, so they'll take what they came for and be on their way. Lauren throws HRG a gun, but he shoots one of the fakes. They head to the bathroom, where she takes off her fancy shoes and he gets another gun from under the bathroom sink. She thinks that's awfully prepared. She calls Eli a multiplier and says something about how it took them two weeks to find the right one last time, so what's the plan. HRG says to shoot them all and hope for the best. If by "best," you mean someone bleeding all over your apartment. But as you've already figured out, Eli's long gone when they leave the bathroom, because the files were sitting out there, unguarded. They quickly put it together, too.
Backstage at the carnival, Samuel's telling a story to a bunch of kids, about an ogre. He's acting it out, and he would make a decent ogre. Which is sort of what he's presenting himself as in this story about a harmless ogre who scared adults, but kids knew better. Claire and Gretchen are discussing it from afar, and Gretchen thinks the con artistry isn't all that admirable, but Claire thinks doling out karma is okay. They're interrupted by Doyle, of all people, who Claire greets with a hug, of all things. I just don't think there's a situation where you ever hug the guy who forced your mom to shoot you, even if you do have healing powers. I know she helped him later and all, but still: It's not like it was ever warm. Doyle says he tried to stay under the radar, but it didn't work out until Samuel found him, and everything changed. He finally belongs and can be completely himself. Claire looks like she likes that, but this is Doyle, Claire. Do you really want to fit in where he does? He says he wants to talk to her about this if she'll be around awhile. She says she will. He leaves, and Gretchen wants to know how Claire's BFFs with a carnie. Claire explains that he kidnapped her and tried to get her mom to shoot her, but she got over it. Gretchen (and all viewers): "Excuse me?" But Claire's entranced, watching Samuel talk to the kids.
Samuel calls Claire over to tell the children their last story before bed. She tries to resist, saying she doesn't know any stories, but Samuel says we all do. She gets up and he sort of pulls her toward him. It's pretty telling that she's pulled away from Gretchen, toward Samuel. And she winds up in the circle the kids are in, with Samuel standing between her and Gretchen, who's fading into the distance. Claire's story is about a frog who lived with mom, dad, brother and a tadpole named Mr. Muggles. Hmmm. I wonder if this is about anyone we know? Gretchen asks Samuel what they want from her, and says it's not fair to toy with Claire's emotions when she's vulnerable. Samuel says we live in troubling times. He says families come in all shapes and forms, and they don't offer much here, but they do offer love, in ample supply. Claire's frog is getting to a point in the story where everything changes.
Nathan's healing, sitting next to Peter. He tells him he's tired. Peter knows. But Nathan says, "No. I mean, I'm tired." He says he's been trying to fight his way out, and he doesn't think he can anymore. Peter says he can, and then looks at him and starts to cry. He asks him to go get some air; he knows just the place. Our lovely Heroes music plays as they get up and walk out.
Back at the carnival, Claire's wrapping up her story, in which they save the Earth from total destruction and the frog goes back to its family and lives happily ever after. Samuel sends the children to bed, and one little girl hugs Claire. Why does it all feel like a set-up? Samuel tells Claire they love her. The guy from the rigged game earlier comes back and asks for the man in charge. He says they stole his money, but Samuel says they don't do that. The guy says it was rigged and he'd like his money back, but Samuel says they're games of chance and maybe the guy didn't possess sufficient skill. The guy punches Samuel an