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.