Deception. It’s what most “Heroes” fans thrust upon themselves to digest the show at this point in its run. While there have been some tolerable aspects to the “Redemption” volume (the Claire/Gretchen relationship, Emma, the notable lack of Suresh), in general the carnival plot simply hasn’t gone anywhere. A villain with a lack of discernable motivation, coupled with too many plots not directly tied to the big top, has led to a sprawling, disconnected mess in which the high points have been buried under three rings of muck.

But enough with the metaphors, onto the review!

[More on Monday's (Jan. 25) "Heroes" after the break...]

Boulevard of Broken Dreams

In hindsight, Peter should not have taken his mother’s power of prophetic dreams. Sure, he thought he’d pull a “Back to the Future 2” and snag some sports scores before the games occurred. But all he got were visions of his new friend inadvertently playing the “Heroes” version of Megadeath’s “Symphony of Destruction,” ending with Sylar apparently making a heroic save. It’s all terrifically confusing and depressing for him.
He visits his mother to learn Sylar’s current whereabouts. “He’s never far from my thoughts,” she says. I assume she means she’s always thinking about him due to Nathan’s murder, but it comes off more like, “I just want Sylar to hold me one last time.” It’s a little creepy. Anyways, she points him due Parkman, knowing that the Peter Petrelli Friendship Express can’t be derailed by potential death at Sylar’s hands.
Why is Sylar at Parkman Place? Glad you asked!

Another Brick in the Wall

The Sylar/Parkman plot played out, for the most part, the way you’d expect after Sylar’s breakthrough with Claire last week. In short: he wants Parkman to rebuild the mental blocks placed at the end of last season. (Because that worked out so well last time. Cough.) By doing so, Sylar theorizes that he’ll regress into Gabriel, free from both powers and the temptations to use them. In short, he’s planning on using the ol’ “the powers made me do it!” defense should he ever find himself in court for murder. At least the show hasn’t assigned Sylar The Twinkie Defense. Yet.

Sylar envies Parkman’s ability to compartmentalize his life, balancing both a family and the ability to turn anyone’s head into silly putty. (The fact that Sylar envies a life in which Parkman has to constantly stare at Janice’s hair-cut shows how truly bad his life is.) Unable initially to reblock Sylar, Matt gains motivation when Sylar threatens Janice’s life. This leads to some absolutely horrific lines, lines that made me embarrassed for the actors involved.

Sylar: “The powers are me now.”

Parkman: “Come on, we’re people first.”

Right about then, I wished that Samuel would show up and raze that house to the ground lest I have to hear another wooden line of dialogue. But instead, we got something almost as cool: a brief glimpse into the world of Evil Parkman. If I were to ever write “Heroes” fanfic, it would definitely expand the show’s occasional glimpses into Parkman giving in to the darker impulses that turned his father into The Nightmare Man. Locking Sylar away in a nightmare world with literally no one else, feeding Sylar’s deepest fears of isolation? Awesome! Bricking him up inside the walls of his unfinished basement as he lay comatose? Double awesome! More please!

Unfortunately, Peter managed to suck all of the evil fun out of the room. He arrives at Parkman’s place, absorbs Matt’s power, and instantly tries to undo Parkman’s work. Instead of releasing his nemesis, however, Peter sucks himself into the opening shots of Cameron Crowe’s “Vanilla Sky.” All that was missing was Radiohead’s “Everything in its Right Place.” Silly Peter. Have fun carpooling back to reality next week with Sylar.

Shot in the Dark

In light of killing over two hundred people in the wake of Vanessa’s rejection, Samuel isn’t exactly the BMOC (Big Man on Carnival) anymore. He worries that Lydia might be trying to undermine his authority, which might lead to his expulsion or the dispersal of his source of power: the denizens that make up the carnival.

Enter Claire Bennett. Or rather, The Dumb Version of Claire Bennett, re-introduced this week in order to prevent the successful completion of the plot. She sat out last week as I started to like Claire again. Silly me. Anyways, prompted by Gretchen, Dumb Claire tries to repair her relationship with Noah. But in bringing coffee unannounced to his place, she finds a veritable crime lab dedicated to all things Carnival. Worried that her father’s obsession will affect not just Samuel but those she feels are innocent around him, she ignores the advice of both Lauren and Gretchen and makes a bee line for the big top.

Her arrival gives Samuel the ability to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. He pretending to give himself up to Noah, making a big speech about HRG’s nearby presence to the entire carnival. Eli’s multiples then shoot unseen from the dark woods halfway through his “farewell” speech. Eli’s a pretty good shot, since he manages to miss Samuel’s vital organs but hit Lydia right in the chest. With his biggest rival gone, and a straw man to blame, Samuel’s little mass murder seems to be water under the carnie bridge by episode’s end. Two birds, one stone, and one dead empath.

Things only get better for Samuel when Emma arrives on scene. He notes that with her there, they can create a new world. I’m guessing Samuel knows the right notes, not to make the world “sing” so much as “burn to the ground.” Moreover, he’ll use Doyle’s puppeteering to make Emma play against her will to bring about said new world. (I kind of love that what seemed like the most useless ability of the season might actually end up being the most terrifying. Nicely done, “Heroes.” See? I’m not all mean!) The ep wraps up with a St. Crispen’s Day-esque speech, as Samuel rallies his troops for war.

 

Other tidbits from tonight’s ep:

** Hey, the show remembered that Ali Larter is in its cast! I was worried they had forgotten. I couldn’t tell if her annoyed look at receiving Lauren’s call was in-character or a meta statement on her use this season. Ray Park was back as well, but neither did anything other than remind “Heroes” fans just how badly the show’s balanced its overstuffed cast of characters. Let’s hope a Samuel-created earthquake swallows some up to make room for a more manageable roster next time around.

** Sylar saying “Take a load off, have a nosh!” made me giggle more than a little.

** Note to Parkman: when a psychopath is trying to go straight, repeatedly calling him “psychopath” does not help. At all. It’s like answering “no” when someone asks you if you’re a god: it’s just a bad idea.

** Should we be ignoring that fact that although Eli stole every file Noah had on the carnival a few weeks ago, they all magically reappeared this week? Probably.

There are a lot of balls currently in the air. Too many for a show so late in its season. Were I a juggler in, say, a carnival, I could tell you how to stop them from hitting the floor as the show reaches the end of this arc. But I’m not. All I know is that Emma’s due to play “World Destruction in D minor” sooner rather than later. How many of the show’s major players will be in the carnival to hear her tune?

And how many of you will be around to hear it yourself? Sound off on this episode below!