(S01E11) Promos for this "fall finale" promised a stunning climax and that "a hero will die." Show creators can't be held accountable for, shall we say, the exuberance of the network publicity machine, but we do get a great episode this time that lives up to the hype. Bear with me, I kind of went overboard this week, with what I'll have to call an overly-extended review, but hey, it's the last episode until January 22nd anyway. Feel free to skim, my feeling won't be hurt.
Claire's Dad initially matches her honesty by revealing that he's known about her ability all along. Before tonight ends the new bond between them is turned on its head. That impressed me. HRG has become one of the most complex and interesting characters on the show. By the way, it's cool when characters actually communicate with each other; that then adds more conflict. It's great to see that happen again and again in this episode, as characters come together and talk about what they know, and to try and figure out just when the frak is going on.
An interesting plot point came up in that early scene between them, when HRG says there are others like Sylar out there; others who would want to kill Claire and people like her. Not necessarily people with Sylar's same ability and agenda, I don't think (but maybe) but definitely more enemies on the horizon. Claire thinks that is what is happening later, but the enemy is closer to home. Fascinating to see HRG switch so smoothly from loving father in one scene to ice cold interrogator in the next scene with Sylar, threatening to take Sylar apart like one of his own "timepieces" and see what makes him tick.
Later, you can see the pride in HRG's eyes when Claire holds her own against FBI Audry's questioning. He even allows her to talk to Peter alone, an example of the newfound trust between father and daughter, I thought. But the truth is that he already knows he's going to take all those memories away from her. It's especially hurtful to her when she discovers her only friend Zach's memories of her were stolen. That's moot. Claire will have to rediscover everything, which is a huge and depressing setback. Her father believes he is doing this to protect her, but it's still chilling. Especially when "the Haitian" says that he has wiped out Claire's mom's memories over and over again. Maybe that accounts for Mrs. Bennet's rather dazed demeanor much of the time.
The fallout from saving the cheerleader ends up driving more of the heroes to Odessa. Parkman and Hanson follow up on this latest Sylar sighting. Nathan flies down to bail out Peter. Hiro and Ando meet Isaac the artist. Hiro's so enthused about the encounter, he flashes him the traditional greeting of Vulcans, which he finds appropriate. Isaac might be thinking, "Uh oh, fanboy alert," judging from his initial expression.
Loved the "bitches and dogs" exchange about cops and fidelity between Parkman and his FBI partner, Hanson. Hanson's finally showing a bit of her personal side, which is no less tough, but a little less cynical than her professional persona. She gives Parkman some much-needed marriage advice: work at it, if you want to save it. Funny and cool scene when Parkman uses his abilities on Peter, and Peter adopts the ability and they start a feedback thought-reading loop, much to Agent Hanson's confusion. Later, when Hanson slips up and has that nice thought about Parkman, he reads it, much to her embarrassment. That's funny too.
Jessica clips D.L. in the shoulder and blows out his tires, which has to mean she didn't want him dead, as she later explains to Niki. She's killed enough already, that it wouldn't be an accident that she only winged him. There's a funny moment, when she passes a mirror and sees Niki staring out at her with deep concern. Jessica says, "What're you looking at?" Later Niki and Jessica have a power struggle. "You're part of me," say Niki, "you do what I say." "It doesn't work that way," replies Jessica. But if Niki learns to harness her Jessica side, then maybe she can join the ranks of the other heroes. When Jessica hurts Micah, Niki seems able to drive her evil sister away, at least for the moment. The entire family ends up in Peter's New York vision, so evidently they are essential in some way too, though they still seem furthest away from the macro-concerns of the other characters, thoroughly mired in their own problems.
Heh. Finding out that one cheerleader is dead, Hiro and Ando re-debate "save the cheerleader, save the world." Is it the if, then statement that Hiro , as the one whose future-self said it, claims it is; or an and statement like Ando assumes? Since so many fans have discussed this slogan for weeks, and NBC sure attempted to wring the hell out of it in promos, I found it hilarious watching two characters on the show splitting hairs and trying to parse the sentence for every possible interpretation. HIro, seems to sum it up in the end when he says, "Never mind," and "Get back on mission." There is an atomic blast to stop. Destiny calls, and Ando sensibly wishes that destiny would lose their number.
Peter and Claire get to talk and Claire finds out for the first time that she's not alone. A short-lived peace for the benighted cheerleader, I know. She initially thinks that Peter's power is identical to hers. When she finds out it isn't, and that Peter expected he'd probably be killed by the fall, she's amazed. "Kind of stupid, huh?" says Peter. Peter has made a valuable ally out of a grateful HRG, seemingly. But you can never tell with ol' Mr. Bennet.
Besides answering questions for each other, and the audience, a lot of new questions are raised. Hiro asks a big one. When the Artist tells him about his mural of an "exploding man," Hiro asks, "How do you stop an exploding man?" And he's soon got other worries to pile on top of that. Like how to find the sword in the Artist's painting, and how to avoid the Butterfly Effect if he has to go Jurassic and fight a dinosaur.
Eden, early on, proposes to HRG that she could make Sylar kill himself. The unseen higher-ups, evidently, want Sylar alive, as higher-ups generally do with very powerful evil beings in these type of situations. HRG is tempted, at least, to let her do it. The Haitian isn't just the strong silent type, he's actually mute, according to what Eden says in that scene. But he speaks to Claire later, of course. Maybe he only speaks in special circumstances. The Haitian seems to have two powers: the ability to block abilities, but also the amnesia power. At least one other character (besides Sylar, who steals abilities) has more than one power, and that's Peter who has precognitive dreams in addition to his mimic power. Not insignificantly, the Haitian's dampening power isn't absolute. Parkman is able, with great effort, to break through and pick up the name Sylar from him.
Before attempting to deal with Sylar. Eden frees Isaac to try to allow him to effect the future. A lot of viewers have suggested they thought Eden has her own agenda. Unfortunately her attempt to avenge Chandra Suresh's murder appears to be the end of her.
Damn! And I thought it would be bad if Sylar got Claire's ability! Now he has If he had Eden's whispering power, how do they stop that? I'm not sure how or why Sylar's abilities happened to return right at that moment so he could smash the glass and attack Eden. Did he have his abilities all along, and was he just pretending earlier with HRG until he could get close enough to Eden to steal her ability?
The show ends with Peter's revelatory vision, which was obscure enough to be interpreted many ways. Besides the fact that we see the downside of Peter's mimicry (does he absorb Radiation Man's ability and can't control it?) the other thing I though was significant was seeing Claire mouth the words "I'm sorry" to him. Who knows, at this point, what she did to be sorry for. Can't wait to find out. Meanwhile I'd love to hear theories.
By the way, if you're having trouble keeping names and faces straight, Wikipedia has a detailed character list, with photos. Very helpful, and a lot easier to load and navigate than the official NBC site. Lots of minor characters are included there, such as, Jackie Wilcox, aka the "other cheerleader."
UPDATE (3:18 pm) (5:57 pm): My thanks to those who have pointed out some things I might have misinterpreted in watching the show and preparing this overly-long review. According to some, Jessica did try to kill D.L. (it would seem) with her second shot, and he used his power to make her third shot pass harmlessly through himself, though that doesn't explain why she just wounded him in the shoulder with her first shot. As las6 points out in Comment #64, Jessica says that she "never misses."
Also, I didn't see Eden turn her gun on herself, to prevent Sylar absorbing his power. Some posters feel that the Haitian isn't going to wipe Claire's memory, but is eliciting her promise not to tell HRG that he hasn't.