It’s a rough holiday for just about everybody this week, as things really start moving toward a conclusion for the ongoing story and a number of lost characters pop back up again.
The episode starts with Samuel, watching old film of Suresh the Elder, who explains the notion of Samuel being more powerful as he’s in proximity to more people with powers. One thing I wonder—would being in proximity to someone like Sylar, who has the variety pack of powers just in one body, be demonstrably better for him than being near any other random special?
Hiro comes knocking on the door, demanding satisfaction from Samuel as it relates to Charlie’s whereabouts. Samuel refuses to help, and makes a number of references to it being Thanksgiving before slinking offscreen.
Noah and Claire, on the phone in the next sequence, are also making some holiday plans: without her brother there, Claire agrees to come and be a buffer between her father, and her mother and her mother’s boyfriend. As soon as the phone call ends, we’re treated to the reappearance of Lauren, Noah’s partner from a few episodes ago (who had ostensibly been his friend and coworker in season one, although this is her first actual appearance). After some small talk, during which Noah drops the “ex-wife” reference, Lauren offers to help him prepare Thanksgiving dinner for his family (since, she reasons, he’s obviously pretty clueless, based on the enormous, still-frozen turkey in his cart on Thanksgiving morning); it’s about five seconds before she asks the number of people he’s meant to be serving and he adds her to it.
Cut to Nathan Petrelli, who’s asleep with a bottle of what looks like gin or vodka in his hands while Peter watches him toss and turn. There’s a knock at the door and Angela comes in, wishing them happy Thanksgiving and bringing with her a pair of waiters in tuxedos and a catered turkey dinner. Peter confronts her immediately about what she (and Bennett and Parkman) did to Nathan and Sylar. Angela piles lies upon lies to try and preserve her original deception, until finally she’s cornered with a direct question. Nathan, waking up, enters the room and demands she answers it, but she refuses to do so until her sons sit down with her for Thanksgiving dinner to discuss the issue as a family. The boys agree, but Nathan’s face shifts a bit as she walks away.
Back at Noah’s apartment, Claire enters and wants to talk to her father about something important, but as each other character—first Lauren, then Sandra and her boyfriend Doug—enters the scene, Noah keeps having to break away from her concerns to deal with them. He also spends a good deal of energy trying to convince his ex-wife and daughter that Lauren is not his date.
When asked if he doesn’t like Thanksgiving, Hiro launches into an angry tirade against the Carnival. Telling Lydia that Samuel had broken his promise—that he had fixed the past, but that Charlie still hadn’t been presented—certainly caught her attention, as well as Ray Park’s super-fast knife-wielder, who asks Lydia “If the time-traveler fixed the past, where’s Joseph?” A pretty obvious question, given that it was Joseph’s death that supposedly touched off Samuel’s recent flurry of activity. Lydia pulls Hiro aside and asks him what it is that he did for Samuel. He won’t answer, so she offers her the use of her powers to locate Charlie. After some comical, initial confusion about the reason she might take her shirt off for him, Hiro touches her back. A little emotional transference later, Lydia has him convinced to take her back eight weeks into the past to see what happened the day Joseph was killed, supposedly by a shadowy government agent; in fact, and as expected, Hiro and Lydia see Samuel confronting his brother after the revelations of last episode. Lydia, smelling a rat, ignores Hiro’s pleas to go back to the future and follows the pair as they go off into the night for privacy.
Back in the present, at Peter’s apartment, Angela comes clean to her sons and pleads with them to forgive her and remain a family. The deafening silence around the table speaks more than any dialogue that the writers could have put in the sons’ mouths.
At Noah’s, he’s toasting everyone for coming to his first-ever Bachelor Pad Thanksgiving; he takes special pains to thank Lauren for saving the dinner. Sensing that it might be awkward for his assumed date to be given a special toast, encourages Sandra to talk about her relationship with Doug. A moment later, though, Sandra’s asking hard questions about Primatech, and about Noah’s history with Lauren both professional and otherwise. Noah and Doug do their best to salvage some sense of decency at the table, but Claire’s dead-set on discussing her big issue, which is that she’s considering leaving college altogether.
Thanksgiving dinner at the Carnival finally sees Samuel noticing that Lydia and Hiro are gone, and then eight weeks ago the pair watch Samuel kill his brother. Turns out Joseph had called in a man from the government to take Samuel into custody. Having given the nameless man a compass, he provided Samuel with the story that he would later use to turn the Carnival family against the government and the rest of the special community. He regrets the murder almost immediately and cradles his dying brother, then thinks he sees something in the weeds and Hiro and Lydia are almost caught watching, as Hiro’s powers fail to jumpstart. Instants before Samuel would have come across them, the powers kick in and the pair disappear.
The Bennett family Thanksgiving gets better and better, when everyone gangs up on Claire, who’s insisting college isn’t the place for her. When Doug tries to interject with some feelgood platitudes about how everyone feels like a freak sometimes, but it passes, Claire mutilates a little bit of herself with a large knife to ask him if he thinks that will pass, too, and Doug feints as the wounds heal.
Hiro and Lydia return to the Carnival, where Lydia wants to tell the family about Samuel’s misdeeds but Hiro doesn’t want her to, for fear that it will keep him from ever seeing Charlie again. Samuel finds a weed from the field where he killed his brother in Lydia’s hair and eyes it suspiciously, calling Hiro to join him.
Back at Noah’s, everyone is tending to unconscious Doug, while the tension between Lauren and Sandra doesn’t seem to have gotten any easier to bear with Sandra’s new understanding that her daughter is about to drop out of an $80,000 a year college. Lauren says some of the right things, though, and Sandra seems to be calming down a little. Meanwhile, Claire asks her father what he’s doing tracking metahuman activity again, and he explains that Samuel—the same man who seems to have played a role in convincing his daughter to quit school on Thanksgiving—seems to be behind a lot of dangerous crap going on at the moment. After a protracted argument about whether or not a normal life is possible, Claire seems to be on the verge of stealing her father’s Carnival compass when he goes to answer the door, only to brighten up substantially when, instead of the Haitian come to wipe Doug’s mind, it’s Gretchen who enters.
Back at the Petrelli dinner, there’s more existential conversation, not entirely unlike what Nathan/Sylar had for us at the end of the last episode about how Peter can’t look at him without seeing Sylar. This time, though, it’s capped with “You should never have gone to Texas, Pete,” and then a lightning storm in the living room; screaming and running commences, Nathan collapses and Sylar stands up to deliver a brief Thanksgiving monologue and, apparently, force the Petrellis to sit down and have pie with him.
At the Carnival, meanwhile, Samuel is busy trying to frame Edgar (the speedster/knife guy, who Lydia had told about what she saw in the past) for the murder of Joseph. Hiro refuses to stand against Samuel for fear of what will happen to Charlie, and Samuel tries to do the whole rock-bullet thing and kill Edgar like he did his brother and like he thought he did Suresh. When Hiro freezes time, convincing Edgar to flee for his own safety instead of killing the helpless Samuel in the frozen moment, Samuel reasons to the crowd that only a guilty man would run in the face of such accusations. Still, Hiro has promised Edgar that they’ll eventually defeat Samuel, and shares a moment of silent understanding with Lydia when Samuel turns around.
Sylar, who had already admitted to being pretty ravenous, is apparently also quite a greedy eater; when we come back to the Petrelli family dinner, he’s gutted an entire pie apparently by himself. With Angela and Peter trapped in their chairs, he lectures them a little, talks some trash to Peter, and then delivers probably the best one-liner of the season, telling Angela that she’s “raised the evil incarnate bar to a whole other level,” and thanking her for giving him something to strive for. When Sylar tries to slice up Angela’s brain, though, he collapses in pain and it becomes evident that Nathan is still at least a little bit conscious in there; after repeated attempts on Mama Petrelli’s life, Sylar collapses and, when he raises his head again, it’s Nathan, asking her what she’s done to him. One has to wonder if, once Nathan is completely gone and Sylar is completely in charge again, there’ll still be a subconscious block that keeps him (at least temporarily) from taking direct action against the Petrellis.
Back at Noah’s apartment, Claire and Gretchen are playing catch-up; in spite of the insanity of life with Claire, apparently she’s still willing to try moving in again because the other girl, who is NOT being followed by serial killers with super-powers, is messy. Noah and Lauren exchange home phone numbers, making a movie date and establishing that, yes, they’re going to give HRG a love interest. Good for him—since the breakup of the family, he’s been a little lost. Besides, if Lauren’s really working for the CIA maybe she can help him to get a job he’s suited for, but that won’t be quite as heinous and evil as his last one. After playing the happy, contented daughter for a few minutes and praising Noah’s fatherhood skills for having invited her girlfriend over for Thanksgiving dinner, Claire goes out to the car and tells Gretchen that she wants to explore what the stolen compass (yeah, it wasn’t just a weird camera angle, she really did steal it) can do for her before they go back to school on Monday.
At the Carnival, Hiro finally stands up for himself, insisting that Samuel give him Charlie immediately in exchange for his continued assistance. Don’t cooperate, Hiro says, and he’ll leave. Samuel responds by bringing in the rasta flashback guy who had made Nathan/Sylar see Sylar’s history in the funhouse. He shows Hiro his whole life, after which Hiro promptly vanishes and Samuel asks rasta-psyche what he’s done.
In the final moments, Peter is nursing his mother’s minor head wound at his apartment. She’s despondent and defeated, insisting that Sylar’s too dangerous and it’s over. Peter insists that if he’s been able to rely on anything since he discovered his powers, it’s that anything is possible, and that he’ll find a way to save Nathan and kill Sylar.