Just when you thought Heroes might have a chance of getting good again, it comes back with an episode so bad that you'll yearn for the days when Hiro time-traveled to feudal Japan. Can't Sylar just die already?
In "The Five Stages," he can't. Which is just one of its many, many problems as an episode. Unfortunately it was also an episode where we finally get to take a good, long look at the carnival and it's so painfully pasteurized that you'll want to inject your eyes with heroin just to feel normal. So what's brewing among the carnies, anyway? Well, now that Hot Tattoo has told swordy Edgar that Samuel killed his brother, and Edgar escaped with help from Hiro, Samuel needs a new right-hand man. He picks a guy who has about a zillion right hands because he's a "multiplier," which means he can make a ton of copies of himself. In addition, this adds further evidence to the idea that every single power on Heroes was ripped off from X-Men. Honestly, they can't pay somebody to come up with a few cool, interesting powers that we haven't seen before?
Anyway Samuel is playing around with MultiBoy now, and asks him to deliver a message to HRG and the other Primatech emeriti. He also starts lecturing everybody within earshot about how awful the world is, and speculating about whether "we are the last generation on Earth." This lecture eventually merges spongily with a mishmash of Magneto-isms about how the mutants should live proudly out in the open (or at least in the scrubby fields of Southern Ohio) and have a homeland (in Southern Ohio). I think we all know what this mega-quake-causing dude is leading up to. MAKE US YOUR CARNIE RULERS OR WE'LL SHOVE THESE TECTONIC PLATES UP YOUR ASS.
Meanwhile, inexplicably, Hot Tattoo is still sucking up to Samuel even though she's said she knows what he did. I guess that's because her Sprint-sponsored daughter wants to stay in the carnival.
Then, in the only interesting subsubsubplot of the episode, Lauren comes over to HRG's place and he thinks he's on a date. When he confesses that he got married "before the sexual revolution," so he has no idea how to act, Lauren suddenly gets all weird and says, "Who said anything about sex?" Excuse me, missy, but I have a lot to say about you having sex with HRG because you guys are the only interesting couple on the show and you've been totally flirting with him. But OK, fine, I guess it's non-sexual flirting. I can accept that. But NO! I can't accept it because then when HRG gets a call and has to go to work, Lauren gets all up in his face and whiny about how he's canceling their date. WTF??? Are we on a date or not? And if we ARE on a date, then don't get all mean about how HRG used the word "sexual revolution." Is her mutant power killing anybody who has sex with her? Because if it's not, then she needs to be a little bit nicer when her DATE uses a phrase that contains the word sex. What is my point here? Don't fuck with my ship.
But in the meantime, on the date that might not be a date, Lauren isn't afraid to use all her CIA powers to help HRG use a phone to locate Claire and the carnival on Google maps. Did you know that SPRINT CAN USE TEH GOOG? Thankfully, Heroes has told you. Also, again with the bad product placement - why would you want to buy a phone that allows off-duty CIA agents to track you recreationally on Google? Isn't that bad somehow? My point ultimately is that Lauren and HRG are sublimating all that ambiguous sexual stuff into engaging in an extremely illegal game of stalk-the-Claire.
But that's just nothing compared to how Sylar and Peter are sublimating THEIR sexual tension. Oh my goodness. We join our buxom boys right after Mama Petrelli tells Peter that he hasn't entered the fifth stage of grief - you know, the one where you realize that your dead brother has been reconstituted as a mindfrak inside the head of a serial-killing mutant. So Peter, always the overachiever, decides to leapfrog right to the seventh stage of grief, where you take the powers of Rene the Haitian so that you can turn off Sylar's powers, beat the crap out of him, breathe heavily into his face while you lie on top of him dripping sweat and other bodily fluids, and tell him to give himself "body and soul" to your brother Nathan. Oh yeah, that stage of grief. We've all been there.
The fight scene between the newly-enhottened Peter and the always-smokin Sylar is probably the greatest moment in homoeroticism since I watched that Billy Herrington video. The fact is that Sylar has gone from being an extraneous character who should have died at the end of season 1, to being a cocktease for every person who wishes he would just have a giant gay mutant moment with Peter and then go around using his powers to turn every other hot guy on the show gay. Maybe they could bring back Invisible Man Christopher Eccleston for a Very Special Sylar Mutant Gay Episode. Seriously, how are we supposed to watch this "we are using wrestling as an excuse to give you some softcore homotastic moments" and not feel frustrated?