Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009: the FMS year in review

Compared to last year, I really didn't pull my weight in 2009.  I will totally make excuses for it, saying the whole packing up and moving 2,500 miles away to restart the Mousehold in a brand new place, including having to find a brand new paying job, infringed on my heretofore sacred reading/watching/writing time.  That, and I may have been lazy at times.  Still, this year I accomplished:
  • I put up 172 posts (44 fewer than in 2008) and hit my two year anniversary
  • I watched and reviewed (or at least mentioned) 41 movies (again most on DVD but some in theaters)
  • I reviewed 35 books (9 more than last year)
  • I recapped Lost and Heroes; I gave up on Fringe early in the year; and I didn't do True Blood because I gave up HBO - but as soon as S2 comes on on DVD, I'm picking those recaps back up for sure - can't wait!
  • The best books I read this year were Deerskin, Under the Banner of Heaven and American Gods
  • The worst book I read was The Mermaid Chair
  • The best (best enjoyed) movies I saw this year were Let the Right One In, Drag Me to Hell, The City of Lost Children, Lady Vengeance, Rear Window and District 9
  •  I started a whole new blog
Again, thank you all so much for your patronage, your interest and your comments this year. I'm still having a blast over here and am looking forward to the coming year, with the return of Lost (and Lost recaps) and many, many more movies, shows and books to explore and share with you. 'Til then, my best wishes to you all for a happy, healthy and entertaining 2010!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Book review: Furies of Calderon by Jim Butcher

Since I had to request the first couple of books in the Dresden Files series from the library, I picked up another Jim Butcher opus to read in the meantime: Furies of Calderon: Book One of the Codex Alera. This is the book Butcher always wanted to write – a swords-and-sorcery fantasy – but had to bide his time and hone his craft on urban fantasy first.

The land of Alera teems with life. There are the civilized people, feudal and agrarian, ultimately ruled by a First Lord but most of whom live out their lives in isolated, independent holds; and there are the savages, lurking at the borderlands, from whom the civilized people must be protected. The Alerans have special bonds with the “furies,” elemental spirits of air, water, fire, earth, wood and metal who imbue their human partners with superhuman powers. The stronger the fury, the more powerful the individual. So when young Tavi, a fifteen year old would-be shepherd in the Calderon valley, fails to bond with any furies whatsoever, he must endure scorn and ridicule, and learn to fend for himself. It’s a good thing Tavi is clever and quick because there are plots afoot in Alera, political machinations that threaten to disrupt the existing peace, and the rise of invading hordes. Tavi befriends Amara, a Cursor (warrior messenger) in the service of the First Lord, who, loyal to the core, is trying to protect her land and her Lord despite being betrayed and beaten down at every turn.

This is pretty standard, although well-written and carefully plotted, traditional fantasy fare. There are sword fights and pitched battles and Healing of wicked wounds. There are not-human beasties – direwolves and gargants (woolly mammoth-ish pack animals) and herdbanes (evil, aggressive pseudo-ostriches) and giant, poisonous spiders. There are quests and redemptions and lost heroes and fair women with secrets. The enthusiastic book jacket blurbs compare Furies of Calderon to Tolkien; Butcher’s work is not nearly as weighty as Tolkien’s, but it brings the reader into an exciting, interesting new world. It starts off with a bang and keeps building from there – I even admit to staying up ‘til midnight to finish the last couple of chapters.

I do have one very minor quibble with the book and that is with respect to Butcher’s naming conventions. Most of the characters have standard-issue fantasy names – Fidelias, Isana, Beritte, Doroga, etc. – but a few are more plebian, like Bernard, Fred and Otto. I found this jarring and strange. Other than that minor point, however, the Codex Alera has gotten off to a strong start and I will be checking in on them again to see how the series progresses.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Movie review: Shredder

As you may or may not know, Mr. Mouse and I moved from Maine to Utah this fall, in large part because of the snow.  We're skiers, you see, and Utah claims to have "the greatest snow on earth."  Says so right on their license plates so it must be true.  It's been a slow start to the snow thus far but we have gone skiing together twice; the first time was at Brighton, a cute little ski resort at the top of Big Cottonwood Canyon.  The day we went there was decent snow, great views from the top, and about eight million snowboarders.  I joke, of course - it wasn't at all crowded - but truly, the snowboarders outnumbered the skiers about 3 to 1 which was a little disconcerting.  Frickin' knuckledraggers.

Actually, the 'boarders were quite well-behaved for their species and it was a very nice day on the slopes.  Still, when we got home and the movie in our mailbox was Shredder, a cheesy slasher in which a masked skier kills a bunch of snowboarders, Mr. Mouse acquiesced to watch it with me.  He may not like slasher flicks, but he likes snowboarders even less.

Here's the plot, what there was of it: a couple years ago, a ski resort tried to bar shredders from their slopes.  (The movie was filmed on location at Silver Mountain in Kellogg, Idaho; the real Silver Mountain does, in fact, allow snowboarders.)  Three local 'boarders decided to poach some trails and, in their typical out of control fashion, ended up running a little girl (a skier, of course) off the trail and into a tree.  Shortly thereafter, the snowboarders disappeared, never to be seen again, and the locals proclaimed the ski resort haunted.  A couple of years after the resort closed, a bunch of teenaged slasher fodder trespass for the weekend, looking to rip up some freshies all by themselves.  The "Evil Skier" finds them and typical slasher film rules apply as the stoners, sluts and morons all get picked off one by one.

This is not a good movie.  The writing and acting is really bad; the continuity between scenes is awful (Mr. Mouse and I had to keep up a running commentary to figure out what was going on); and the 'boarding isn't that exciting - Warren Miller, where are you when we need you?  Some of the kills were pretty good, if terribly fake: an icicle through the chest is clever; and one girl gets strangled when her scarf gets entangled in the chairlift ... but what's hysterical is that NO ONE NOTICES and she keeps spinning around and around as the chairlift keeps turning.  Mr. Mouse even figured out who the killer was way in advance - pretty good work for his first slasher flick.

One of the best things about Shredder is that it's short.  It's a brainless slasher that is certainly entertaining enough (Mr. Mouse, who has fallen asleep during far better films, actually stayed awake for the whole thing), recalling 1980s slashers in its foolishness.  You could do worse - although not a whole lot worse - but if you're a skier looking for some virtual payback on the 'boarder who ran over your ski tails in the lift lines, this silly movie fits the bill.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

'Twas the night before Christmas

... and we wish you good cheer, from those of us at the Mouse House for all through the year. 

Have a glorious Hanuchristmakwanzukkah - or Festivus, if that's your thing - and I'll see you real soon!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Book review: Dead Beat: a Novel of the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher

As any of you who have read the book reviews here before well know, my favorite novels tend towards escapist stuff: fantasy, mystery and horror. Imagine my delight when I stumbled upon a series that combines these exact three genres: the Dresden Files books, by Jim Butcher. I’m not exactly sure what led me here – I think I was poking around on and watched an episode of the eponymous and now-defunct SciFi series loosely based on the books – but I picked up Dead Beat on my last trip to the library ( I love the library!) and finished it last night, staying up ‘til nearly midnight to do so.

Harry Dresden is a wizard whose magically-inclined parents are now dead, and who fights on the side of good against the powers of darkness. This is all Dresden has in common with that other wizard named Harry. Dresden lives in modern-day Chicago, operating an under the radar wizardry business and also assisting the Chicago PD (particularly his current crush, cop Karin Murphy) with the weirder cases. He lives in a basement apartment with his dog Mouse, his cat Mister, and his super-intelligent spirit in a skull, Bob; he is off the grid because being a wizard wreaks havoc with technology; and he is a sucker for damsels in distress.

In Dead Beat, Dresden encounters some serious Big Bad: in an attempt to save Murphy’s reputation from a blackmailing vampire boss, he stumbles upon a plot by six competing necromancers to resurrect an army of dead spirits, and basically subsume the newly-risen dead to deify themselves with stolen eldritch powers the world hasn’t seen for millennia. Harry has to call upon all his allies – werewolves, his vampire half-brother, a cowardly polka-loving mortician, the suspicious Wardens of the White Council, a ruthless faerie queen and a fallen angel – help him save the city on Halloween.

There is a whole lot going on in this book and author Jim Butcher does a great job of keeping all the balls in the air. In fact, Dead Beat is the seventh book in the Dresden Files series (which I didn’t realize because my copy didn’t list all the titles in the front of the book) and yet I was still able to figure out who everyone was, and what was going on. Butcher has his main character allude to past occurrences with just enough detail for a newbie like me to garner perspective without over-expositing for fans who have been with him from the beginning.

Based on this one volume, I’m going to say that the Dresden Files novels are fun, with a main character/narrator who is full of conflict and foibles and wry humor. I’m thrilled to have found a new series to work my way through and you better believe that I’m going to go back and start from the beginning (– and won’t you all be glad to have a break from Gaiman and Pratchett?).

Note: The SciFi television series is very different from the books and Jim Butcher apparently posted on his website when it first aired that the show was rather an alternate universe, based loosely on the books but by no means faithful to them. I’ve watched 3.5 episodes and it’s okay, better than average for SciFi’s stuff, but not even close to the quality of BSG (or Angel, to which it bears similarity as well).

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Movie review: 3:10 to Yuma (2007)

I've said before that I'm partial to Westerns.  I like the grit, the morality play, the harshness of the landscape.  3:10 to Yuma is a strong entry in the genre.  Christian Bale plays Dan Evans, a nearly defeated rancher, a former Easterner wounded in the Civil War, whose cattle are dying of thirst, whose neighbor is trying to force him off his land and whose wife and sons have doubts about his ability to provide for them.  Russell Crowe is Ben Wade, a very successful outlaw, running a scruffy, disreputable crew who has robbed the railroad twenty-two times, to the tune of $400,000.  When Wade lingers in town after his last job, trying to spend some time away from his nasty gang, he is captured, although he doesn't seem to upset about it.  Evans ends up as part of the posse transporting the outlaw to the town of Contention to meet the prison train in order to collect reward money that will keep his ranch, and family, alive.

The cast is a loaded one.  In addition to Bale and Crowe, there's Alan Tudyk as the town doctor, Peter Fonda as the head Pinkerton in charge of bringing Wade in, Luke Wilson as someone scruffy with bad teeth, Gretchen Mol as Evans's wife and Ben Foster, who is fantastic as Wade's obsessively loyal second in command.  Bale and Crowe are both fantastic here, terrific actors who through the course of the film segue from animosity and disdain for each other to a grudging acceptance and even respect.  Bale is particularly good as an honest man getting more than he bargained for while trying to restore his family's faith in him.

The problem, for me, was the very ending of the movie.  Mr. Mouse gave 3:10 to Yuma a C, unable to account for the 180 degree turn Ben Wade makes at the very end (I'm trying to not entirely spoil the thing here).  I'm not judging quite so harshly, surmising that perhaps since Wade has come to like and admire Dan Evans, he is possibly willing to go back to the prison from which he has already escaped twice, to help Evans out.  It even makes sense to me that Wade could turn on his own men in the end, sick of associating with such "animals," as he deemed them earlier.  But still, it's such an awfully big change that seemed to come in a rush at the end that it just doesn't sit quite right.  I don't need everything wrapped up in a happy ending, and, in fact, prefer that many Westerns do not, but I need the characters to stay true to themselves.  Ben Wade changed just too much for me to really believe in it.  However, not everyone feels this way - Roger Ebert loved this movie, for example - and I think it's worth a viewing to make up your own mind about it.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Gone gaga

Don't know how it happened exactly, but I saw Lady Gaga's video for "Bad Romance" recently and have become rather enamoured of it, even going so far as to download the song for my iPod.  The video is marvelous, creepy and glam - like what might happen if Madonna and Guillermo del Toro made a music video together.  Lady Gaga is clearly the heir-apparent to Madonna's genius of timing and self-promotion but actually surpasses the Material Girl in terms of visual art.  This guy explains the Gaga-phenomenon much better than I ever could.  (Also, he seems to have a lot of time on his hands to have been able to come up with all that.)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The not so long goodbye

As we all know, Dollhouse is getting the boot after having never really found its footing audience.  That's too bad because I think it was a better show than most people thought, especially in the more recent episodes (and any not focusing on Eliza Dushku's character, Echo).  Fortunately, Fox has promised to air all the remaining episodes - and Joss has promised that they only get better and better - through to the end.  They're up to E8 so there are three (six? bad t.v. blogger/Whedon fan for not knowing) episodes to go.

And you can catch them on if you miss them on Friday nights.  I myself am guilty of that what with a DVR still MIA from the mousehold.  But I've watched the last four episodes in the last two days and highly recommend them.  I think I'm actually going to go back and watch E6 ("The Left Hand") again, mostly because Enver Gjokaj (the Doll Victor) is a revelation.  I really hope this kid gets more work and soon.  Gjokaj is a gifted impersonator (impressionist?) and his scenes with Fran Kranz (Topher Brink) are nothing short of brilliant:  Topher, sent out of the Dollhouse on a mission, imprints Victor with his own brain scan so he can hold down the fort back at the lab; Victor's mimicry of Topher is uncanny and hilarious.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Marketing geniuses

Heroes returns with an "all new" episode on Monday, January 4th, 2010, so y'all can start getting excited about that now.  But really ticks me off is that Mohinder is prominently displayed on the show's home page.  Since he has scarcely figured into this season so far (thank you!), that makes no sense ... unless he's going to be more prevalent in the second half of the season (noooooooooooo!).  Ugh: Mohinder.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Mini movie review: The Monster Squad

We finally got the DVD player hooked up (although now the cable will only work if the DVD player is actually on - I have no idea how we got it to work otherwise in our last house but, obviously, a television from the 21st century and all the accompanying connections would work better) and I watched my first movie since August.  Digression:  I can't believe it's been that long since I've seen a movie!  I've missed so much in the theaters but also, not even anything on DVD.  That's what happens when you move to a place where the weather is actually nice most of the time so you can be outside actually doing things and not stuck inside watching things while it rains.

So, anyway, The Monster Squad.  What a hoot!  Like the Goonies before them, a bunch of misfit kids - a rebel, a fat kid, a nerd with a beagle, a boy whose parents are probably divorcing - have banded together, united by their love for old time movie monsters.  When Dracula arrives in town in search of a mystical amulet, and bringing Frankenstein's Monster, the Wolfman, the Mummy and a Creature from the Black Lagoon knockoff with him, it's up to the kids to stop them.

This movie is Very Eighties, what with the hair, the clothes, the un-PC epithets and the soundtrack, but it holds up surprisingly well.  The monsters are good, Stan Winston working his usual magic there, and certainly scary enough for a PG movie.  There are some swears, although nothing stronger than "shit" and "asshole," and some mostly non-gory violence (a couple of vampire stakings, people getting thrown into walls, the Wolfman getting blown to bits). 

Despite my jaded palate, I found The Monster Squad enjoyable and entertaining, completely holding my interest for its entire 82 minute run.  A lot of movie bloggers I've read always include this movie in lists of classic, fun, must-see monster movies, holding close to the traditions of the genre and having a blast while doing it.  Now that I've finally seen it, I have to agree with them - The Monster Squad is a lot of fun.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Creepy comics

I may be a recent convert to horror movies but I've never found myself actively seeking out horror comics.  It has been much to my surprise then to find how horrific the comics I have been reading actually are.  Not Buffy, even with the vampires and werewolves and skinned Warren, but Neil Gaiman's The Sandman Volume Two: The Doll's House and Alan Moore's Swamp Thing: The Curse.

The Doll's House continues the fascinating and eloquent saga of Dream, Lord Morpheus of the Endless, as he continues to reassert his control over his realm.  He learns that four of his major dreams escaped while he was incarcerated: Brute and Glob, ogre-ish/gargoyle-ish tricksters; the Corinthian, a horrific nightmare with sharp-toothed mouths where his eyes should be; and Fiddler's Green, a peaceful, beautiful place.  Dream is not well pleased and heads out into the world to track these errants down.  His story, however, is not the main one of this volume: the focus here is young Rose Walker.  Rose is having a very interesting life of late.  She discovers a grandmother she never knew, loses and then finds her younger brother, and finally is shown to have some dream powers of her own, which eventually draws Morpheus to her.  His hunt for his missing dreams intersects with Rose's life rather dramatically, first interceding on her behalf when she finds herself in the middle of a serial killers' convention, then claiming her life as forfeit so as to save the world from chaos.  These are very dark stories here, involving child abuse, madness and, as I mentioned, a convention of serial killers.  There are all sorts of monsters in our lives, both in our dreams and outside of them, and Gaiman very skilfully draws them out into the light.

Swamp Thing: The Curse is a sophisticated little book too.  At first I resisted it, thinking it overly preachy as Swamp Thing did battle with a crazed and horrific individual called "Nukeface," who seeks out and imbibes nuclear waste.  (The stories collected in this volume were from 1985 and nuclear power was rapidly growing as a source for electricity and obviously on people's minds.)  Then, as I kept reading, Swamp Thing made the acquaintance of John Constantine (a/k/a "Hellblazer") who nudged him towards vampires (underwater ones, no less), zombies and a werewolf who was having a very bad day.  Horror classics to be sure but also, according to Constantine, the harbingers of Something Much Worse.  I'm afraid that I'll have to keep reading just to see what that something could possibly be.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Don't abandon all hope, ye who enter here

As I mentioned here, the arrival of the in-laws is imminent and posting will be even lighter than it's been. If that's at all possible - jeesh, FM, you have gotten Lame.  But I'm promising good things to come: I've read the next Sandman volume; and since I now have a job, I've reinstated my account and have a DVD poised and ready.  It'll be Monster Squad all around ... just as soon as I can get Mr. Mouse to help me hook up the DVD player.

In the meantime, Bacon Today has a post about something that combines two of my very favorite things: bacon and alcohol.  At the Anchor Bar in Superior, Wisconsin, they're serving up the Pancake Breakfast Shot, "a shot of alcohol that tastes like a plate of syrupy pancakes with a side of bacon."  The recipe sounds a little sweet - 1/2 shot butterscotch liquer, 1/2 shot strawberry schnappes, strip of crispy bacon to soak; served chilled or room temperature - and if I were to try it at home, I think I might go with a fruit-flavored vodka instead of the schnappes.  The Bacon Today reviewer called it a winner and I'm thinking it might be a nice addition to a Sunday brunch sort of meal.

And over at the Candy Dish Blog, there's a post entitled "Is Bacon Pushing Chocolate Aside?" that's interesting (it says that no, of course not, there's room for both!) and has links to an NPR article about bacon in desserts that includes some dandy-sounding recipes (candy, cake, cookies and fudge).  Click through and check them out!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

I once was lost and am soon to be Lost again

I know I'm a couple weeks late in reporting this, but we have a premiere date for the final season of Lost:

Tuesday, February 2nd

That's right.  I said "Tuesday."  Make sure your DVRs are paying attention.  Recaps will begin again here accordingly - yay!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Heroes episode recap – “The Fifth Stage” S4E11 (airdate 11/30/09)

Sullivan Bros. Carnival. Lydia finds Samuel and tells him that she knows the truth about what he did to Joseph, but promises to keep his secret in order to protect her daughter (whose storyline has really been only seen online or during those 60-second spots). Some random carnie comes up too, as Samuel has asked him to be his right hand man what with Edgar gone AWOL and all. This new carnie, Eli, is a Multiplicity-type of guy, and also a guy-liner kind of guy. His first assignment: Samuel wants him retrieve some files from Benet’s apartment.

Benet’s apartment. Ol’ HRG is making notes on the Samuel Sullivan investigation when he’s interrupted by a knock on his door. It’s Kate (Lauren), all decked out in fancy theater-goin’ clothes. Before they can leave on their date, however, Kate catches a glimpse of his investigation board. He looks for Samuel’s compass to show her and finds it missing, realizing at once that his daughter has taken it. This gets him pretty upset – he leaves an urgent message on Claire’s cell – and Kate realizes they won’t be going out tonight. She even offers to use her CIA contacts to help triangulate Claire’s cell phone.

Which is parked in Gretchen’s car outside the Carnival. The girls are leery but head towards the gate … until Claire starts to get cold feet, worrying that she shouldn’t do this. Gretchen encourages her to keep on this path and then, suddenly, Samuel is there, welcoming the girls and soooooo glad that Claire decided to come.

NYC, hospital. Angela finds Peter and tells him that although there are five stages of grief, he needs to skip over denial and get right to acceptance. Peter is on a mission, however, and has actually planned ahead enough to ask the Haitian over to borrow his power-negating power. That’s pretty smart, actually. Angela, frustrated, asks what if Nathan is no longer in there to save? Peter: “Then I’ll just have to settle for revenge.”

After the commercial, Samuel takes the girls on a tour, handing them free passes for the whole night. Claire asks Samuel what it is she’s supposed to be seeing here. He says that the Carnival is just “the show part of the business,” a way for his family to support themselves. He gives them each a box of “the best popcorn in the world” and tells them to enjoy themselves, walk around, meet his family.

They wander into the freak show tent where the first person they meet is Lydia. She tells them to ask a question and take her hand. When Claire does, Lydia’s swirly back tattoos show a picture of Claire, in a circus costume, with a sign that says “Indestructible Girl.” Claire scoffs, like I’m going to be part of the show? “This isn’t the future, Claire,” intones Lydia, “it’s your desire.” Gretchen and Claire get creeped out and leave.

NYC hospital. In an elevator, a large female nurse with dreadlocks accosts Peter, shape-shifting back into Sylar and grabbing Peter by the neck. When the elevator doors open, Sylar throws him into a wall, then dumps out the bag of sedatives that Peter had been carrying. As Peter runs off to hide in an under-construction portion of the hospital, Sylar sneers, following behind. Peter sneaks up on the bad guy and whacks him in the head with a 2x4. Sylar tries to TK him away but nothing happens, thanks to the Haitian’s borrowed power kicking in, so the battle turns into a non-superpowered slugfest. Finally, a bloodied Sylar still can’t keep his mouth shut, and asks if Peter’s going to beat Nathan out of him. Peter picks up a nail gun: “Something like that.”

Ah, a little Christ-imagery! Peter nails Sylar’s hands to a board then slams a couple nails into his thighs for good measure. Sylar gets a little nuts, saying that Peter’s going to need a lot more nails in that thing. So Peter tosses the gun away and says that he’s got the Haitian’s mind-wiping power too, and he’ll just strip away everything that isn’t Nathan. “I’d like to see you try,” grunts Sylar. And then, in remarkably short and undramatic (aside from a shrieked “Kill me!” from Sylar) order, Nathan is there and Sylar is gone.

Carnival. As the girls walk, Claire starts to be charmed by what it would be like to live in the Carnival, while Gretchen just thinks it’s kind of skeezy. When Samuel rejoins them, Gretchen is very nearly rude to him, wanting to leave. Claire, however, wants to see what life is like behind the curtain for the Carnie-Heroes.

Washington, D.C. Benet and Kate are getting frustrated with their inability to track Claire down. Benet takes this opportunity to feel sorry for himself, saying that he’s driven everyone away with his obsessive need for control: Sandra, Claire, Kate. Even though she doesn’t remember (due to the Haitian’s mind-wipe), he tells her that they had had feelings for each other; when she doesn’t believe him, he tells her that she “Haitianed” herself. Unfortunately, she’s a little cross about this revelation and not so hot for him now. There’s a knock on the door: it’s Eli, claiming to be an “emissary” from the Carnival. Benet doesn’t intend to let him in but he multiplies and suddenly there are Elis all over the apartment. All hell breaks loose as Benet and Kate dive for hidden guns. They barricade themselves in the bathroom to reload but when they come out, guns blazing, the Elis – and all of Benet’s files – are gone.

Carnival. Claire and Gretchen watch as Samuel entertains the Carnival’s children with a story. Gretchen is still being Debbie Downer but Claire is becoming more and more enamoured with the place. Then – surprise! – Doyle (“the Puppetmaster”) shows up, dressed in a blue tuxedo and still calling Claire “Barbie.” He’s nice, and enthusiastic, and really wants to talk to her later about how great it is at the Carnival. Claire, slightly taken aback but pleased to see that Doyle seems to be in a better place, says yes. Then Samuel invites Claire to tell a story to the children. While she does, Gretchen approaches Samuel and asks just what it is the Carnival wants with Claire. He says that this world is brutal and hard, but his family can offer her love.

NYC. Nathan wipes the blood from his palms, telling Peter that he’s exhausted, that he doesn’t think that he can keep fighting Sylar anymore. Peter puts his arm around him and suggests that they get some air.

Back at the Carnival, Claire finishes her story and one of the little kids gives her a big hug. This tender moment is interrupted when an irate customer barges up to Samuel, demanding his money back for being gypped at a ball-toss game. Samuel tries to talk him down and the irate customer just starts punching. Samuel refuses to fight back, taking hit after hit without even raising his own fists. Unable to take any more, Claire steps in between the men and for her trouble gets slashed across the face with a broken bottle. As the cut heals right in front of the irate guy, she growls, “You can’t hurt us.” The guy bolts, freaked out and much less irate. And Samuel staggers to his feet with a grimly smug expression.

The Petrelli brothers make their way up to the roof of the hospital, and reminisce about S1E1 when Peter threw himself off the roof in an attempt to harness his newly emerged power. Nathan looks BAD. (Ooh - do you think this foolish show is going to take an actual stand and REALLY kill off one of its man characters? Gawd, I hope so.) Nathan whimpers that he’s sooooo tired and just he can’t fight against Sylar anymore. He staggers, groaning, Sylar struggling for the upper hand. “I’m sorry, Pete,” he says, then lunges over the side of the building. Peter grabs his hand in the nick of time but Nathan refuses to help pull himself up. Then he calmly lets go of his little brother’s hand and poor Peter can’t hold him. And there’s more Christ imagery as he falls in Super Slow Motion, landing with a smash on a car far below. Then Peter watches, horrified, as Sylar heals himself and gets up off the wrecked car, giving a little wave towards the hospital roof before walking away.

Carnival. Claire washes the blood off Samuel’s face, asking why he just let that guy beat him up. He explains that, as gypsies, the path of least resistance is often the best choice for the Carnival folk. She sulks that it’s not right, but at least at the Carnival the Carnies can be themselves. Well, yes, he says, but there must be some way that they can be better, be more, not be second-class citizens any longer … and he thinks she might be able to help them get there.

When Gretchen starts walking back to the car, Claire tells her that she’s going to stay here for the weekend, to see what the Carnival is really like. Gretchen is actually not annoying and says she understands, giving her friend a hug. “I’ll see you Monday,” Claire promises. “I hope so,” is Gretchen’s reply.

Samuel and Lydia watch the two girls and he promises her that he’ll make things right. Lydia isn’t so sure that Claire will be much help in his machinations, what with being so innocent and all. “It’s not her I’m after,” says Samuel. As Gretchen drives away, the Carnival shimmers out of existence, and the camera pulls back enough to show the dead body of the irate guy, now lying in the bed of his pickup truck.

Blah blah blah – Samuel is speechifying again. He tells the Carnies that they are on the verge of coming into their own, even finding a permanent home - they just need to gather a few more folks. He smiles at Claire and she smiles back at him

Previously on Heroes / next time on Heroes

P.S.  - I wasn't paying attention after the show ended so if there is a "next time on Heroes" next Monday, the recap will be late because the Mouse In-Laws are coming to visit and it's rude to recap with houseguests.