Season 4 Episode 11


Aired Monday 9:00 PM Nov 23, 2009 on NBC
out of 10
User Rating
389 votes

By TV.com Users

Episode Summary

As Noah hosts a Thanksgiving dinner, an unexpected guest visits the Petrellis. Meanwhile, Lydia tries to discover the truth about one of the carnival's secrets.

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  • Thankgiving has lots of excitement but it's also such a cliché.

    Thanksgiving is a time for family: Peter, 'Nathan' and Angela; The Bennet family including Sandra's new boyfriend and Noah's old 'friend'. Isn't Thanksgiving fun?

    Here's a whole new power struggle and one that's far more interesting – Nathan vs Sylar. Though Matt was a powerful telepath, even he couldn't control Sylar. Maybe Nathan will have more luck, he's very ruthless in his own right.

    Lydia and Edgar are starting to ask questions – if Hiro 'fixed' the past, why is Joseph still dead? Edgar confronting Samuel just gives Samuel a scapegoat.

    I like Noah calling Gretchen, I'm actually warming to her. This could be a sweet little romance if they continue to take it slow and sweet.moreless
  • He ain't heavy, he's my brother's murderer.

    Thanksgiving dinner, the traditional family holiday is the focus of an episode on the very season in which families have dissapeared from this show; a fact the viewers are painfully aware of the minute the Bennets sit down without Lyle at the table and Hiro is the only familiar face among the Carnivale gathering.

    No Molly in the same table of either Matt or Mohinder, no Micah or what used to be the Sander-Hawkings family, no Bishops, no Nakamuras, no Deveux. The Petrellis hoard what's left of the Greys in the form of Nathan and no matter how long Peter watches him sleep, no matter how much Angela pretends this is normal Elle's power manifest within what is and always has been Gabriel Grey.

    Edgar and Peter found themselves protecting what has always been their respective brother's murderer.moreless
  • Sometimes, it's the simple things in life that prove to be the most rewarding.

    Sometimes, it's the simple things in life that prove to be the most rewarding. 'Thanksgiving' is an unashamedly straightforward piece of work, stripping away the complexities of narrative minutiae to produce something that reads rather like a slice of minimalist theatre, predicated entirely on three thematically connected stories that remain, geographically at least, notably static. There is very little action here; movement is considerably restricted. The story pivots on the concept of Thanksgiving, taking three very different, but equally as psychologically messy, dinners - at the Carnival, the Petrellis' and the Bennet's - and using them to delineate a number of important character points, as well as to gentle nudge forward a handful of plot tropes.

    Surprisingly, Claire's tet a tet with her parents actually proves to be a highlight. Where usually, the banality of her narratives cause the eyes to roll, here, Armus and Foster prevent its verisimilitude from ever becoming mundane with the aid of some highly naturalistic, and quite often understated, dialogue. For all its contrivance, HRG's appropriation of Lauren's assistance is actually rather engaging, precisely because their interactions feel human, full of awkward attempts to disguise the truth and repressed emotional feeling. And while Doug is a little silly, his interruptions at the dining table are deliberately kept to a minimum and used to great effect in conjunction with the issues surrounding the other characters. Take Claire's frustration at her power's tendency to alienate her from those she loves: excellently illustrated by a physical, as well as emotional, outburst involving a kitchen knife. The moment is considerably shocking, but the effect it has on Doug balances the horror with an element of humour, creating a satisfyingly rich tapestry. And then, of course, there's Gretchen's return, which actually feels welcome thanks to some solid and believable writing.

    In the other 'households', the Petrellis provide some of the most wonderfully forced and horrifically awkward moments this side of an X-Factor audition. Cristine Rose is at her level best as a defiant Angela, trying desperately to cling to the illusion that her family is still together. Her confession feels refreshingly genuine, a trait that we don't often associate with the character, but one that looks decidedly good on her. Ventimiglia's disdain and distrust makes for a nice counterpoint, while Pasdar's increasingly unhinged and broken Nathan is fascinating to watch. When Quinto worms his way into the mix, things only get better; his taunting and manipulation carries on from the superlative work he has been doing with Greg Grunberg, coming across as deliciously sinister precisely because it avoids the hyperbolic. Sylar's psychological evaluation of the Petrelli family is absolutely spot on; so much so, in fact, that when Nathan starts to make a reappearance, it's almost disappointing.

    The Sullivan Carnival, meanwhile, proves to be a delightfully warped place for a celebratory dinner thanks to a few important revelations about the fateful night that Samuel's brother died. While it is no surprise to anyone that T-Bag killed Joseph (who is played to perfection by Andrew Connolly), the sequence is so damn good that you forgive it its predictability. Seith Mann outdoes himself here: the greys and blues of the chiaroscuro are beautiful, amplified manifold by the inclusion of a sinisterly overbearing moon that looks bloody magical It's the sort of attention to visual detail that made season one, quite literally, such a feast for the eyes and it's certainly good to see it back. In fact, it's been somewhat of a staple of the season, particularly as regards this storyline, with its skewed camera angles and psychedelic designs. Robert Knepper actually does a lot to help: his grace, poise and manipulative slight of hand intensify the feeling that there is something indefinably fantastical about the whole thing.

    'Thanksgiving' only really falters when it does try to amp up the action. The mysterious lightning strike that signifies the 'resurrection' of Sylar feels grossly unnecessary, a kind of tacked on visual designed purely to help spend the effects budget. Why wouldn't he simply transform? Why does there have to be a fanfare? Mostly though, this is a well-structured, cohesive piece of work that feels distinctly real while being considerably engaging. Not much happens on a literal level, but there's a whole hell of a lot going on under the surface, as the characters are nudged in different directions in preparation for the latter half of the season. Certainly one to give thanks for.moreless
  • This was the last episode, for me.

    Previously, when they showed us Mohinder dead, I thought: "oh thank god". Well, hes back and they decided to bring his banal ex-girlfriend back with him. One step forward ; two steps back. I'm beginning to think Claire is the writers idea of a really sick joke. The character that you want to be killed off, more than any other in the history of television, yet she can't be killed -_- . Now, If you were to ask, "How can we make scenes with Claire even more unbearable?" I would reply, "Bring Gretchen back." Problem solved... If they had left it with Mohinder dead and Gretchen gone for good, there might have been a little redemption for the show. But with Mohinder dead he could no longer read the writers attempt at a "deep" monologue at the beginning and end of the show. And with Gretchen gone, all the perverts can't get off on the "potential"... When Sylar scalps Mohinder and sends Claire into orbit I'll start watching again. But lets face it, the people creating this story had only thought up to the point where Peter explodes. The show can't "get back on track" because one was never built.moreless
  • Holidays and family, Heroes style

    Holiday-themed episodes have a tendency to play to nostalgia and tradition. They can be a cringe-inducing subset of the "very special episode" syndrome. The trick is to subvert the typical expectations that come with the territory. "Buffy", for example, managed to do it very well.

    This particular spin on the convention is broken into three parts, where the coming together at a family meal brings more than just the usual level of conflict and recrimination. The treatment of each Thanksgiving dinner is more or less a success, and has everything to do with the strengths of the characters involved.

    The best material belongs to Samuel and his carnival family, as the truth about Joseph Sullivan's death comes out. Suddenly Edgar's displeasure with Samuel from the beginning comes into focus. Hiro finally gets to show a bit of backbone, even if he's still mostly whining about Charlie, and one can only hope that this will lead to a permanent transition into a more serious character as a whole. (Especially since it is highly unlikely that we will ever see Charlie again.)

    I still like Samuel, even if his motivations are now almost entirely villainous. Robert Knepper continues to give the character a sense of style and energy that has been missing from most of the cast for quite some time. Only Sylar seems to be given the same opportunity to stretch, and that had to be a concession to Zachery Quinto, to ensure that he remains on the show to the bitter end.

    Speaking of Sylar, the Petrelli Thanksgiving dinner was a close second to the carnival festivities. While the carnival plot thread began to answer some lingering questions about Sullivan brothers, this plot thread took on the consequences of the third season finale. The emergence of Sylar brought on some deliciously evil moments, and I wasn't entirely sure that Angela was going to survive the night.

    It occurred to me, however, that the writers managed to sneak some muddled storytelling into the mix. When Peter needed to follow Nathan in the previous episode, he absorbed Nathan's ability. But "Nathan" is really Sylar, programmed to believe that he can only use Nathan's flying ability. The core ability is still Sylar's innate ability to take on the abilities of others. So shouldn't Peter have absorbed Sylar's ability?

    Of course, that would put Peter back on a level that is too high for the good of the plot, and would prevent the logical solution to the Sylar problem: getting everyone together at the carnival for one big "Heroes" smackdown. I still firmly believe that Sylar is going to return to the carnival, learn the secret of Samuel's power, and absorb it. If anyone can learn how to decouple Samuel's earth-moving power from the metahuman-cascade effect, Sylar could. And then the question would be: how do all those heroes fight Sylar, when just being around him suddenly gives him a massive power boost? (On the other hand, it could be the one thing that keeps Sylar in check, because he would have to stop killing everyone for powers to preserve his new power source.)

    At any rate, this leaves only the Bennett family dinner, and as usual, that is far less effective than the other two plot threads. Those stories had Samuel and Sylar; this has Claire and the same Noah that has been grasping for a purpose this season. The antics with Sandra, Lauren, and Doug did provide a lighter counterpoint to the darker elements in the other plot threads, but it just underscored how little these characters have been measuring up.

    I will say, however, that the return of Lauren was a nice touch, and the return of Gretchen was a pleasant surprise. The writers are doing a nice job of treading a fine line with Claire and Gretchen. While they are technically not together as a romantic couple, there are clear undertones of chemistry between them. I suspect the writers will keep riding that line, so that the viewers can draw their own conclusions, but this is less exploitive than it could have been.

    The biggest problem with the episode is that it didn't move the plot forward overly much. This season has been all about the measured pace, but this brought the momentum down a notch. Nathan and Sylar could have had their final showdown already, and Claire didn't really need more time to decide that she was going to find Samuel. Hopefully this is simply the prelude to a more active next episode.moreless
Hank Stratton

Hank Stratton

Doug Douglas

Guest Star

Andrew Connolly

Andrew Connolly

Joseph Sullivan

Guest Star

Dusty Sorg

Dusty Sorg


Guest Star

Madeline Zima

Madeline Zima

Gretchen Berg

Recurring Role

Ray Park

Ray Park


Recurring Role

Sasha Pieterse

Sasha Pieterse

Amanda Strazzulla

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (0)

  • QUOTES (8)

    • Nathan: (just before he transforms into Sylar) We never should have gone to Texas, Pete.

    • Nathan: (to Angela) Some family. You look at me, you don't see your son, you see the man who killed your son.
      Angela: Don't be silly.
      Nathan: (to Peter) You, you don't see your brother...
      (the look on Nathan's face changes)
      Nathan: It's because I'm not your brother.
      Peter: Nathan.
      Nathan: Guess again.

    • Lauren: Hmm, didn't peg you for a yam man.
      Noah: Oh, yeah. Big yam man.

    • Lauren: So, Sandra, how did you and Doug meet?
      Sandra: Mmm, well...
      Doug: Can I?
      Sandra: Please.
      Doug: It was love at first sight. For Mr. Muggles and Miss Lovegood, that is. We met at the groomer. My little angel wouldn't stop barking until they put her cage right next to his. Is that right, Sandy?
      Claire: (mouthing) Nasty.

    • Sandra: Primatech. Is that the paper company or that other thing?
      Lauren: Oh, you know about that other thing?
      Sandra: Yes, dear. A memory can be erased only so many times.

    • Peter: Do you have a soul?
      Sylar: Come on, buddy. That's the best you've got? No big speeches about hope. Triumph of the human spirit?
      Peter: Why don't you let me out of this chair and find out.
      Sylar: (to Angela) And you... you have raised the evil incarnate bar to an entirely new level. Thank you for giving me something to strive for.

    • Sylar: All this talk of souls and spirits sends my head spinning. I am not a religious man. But there is one thing I do believe in. Blood.

    • Sandra: Never a dull moment, Noah.
      Noah: Not if I can help it.

  • NOTES (2)

    • International Airdates:
      Australia: February 4, 2010 on 7TWO
      UK: March 20, 2010 on BBC2
      Latin America: March 23, 2010 on Universal Channel
      Germany: November 10, 2010 on RTL II
      Czech Republic: February 4, 2011 on Prima COOL
      Finland: March 30, 2011 on Sub

    • The character Amanda Strazzulla, who is seated at the carnival's Thanksgiving table, is the main character of the Heroes webisodes known as Slow Burn, where her power is revealed to be combustion; whenever she gets angry or stressed out, something near or around her spontaneously catches fire. This episode marks her first appearance in the main series.