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The Fifth Stage

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Episode no.
Season 4 Episode 11

Written by
Tim Kring

Original air date
November 30, 2009

Directed by
Kevin Dowling

Production code

"The Fifth Stage" is the eleventh episode of the fourth season of the NBC science fiction drama series Heroes and seventieth episode overall. The episode aired on November 30, 2009.



As Noah Bennet goes over what he knows already about the carnival people, he is surprised by Lauren who decided to take him out on a date to the movies instead of the other way around. When she asks about what Noah was doing, he explains his investigation, and in doing so discovers the compass is gone and deduces Claire Bennet must have taken it. Lauren offers her help by using CIA technology to triangulate her cellphone's location and get a general idea of where Claire is heading. As they attempt to locate her, Noah and Lauren find themselves striking up a conversation about their relationship which leads Noah to reveal the truth about Lauren having the Haitian erase her memories of their breakfasts together among other things. Shortly after, they are interrupted by one of Samuel Sullivan's carnies who has the ability to create multiple copies of himself. They escape into the bathroom and grab some hidden guns. When they return to the main room, the man and his multiple selves are gone along with the Primatech files Noah was hanging onto.

Angela Petrelli meets with Peter Petrelli, informing him he must move to the "fifth stage" and accept that Nathan Petrelli is dead. Peter intends to confront Sylar and force Nathan out of him by use of sedatives. The Haitian arrives upon Peter's request and he absorbs his ability as a backup plan. Peter runs into Sylar almost immediately, who had shape-shifted into a nurse, and Peter escapes onto a floor of the hospital undergoing renovations. Sylar dumps all the medical supplies out of his bag, but Peter uses the Haitian's ability to suppress Sylar's abilities. After a brief fist fight, Peter manages to literally pin Sylar to a table with a nail gun. Peter then uses the Haitian's other ability to suppress Sylar's mind deep down, allowing Nathan to resurface. Nathan and Peter take a walk out onto the same roof top that was seen in "Don't Look Back". Nathan tells Peter he can't keep fighting Sylar and needs to accept his death. Peter refuses, but then Nathan takes a running start and throws himself over the roof. Peter quickly grabs hold of him, but Nathan tells him to let him go. Peter refuses and attempts to pull him up, but Nathan tells him that it's time to let him go. Peter says he can't and Nathan tells him that he has to carry on for the both of them. He asks Peter to tell Angela that he loves her and to take care of Claire. He also tells Peter that he is what's good in the world and that he has to keep fighting the good fight because the world hasn't seen anything yet. Peter says he can't do it without him, but Nathan tells him he can. The two say they love each one last time and knowing Nathan is right, Peter then lets him go and watches as Nathan falls and crashes onto a car below. Sylar morphs back and all traces of Nathan are gone. He quickly heals, and gets up, waving snidely to Peter who glares down at him. Sylar then turns around and walks away.

Lydia informs Samuel that she is aware he killed Joseph, but then states because she has a daughter to look after, she'll keep his secret safe. Meanwhile, after driving for twenty-one hours, Claire and Gretchen reach what the compass seems to reveal to them as being their destination: The Sullivan Bros. Carnival. Claire is unsure to enter, but Gretchen convinces her to go for it by reminding her that this is a journey she has been on her whole life; trying to find a way to fit in, to belong, so she should at the very least take a look. Upon entering they are welcomed by Samuel, who encourages them to walk around free of charge and see what the carnival is like for themselves. They meet Lydia, who tells Claire to take her hand and reveal to her what she needs to see. The ink forms an image of Claire with the moniker "Indestructible Woman" bannered in front of her, which Lydia tells her is the ink manifesting itself into her desire. As they investigate further, they come upon a ball throwing booth where they see a customer taking far too many turns, so the person running the booth uses his telekinesis to make the balls start to miss and drive him away. Gretchen thinks its cruel the people here are using their abilities to swindle people out of their money, but Claire and Gretchen then see they may really be good at heart. When a little girl who was waiting for the man to finish finally takes her turn, the man moves the ball she throws to knock the balls over, so he gives her a prize. Samuel later takes the two back into their living area, where Claire sees a loving family environment. She runs into Eric Doyle, who says he wishes to speak with her later, and is then asked by Samuel to tell the children a bedtime story. When the man from earlier confronts Samuel about being cheated, Claire is surprised to find he does not fight back when the man starts punching him. Enraged, she stands in the way and scares him away with her ability when he cuts her and she heals. Soon after this, she tells Gretchen she will remain at the carnival for the rest of the Thanksgiving holiday before returning to see her. Then in a final glimpse of the carnival we see the enraged man's body in the back of a truck, dead.

The episode ends with Samuel addressing his family, including Claire, at Joseph's grave, saying he wishes to start a new homeland for people with abilities at this site. As he speaks, a montage of the other heroes are shown: Peter returning to his mother after accepting Nathan's death; Emma Coolidge playing the cello; Hiro Nakamura, Ando Masahashi, and Mohinder Suresh running through a forest; Sylar donning his signature black hat; and Tracy Strauss controlling her abilities, apparently at the carnival. Claire watches Samuel with genuine admiration and support; implying that, while oblivious to Samuel's true colors, she may be joining the Carnival after all.

Critical Reception

Steve Heisler of The A.V. Club rated this episode a C+.

Robert Canning of IGN gave the episode 7.4 out of 10.


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