Here are some thoughts of The Art of Deception:
- We begin in Carnival land, where Samuel has a post-earthquake hangover the size of an enormous hole in the ground. He's also peeved that nobody is talking to him, apparently having forgotten that most of the carnival crew never had speaking parts in the first place.
- Meanwhile, Peter Petrelli is waking up in yet another sweaty frenzy, having foreseen the script for the last two episodes. There's still a lot of blurrycam and squealing but we did get a bit more detail (and blood) this time around:
a) Sylar sounded rather more sincere about being helpful - or is that a red herring?
b) Doyle was controlling Emma's cello-playing, so maybe he's the one Sylar will have to kill, rather than the Emmster herself?
c) Emma will now be wearing a brown jacket for the apocalypse. Fortunately Peter refrains from going over to her place and ripping up everything in her wardrobe, just in case her fashion choices are instrumental in the destruction of the world.
- "It wasn't a pie chart, it was more like a... *waves hands vaguely*" - Claire's right, of course, but it did make me wonder what Sylar might have come up with if he'd only brought a protractor and several shades of chalk:
- Yes, even the ever-patient Gretchen is now beginning to get cheesed off at Claire's apathy in the amorous arena. The girl can't even hold hands for five minutes without drifting off to wonder what else is happening in the plot this week, why so much of it is devoted to bloody Samuel, and whether she can somehow interfere to make it more interesting. With all that on her mind, it's no wonder she's literally losing her grip.
- Speaking of people who aren't having sex, Claire also has to suffer the social embarrassment of finding out that her dad is regularly forcing an attractive woman to engage in tedious Carnival-related research. And even when Bennet takes Lauren for a romantic mini-break in the countryside, it's the kind that involves sniper rifles and binoculars rather than rolling in the hay. Personally, I think that Bennet's mind has got sex and violence irreparably confused and he now believes that sex is the one you need a bulletproof vest for.
- "People's lives are at stake and Nathan would never turn his back on them.." - Um, Peter? I think you've forgotten not only that Nathan WOULD have left any number of people in the lurch, but that he'd have personally had them all burned at the stake if it would have given him a spot of politically convenient publicity. Angela, meanwhile, admits that Sylar is constantly on her mind. Once snogged, never forgotten, eh Angie?
- Then we have the whole carnival shoot-out scene: Claire's never-going-to-work Girl Scout plan, Samuel's unconvincing attempts to go along with it, a bit of VERY quiet mumbling to indicate that the carnies are supposedly in a mutinous mood, a genuine "Oh noes!" gasp from me when Lauren volunteered to go and fetch Samuel (I didn't know I cared about her), a hail of gunshots, and then...
- Alas poor Lydia! Not only does she die rather pointlessly but she has to suffer a final kiss-up with Samuel and ends up almost gagging because his tongue tastes of treacherous evil. Or possibly Nacho Cheese Doritos, which in my opinion have a similar tang. Yuck.
- Here's a little first-aid quiz for Claire. When treating a gunshot wound, do you a) stay by the patient and keep pressure on the wound, or b) run off with Doyle in pursuit of the idiot ball for ten minutes because the script tells you to, leaving an untrained evil person in charge of the medical emergency? Clue: the correct answer isn't the one that you picked. No wonder Emma gets put in charge of playing doctor as soon as she arrives.
- Back in the woods, the unfortunate Lauren calls Noah's in-case-of-emergencies number, but even more unfortunately, she finds herself speaking to Tracy, who is not generally known for her usefulness in a crisis, or indeed at any time. Either Noah Bennet has a sick sense of humour, or he has a lot of emergencies that involve his beer being inadequately chilled.
- And now, my favourite strand of the show, to no one's surprise. Yes, it's Sylar, inviting himself over to the Parkman house for nibbles and a little chit-chat about power removal and home improvement projects. His belief that Matt could block his abilities does seem a mite optimistic, given that Matt's last major incursion into his Gray matter lasted about six weeks before it all went Horribly Wrong (TM), but when Matt asks "How am I supposed to do that?", Sylar just answers "Handwave! Handwave!" and pushes the plot along with the zeal of a man who's got a sackful of quizzical facial expressions and plans to pack every one of them into his ten minutes of screentime.
- Matt also gets to try out a few confused faces of his own, especially when Sylar is wrestling with the supervillain clichés that threatened to overwhelm his brain. I was delighted when he did a little headshake and a "huh?" face after each one, as if he was possessed by the spirit of Dick Dastardly.
- Anyway, Sylar seems to have a Teflon brain that repells Matt's attempts at a nice quiet switch-off, so Matt eventually gets Janice's permission to do something deeply horrid instead. Yes, he forces Sylar gets to sit through a mental YouTube video of his greatest hits (including killing Charlie, which lest we forget HE ACTUALLY DIDN'T DO, but weirdly there's video footage of it) and then traps him in his own lonely mental hell. But on the plus side, if Sylar's going to be trapped for eternity, at least he's wearing a very stylish jacket for it.
- Our next quiz question is for Matt. Where is the best place to bury an immortal serial killer? Is it a) under your own house, or b) under somebody else's house, preferably somebody you don't like? Fortunately Matt doesn't have to face the consequences of his answer, because his bricklaying skills aren't quick enough to beat the intrepid boy investigator Tintin Petrelli, determined to make his dreams come true AND finally get his hands on Sylar. "You can't just take him!" says Matt, furious that he's now going to be stuck with a half-built wall he'll never finish AND no sexy serial killer to sell on eBay when the going gets tough. (Think what the fangirls would have paid for that, eh?)
- Gosh, the inside of Sylar's brain looks suspiciously like the movie Vanilla Sky, but with Peter Petrelli in place of Tom Cruise. Alternatively, perhaps all those empty city streets are a comment on the global financial recession? Whatever the reason, at least he's trapped in a budget-conscious nightmare world.
- It's just as well, since all the money for extras has been spent on the mumbling background folk for the Carnival. And look, they get to watch Samuel launching into another portentous speech (no. 45,839 in a continuingly dull series) and proceedings draw to a relatively suspenseful close.
- In conclusion: patchy on the whole, especially in Carnival land, but things do seem to be building a decent head of steam, and I'm eagerly looking forward to seeing the showdown inside Sylar's head. Don't disappoint me now, boys....