“Heroes” mini-cap: Carnivale

The superhero/fantasy genre often appeals to gays and lesbians, because we can identify with some of the experiences of the characters, especially those with special abilities or other characteristics that set them apart from the rest of society. These characters often wrestle with the dilemma as to whether they should reveal this innate part of themselves to the public or to keep it hidden.

On one hand, they can live openly and honestly, but on the other hand, they can be ostracized or even persecuted if they reveal this otherwise invisible part of themselves to others. Those unfamiliar with people with abilities or those who have already developed a prejudice against them may be taken aback — or even become hateful and violent — when these powers are revealed. Let’s just call the haters abilo-phobes. See: X-Men, The Untouchables, and of course, the subject of this post, Heroes.

Last week on Heroes, Samuel’s cronies threw Claire and The Notorious HRG in The House of Mirrors, which revealed HRG’s past, alternating in black and white and Technicolor, in front of Claire’s eyes. Claire discovered that HRG, during his early years at The Company, had been an incorrigibly trigger-happy abilo-phobe until his boss decided that if he just got laid on a regular basis, he would stop killing people with powers and simply falsely imprison them like he was supposed to. Apparently, HRG’s first wife was killed by a burglar with special powers, and he never got over it.

We also learned that HRG intercepted Gretchen in Claire and Gretchen’s chaste love nest dorm room and requested that Gretchen convince Claire to live a normal life. All right, this “request” was more like “an offer she couldn’t refuse” because the Haitian was there to erase Gretchen’s memory if she did not comply. After seeing this intrusion in her made-for-primetime and therefore ambiguous and unconsummated lesbian relationship, Claire stormed out of the House of Mirrors in a huff. We were left wondering whether Gretchen’s motives were pure after that revelation, but unfortunately, in the season finale, Gretchen was nowhere to be found.

By the time Claire processed all of this information, Samuel had buried both Claire and HRG under thirty feet of dirt, and oxygen was running out.

As this week’s season (series?) finale begins, Claire and HRG have an emotional heart to heart in the buried trailer, and Claire valiantly yet futilely claws at the dirt surrounding the trailer as HRG begins to lose consciousness. As his eyes dim, HRG begs Claire to promise him that she will pass as a normal human being. The conversation unfolds as follows:

Claire: [Y]ou believe that people like me can’t live out in the open.
HRG: It doesn’t matter what I believe anymore, because the whole world is about to find out about you. We can thank Samuel for that.
Claire: Maybe it won’t be so bad. Maybe the world is more ready than you think it is. Things change.
(Change! Hope! Change! What’s wrong with you, HRG? It’s 2010! Need one of Sylar’s watches to tell you what time it is?)
HRG: You’re right. Things change. But people don’t.

HRG begins to get dizzy and realizes that he must make his last request before he runs out of air. He tells Claire to stay in the closet — as a person with special abilities.

HRG: Promise me something: You’ll hide.
(Read: Honey, be less fabulous!)
Claire: What?
(Seriously, what?)
HRG: The world doesn’t have to know about you. You can stay hidden you can blend in you can pass, Claire. You know how to do it promise — me —

Then Tracy Strauss pops into the trailer and saves the day, HRG’s life, and Claire from staying in the closet out of guilt.

Tracy forms a 30 foot water tunnel to ground level, through which Claire and HRG swim and emerge, all scrubby and bright-eyed. (Suspend your disbelief, mmkay.) Then Tracy is sent to the mysterious Heroes waiting room along with Gretchen, Becky, Monica and other characters who vanish for no reason at all.

The rest of the episode brings the old crew together, and they stop Magneto Samuel from killing thousands of people. Claire reveals to the carnies that Samuel killed his brother, and they walk off in disgust. Then Peter flies in and takes Samuel’s powers. They start throwing dirt at each other in an attempt at an epic battle but really, it isn’t as cool as the battle between Peter and Sylar in Season 1. In fact, it isn’t as epic as some of the tug of wars in this past Sunday’s Puppy Bowl on Animal Planet, but they get an A for effort.

Before Samuel can use the carnies’ collective powers to bury the media and a crowd of spectators, Hiro appears and teleports them away, leaving Samuel powerless, and some people in black suits come and arrest him. Sylar, proving that he can refrain from cutting people’s brains out of their skulls as sport, also saves Emma from Doyle the puppet master.

After the dust settles, Lauren, HRG’s partner/BFF/make-out buddy/convenient-person-who-appears-to-move-the-plot-forward, begins talking to the television crews, and she blames the ruckus on a gas main rupture and “special effects.”

Says Claire to HRG, “You still can’t see the future can you, the one where we get to live out in the open?” At this moment, television crews approach Claire and HRG to get first hand accounts of the incident, and HRG responds, “No comment.” At first, Claire agrees with him, but then she hesitates.

“You sure, miss? You look like you want to say something,” says a reporter.

“Actually, I do,” responds Claire. “You want to know what really happened here tonight? Keep the cameras on me.”

Claire proceeds to climb a Ferris wheel.

“What is she doing?” cries Lauren.

“Breaking my heart,” laments HRG.

Meanwhile, Sylar chats with Peter and pats himself on the back for not killing Doyle, the puppet master who had forced Emma to play the magic cello to attract all of the spectators to slaughter. Not killing Doyle “felt right” said Sylar. All he did was bind him in a cocoon of electrical wires and Christmas lights. Baby steps, I guess.

Then Peter looks up and sees Claire, “What the hell does she think she is doing. She’s gonna change everything!”

“That’s right,” responds the new goody-two-shoes Sylar. “It’s a brave new world.”

Claire reaches the top of the ferris wheel and jumps. People scream. Then she lands with a thud. The camera crews rush up to her, and reminiscent of Lady Gaga’s “Paparazzi” video, they seem more concerned with getting the right shot than calling an ambulance. Fortunately, Claire cannot die. She brushes herself off and snaps her bones into place.

“My name is Claire Bennet, she says. “This is attempt number — I guess I’ve kind of lost count.”

Fade to credits.

As of the time of writing this article, it is still uncertain whether Heroes will be renewed for another season. Even if it isn’t, at least we know that our favorite cheerleader summoned up the courage to hold Gretchen’s hand in public and then break the same hand in public to come out in a different yet oddly familiar way to us, without the camera crews and spontaneous regeneration of course.