"Look for the mushroom cloud..."
Chapter 17 of Heroes, entitled "Company Man," is a Bennet-centric episode that tells two stories that are closely related.
We start off with radioactive Ted Sprague and the telepathic policeman Matt Parkman breaking into the Bennet's home in Odessa, Texas. Ted uses his ability to melt through the lock while Matt takes a look around the house, checking HRG's computer and files.
While ransacking the place, the Bennet's arrive fresh from a stay at the hospital after last episode's frantic emergency. Ted is agitated and seems fully focused on the idea of revenge, his patience is wearing thin and this makes him very unstable.
We're now caught up to where we were last episode, with Matt and Ted taking the family hostage, seeking answers about what HRG and his agency without initials has done to them.
We transition to a flashback in which we see a young Mr. Bennet (sans horn-rimmed glasses) talking to a recruiter of sorts (played by Eric Roberts). This recruiter explains that he'll be under the guise of a regional manager for Primatech Paper in Odessa, Texas - a cover for what he'll really be doing. His superior continues to explain that he'll be working with a partner, "one of them," as he puts it - a special.
It turns out our favorite invisible man, Claude, is HRG's partner. This Claude, however, is sophisticated and clean-shaven, a side of Christopher Eccleston we're more accustomed to seeing.
We're now taken back to the situation in the Bennet home. Matt is reading Claire's mind and realizes she knows about The Haitian and isn't fooled by her father's lies.
Claire temporarily sides with Matt and Ted. As the balance tips in his favor, Ted delivers a snide comment to HRG, "I guess she isn't Daddy's little girl anymore."
Matt is still searching for the truth. He is still under the impression that Bennet has put this ability in him and now Claire is beginning to wonder if he made her that way as well.
She begins to communicate with Matt who is reading her mind. "I can heal," she finally admits. She wonders to herself, "Did my Dad make me this way?"
We're taken back to a flashback that is sure to have Heroes fans talking for a long time. We see Hiro's father (played by George Takei) holding an infant Claire on the Deveaux rooftop. We see a young Hiro playing Gameboy as his father explains to HRG that if Claire exhibits any powers she must be handed over to him. It's obvious that Mr. Kaito is involved in the agency - and it seems that even Charles Deveaux was deeply involved.
We're back at the house where HRG attempts to take a stand, grabbing a revolver out of a hidden compartment above the fireplace. Matt catches him first and knocks him to the floor. There is a standoff, there's no turning back now. Ted is about to shoot HRG's wife - the situation is tense. HRG communicates with Matt, telling him telepathically to shoot Claire because she can heal.
Matt shoots Claire and everyone is led to believe she is dead. HRG and Matt take a lifeless Claire upstairs where she spits the bullet out and heals quickly. HRG takes this time to explain that he didn't give Matt or Claire their powers, that he "didn't make anyone."
Matt and Ted split up - Matt going with HRG to Primatech Paper in search of files and records while Ted stays and guards the family. Ted delivers an ultimatum to Bennett, "If you're not back in an hour, look for the mushroom cloud."
We're taken back to the past where HRG's superior describes a mute boy from Haiti that has the ability to make people forget. We meet the young Haitian as he comes to HRG's home to wipe his wife - wearing the RNA symbol around his neck.
As HRG and Matt are at the paper factory, the Haitian is signaled. It is apparent that they're going to take a tranquilizer and try to sedate Ted.
We transition back into a flashback - this time just 7 years ago. Claude and HRG are driving, crossing a bridge. HRG explains that Claude has compromised the agency - that they know he is hiding someone.
In a gripping, shocking scene, HRG shoots Claude twice - who then turns invisible and seemingly 'falls' to his death.
As we come back to the Bennet's home, Claire is sneaking downstairs to rescue her brother and mother. Ted catches her and grapples with her, choking her with a radioactive grip that temporarily scars her neck.
As Ted is tying them all back up, there is an emotional scene between Claire and her adoptive mother. "I always thought you were a miracle," she says to her daughter. A wonderful, poignant dialogue about God is delivered and you begin to understand her view of the events - the world she knows is not the same as yesterday.
Matt and HRG arrive back at the house. Ted isn't backing down. The Haitian arrives and takes the family out safely as HRG explains to Ted that he did not give him his ability - that there is no cure for what has happened to him.
Suddenly, HRG's superior shows up and shoots Ted, which sends him into a frenzy. He loses control and begins to go nuclear. As the house catches aflame, HRG stays behind to shoot Ted w/ the tranquilizer but Claire goes back in to save him. She takes the tranq, explaining she'll be able to get closer than her father. As Claire is about to inject Ted, the house blows.
Claire walks away from the house in one of the most impressive special effects moments we've seen yet on the show. Her skin is ashen and stripped away by the radioactive blast. As she slowly heals, we see the whole neighborhood witness her ability; along with HRG's superior who was unaware she had developed such a power.
As we approach the end of the show we see Ted Sprague sedated and strapped in the same cell Sylar was held within Primatech Paper's walls. Next we see Matt in a similar situation, being looked over by HRG's boss. It seems Matt might be used as a tool for the agency, replacing The Haitian.
The finale has Mr. Bennet and Claire driving across the same bridge we saw in an earlier flashback. It's apparent that Claire may never see her family ever again. They stop on the bridge and meet the Haitian (who has taken the fall for HRG, now wanted for hiding Claire's ability from the agency and supposedly HRG as well).
The Haitian stages a murder attempt on Bennet, shooting him in the stomach and then wiping his mind of anything that could lead the agency to finding Claire.
What an amazing episode. Where will Claire go - to Mexico to find her mother, or perhaps to New York to find Peter Petrelli or her birth father, Nathan? Join me next week for Chapter 18: "Parasite."