S02E03 - VANGUARD
The cold open is in black and white, showing a war-torn Berlin at the height of the Allied invasion. We follow Russian soldiers through the streets of Berlin as they engage Nazi forces and fight their way into a hospital where some officers are hiding. When the soldiers get inside, they instead find all of the patients dead in their beds, reduced to little more than ashen skeletons. The soldiers slowly creep through the hospital, disturbing a thick layer of ash on the floor. A clattering noise causes them to turn around and they find a man standing silhouette in the entrance of the hospital. All they can see of him is a cane with a wolf's head at the end. The soldiers turn and shout in Russian, raising their rifles. The man with the wolf's head cane says something in German and the soldiers start screaming. Their flesh blackens, turns to ashes, and they crumble to dust and bones. The man with the wolf's head cane walks out of the hospital.
We cut to the title screen and after, an aerial view of New York City.
Sixty-Three Years Later. Fall, 2008.
We see a man with a shaved head driving a truck down a bumpy, ruined street. This is Ethan Holden (Eddie Whishaw). It pans back to reveal Ethan is driving his truck through the ruins of Midtown with something wrapped in a tarp in the bed of the truck. Ethan is listening to Credence Clearwater Revival's "Bad Moon Rising" as he drives, bobbing his head and slapping his hand against the side of the truck with his arm out the window.
Ethan pulls up to an old and abandoned fire station in the ruins of Midtown, partially buried by a collapsed skyscraper. The building is covered in crows that scatter into the air when he arrives. Ethan pulls the truck inside the fire station and hops out, and walks around the back of the truck. A crow is perched on the tailgate and caws loudly at him. Ethan tells the crow that if it wanted something at the store it should have asked. He opens the back of the truck and drags out the tarp, letting it slap on the ground with a thud and a groan.
Ethan pulls back the tarp to reveal a man in a suit bound by his hands and ankles in duct tape with tape over his mouth. He tries to scream and struggle when he sees Ethan, but grouses and says "For fuck's sake please shut up," and punches him in the middle of the forehead and knocks him out.
Across the city we are reunited with DHS agent Norton Trask who is entering a crime scene cordoned off by police. He works his way through an apartment building and up to an apartment surrounded by forensics investigators and police. He flashes his badge showing his name on the way in. There, Trask asks to be shown the body. Police officers lead Trask into a bedroom and asks, "How does something like this happen?" We see forensics investigators are photographing skeletal remains laying in a bed, covered in a fine layer of ash.
At the Warehouse, Gillian is sitting on a couch when Teo comes in and drops a bag of Chinese takeout in her lap. She asks him who the food is for and Teo tells her he hasn't seen her eat a good meal since she arrived a week ago. She says it's been hard to eat since she's so worried. Teo asks if she means about Magnes, but Gillian doesn't answer and tears into the Chinese food, opening a box of lo-mein.
As they eat, Teo says Magnes will be fine and says he always has an eye out for him. Gillian notices how close they are and remarks on it, Teo says Magnes is a good person and has a big heart, but hasn't ever had anyone who cares about him. The two bond over their shared friendship. Teo asks Gillian if Norman has started trying to figure out what her ability is and Gillian is coy, instead asking Teo if he has an ability. Teo laughs and says he didn't get that lucky, unless she counts dashing good looks as a super power. Gillian laughs and says, "depends on how dashing."
The next morning we see Magnes at Red Hook High School, he's been avoiding Elisabeth and she catches him in the hall asking why he's been skipping her classes. Magnes tries to evade her and Elisabeth says she doesn't want to report him, but he's backed up on homework that's past due and she can't just "pass him through high school because he has a day job." Magnes looks confused and Elisabeth hands him Ben's drawing.
In the library, Magnes and Elisabeth sit at a table with text books and notebooks out. Elisabeth looks like she's tutoring Magnes, but they're having a secret talk. Magnes thanks Elisabeth for covering for him and Teo but says she shouldn't take those kinds of risks. Elisabeth talk about being a police officer and says she's used to risk. Magnes asks her why she quit and she tells him that she was forced into retirement because her captain was jealous of her and that he didn't trust Evolved. Magnes is surprised and Elisabeth says he isn't so unique, but that she understands him. Magnes asks Elisabeth if she can actually help him with his homework, because he's missed so many classes. She says she'd be glad to.
That evening, Teo is cutting through an alley on his way back to the warehouse from work, and sees a truck dumping a tarp off in a heap beside a dumpster. Teo sees Ethan Holden, who promptly returns to his truck and speeds off after he's spotted. Suspicious, Teo approaches the tarp and pulls it back, finding an ash-covered human skull.
Inside the warehouse, Helena, Wireless, Norman, Gillian, and Teo stand around the tarp which is unfolded on the floor to reveal the bones. Wireless tells Teo he should never have brought it in here, but then Teo produces something from the pile of ashes, a pin that was attached to the lapel of the suit the corpse was wearing. The pin looks like an FBI decorated service pin, except instead of scales at the top of the shield symbol, there is half a DNA helix. Teo says Norman wore the same pin when they met.
Norman takes the pin and shows it to Wireless, then explains it's an identifier of a Company agent. Norman looks back to the body, worried, and Helena asks if this might be the world of Sylar. Norman shakes his head and says that Sylar wouldn't leave the skull intact, Evolved or not, because of his "hunger." But Norman says Sylar wasn't the only dark thing the Company was keeping secret, he just doesn't know what this one is.
At night in the fire station, Ethan is working on his truck by the light of a hand lamp wired to the truck's battery. He is tightening hoses on the engine, cleaning spark plugs, and listening to music. But a young woman enters, turning the music down. Ethan turns to her with a wrench in hand, but then recognizes her. It is Eileen Ruskin (Oksana Rappoport). Eileen says he is needed and Ethan says it's "about time." Eileen steps through the doorway she'd entered from and Ethan follows. She leads him through a hallway, then through a large hole in the wall into an adjacent building; an abandoned machine shop with nothing but exposed framework for a ceiling.
Inside the machine shop there is candlelight burning in one corner. Eileen leads Ethan toward the light, past abandoned cars, to a small workshop where knives hand instead of tools. There are glass jars set up with human organs in them and a man in black with his back to Ethan, reading German from a handwritten journal. The old man turns, Kazimir Volken (Thomas Hughes), then uses a wolf's headed cane to stand up.
Ethan approaches Kazimir who tells him that he needs to fetch their seer. Ethan asks where he got off to, and Kazimir says he had some personal affairs to handle in the city, but he's taking too long. Ethan warns Kazimir that he was spotted disposing of "the bones" and Kazimir inquires as to whether Ethan was followed back. Eileen speaks up and says he wasn't, which Kazimir accepts. Ethan agrees to track their seer down and looks to Eileen who says she'll keep an eye on him, just in case. A crow swoops down from the rafters and lands on Ethan's shoulder, to which Ethan replies sarcastically, "wonderful."
Late at night in SoHo, Teo Laudani is enjoying drinks at his home with a man several years older than him. Amato Laudani (David C. Nowell) talks with Teo about their family back in Sicily, about boating as children and Teo learning to swim. The two reminisce about their family lives and Teo asks Amato what made him come to New York to visit after being apart for so many years. Amato says faith changed him, and talks about how he feels God has a plan for him, for everyone, and that he is a part of it. Teo becomes uncomfortable at this topic, but is distracted by a knock on his door.
Teo excuses himself from what was rapidly becoming an uncomfortable conversation and answers his door, finding Magnes there. Teo is surprised, but relieved, and invites Magnes in. They catch up at the door and then Teo introduces Magnes to his older brother Amato, and Amato to Magnes. The three return to the living room and Magnes talks about school and how his teacher Elisabeth is an excellent person. He asks Teo, discreetly, if Amato is "cool" to which Teo emphatically shakes his head "no."
Amato asks Magnes how he met Teo, and Magnes isn't sure how to answer, so he lies and says Teo used to beat him up which prompts Teo to elbow Magnes in the side. Amato laughs and says that they can keep their personal secrets, but that Amato sees "why they're so close." When Magnes asks Amato to clarify that, Teo also does, and Amato merely laughs and says it is getting late and that he needs to be up in the morning, but he'll be in the city for a few months "doing God's work."
Teo awkwardly laughs but tries to be supportive. They say goodbye at the door and Amato kisses Teo on the cheek and waves farewell to Magnes and shows himself out. Once Amato is gone, Magnes asks Teo why he never mentioned his brother. Teo explains that they've never had a good relationship and that his brother was a struggling addict for most of Teo's childhood. Magnes says that he seems fine now, to which Teo replies, "sounds like he's just addicted to Jesus now." Magnes and Teo laugh.
Outside, Amato is walking down the street and bundles up with a scarf. A truck pulls up from behind and comes to the curb. Amato stops and watches as the passenger door of the truck opens and Ethan Holden is in the driver's seat. Amato approaches the truck, but stops when he sees a crow land on the hood. Amato inclines his head and addresses the crow as "Eileen". Ethan tells him "the boss needs you." To which Amato replies, "Who am I to not answer God's call?" Ethan, uninterested, tells Amato to "get in the fucking truck."