S03E01 - Butterfly Eater
The cold open begins in Times Square. We see people going about their lives, cars stuck in traffic and honking. There are "Vote Petrelli" banners hanging from some buildings. The scene shifts focus to a yellow taxi where a man forces his way into the back of the taxi. This is Peter Petrelli (Louis Chambers IV). He is covered in bloody cuts, pale, and trembling.
The cab driver asks Peter if he need to go to a hospital and Peter says he needs him to drive as far away from the city as possible. The taxi driver is confused and notices Peter is bleeding through the fabric of his sweater. He tells Peter he needs to call an ambulance, to which Peter tries to reply but his eyes roll back in his head. Peter begins to have a seizure and glow and the cab driver shouts in confusion. Peter's bones glow through his skin and a fire light up in his eyes and mouth. The cab driver leaps out of the car as it begins to catch fire, and the camera zooms out to an overhead shot as the cab explodes, building into a nuclear detonation that consumes the city and sends flames rising up into the screen. We cut to black and the sounds of sirens, screaming, and fire.
After the Series 3 intro an overhead view of New York City is shown.
Late Winter, 2009.
An old television shows a news broadcast within a grimy apartment late at night. On the screen there is helicopter footage of the broken span of the Verazanno-Narrows bridge. The newscaster says it has been four months since the terrorist organization calling itself PARIAH destroyed the only bridge between Brooklyn and Staten Island. Teo Laudani watches the news, bearded and unkempt. He looks like he has had a hard time. Magnes is nearby, asleep on Teo's couch.
Teo shuts off the television and gets up, putting on a coat. When he opens the door, Magnes asks him where he's going. Teo only says "out" and then leaves. Teo walks down the streets of Manhattan past tent cities of homeless people in a park, past a convenience store on fire being looted, past several people beating up another person and stealing his shoes. In this montage the deteriorating state of America is highlighted, interspersed with real news footage from 2009 discussing heightened Evolved crimes and widespread violence.
Teo ends his walk at a warehouse where an illegal club is operating. The bouncers let Teo inside and seem familiar with him. Teo enters the underground club and moves through a sweaty, neon-lit dance floor, to find his way to a private back room. There, Teo is greeted by Kain Zarek, who is watching the people on the dance floor while drinking. Kain asks Teo if he's here for another score, to which Teo says he is. Kain motions to a half-naked woman on his couch who portions out cocaine from a mirror into a baggie, then exchanges it with Teo for a handful of cash.
When Teo starts to leave, Kain asks him if he's talked to Richard at all since everything "went down." Teo says he hasn't seen Richard in a long time. Kain looks deep in thought and becomes quiet, looking back out to the dance floor. Teo leaves.
We cut to Teo walking down the street as several police cars with their sirens on rush past him. Teo is momentarily nervous, but it passes when the police don't seem to be looking for him. Teo walks up to the Crimson Security Solutions building that has a foreclosure sign in the window. The business' sign has been taken down. Teo uses his keys to get inside and we see that the office has been gutted. There is almost no furniture, no computers, no files.
Teo walks to Cardinal's old office and sits at the desk that was left behind. He opens the baggie of cocaine and puts some on his finger and snorts it up his nose. We fade to black.
Four Months Earlier.
Teo, Elisabeth, Eve, and Wireless are trapped in the dark below the Consolidated Edison power plant. Eve is badly hurt and unconscious, Elisabeth and Wireless are trying to carry her. They struggle in the dark, navigating by the light of a cell phone through partly collapsed subway tunnels until they reach the city. It is so dark they don't realize they're outside at first. The power is out across the city and there are fires burning in the distance. There are pops of gunfire and shouting, Elisabeth says it sounds like a riot. Teo looks horrified and we see a closeup of his face as he whispers, "What have we done?"
On a foggy morning, a fishing boat pulls into harbor on Staten Island. Several fishermen step off the boat, followed by Sylar. His hair has grown out and he is bearded. One of the crew members pats him on the back and calls him "Gabriel" and asks if he is going to join them for drinks later. "Gabriel" smiles and says he absolutely will, he just has to get home and clean up. The fisherman asks Gabriel if he's found a permanent place yet, to which Gabriel says he is "still looking."
We cut to the interior of a motel room where Gabriel takes off his clothes and showers. He is covered in fresh scars from the battle on the Narrows. One scar winds around the back of his head through his hairline. Gabriel gets out of the shower and looks at himself in the mirror but the glass is foggy with condensation. When Gabriel wipes his hand across the mirror the mutilated corpse of Jenny Childs is standing behind him in his reflection. Gabriel screams and turns around but there is no one there. Gabriel begins to tremble, sobs, and then curls up on the floor in the bathroom holding his head.
Outside the motel a short time later, Gabriel emerges and walks down the street. As the camera zooms back, we see he is being watched by someone sitting on a bus stop bench in a leather jacket and hoodie. This mysterious figure stands up and starts following Gabriel.
At Teo's apartment, Magnes is having breakfast by himself, watching the news. Agent Parkins is on the television, talking about the critical work the Department of Evolved Affairs will be doing to protect the American people against Evolved criminal activity. He talks about the children who died at Red Hook High School and Magnes angrily turns the TV off, right as Teo comes home.
Magnes asks Teo if he was out all night. Teo dodges the question and starts fixing himself a bowl of cereal. Magnes says that Teo looks like shit. Teo says that feels accurate. There is an awkward pause between them and Teo asks if Helena or Eve have checked in at all to which Magnes says they haven't. Magnes then stares into his own bowl of cereal and asks Teo if he thinks Cardinal and "the others" are ok. Teo's eyes go distant and he shakes his head, saying that he "doesn't know."
Magnes asks Teo if they're ever going to be safe. Teo doesn't answer. When Magnes gets upset Teo yells and tells Magnes he's free to leave whenever he wants. Magnes starts to get up, then gets teary-eyed, and sits down again. He says he misses how things used to be. Teo agrees and they finish their breakfast in silence.
We cut to an older man inside an office, there are photographs of him when he was younger in a police officer's uniform on the wall behind him. This is Captain Karen Lau (Nicole Young). She tells someone off camera that they were the best detective the NYPD had, and it was a shame when they retired. Lau says the world has changed and asks if they "have what it takes to make a different in this one." The camera turns to reveal Elisabeth Harrison sitting across from Captain Lau. She says she "has a pretty good idea what this world is capable of, and it needs to change."
Captain Lau says that once the paperwork is finalized, the NYPD would be glad to have Elisabeth back on the force. Lau asks if Elisabeth would prefer to work a desk after "everything that happened at the school." Elisabeth says she needs to be in the field doing work hands-on with the people of New York. Captain Lau agrees. She says she mourns for every life that was lost in the Red Hook attack and asks Elisabeth if she can ask her a candid question. Elisabeth says "no questions are off the table." Captain Lau asks Elisabeth if she is rejoining the force to get revenge against PARIAH. Elisabeth smirks and says "no. That doesn't seem likely."
On Staten Island, Gabriel comes out of a bar with a few of his coworkers at dusk. He is slightly drunk and in a good mood. He parts ways with his coworkers and starts to walk back home. On Gabriel's route home we are shown desperate homelessness, wild dogs roaming the streets of Staten Island, and considerable poverty. Crossing through a park full of canvas tarp tends, Gabriel stops to look at the skyline of Manhattan illuminated across the water.
Gabriel is distracted by the sight of Manhattan, when suddenly a crow flies at him. Gabriel ducks under the bird and a gunshot rings out. People in the park scatter and Gabriel looks around. He sees a man in a leather jacket with a hood up and a high-powered rifle aiming at him. Gabriel starts to run and the gunman fires again, hitting a tree next to him. There is a chase through the tent city as Gabriel runs for his life while being shot at. He crashes through some bushes, rolls down an embankment and runs into a parking lot crowded with abandoned cars.
Gabriel's attacker comes through the bushes a moment later, scanning the parking lot through the scope of his rifle. Gabriel is ducked behind a car, hand cupped over his mouth, tears streaming down his face. He waits for a while until his attacker disappears back into the bushes. A moment later a crow calls out to get Gabriel's attention, and he sees it is perched atop an open gate in the chain-link fence surrounding the parking lot. Gabriel crawls over to the gate, slips out and scrambles away down the street.
At night in Teo's apartment, Magnes gets a text from Helena that asks "U @ Ts?" Magnes replies yes, and Helena responds back with, "Roof." Magnes gets up and sees Teo asleep on the couch, considers waking him, then leaves the apartment.
On the roof, Magnes finds Helena looking out over the city. He rushes over to her and they hug, and Magnes asks how she is doing. Helena says that she, Wireless, and Norman have been running "coyote" operations getting Evolved out of New York City since the crackdowns started. Magnes asks where Eve is and Helena says she never saw her after "Con Edison." Helena asks about Cardinal and Magnes says he hasn't seen him since Homeland Security raided his business.
Helena apologizes for not reaching out sooner, but that she still has hard feelings about Teo since he "quit." Magnes says Teo hasn't been doing well, which elicits Teo -- who was eavesdropping -- to tell Magnes to "mind his own fucking business." Teo approaches Helena and tells her to leave. Helena says she's here to talk to Magnes and Teo says "that's too bad." Helena says he can make his own choices and Teo gets in her face and says "he's just a kid."
Electricity crackles around Helena's clenched fists. Teo asks Helena if she's going to kill him because he "disagreed" with her. Helena tells Teo to go fuck himself and she steps up onto the edge of the roof and drops off. Magnes rushes to the side and watches Helena slowly glide down to the ground on an updraft of wind. Magnes turns to Teo to yell at him, but he's gone and the door to the roof stairs is left open.
At Elisabeth Harrison's apartment, we see her getting a beer out of her refrigerator. The news is playing in the background talking about violence in New York City spread by "rising fear of the Evolved threat." Elisabeth walks into the living room and we see a television broadcast of President Nathan Petrelli (Guy Yorke) calling for calm and understanding. Elisabeth rolls her eyes and takes a sip of her beer. Someone off-camera on the couch asks, "did you get one for me?" Elisabeth turns it is revealed that Richard Cardinal is hiding out with her. She says, "you know where they are."
Cardinal tells Elisabeth that she is playing a dangerous game and warns her that walking "into the lion's den" while harboring a fugitive when the President is talking about stricter laws and harsher punishments seems insane. Elisabeth says "insane isn't wrong" which Cardinal agrees with. He thanks her for taking such a risk for him, and Elisabeth reminds him that they're both "on the chopping block" one day, her time just hasn't come yet. Richard agrees and Elisabeth apologizes for her uncomfortable couch. Cardinal says there's a "simple solution" to that and Elisabeth looks at her bedroom door, then back to Cardinal and replies, "not a chance, Dick." Cardinal laughs and shrugs and says, "guess I'll go get myself a beer."
At Gabriel's motel room he is nervously pacing across the floor. He checks the peep hole in the front door, then peeks out the curtains. Gabriel looks panicked and afraid. Something taps on the window and Gabriel jumps away from it. We hear birds crowing outside, growing in number. Gabriel backs away from the window and moves to the door when a gunshot tears through it. Gabriel scrambles away and more gunshots punch through the door. He screams in fear and flees to the window, opening it and fighting with the screen, trying to escape.
The attacker from the park kicks in Gabriel's door and trains a gun at him. He shouts, "Sylar!" Gabriel turns and looks at his attacker and drops on his knees and begs "please don't shoot me." The attacker pulls back his hood and reveals it is Peter Petrelli, covered with scars. Gabriel stares up at Peter and asks "Why are you doing this to me?" Peter grabs Gabriel by the collar and pushes him up against the wall and presses the barrel of his pistol under Gabriel's chin.
Peter says Gabriel "knows why" after "what he did." Gabriel says he doesn't remember anything, he says he's sorry if he ever hurt anyone. Peter looks confused, then turns Gabriel's head to the side with the barrel of his gun and sees the scar on the back of his head. Something unsettles Peter and he steps away, gun trained on Gabriel. He demands Gabriel attack him. Gabriel says he can't, that he doesn't want to, and collapses to his knees sobbing. Peter calls him Sylar again and Gabriel asks him why he keeps calling him that. Peter is conflicted.
Peter starts to lower his gun when the screaming birds tear through the screen and flood into the motel room. Peter fires repeatedly at the birds as they attack him and is forced to flee out of the room. As he runs, firing at the birds, someone slips into the motel room and approaches Gabriel. He recoils in fear, covering his face with his arms. We see a small pair of hands take Gabriel by the arms and gently lowers them.
There is a close up on Eileen Ruskin's face. She says directly into the camera, "You're safe now."
After a fade to black we hear her whisper, "but we have to run."