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S03E08 - Lessons in Karma

In the cold open we see light filtering through prison bars. Outside the barred window there is a view of the New York City skyline. The camera comes into focus on a bearded man in an orange jumpsuit with a shaved head, standing with his back to the window. It is Richard Cardinal. There is a buzzing noise off-screen and Richard walks toward the camera until it goes black in his silhouette. We cut to a scene of Richard walking through a prison and the title card at the bottom of the screen reads, "Rikers Island, 2004." We learn that Richard is a prisoner at Rikers and watch a brief montage of his day, eating in a cafeteria, exercising in the prison yard, reading a book on economics on his bed, and then lying awake at night.

While Richard is lying awake at night, he extends his hand into the moonlight and his hand turns into a milky, black smoke and then reconstitutes to a solid form when he pulls it out of the moonlight. He is testing himself and the limits of his ability. In that late hour, Richard hears someone coming to his cell and he looks nervous. We cut away to show a heavily tattooed older man sliding a shiv out from his sleeve and a corrupt guard leading him to Richard's cell. But when they get there, Richard's cell is empty. The guard curses and looks confused.

After the Season 3 intro we are shown an aerial view of New York City.

Five Years Later.

Late Winter, 2009.

A secretary at a reception desk says, "Richard Cardinal?" into the camera. We cut to see Richard standing in the lobby of the Pinehearst building, checking his pockets like he's trying to find his phone. He comes up empty and steps over to the desk. The receptionist tells Richard that his appointment isn't for another half an hour and says that he is early. Richard pinches his fingers together and makes a sly face, replying "maybe a little bit?" The receptionist points him over to a public waiting area in clear view of security, but Richard asks where the bathroom is. He is pointed to a bathroom near the security desk.

Richard enters the bathroom and checks the stalls to make sure he's alone, then turns off the bathroom's lights. A security light remains over the mirrors, but it casts the room into deep shadows. He slips into a stall, checking the ceiling for cameras. He laughs to himself and says, "Nobody wants to watch someone take a shit." Richard then pushes his hand into one of the shadows and slides into it like it was the surface of water. He pulls his hand out, checking it, and then dives through the wall of the stall and ends up in an empty office on another floor. Richard finds a computer and quickly attaches a USB device to it, watching the ceiling-mounted cameras. Before he can be spotted, he steps back into the shadows and emerges into another office, then another, and another, each time attaching a small USB devices to available computers, repeating his earlier espionage while dodging the line of sight of the cameras.

When Richard jumps for a fifth time he winds up in what looks like a medical lab. No one is present and most of the lights are off. Richard walks around the lab, noticing that there are no cameras. He comes to an empty operating table, looking at surgical tools and then sees a lightbox with images of a damaged spine. Richard looks at the X-Rays for a moment, then finds his attention drawn to a vial of murky white liquid in a refrigeration unit. He inspects the label which reads, "E-CSF-2112." Richard palms the vial, then steps into the shadows and returns to the bathroom.

Richard emerges into the lobby a moment later, but as he steps out of the door he walks head-on into Odessa Price. Odessa stops and looks at Richard and the two have a silent moment of inspection of one another before Richard apologizes and cheerfully explains that he washed his hands, raising them with a smile. Odessa seems put off and straightens her sweater, clutching a clipboard to her chest before she hurries to a nearby elevator. Richard straightens his tie and walks back to the waiting area and gives an intentionally awkward thumbs-up to the receptionist who looks away and focuses on their desktop computer's screen.

At the Ferrymen Headquarters, we find Eileen in an old subway bathroom that has been converted to a holding cell. Teo stands guard outside with a rifle, letting Norman in. Norman approaches Eileen, who stands up from where she was sitting on the floor. He demands to know everything about what she's been doing and unholsters a gun from his jacket. Eileen is silent and Norman asks her if she knows who he is. She says she does and that's why she isn't saying anything. We hear a voice at the doorway and Gillian enters.


Norman tells Gillian to leave but she convinces him to let her stay. Gillian implores Eileen to cooperate because they need her help and tells Norman that not everyone has a choice about who they work for or make the right choices all the time, implying Norman and Wireless's time with the Company. Norman replies back that it was different, the Company didn't try to destroy the world. Gillian counters with, "they didn't try, they succeeded." Norman takes another look at Eileen in silence.

Elsewhere in the Ferrymen's headquarters, we see Helena and Lynette looking over maps. Helena explains that the Pinehearst corporate headquarters is located in Fort Lee, New Jersey. But that there's a secondary site that Eileen discovered in the town of Elisabeth New Jersey. Lynette pulls up documents from Wireless that show the building's history and that millions of dollars went into its construction and that it has a large basement level and no external power grid connections. Lynette takes a look at several other blueprints and seems confused, searching for something. Helena asks her what she's found and Lynette says that thee blueprints belong to the Consolidated Edison power company and show power lines being laid from the corporate office to the remote facility, but that there's also power lines laid under a freeway heading north.

Helena asks Lynette how she can make heads or tails of these blueprints and she says she studied electrical engineering in college and it elicits a laugh from Helena. Lynette says she took the classes because she wanted to be in the same class as a guy she had a crush on, but that she eventually found the topic interesting. Lynette explains that there are multiple contracts through multiple power companies laying more than a hundred miles of power cables going somewhere to the northeast. Helena asks if Lynette can tell where they're going and she says the documents aren't complete, but in time she could. Teo comes in and asks Helena and Lynette to come with him, that Wireless and Norman have news.

In Wireless' den, the Ferrymen are gathered for a briefing. Eileen Ruskin is there, much to Helena's surprise and anger. Norman says that Eileen has offered to help the Ferrymen deal with Pinehearst in exchange for starting a new leaf. Wireless looks upset but does not contradict Norman. Gillian explains that Eileen was the one who found Pinehearst's second building and that everyone who was captured—Magnes included—is likely being held there. Lynette chimes in saying she has some information as well, holding up some of the paperwork Wireless downloaded for her. Lynette says the entire facility is powered by a small nuclear reactor. Norman and Wireless exchange concerned glances and Teo asks why a biotech company needs that much power. No one answers.

Back at Pinehearst's corporate office, Richard Cardinal checks the time, seeing that he has five minutes before his meeting. He approaches the reception desk and says he left his phone in his car and will be right back. The receptionist nods and smiles, but we see when Richard leaves the receptionist picks up a phone and places a call.

Out in the parking lot, Richard enters his car and takes the serum vial out of his pocket and picks up his phone to take a photograph of the label. That's when he notices he has ten missed calls. Panicked, Richard unlocks his phone and sees numerous missed text messages, the last of which being: IT ISN'T SAFE, WRONG BUILDING, GET OUT.

Richard tucks his phone inside his jacket and looks up seeing Malcolm Parkins just outside his driver's side window. Cardinal startles and we hear Parkins' voice echo and booming call out, "Hello, Richard." Parkins' mouth is not moving.

In the basement of the Pinehearst company's research facility an elevator door opens and we see Arthur Petrelli wheel out with Odessa Price walking behind him. She is explaining the versatility and resiliance of their latest subject and Arthur asks if he is a suitable replacement candidate for "the Formula." Odessa nods and explains she has considerable experience with this particular subject and badges Arthur through into a research lab. We find a similar lab full of scientists in biohazard suits standing around an operation table where someone is undergoing invasive surgery. On that table, we see Sylar.

Arthur looks at Sylar and then Odessa and tells her to prep him for extraction. Odessa nods and approaches a cooler containing rows of pinkish fluid vials and asks Arthur when he plans on undergoing his next round of treatments. Arthur pulls up one sleeve, revealing numerous injection marks on his arm and then looks at Odessa and says, "now."

At the Ferrymen headquarters Teo comes hurrying down a flight of stairs. He says that he just received a call from Elisabeth Harrison and that she picked up radio chatter that Richard Cardinal's car was found abandoned along a stretch of the New Jersey turnpike and that authorities are looking for him. Wireless says that there isn't much that can be done right now, but she says the Ferry have to assume that Richard has been captured and compromised. Suddenly Wireless looks like she hears something and jerks her head to the side, Teo asks what's wrong and she shouts, "They're here!" A moment later a tear gas canister is launched into the subway station.

Chaos ensues as a dozen men in body armor converge on Grand Central Station. Teo runs to find Gillian who is with Eileen, the gunfight spills into the map room and Teo tries to buy them time to escape, shooting down open tunnels. EIleen says that there are no birds down here but the ones one the surface don't show any trucks, that these people must have come from the subway system, that they knew what they were looking for. Gillian and Eileen try to make an escape with Teo retreating with them.

Elsewhere in Grand Central Station, Lynette and Helena hear the sounds of fighting when two armed men burst into their planning room. Lynette transforms into lightning and bursts through one of the men's chests killing him instantly in a gory explosion of electricity. Helena and Lynette flee into the map room where Wireless and Norman are pinned down by gunfire. A huge battle ensues where Helena and Lynette use their combined abilities to try and hold off the attackers. The tide turns when the shrieks of hundreds of birds fill the air and a cloud of bids erupts from down a tunnel. The soldiers stagger and struggle as the birds batter up against them, peck at their eyes and exposed skin, and leave the Ferrymen alone. Helena whispers Eileen's name and the four move to escape, but not before Wireless remotely triggers a self-destruct system, igniting thermite grenades installed around their command areas.

Flames fill the subway tunnel as the Ferrymen make their escape through the sewers to the surface where they find Gillian augmenting Eileen's ability. Gillian looks exhausted and Eileen asks if her plan worked. Norman and Wireless both reluctantly say it did and Helena offers Eileen a tense thank-you. Lynette, seemingly more open, shows her appreciation with a relieved hug which Eileen does not know how to respond to. Teo says they aren't out of the woods yet and need to get out of Midtown. Wireless says now that they're on the surface she'll use a satellite to keep an eye out. Norman asks who that was that attacked and no one seems to be sure.

Eileen says the attackers uniforms had a security company's logo on it: Stillwater Security Solutions. Wireless says that was a company that bought up much of Richard's business after he shuttered it following the incident at the Narrows. Lines of code flash in front of her eyes and Wireless looks at the others and says, "they're owned by the Pinehearst Company." 

Elsewhere in the Pinehearst research facility, we see Peter sitting with Eve. Eve is painting a new picture but it is too early to see what it is. Peter asks Eve how she's doing and she says "right as rain." Peter and Eve talk about their lives prior to the Midtown explosion and how they were friends for years before the world fell apart. Peter says he never knew his father was as powerful as he claims to be and Eve says "power is relative." She continues painting and it is clear she is painting two men standing a few feet apart from one another, back to back.

Peter asks Eve if she trusts him and Eve replies in the affirmative. Peter says she shouldn't and Eve asks why. Peter explains that he lied to her for a long time, that he was set up by the government to destroy PARIAH from the inside and Cameron found out, and that's why he had to leave. Eve seems unphased and continues painting her picture, drawing thick black lines connecting the two men. Eve says she knew, and Peter asks Eve why she didn't tell Cameron, and Eve looks at Peter and says, "How do you think he found out?" Peter looks shocked and stands up, and Eve returns to her painting.

Eve explains that friendship and trust are currencies that can be exchanged, that debts can be accrued, and overpayments made. Peter doesn't understand and Eve doesn't clarify, but she says that the things she sees in her life are like loans and cash advances, promises of future behavior that can earn "credit." Peter still doesn't explain, and Eve shows him her line-art painting, depicting Peter's father standing up back-to-back with a man Peter recognizes as Sylar, the two connected by thick black lines. Peter asks what this means and Eve says she painted something similar once, and Peter asks how long ago. She says, "long enough," and explains that it was different. Peter wonders how so and Eve says, "it wasn't Sylar, it was you."

We cut to an apartment in the Pinehearst research facility. LED lights come on in the ceiling, flooding the room with bright light. Touch-screen displays showing New York City like faux windows flicker on. The camera pans over to reveal Richard Cardinal laying in a bed, squinting at the bright lights in the ceiling. He rolls off of his back and onto the floor, feeling around for a space under the bed, but finds it is flush with the floor. Richard searches for shadows, even his own, and finds too many lights. He turns around, slowly, looking panicked.

Richard is trapped in a prison he cannot escape.

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