Sylar (aka Gabriel Gray), played by Zachary Quinto, is the psychotic power-stealing serial killer from "Heroes." Ironically, or more likely by accident, this villain is by far the most compelling character on the show.
Due to the structure of "Heroes," details about certain timepoints in Sylar's life come out, not chronologically, but in flashbacks. This means that the writers have a tendency to forget things they wrote, like,
a season two episodes before. Some people refer to this as "ret-conning"; other people call bullshit.
Translation: Some of this doesn't make sense. Just go with it.
Oh, also. ***Spoiler Alert*** For pretty much the entire show, actually, given that at times "Heroes" may as well be called the "Sylar Power Hour." This is doubly true in Season 4 when there are literally two Sylars floating about.
"Sylar" was born Gabriel Gray to father Samuel Gray and a mother who was on screen so briefly she didn't even warrant a first name. Samuel too had the ability of Inutitive Aptitude (IA) and THE HUNGER to acquire abilities. In a move so dickish it's unbelievable that young Gabriel forgot it (until it was convenient plot-wise for this memory to resurface), Samuel simultaneously sold his son to his brother, and killed his wife in front of the boy. Just 'cause.
Gabriel grew up with his watchmaker uncle, believing him to be his father. Dick moves seem to be a trait of the Grays' Y-chromosome since, in a stunt strangely reminescent of Nelson Muntz' dad, Gabriel's adoptive father left in the middle of the night to buy cigarettes and never came home. So Gabriel was raised by his single, batty, Jesus-and-Snowglobe-loving adoptive-mother, who instilled in him a fierce desire to be extraordinary.
Since the show insists the most obvious use of IA is to fix watches, the sweater-vest and glasses wearing Gabriel was committed to a horribly monotonous, boring, unimportant, UN-SPECIAL career of restoring timepieces...wishing for something...more.*sigh*
That something more came along in the form of Dr. Chandra Suresh, who, with unprecedented access to the genomes of every person in the world, discovered that Gabriel may be SPECIAL. Gabriel sought out a man who really sucked at having telekenesis (TK). The IA kicked in when he realized that the man, LIKE THE WATCHES HE FIXED, was broken (notice the brilliant weaving of metaphors). He couldn't help but find TK so...fascinating...and if he could just...figure out how it worked...and...that brain...so tempting...BRAINZ!!!...OOOPs dude's dead. Somehow, Gabriel worked out how to integrate the DNA of SPECIAL people into his own, effectively shitting on the entire field of genetics.
[Bonus Ret-con Update: In a flashback from Volume 3, "The Company" had heard about Gabriel's method of acquiring abilities. But instead of letting the dude hang himself, which would have ended 90% of the problems in the series before the show even began, Noah Bennett (aka "Horned Rimmed Glasses" aka HRG aka BAMF) and Elle Bishop (sexy electro-chick) stepped in and actively encouraged his serial killer behaviour in order to observe his absorbing of abilities. They then allowed him to roam free in the world as "Sylar"; the contacts, gelled-back hair and black-themed wardrobe indicated to everyone of his succumbing to the dark side. Don't worry, this bites HRG in the ass later (but sooner than the show would allow you to believe) when Sylar targets his daughter. Hindsight's always 20-20, but just because you're nearsighted doesn't mean your foresight need be that shitty (see what I did there?)]
During the first third of the first season, while a whole bunch of people start to discover their abilities and NBC's ratings skyrocket, Sylar's villain-ing it up in the shadows; killing, collecting powers, and evading The Company who had just made him a monster and set him loose upon the world (this can't be emphasized enough). Whispers of this "Sylar" are bantied about, but as Zachary Quinto hadn't been cast yet, viewers settle for a silhouette sawing off people's skulls.
Eventually, a badass future version of the time-traveller Hiro comes to empath Peter Petrelli to deliver the enticingly quoatable promo-line "Save the Cheerleader, Save the World." Since Claire Bennett, HRG's adoptive daughter, has the ability to heal from any wound, making her effectively immortal, she becomes Sylar's next target. Peter Petrelli, who can absorb abilities and is therefore Sylar's only match on the show, does in fact save the cheerleader.
[Bonus Ret-con Update: Recently, Hiro travelled back in time from the fourth season to stop Sylar from killing his one true love, Charlie, a chick who remembered everything. Sylar used his IA and TK (telekenesis) to cure her of a brain aneurysm in exchange for information about his future. Hiro totally screws him over by telling him that he will get alot of powers but will "die alone." Instead of, I don't know, forcing Hiro to give up just a little more, he dumbly lets Hiro escape and continues about his business to try and Kill the Cheerleader as if nothing different happened.]
Sylar gets captured by The Company, humours them a bit before escaping, and gets up to some crazy shenanigans for the remainder of the season; many of which include exchanging blatantly homoerotic glances with Mohinder Suresh.
This is completely unedited from the source footage. Fill in your own damn context.
Mohinder eventually catches on, but Sylar almost kills him before Peter Petrelli shows up. This is the first time we get a taste of an almost-awesome fight between Sylar and Peter. Sadly, this is mid-season, and it ends too soon. But don't worry. We're definitely building towards something here. There's totally going to be an epic showdown between these two.
Sylar steals some pre-cog painting powers and believes he sees a plan to blow up New York in which he is the bomb. Distraught, since murdering people without gain is apparently where he draws the ethical boundary, he seeks out his mother to try and end his killing ways. He ends up killing her after she tries to force him to eat a sandwich, so....fail? Fail.
Sylar has another vision and realizes Peter Petrelli will be the bomb and he will be the "hero," stepping up in the aftermath as a faux-Congressman Nathan Petrelli and eventually becoming President. In a future!episode we saw this exact scenario unfold, but the epic Sylar-Peter superpowered showdown occured behind a closed door. So the finale is where we get a Peter-Sylar fight worth writing about, right? RIGHT?!
Short answer: Nope.
Hiro usse a sword to scratch Sylar's back via his front.
Nobody fucking liked this season, so lets get this over with.
Sylar isn't dead, but wakes up in Central America with all of his powers missing due to some virus. On his journey back to America, he meets up with demon-powered twins Maya and Alejandro. He kills the latter and bones the former all within a 10 minute time frame. Not one audience member shows an ounce of emotion for either development. Sylar gets the cure to the virus and is back to his old super-powered self as the volume closes off.
Strap in, ladies and gents; this one's kind of a rollercoaster for Sylar. Actually, since his characterization goes through several ups, downs, pointless twists and turns in these 13 episodes, only for him to end up back where he started, it's EXACTLY a rollercoaster.
Remember how Sylar is rivalled only by Peter as being the most powerful man on the planet? For some reason, several seemingly intelligent characters attempt to manipulate him for their own means. What's shocking is it works as long as it does, since his natural ability is supposed to be able to figure shit out.
We start out the third season by effectively negating half of the first season; namely, Sylar steals Claire's indestructableness, thus ensuring that the most popular character on the show will never, ever die. The writers high five themselves for ensuring ratings for years to come (except, not so much...).
Sylar and Elle go at it (fighting), accidentally letting all the baddest baddies stored at The Company escape. Angela Petrelli, Peter and Nathan's mom, tells Sylar that he's the son that she abandoned. Sylar buys this for some reason, and starts working with HRG to round up the escaped baddies. In a volume called "Villains," could the main villain be The Hero? Redemption is a fickle thing, as almost noone is prepared to accept Sylar as a good guy, and there is a particularily awkward scene in which Sylar tries to apologize for brain-raping Claire days earlier (she's alive, btw; indestructable and all...). Since he's supposedly her uncle now, it's extra icky, and the way in which the whole thing is handled kind of indicates that this atonement business isn't going to stick.
Eventually, Sylar switches to the other side, run by the power-absorbing Arthur Petrelli; Peter, Nathan and allegedly Sylar's father (this family is fucked). After getting the shit electrocuted out of him for an episode by a pissed-off Elle (Sylar killed her dad), Sylar realizes that like his "father" and "brother," he has empathic abilities and doesn't have to kill to acquire powers. Sylar borrows some of Elle's electro-ability and they go at it (fucking). This is probably the most beautiful relationship in the series since they both are attractive, sociopathic, super-powered killers with daddy issues. Which is why, an episode later, we reach the lowest of low points in the series when Sylar kills Elle simply to prove he's done with the whole redemption thing and back to being EVIL.
Seriously, Fuck You Tim Kring.
Sylar then gets lie-detector abilities, and uses them to confirm that both Arthur and Angela were lying to him about being his bio-parents. What's impressive here is that Mama and Papa Petrelli's stories sync up despite them leading opposing armies for this volume, and are never communicate, outside of dreams, during it. What's even more impressive is that the writers blatantly contradict themselves here, since the explanation that Sylar can now simply absorb abilities (rather than killing) hinged largely on the (false) revelation that Sylar was really a Petrelli, and absorbing abilities is kinda their thing.
Sylar kills Arthur, and sets up a funhouse in The Company, where he asks Claire to choose between killing her foster dad, HRG, who made him a monster, or her grandmother, Angela, who's lies made him a monster again. Trick ultimatum! He kills Claire's firestarter bio-mom instead, who really did nothing to him, but the jokes on him as Claire shoves a piece of glass into his head and leaves him as The Company burns to the ground.
That glass melts, and that Sylar is indestructable, are facts that never seem to cross any of their minds.
to be continued...