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How to Debate an Exploding Candidate

by Zeke

Warning: Spoilers for Heroes through the premiere of Season 3. No spoilers for the 2008 election, which wasn't over yet when I started on this. Any resemblance to real people or talking points is all in your mind. Also, there's one scene in here so tasteless it offends even me. Plan your outrage accordingly.

The colours are to make this thing easier to read. You can turn them off.

Mohinder: Good evening and welcome to the final United States presidential debate of 2012. I'm Dr. Mohinder Suresh, and I'll be moderating tonight's debate.

Sylar: *ahem*

Mohinder: *sigh* As will Mr. Gabriel Gray. For reasons I am still unable to comprehend.

Sylar: Come on, Mohinder, you know how it works. One of us, one of them.

Mohinder: One decent human being and one psychotic killer?

Sylar: One smart guy and one celebrity. I'm here for the fangirl demographic.

Mohinder: (I can't believe I agreed to this...) Anyway, let me begin by introducing the first presidential candidate, Senator Nathan Petrelli from New York. Welcome, Senator.

Nathan: Thanks, Mohinder. Great to be here.

(Nathan gives one of those JFK smiles he specializes in. The crowd goes wild.)

Mohinder: And with Senator Petrelli tonight is his running mate, Ms. Niki Sanders.

Niki: Hi, Dr. Suresh.

Mohinder: It is Niki, isn't it? There are some other names written here and crossed out.

Niki: I was certainly Niki last time I checked. I'll let you know if that changes.

(The crowd laughs. Niki frowns slightly, as if not getting the joke. Nathan coughs.)

Sylar: If I may say so, Ms. Sanders, you look beautiful tonight.

Niki: Why, thank you.

Sylar: Positively... delicious.

(Suresh rolls up his interview notes and whacks Sylar with them.)

Sylar: Hey! Take it easy. I'm not going to do anything right here in public.

Mohinder: Then you were just being sexist. I'm fine either way.

Niki: I thought it was sweet. Creepy, but sweet.

Mohinder: Anyway, enough of that. Our second candidate tonight is Mr. Adam Monroe.

Adam: *grinning* Hello, America!

Mohinder: Mr. Monroe is also listed here under the name Takezo Kensei, which is Japanese, and which I'm pretty sure is in the wrong order.

Adam: Not a problem, my friend. My people can call me whatever they like.

Mohinder: And also under the names John York, Sir Archibald of Hasting, Richard Wilkins III, Enrico Cardano...

Adam: Yes, well...

Mohinder: ...Saddam von Hitler...

Adam: Let's just stick with Adam Monroe.

Sylar: Too bad. I liked that last one.

Mohinder: *spinning on Sylar* I swear to God, I will KILL you!

Audience: ...

Mohinder: Sorry. I have that reaction whenever I hear his voice. His twisted, clawing voice... someday... someday...

Sylar: With Mr. Monroe tonight is his running mate, Mr. Hiro Nakamura.

(Sylar indicates Hiro, who's standing behind Monroe and looking extremely uncomfortable.)

Sylar: Mr. Monroe also seems to have brought his campaign manager, Mr. Ando Masahashi.

Ando: *thrilled* Hello, everynyun! How are you? Fine, thank you!

Sylar: Thank you, Mr. Ma--

Ando: I wish I were a bird!

Sylar: Thanks, that'll do.

(Ando returns to his spot, then gives Niki an incredibly obvious wink. She doesn't notice.)

Sylar: Well, Mohinder, shall we get started?

Mohinder: (Kill you kill you KILL YOU) Yes, let's. Tonight's first question is perhaps the most fundamental: Why do you feel that America should choose you to be president? We'll begin with Senator Petrelli, the... er...

Nathan: Yes?

Mohinder: I just realized I don't know what party you represent.

Sylar: Come to think of it, neither do I. His campaign has been almost suspiciously vague on the subject.

Nathan: We have?

Mohinder: Well, now is a good time to get it settled. Senator?

Nathan: I'm a Republican. It's the rules. In the entertainment industry, Democrats get all the idealistic idiots and Republicans get all the smarmy, jerkhole-ish yet awesome politicans.

Mohinder: (The entertainment industry?)

Nathan: I guess we've avoided nailing it down because no Hollywood writer wants to be caught writing a remotely sympathetic Republican character.

Mohinder: (Character?)

Sylar: Thank you, Senator. Now, you heard the question...

Nathan: And an excellent question it is, Mr. Gray. Why should America choose me? Because I believe in getting things done. This great nation is facing problems, and as president, I will solve them. I will work to promote good things, and I will oppose bad things.

Mohinder: Can you be a bit more specific?

Nathan: Well, take global warming. It seems like an insurmountable obstacle. But as difficult as the solution may be to find, I believe we as a unified nation can do it. And I will lead that effort as best I can.

Mohinder: I see.

Nathan: Or take the economic crisis. It seems like an insurmountable obstacle. But as difficult as --

Mohinder: Thank you, Senator, that's all the time you have for this question.

Sylar: (He has three more minutes.)

Mohinder: (Don't you think I know that?)

Sylar: Whatever. Mr. Monroe, over to you, same question.

Adam: But I don't think he should be president.

Sylar: No, you.

Adam: Ah. Well, that's easy. I will change America.

Mohinder: What sort of change would this be?

Adam: *sly smile* You'll find out.

(Hiro looks very nervous.)

Sylar: I like the confidence.

Mohinder: Mr. Monroe, I'll have to ask for specifics from you too. What would you do about al Qaeda?

Adam: Oh, hunt them down. Gates of hell, you know the drill. It doesn't really matter.

Mohinder: It doesn't?

Adam: Well, it'll be a moot point.

Mohinder: How so?

(Adam just smiles again.)

Mohinder: Perhaps we should proceed to the next question. In light of the current geopolitical --

Sylar: Booooring. Let's do a question from the audience.

Mohinder: Already?

Sylar: They're getting restless.

Mohinder: I suppose it shouldn't surprise me that a misanthopic killer has such a low opinion of the American people. I think their attention span is a bit longer than --

(Sylar taps Mohinder's shoulder and points to the audience. Most of them are asleep.)

Mohinder: *sigh* Gong, please.

(At the back of the room, a large gong is banged. Everyone jerks upright and tries to act like they were awake.)

Mohinder: I hate you, Sylar. Very well, let's have our first selected audience question.

(A bald man steps up to the microphone.)

Bald Man: My question is for Senator Petrelli. Senator, I was reading in the paper the other day about your brother.

Nathan: (Uh oh.)

Bald Man: Apparently you sort of threw him under the bus in your campaign for Congress.

Nathan: I'd prefer not to discuss personal matters. If you have a question about my policies --

Bald Man: And now here you are, a senator, and yet your brother is still working a nine-to-five job and living in a run-down apartment in Kenya.

Nathan: What?

Bald Man: You never call, you never write...

Nathan: *narrows eyes* Wait a minute. Peter?

Bald Man: ...No?

(Nathan glares and raises an eyebrow.)

Bald Man: *sigh*

(The bald man morphs into Peter Petrelli.)

Peter: Look, would it kill you to give me a call once in a while? We never talk anymore.

Nathan: Where did you get that power?

Peter: Don't change the subject! What, are you too big for your brother now? You always were Dad's favourite...

Nathan: And since when do you live in Kenya?

Peter: Well... that stuff wasn't completely true. But you wouldn't know, would you? Because you don't --

Nathan: Pete, take it easy. I promise we'll have coffee or something tomorrow, okay? I'll make some room in my schedule.

Peter: Okay. That's better.

(Peter turns invisible. A moment later, the door opens and closes.)

Nathan: Peter's, um... a little needy.

Mohinder: You don't say.

Nathan: And a little... well, you know. *makes "coo-coo" gesture*

Mohinder: Let's move on. And I think we'd better review our screening process for these questions.

Sylar: I'm on it. Be right back. *leaves*

Mohinder: Oh God...

Adam: Don't worry about it, my friend. How about a question for me?

Mohinder: All right. As you know, Mr. Monroe, there is some concern about your age. The oldest president elected thus far was Ronald Reagan, who took office at the age of 69. Whereas you are... well...

Adam: 371.

Mohinder: Yes. Do you have anything to say to voters who are worried about this?

Adam: I assure you that I am as healthy and fit as I have ever been. Those who have followed my campaign from the start will recall that early on, to lay this very issue to rest, I arranged for full checkups with three GPs. They have unfortunately passed on since then...

Mohinder: All strangled with their own stethoscopes, oddly enough.

Adam: Tragedies, alas, come in threes. But each of them wrote me a clean bill of health first, and I have released these to the media.

Mohinder: Yes, they're quite interesting. Some medical bloggers have remarked on the frequent occurrences of the phrase "How? HOW?", and the fact that all three doctors apparently signed in their own blood.

Adam: *shrug* It wasn't my idea. They felt it would be more binding that way.

Sylar: I'd just like to say that you don't look a day over 200, Mr. Monroe.

(Mohinder slowly turns to look at Sylar, who's just come back. He's covered in blood.)

Mohinder: What... what did...

Sylar: Oh, I got it all sorted out. I doubt we'll get any more inappropriate questions.

(Mohinder clenches his fists. A long moment passes, then he very slowly turns back to the candidates, chanting a Hindu mantra under his breath.)

Mohinder: Senator Petrelli, the next question is about foreign policy, specifically dealing with rogue states. You've explained a rather controversial plan in interviews.

Nathan: That's right. It all comes down to having faith in one's fellow man. No matter how many Americans these people threaten to kill, or attempt to kill, or kill, I believe that deep down they just want to be our friends. If we weren't so mean to them, perhaps they wouldn't have to behead civilians.

Mohinder: And as such, you propose... and I want to make sure I'm reading this right... to meet with dictators and terrorist leaders without, er...

Nathan: Pants.

Mohinder: Without pants.

Nathan: Yes.

(Pause.)

Mohinder: I think we're all a little curious about the rationale behind this plan.

Nathan: What better way to put them at ease? To show them that Americans aren't dead serious and scary? Mahmoud Ahmedinejad will come to the White House expecting discouragement and even threats. He'll leave knowing we're no threat at all.

Sylar: Or no threads, so to speak.

Nathan: Exactly! I'm even considering what you might call a Hanes-off policy.

(Mohinder goes slightly green.)

Nathan: You could say I'll be putting myself on the no-fly list.

(Even greener.)

Nathan: After completing the first round of these "no-briefings", I will --

Mohinder: AUDIENCE! AUDIENCE QUESTION!

(Another audience member, Maya, comes to the microphone.)

Nathan: I wasn't done.

Mohinder: Yes you were. Now let's all listen to this bimbo.

(Maya glares at Mohinder, then turns to Monroe.)

Maya: Mr. Monroe, may I ask a question about your book? *holds up a book entitled The Awesomeosity of Me*

Adam: By all means, my dear.

Maya: In here, you imply that your mother had Nazi sympathies...

Adam: Right.

Maya: ...you describe the president as a "nutgrunging stupid-wad"...

Adam: Yes...

Maya: ...you claim you were on drugs from 1874 to 1919...

Adam: *ahem* It was a different time.

Maya: ...and you devote seven chapters to your hatred of the Portuguese...

Adam: Well? What about it?

(Maya smiles sheepishly and takes out a pen.)

Maya: Would you sign it for me?

Adam: (Whew.) Of course, I'd be happy to. Ando?

Ando: Yes?

(Monroe points at Maya. After a moment, Ando gets the message and goes over to her.)

Maya: Um...

Ando: Don't worry. I am very good at his signature.

Sylar: What a touching moment. Well worth sneaking across the border for, I'm sure.

Mohinder: Sylar!

Sylar: What? Relax. I'm not assuming she's an illegal immigrant just because she's Hispanic.

Mohinder: Well, I'm gl--

Sylar: Last week I ran into a man who had the ability to determine someone's citizenship status by smell.

Mohinder: Oh God. You have that ability now, don't you?

Sylar: Well, I'm not saying I don't.

(Mohinder buries his face in his hands for a minute. Then he takes out a sheet of paper labeled "KILL SYLAR THIS MANY TIMES" and adds another tally mark.)

Sylar: Back to business. Senator Petrelli, there are those who accuse you of toeing the party line. Do you think that's a fair criticism?

Nathan: Gabriel, nothing could be further from the truth. I pride myself on my independence, on my willingness to take risks and defy expectations. You might call me a kind of... rebel.

Sylar: Really?

Nathan: You bet. I'm always willing to stand against my party when I believe I'm in the right.

Sylar: But you've only voted against them twice.

Nathan: Well, they're right a lot.

Sylar: Let's discuss those two occasions, then. The first time was when you proposed a new immigration policy, which was dubbed the Petrelli-Baldwin Total Amnesty Absolutely No Enforcement Hell Let's Not Even Bother With Borders bill.

Nathan: I'd like to remind you that I strongly object to that name. Senator Baldwin did very little work on the bill.

Sylar: Now, you got some bad press for including a provision declaring unconditional surrender to the Mexican government.

Nathan: That hardly changes the fact that anyone opposed to my bill is in favour of shooting illegal immigrants on sight.

Sylar: You must have been very upset when the bill was voted down 274 to 0.

Nathan: I still don't understand it! There are only 59 states!

Sylar: Do you still feel you made the right decision?

Nathan: Absolutely. You don't know how sad I am that all my colleagues are racists.

Sylar: *nods head sagely* Moving on, you opposed your party a second time over the war in Latveria. The jury is still out on that one, but so far the situation has significantly improved since your successful push for more troops.

Nathan: I stand by that decision as well. Everyone wanted to draw down our forces. I understand how they felt -- no one is happy that our boys are risking their lives overseas. But I took a closer look at the problem, and I made a deep strategic realization which my colleagues hadn't been able to grasp.

Sylar: And that realization was?

Nathan: More guys is more likely to win than less guys.

Sylar: Nonetheless, you've taken some heat from...

(Sylar stops. Mohinder is holding a sheet of paper in front of his face.)

Mohinder: Do you like it?

Sylar: Um...

Mohinder: It's a picture of you.

Sylar: Ah.

Mohinder: You're dead in the picture.

Sylar: So I see.

Mohinder: I included lots of details.

Sylar: You certainly did. I see the big pool of blood there, and I think that's my severed head floating in it, and there's some kind of animal chewing on one of my legs.

Mohinder: It's a dragon. I labeled it.

Sylar: Right. Silly of me to miss that.

(Silence. Mohinder continues holding up the sheet and staring.)

Sylar: We should probably get back to the debate.

Mohinder: Okay. Here, it's for you to keep.

Sylar: Thanks. I appreciate it.

(Sylar slides the picture underneath his notes. Then he shifts his chair a few inches away from Mohinder's.)

Mohinder: Mr. Monroe --

Adam: Gah!

Mohinder: Did I startle you?

Adam: Sorry. I was, er... that was quite a... no, never mind. We should just pretend the last few minutes never happened.

(Nathan and the running mates nod.)

Mohinder: Mr. Monroe, your proposal that America revert to the gold standard has been described by economists as everything from "insane" to "wacky in the corndog." Can you explain your plan for us?

Adam: What's not to understand? The gold standard is the gold standard of currency standards.

Mohinder: Yes, but --

Adam: It's gold, my friends! The most valuable thing in the world! I've seen men kill each other for a gold watch-chain! The allure of gold has brought whole nations to ruin, and it can do the same for us!

Sylar: Definitely the corndog.

Mohinder: Agreed. Mr. Monroe, will you reassure our viewers that if elected, you will hire someone who knows how modern economics work?

Adam: You don't like that? Well, wait till you hear the rest of my economic agenda. See, I'm going to merge the IRS and the FBI into a new department called the FBIRS, then give it no funding...

Mohinder: Thank you, that'll do.

Adam: I have a million fans on the internet!

Sylar: Mohinder, I'm confused. Wasn't he supposed to be Oba--

Mohinder: *choking Sylar* The parody isn't that narrow, you MONSTER!

Sylar: Ack! Can't... can't br...

(When he's good and ready, Mohinder releases Sylar. Then he double-doses his hands with Purel.)

Sylar: *catching his breath* Geez!

Mohinder: Also, leave the fourth wall alone.

Sylar: Fine. Let's see, next question... hmm, interesting. We'll be asking both of them this one.

Mohinder: Ah, so we're pretending this is an actual debate now instead of a regurgitation of hot-button issues in search of soundbites.

Sylar: You're so cynical, Mohinder. Here's the question: if elected, what would you do about the health care system? Senator Petrelli, we'll start with you.

Nathan: Gabriel, I'm glad to get this question, because it gives me the chance to unveil a revolutionary new plan. It's radically different from any ideas proposed to date, and it will change this nation forever.

Sylar: Sounds good. You have 30 seconds.

Nathan: *sigh* All right, I'll cut to the chase. What I'm proposing is called Universal Health Claire.

Mohinder: Don't you mean "care"?

Nathan: Nope. Let me explain: some time ago, I found out that I have a daughter named Claire. I thought she was dead, but she was found and raised by foster parents. She's a beautiful young girl and I'm very proud of her.

Mohinder: The rest of America found out about this recently as well.

Nathan: Yes, thank you very much New York Times. I guess I can't begrudge them their exposť, though. It actually got them a few paper copies sold for the first time in years.

Mohinder: We're getting distracted. What does your daughter have to do with health care?

Nathan: Claire has an amazing power. No matter what injury she suffers or what disease she's exposed to, her body automatically heals almost instantly. What's more, she seems to attract these injuries. Whenever she's around, things happen that could kill or maim somebody, and they always happen to her.

Mohinder: I've noticed that too; it's a truly bizarre phenomenon. Good thing she can heal.

Nathan: What I propose to do is extend Claire's coverage to the whole nation. Anything bad that would normally happen to you will happen to her instead. She'll just heal from it, and everything will be fine.

(For a moment, everyone's speechless. Then --)

Adam: This is outrageous! He's had way more than thirty seconds!

Mohinder: That's true. Sylar, weren't you keeping...

(Mohinder turns to see Sylar staring at the stopwatch, in a world of his own.)

Sylar: Order. Function. Tick, tock.

Mohinder: We'd better leave him be. Senator Petrelli, this plan of yours...

Nathan: Brilliant, isn't it?

Mohinder: Have you actually talked to Claire about it?

Nathan: Of course! What kind of monster do you take me for? She's all for it. Said something about being useful for once.

Mohinder: But won't it hurt?

Nathan: Nah, she doesn't feel pain anymore.

Mohinder: *eyes light up* Really? Did she tell you why that is? Did something merely trigger a change in her endorphin production, or could it be a full-scale DNA alteration? When did...

(Nathan's eyes have long since glazed over.)

Mohinder: Sorry. My field, you understand.

Nathan: All I know is she's on board.

Mohinder: What about her foster father? I, er, hear he has a habit of going berserk when his daughter is threatened.

Nathan: That's true, but she's a grown woman, and he had to respect her decision. So instead, he'll be travelling the country stopping people from getting hurt.

Mohinder: How does he plan to do that?

Nathan: Violence. I don't think he's really thought this through.

Mohinder: And how exactly are you planning to extend Claire's "coverage"?

Nathan: Oh, I'll pass a bill.

Mohinder: Is this really something you can do with legislation?

Nathan: *smile* You can do anything with legislation, Mohinder.

Mohinder: All right then. How about you, Mr. Monroe?

Adam: Is he okay?

(Adam indicates Sylar, who's now taken the watch apart with his telekinesis and is manipulating the floating pieces.)

Mohinder: I don't care. So, what's your health care plan?

Adam: What's polling well?

Mohinder: People seem to like the idea of universal coverage, but they're not delighted about tax hikes to pay for it.

Adam: Fine with me. Everybody gets covered, nobody pays. I'm all for it.

Mohinder: Er...

Adam: Heck, we'll cover everything. Pyschiatry, dentistry, plastic surgery, the works. You can even injure yourself on purpose and we'll still fix you. And I'll double every medical professional's salary.

Mohinder: That sounds --

(A crash. Mohinder turns to see Sylar's watch shattered against the wall.)

Sylar: *glaring at the watch* You're not ENOUGH!

Mohinder: What?

Sylar: Oh, hi. I'm back now. Sorry I interrupted. Mr. Monroe, you were lying just now, right?

Adam: No!

Sylar: Because I'm something of an expert on lying, and it sounded to me like you were telling the particular kind of lie where you know it won't matter.

Adam: Well, I assure you you got the wrong --

Sylar: For instance, if you're going to push somebody off a cliff, you can make whatever promises you want first.

Adam: Oh, come on! *to audience* Don't listen to him! He wasn't even paying attention!

Mohinder: That's enough, Sylar. We're the moderators here -- we can't go hostile.

Sylar: I'm not hostile. I actually like him better now that I've heard him lie. He's good at it.

(Mohinder sighs. Adam smiles for a moment at the praise, then catches himself.)

Adam: I would never lie to the American people, my friends. I will back every word I've said with action.

Mohinder: So double pay for all doctors?

Adam: And all patients will get a pony.

Mohinder: Let's move on. The next question is about the highly controversial issue of waterboarding, an interrogation technique that has been used on captured terrorists. Senator Petrelli, what's your stand on this procedure?

Nathan: It's torture, Mohinder. I won't have it performed in my administration.

Mohinder: So even in the so-called ticking time bomb scenario, you would not --

Nathan: We all know that's a canard. You can come up with pathological examples where it would be right to break any law. Yes, the need could arise, but that's not a good enough reason to enshrine something like waterboarding in policy.

Mohinder: But you're not saying that anyone who disagrees with you on this issue is evil, right?

Nathan: No. I'm just sort of implying it.

Mohinder: *clears throat* For the sake of argument, however, what if you personally captured a killer? Say, I don't know, your father's killer? Would it be all right to --

Nathan: Nope.

Mohinder: Even if --

Nathan: Not even.

Mohinder: But look at his twisted, smirking face!

(Mohinder stabs a finger at Sylar. He smirks.)

Nathan: *puzzled* Is there some undercurrent to this conversation that I'm not aware of?

Mohinder: Er. No. Sorry about that. Please continue.

Nathan: All I'm really saying is --

Adam: *snort* Oh, please. You're just a wimp.

Nathan: Excuse me?

Adam: You're just a typical pampered, posturing child of the twentieth century. You want to make yourself look good by standing against mean things. What do you know about torture? Have you ever been set on fire? Eaten by sharks? Blown up in a shack full of gunpowder?

(Hiro coughs awkwardly.)

Adam: Beaten to a pulp? Assassinated by ninjas? Stabbed 97 times in the stomach? I bloody counted!

Nathan: Uh...

Adam: If all they're getting is a little water up the nose, they have it easy. How bad can it be?

Nathan: Well, I don't think anyone who hasn't been subjected to it can say for --

Adam: No problem! Ando, get my water bottle!

(Before anyone can stop him, Adam has positioned himself with his legs on his chair and his head on the floor, so that his lungs are higher than his nose.)

Adam: Let's do it. Pour it over my face. Chop chop.

Ando: <Should I do it, Hiro?>

Hiro: <I would. This is one of those father's-killer scenarios.>

Ando: <If you say so.>

(He comes over with the bottle. Everyone else is too stunned to do anything but watch.)

Adam: Come on! Bunch of babi--

(Ando starts pouring. An infinite moment passes. Then...)

Adam: YEEEEAAAAAAAGGGGGGGGHHHHHH!

(The chair goes flying as Adam leaps up, screaming like the hordes of hell are on his tail. He shakes the water out of his head desperately.)

Adam: I repent! I'll tell you! I'll tell you everything! I've done so many horrible --

(Adam's healing factor kicks in.)

Adam: There. See? Nothing to it.

Mohinder: Are... are you all right, Mr. Monroe?

Adam: Perfectly! And if I'm just fine mere moments afterwards, it's hardly torture at all, is it?

Nathan: Then what good is it against terrorists?

Adam: Well, most people don't have my iron will. How long was I under?

Sylar: 0.6 seconds.

Adam: You see? I'm a rock.

Mohinder: All right, let's get as far off this topic as possible. But Mr. Monroe, although we're all impressed with your... er... barking insanity, I must point out you weren't actually offered a rebuttal.

Adam: Quite right. I apologize for interrupting.

Nathan: I don't know, I think it was worthwhile. By the way, would you like to finish that confession you started on?

Adam: You shut your damn mouth, Petrelli.

Mohinder: Let's get another audience question. And we need that water cleaned up before someone --

(Hiro trips.)

Mohinder: Never mind.

(Elle comes up to the microphone.)

Elle: Hi guys! Huge fan.

Mohinder: Of...?

Elle: You. In fact, my question is for the two of you.

Mohinder: Both candidates?

Elle: No, you and Sylar.

Mohinder: That's not really what --

Sylar: Well, she's already here. Let's just answer her.

Mohinder: All right. Go ahead.

Elle: When are you two finally gonna hook up?

(Speechless, Mohinder and Sylar stare at Elle, who's grinning a big fangirl grin. They look at each other, then back at her.)

Mohinder: What?

Elle: Don't play dumb!

Sylar: Do you seriously mean...

Elle: Totally. The signs are everywhere.

Mohinder: No they're not.

Sylar: Not at all.

Mohinder: I'm straight.

Sylar: Same here.

Mohinder: And I hate him.

Sylar: It's true. He hates my guts. Don't blame him, really.

Elle: Come on, you don't have to pretend with me.

Mohinder: We're not pretending.

Sylar: I don't really do romance in general.

Mohinder: And I'd want him dead even if I were gay.

Elle: Awwww...

(Elle walks away, bummed out.)

Sylar: On the plus side, the evening can't get any more disturbing now.

Mohinder: I thought you got them screening the questions properly!

Sylar: Want me to try again?

Mohinder: NO. Forget it. Let's get back to the debate.

(The moderators turn back to Nathan and Adam, who are trying to hide their snickering.)

Sylar: Sure, laugh it up. It'll be you next time.

Nathan: It was me last time. Just be glad your fans aren't shooting for incest.

Mohinder: Mr. Monroe, the next question is about some associates of yours.

Adam: *sigh* Must we? My critics are determined to smear me by association. They have this idea that who I make friends with, and who I take money from, and who I ask to baptize my children, somehow reflects on me.

Mohinder: You have children?

Adam: On every continent. There's a reason my ads say I'm the best equipped to foster international cooperation.

Mohinder: Wonderful. You both believe in pants-off diplomacy.

Adam: Oh, I assure you I wear the pants.

Mohinder: Anyway, I'd like you to characterize your relationships with some of these people who have allegedly had a strong influence on your life. First, there's Al Capone.

Adam: I was never an employee of his, I was merely involved with some of his community projects. I was as disappointed as anyone when he was caught. That wasn't the Al I knew.

Mohinder: Fair enough. Then there's Timothy McVeigh...

Adam: I helped him plan something in the early nineties, but I don't remember the details.

Mohinder: Emperor Hirohito...

Adam: Just a guy in my neighbourhood.

Mohinder: Benedict Arnold...

Adam: Come on, I was only 130 years old when he did his thing.

Mohinder: Yamamura Sadako...

Adam: It's not fair the way people judge her without actually watching her tape.

Mohinder: ...and the man some claim was a mentor of yours, Adrian Veidt.

Adam: *snort* I taught him everything he knew.

Mohinder: I think that covers everybody.

Sylar: Hasn't he been linked to that shoplifter, Angela Petrelli?

Adam: You're hassling ME about her?

Sylar: Who else would we hassle?

(Adam gestures wildly at Nathan with both arms.)

Sylar: If you like. Senator Petrelli, do you have any connection to this Petrelli woman?

Nathan: Never heard of her, Gabriel.

Adam: *stammering* You... she... your MOTHER!

Mohinder: That's uncalled for, Mr. Monroe. The last thing we need is for another debate to descend into a trash-talk war.

Sylar: I don't know, it would be good for ratings.

Mohinder: You would think that, wouldn't you? Murderingpieceofstupidsonofa...

Sylar: Okay, emotions are running high right now, so let's all take a minute to cool down with the refreshing taste of Whiz Cola.

(Sylar produces several bottles from somewhere and hands them out.)

Mohinder: I've never heard of Whiz Cola.

Nathan: Me neither.

Hiro: <Whiz Comics?>

Sylar: It's new, but with its intense flavour and bold attitude, it's sure to steal the coveted number three spot from Snapple.

Mohinder: You're working for these people, aren't you?

Sylar: Who can say no to a good gig in this economy?

Hiro: <Isn't that the one with Captain Marvel?>

Adam: I for one am all in favour of Whiz Cola. I fully expect them to conquer the competition as easily as I conquer mine. And when I am president, I will pass a law banning all other cola drinks. *takes a big swig* Ahhh.

Nathan: You're on the payroll too, huh?

Adam: No, I just like messing with companies.

Sylar: Try one, Mohinder. It'll make you feel better.

Mohinder: Oh, fine...

Sylar: Here, I'll open it for you.

(Sylar stares hard at the neck of Mohinder's bottle. He points a finger at it, then slices off the top with his mind.)

Sylar: There you go. Enjoy!

(Mohinder just sits there for a moment, deadly silent. Then he gets up.)

Mohinder: Gentlemen, please excuse me.

(He leaves.)

Sylar: I'll do the next question, then. Senator Petrelli --

Mohinder: *in the alley outside* DIE! DIE! DIEDIEDIEDIEDIE!

Nathan: Is he...

Adam: Sounds like he's beating up a garbage can or something.

Mohinder: BURN IN HELL!

(The crashing sounds continue. An unspoken decision is made to ignore them.)

Sylar: Senator Petrelli, the next question is about your platform.

Nathan: Which part? The economy? National security?

Sylar: No, the one you're standing on. How do you like it?

Nathan: It seems fine. You showed it to me when --

Sylar: Fine, you say?

Nathan: Yes, aside from --

Sylar: So you believe its construction is sound?

Nathan: I didn't see it built or anything, but it looks stable enough. We do good woodworking in this country. The fundamentals of carpentry are strong, so -- WHOA!

(The floor drops out under Nathan.)

Sylar: That must be pretty embarrassing, Senator.

Nathan: *neck deep in the platform* You did that!

Sylar: Who, me?

Nathan: I asked you earlier why there was a trap door! You said it didn't do anything!

Sylar: I don't remember that.

Nathan: *points at Adam* His platform doesn't even have one, does it?

Sylar: Sort of. He has something else.

(Adam surreptitously moves his finger away from a button marked "Trap Door".)

Nathan: That tears it. I'm suspending!

(Gasps all round. Somewhere in New York, David Letterman throws a tantrum and doesn't know why.)

Sylar: You're suspending your campaign?

Nathan: No, I'm just suspending.

(Nathan floats up out of the platform to the level he was at before.)

Adam: Nice trick.

Nathan: Nice button.

(Before Adam can answer, a door slams.)

Nathan: Hey, you're back.

Mohinder: *sitting back down* It's taken care of. Sorry about that, gentlemen.

Sylar: Feeling better?

Mohinder: When I close my eyes, I can see it all. Your head rolling across the floor. Your body dropping like a sack of potatoes. Your blood oozing over my hands.

Sylar: Um...

Mohinder: OOZING.

Sylar: Right. Look, we're getting low on time...

Mohinder: Yes, let's move on. After the decapitation, I really get serious --

Sylar: AUDIENCE QUESTION!

(Claire's friend Zach from Odessa comes up to the microphone. He's voting age now, by the way. It's 2012. Get with the times.)

Zach: I have a question for Mr. Monroe. A while ago, sir, some remarks you made at a campaign meeting in the Midwest were caught on tape and posted on YouTube.

Adam: I think I know the ones...

Zach: "God, how I hate all these people. I'm sick of pretending to respect their guns and their morals and their pathetic little religion. As soon as this is over, I'm going to try and forget they even exist." Then you insult the Portuguese for about ten minutes.

Adam: Right. I still don't know how that got recorded.

Zach: Probably some guy with a camcorder who used that great hiding spot under the window of your campaign bus.

Adam: Ah.

Zach: So my question is, do you have any idea why this hasn't destroyed your campaign? I mean, I'll probably still vote for you and I don't even know why.

Adam: My theory is that I'm too big to fail.

Zach: Okay, thanks. *goes back to his seat*

Sylar: Why would it damage his campaign? Ordinary people make me sick too.

Mohinder: And if there's one true barometer of public appeal, it's the approval of a psychopath.

Sylar: Oh, get a shovel, Mohinder.

Mohinder: What does that mean?

Sylar: *shrug*

Mohinder: Whatever. Senator Petrelli, we have some associations to ask you about as well.

Nathan: You mean like the PTA?

Mohinder: No, your personal associations with --

Nathan: I swear, I was not at that meeting!

Mohinder: If you'd just listen --

Nathan: And the school burned down by itself!

Sylar: We mean people you know, Senator.

Nathan: Oh.

Sylar: But whatever you're talking about sounds interesting.

Nathan: I wasn't talking about anything. I wasn't even talking.

Mohinder: Very well. First of all, you've taken campaign contributions from Daniel Linderman in the past, and it seems you associated with him personally for a while.

Nathan: I've explained this dozens of times. Linderman killed my father, and I got close to him so I could bring him down.

Mohinder: There's some evidence that suggests you were complicit in his plan to destroy New York...

Nathan: I saved New York!

Mohinder: Yes, but if you were complicit originally, that only goes so far.

Nathan: I wasn't complicit; that would have been out of character. It was an act. And what I can't stress enough here is that I saved New York.

Sylar: We know. You won't shut up about it. It's your official campaign slogan. Your website is www.newyorksaver.com. You keep wearing "I Heart NY" shirts with the heart replaced by a disk symbol.

Nathan: I think it's a big enough deal to be worth emphasizing.

Sylar: If it's such a big deal, why does it need emphasizing?

Nathan: Because every time I mention it, you people dismiss it as propaganda!

Sylar: I know you are, but what am --

(Sylar stops, noticing Mohinder glaring at him.)

Mohinder: Do I have to tell you what's wrong here?

Sylar: Sorry. I went harvesting at a schoolyard the other day and accidentally acquired the power of bickering.

(Mohinder gets that cold fury again. He's taking out his tally sheet, but then --)

Mohinder: Wait. That was just an excuse, wasn't it?

Sylar: You should've seen the look on your face.

(Annoyed, but relieved, Mohinder puts the tally sheet back.)

Mohinder: Well, Linderman isn't your only liability with voters; some see the current president as such. How would you describe your relationship with him?

Nathan: That depends. How's his approval rating these days?

Mohinder: Minus three percent.

Nathan: I don't like him and I never have. When I'm president, I'll have him clubbed with baby seals.

Mohinder: But you've called him a friend in the past, and he's been campaigning for y--

Nathan: La la la, I can't hear you.

Mohinder: He was the guest speaker at your son's elementary school graduation!

Nathan: His speech was lousy.

Sylar: (Uh, Mohinder, who is the current president? Is that another of those things that deliberately haven't been established?)

Mohinder: (What did I tell you about the fourth wall?)

Sylar: (That's why I'm whispering.)

Nathan: Anyone else you'd like me to disown? 'Cause I'll do it.

Mohinder: No, that should be enough. Let's do the final audience question.

(Matt Parkman comes up to the mic.)

Parkman: My question is for Mr. Monroe --

Nathan: How come nobody's had a question for me?

Parkman: I know you. I can ask you stuff whenever I want.

Sylar: Also, you bore people.

(Nathan sulks.)

Adam: Pleased to meet you, my friend. What's your name?

Parkman: Matt. I'm a cop, and I have some concerns about a speech you made the other day...

Adam: Which one would that be?

Parkman: The one where you said cops were too well armed and you would give away half our guns to random people.

Adam: Ah yes. I'm high enough in the polls that I'm pretty much just saying stuff now.

Parkman: Well, were you serious or not?

Adam: What you have to understand is that when we spread the guns around, it's good for everybody. And by "we" I mean me, and by "everybody" I also mean me.

Parkman: But you can't possibly --

Adam: Ando! Projector, please. Someone get the lights.

Parkman: What? I'm not done --

(The lights go out. Ando brings in a projector and turns it on.)

Adam: Ladies and gentlemen, in recent minutes, your future president has taken some criticism. But what do we really know about this "Matt the Cop"?

(A picture of Matt is displayed.)

Adam: There are things he doesn't want you to know. For one, his defense of policemen is far from impartial. He's been taking money from the NYPD!

(A copy of one of Matt's paychecks is shown.)

Parkman: Hey!

Adam: But his perfidy goes deeper than that. His license to use a gun in his police work will be expired in a mere three weeks!

(His gun license is displayed.)

Parkman: I've already made the appoint--

Adam: And as if you didn't have enough proof that he's a liar, his name isn't even Matt -- it's Parkman!

(Matt's birth certificate is shown. The first name box is offscreen.)

Parkman: This is a joke!

Adam: You see, America? He has so little respect for this great nation that he thinks you're a joke. And finally, how good a cop can he possibly be when he was shot five times in the chest?

(The projector shows a picture of Matt getting shot in the Kirby Plaza battle.)

Sylar: Heh, good times.

Parkman: How the hell did you get a photo of that?

(Hiro looks down, red-faced with guilt.)

Parkman: And you don't even have the facts right! I only took four bullets!

(A shot rings out. The window shatters as a bullet flies through, hitting Matt in the chest.)

Parkman: AAAAGH!

Nathan and Mohinder: Matt!

Adam: This concludes my presentation. Lights, please.

(Ando puts away the projector. Mohinder, meanwhile, has rushed over to help Matt.)

Parkman: God DAMN!

Mohinder: Looks like it missed your vitals. Stay calm and hold as still as you can. An ambulance is on the way.

Parkman: Glad... to hear it... 'cause you're not... a medical doctor...

(Mohinder returns to his seat, kicking Matt on the way.)

Sylar: That was awfully suspicious, Mr. Monroe.

Adam: Call me Adam. And it was pure coincidence. I wouldn't know where to start looking for a hitman from the mafia.

Sylar: He was from the mafia?

Adam: Italian, to be exact.

Nathan: You're out of your mind! There's no way the voters will just ignore this!

Adam: Sure they can! Right, my friends?

(About two thirds of the audience start chanting "Sure we can! Sure we can!")

Mohinder: This is getting a little blatant for my tastes. And you could at least not chant along with them!

Sylar: Sorry. It's catchy.

(Matt is wheeled away by paramedics. Molly makes a random cameo urging him to get better.)

Mohinder: We're almost out of time. I think we'd better do the running mates now.

Sylar: Deal. I'll take Niki, you take Hiro.

Mohinder: Oh, grow up.

Sylar: What do you mean?

Mohinder: You were clearly taking my use of "do" the wrong way.

Sylar: No I wasn't. Looks like you were the only one who thought of that. Maybe your mind is a little dirtier than you thought it was.

Mohinder: ...Um.

Sylar: So I'll do Niki, you do Hiro. Deal?

Mohinder: Fine.

Sylar: *snort* You're gonna do a guy!

(Elle pipes up "I knew it!")

Mohinder: I hate you all.

Sylar: Senator Petrelli, may I ask your running mate a question or two?

Nathan: By all means. *cedes the podium to Niki*

Sylar: Ms. Sanders, I'd like to begin by asking why you're standing in such a strange position.

Niki: There's an open trap door in the floor. I have to stand around it.

Sylar: So you're taking what we might call a wide stance?

Niki: I'd rather you didn't.

Sylar: I see. You prefer not to be cooperative with reporters.

Niki: Well, if you really have to call it --

Sylar: You used to run a website, correct, Ms. Sanders?

Niki: I've discussed this with the press before, and I'd rather not keep repeating myself.

Sylar: What kind of website was it?

Niki: It was perfectly legal, and I had to support myself. Like many ordinary Americans, I was having difficult financial --

Sylar: It was a porn site, right?

Niki: No! There was no nudity! This is a prime time show!

(Mohinder would mutter "Show?", but at this point he's given up.)

Sylar: How much porn did you porn on your porn site?

Niki: I just said --

Ando: *grinning* Lots.

Niki: I'm not taking any more questions about this.

Sylar: Okay. Would you please define the word "court"?

Niki: Can you be more specific?

Sylar: No. What does it mean?

Niki: It can mean different things depending on --

Sylar: Why don't you know what that word means, Ms. Sanders?

Niki: I do! If you'd just make it clear which --

Sylar: Here, I'll use it in a sentence: "Do you think the American people should be willing to put up with a vice president who would make Supreme Court justice selections without knowing what the word 'court' means?"

Niki: That's not even the vice president's job!

Sylar: Why are you changing the subject?

Niki: I'm --

Sylar: You have a son named Micah, correct?

Niki: Yes.

Sylar: Is it true that he's really your grandson?

Niki: No!

Sylar: Why is your son really your granddaughter, Ms. Sanders?

Niki: He's not!

Sylar: He's not really your son?

Niki: That isn't what I --

Sylar: Exact words.

Niki: What the hell is this?

Sylar: What is this? What should it be? Who do you think you are? I WILL EAT YOUR F#&$ING BRAIN, YOU BI--

Mohinder: Sylar!

Sylar: Yes, Mohinder?

Mohinder: You're going slightly too far. That's enough questions for her.

Sylar: Okay. Mr. Monroe, what do you think about Ms. Sanders' rampant promiscuity?

Adam: She's a harlot, Gabe.

Mohinder: All right, enough! There's a serious danger here that you don't... *sees Niki grinning* ...um, Ms. Sanders?

Jessica: Niki's not on the ticket anymore.

Mohinder: Duck!

(Niki Jessica rips the podium out of the floor and hurls it at Sylar, who ducks just in time. Then she heads out the door and starts smashing cars, lampposts, and such.)

Nathan: *sigh* She told me she got that fixed.

Mohinder: Will she be all right?

Nathan: Yeah, she'll cool down once she's done enough damage. It was about a million's worth last time.

(Sylar mutters some joke about pit bulls. Mohinder and Nathan glare at him.)

Mohinder: You're paying.

Sylar: I guess that's fair.

(Niki returns. In the distance, sirens are blaring.)

Mohinder: Feeling better?

Niki: Much. Sorry about that.

Mohinder: Not your fault. *glares at Sylar again*

Sylar: I give! I give!

Mohinder: Let's get this fiasco finished. Mr. Monroe, may I ask your running mate a few questions?

Adam: I don't recommend it. Hiro is a good man, but his English is a little weak, and he tends to get tongue tied.

Mohinder: Still, we should --

Adam: He also has stage fright.

Mohinder: But --

Adam: And the plague. He could infect everyone in the room through sound waves.

Mohinder: That sounds highly unlikely.

Sylar: Does it? Remind me to show you one of my new powers sometime.

(Mohinder punches Sylar in the eye. In the momentary confusion, Hiro takes the microphone from Adam.)

Mohinder: Oh good. Do you have something to say, Mr. Nakamura?

Adam: *under his breath* You just remember the deal, carp.

(Hiro winces at the threat. His nervousness is palpable...)

Hiro: Um... ano...

(...but he steels himself.)

Hiro: Kensei is very bad man!

(The crowd gasps. Hiro struggles for the words he needs.)

Hiro: Master plan like Doctor Doom!

(This time, about five people gasp. The rest go "huh?")

Hiro: I... you must... *slips into Japanese* <Kensei has a virus! He's going to release it within six days of taking office! He wants to kill you all, and I have to help him because he's taken my sister hostage! You've got to -->

(Ando grabs the microphone.)

Ando: Hiro says it was a joke! It is a Japanese comedy routine that we do! Nandeyanen! *bops Hiro on the head*

Hiro: Oof!

(The audience laughs, their minds at ease again.)

Hiro: <Why, Ando-kun? Why are you doing this?>

Ando: <When he's elected, he will release Kimiko. And I will be her hero!>

Hiro: <Villain! You have betrayed me for the last time!>

(Hiro charges Ando. While they scuffle, Adam takes the microphone.)

Adam: Funny man. That's what I love about him. Will that be enough?

Mohinder: I suppose it'll have to be. We only have... how long do we have, Sylar?

Sylar: *looking over at the shattered watch* No time at all.

Mohinder: Then I'll go straight to my closing statement.

Nathan: Your closing statement?

Adam: Don't we get --

Mohinder: Evolution is a cold and unforgiving force. It takes us in its grasp and forces us to confront our future. What can we say when that time of reckoning arrives? And when we reach that final fork in the road, what choice will we make?

Niki: I'm getting a headache.

Mohinder: *indicating Nathan* Will our destiny be to soar to unknown heights, while still bound by our links to those we love?

Nathan: Isn't that sort of contra--

Mohinder: *indicating Adam* Will we choose to endure as long as possible as we are, holding out our aspirations before us like a sword to point the way?

Adam: I don't get it.

Mohinder: *indicating Sylar* Will we be consumed by our own lust for power and strength, aggressively trying to bring fate under our control, that we might cut it open and take its wisdom into ourselves?

Sylar: Oo, that's not bad.

(several seconds pass)

Niki: Well?

Mohinder: I have one for Claire too. I'm waiting for the clip.

Adam: That does it, I'm leaving. This apocalypse isn't going to start itself.

(Adam leaves, dragging Hiro and Ando along.)

Nathan: Agreed. Thanks, you guys. It's sad, but this was actually the best debate so far.

(He and Niki leave.)

Sylar: *waving to the candidates* Stay frosty.

Maintenance Guy: Do we pack it up?

Sylar: Yes, I think we'd better.

(While Mohinder waits, motionless, the audience members all depart and the stage is taken down.)

Sylar: Thanks, guys. The network will have your cheques. And Rob, where did you say you lived?

Tech Guy: 3rd and Main.

Sylar: I'll be sure to drop by sometime. You have a real... gift for working those lights. I'd like to see how you do it.

Tech Guy: There's no real trick to it.

Sylar: Oh, I'll be the judge of that.

(The crew leave, as does Sylar. Mohinder is left alone.)

(Midnight. Mohinder is still standing there. Then someone holds a photo of Claire in front of him.)

Mohinder: Or will we find ways to recover from the harm our evolution has inflicted upon us? Only time will tell. Time... and destiny.

(Mohinder looks around.)

Mohinder: Where did everyone go?

Sylar: Home.

Mohinder: Why am I so tired and hungry?

Sylar: You've been standing here for six hours.

Mohinder: Oh.

Sylar: *hands Mohinder's jacket to him* C'mon, there's a cab waiting outside. Go get some sleep. You can kill me next time, okay?

Mohinder: *too tired to protest much* Oozing.

Sylar: Yeah, I know.

(Still rather dazed, Mohinder leaves.)

Sylar: Now to go eat Elle, or I'll never hear the end of this.

Got a comment on "How to Debate an Exploding Candidate"? Contact the author, Zeke.

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This story was originally published on November 21, 2008.

DISCLAIMER: A lot of stuff in here is copyrighted by NBC. This is not an attempt to eclipse them. GET IT? GET IT? ...Well screw you then.

All material © 2008, Colin Hayman.