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I think it depends on Sylar's mood whether he uses empathy or the old skull ginsu. It could be that if he isn't in the properr state of mind, he is unable to use his empath ability effectively. Remember the difficulties he was having when Arthur and Elle were trying to teach him?

But before he learned to do this, he had to open the skull to get a glimpse of the brain to determine how it works (although I think the writers/producers got cold feet on this explanation. Based on the empty braincases of his victims in S1, the implication was he was doing so much more than looking at them. I guess cannibalism is too much for TV censors). His first victim, the telekinetic whose contact info he stole from Dr. Chandra Suresh, was beat upon the head with a rock, and, we presume, sliced open manually. Also think of the beginning of S2 when Sylar was infected with the Shanti virus. Before he knew he was powerless he attempted to get Candace's ability, and did so by manually cutting open her skull.

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Jrtime
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Sylar i think fashions his junk dna to duplicate the abilities of his victims and in this way uses their abilities far more efficiently.
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That's an interesting theory Jrtime. Being able to manipulate DNA could help explain how Sylar was able to "move" his Achilles Heel -- that spot in the back of the head that would kill someone like himself, Adam Munroe or Claire -- last season.

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4 posts
Neon-glo

I don't think he goes to the dna level. It's been established that the powers come out of the structure of the brain; like tumors [hence Hiro & Charlie's problem] or hard-wiring of the information. That explains why Sylar needs a good "feel" for how his victim's brains are configured. He needs to replicate the physical structure to replicate the ability. But since there is plenty of room in the brain, so much of it unused, he could always place the "chip" in a different location.

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burnondakota
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Sylar explained that he moved his "sweet Spot" with his shapeshiftting ability.

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Brad S
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I hope Peter can hit the sweet spot with that nail gun he's got in next week's preview lol

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Nah, Peter must be a crap shooter since the first time he ever fired a gun was at the end of Villains, and even then Sylar guided the bullet. And yes, its obvious that it was meant to be the first time he ever fired a gun; that was the point they tried to establish and why Arthur thought he was weak.

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smm
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In the promo for tonight, Peter is punching and nailing Sylar . . . Why can't Sylar stop him with TK?  Here's what I hope:

Maybe Peter has always had his father's kind of empath ability but he has not figured it out yet (until tonght). Casual contact could enable the temporary sharing of an ability with another. A deeper draw (with concentration) could completely remove the other persons ability while making a permanent addition to Peter's ability list.

Notice in the sneak peek that Peter is constantly touching Nathan/Sylar. Perhas he is siphoning off abilities one-by-one until only the shape-shifting is left. Then when he punches and nails Sylar, he stays hurt and has very little to strike back with.

This could mean that when Nathan falls, Sylar dies. On the other hand, if he doen't die, Peter has the upper hand and nails him with the gun.

Anyway, that's how I'd write it . . . not sure what is really going to happen. Should be interesting.

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Oh well, it was a bit simpler than that, but its still a good idea.

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