"The Hard Part" is the twenty-first episode of the first season of the NBC science fiction drama series Heroes. It is the first episode of the three-part finale for season one. The title is a reference to Hiro's last line of the previous episode, "Now the hard part." It is the first line in this episode as well.
On the eve of the election, events continue to draw the characters to New York City. In Isaac Mendez's loft, Sylar continues to paint. Looking at the results, he sees a painting of a confrontation between himself and Ted Sprague, and another of a nuclear explosion in New York. Realizing that he may be the cause of the explosion, Sylar calls Mohinder Suresh asking for his help, saying that he does not want to kill innocent people, and that he only took powers from people who "didn't deserve them" - but then hangs up after he hears Mohinder dialing '911' on his cell phone. Sylar then calls his mother, Virginia Gray (Ellen Greene), and asks if he can come see her.
Mohinder meets with Thompson, who again attempts to convince him to join forces. Mohinder is reluctant, saying that they are all thugs. Thompson persists, introducing Mohinder to Molly Walker, a young girl with the ability to see and locate individuals no matter where they may be. However, she cannot use this ability due to a very rare disease which Mohinder's sister, Shanti, died of.
Upon their return from the future, Hiro and Ando return to Isaac's loft to question the artist about dialogue from an unfinished comic that depicts Hiro slaying Sylar and halting the explosion. They find Isaac's corpse, and realize that someone is in the loft's bathroom. Hiro and Ando hide behind a canvas, only to see Sylar preparing for his visit with his mother. Sylar hears the pair, but they teleport away before Sylar can reveal them. Hiro and Ando reappear in a convenience store. They walk onto the street just in time to see Sylar walk past. Ando convinces Hiro to follow him, hoping to find him unprepared for an attack.
Claire watches as her father, Nathan Petrelli, greets his wife and sons upon their return to the Petrelli mansion. She shares a glance with Peter, who is drawing in a sketchbook. His drawings include scenes of Petrelli campaign posters surrounded by nuclear devastation.
Jessica and D.L. argue about their son Micah's whereabouts, and D.L. blames Jessica for his disappearance. He leaves, intending to rescue Micah without help. Niki pleads with Jessica to assist him, saying that he will die without her help.
Micah, meanwhile, is seen playing video games in a spacious apartment, while Candice speaks to Linderman on the phone. She then appears as Niki, and checks in on Micah. He tells her that he doesn't want to be here, that he wants to go home, and that he does not like Mr. Linderman. Candice (as Niki) chastises him, saying that Linderman had helped them, and that it was now time to return the favor.
Angela Petrelli helps Claire pack for their trip to Paris, but leaves when Peter comes to speak with Claire. Peter attempts to talk Claire into staying, showing her his drawings of the explosion and its aftermath. One drawing shows a man unharmed by the explosion, and Claire remarks that it looks like Ted. Peter asks about Ted.
Sylar arrives at his mother's home in Queens, with Hiro and Ando following a short distance behind. Sylar gives his mother a snow globe from Texas, and then proceeds to begin repairs on one of his father's clocks. His mother attempts to talk him into getting a job in the financial sector, which prompts Sylar to note that he has a job. His mother states that, if he wished, he could be "so special", maybe even becoming president. Sylar tells his mother that he is already special, and picks up a sink hose to demonstrate. Sylar turns the spray into snow, which falls much like a snow globe. Sylar then lifts one snow globe and begins to float it around his mother, then another, and then another. His mother becomes frightened, and one of the globes strikes her in the face.
Peter and Claire confront Nathan about Ted. With someone else having the ability to explode, Peter is hopeful that the explosion can be stopped. Nathan is doubtful, and points out that Peter's vision was of his own explosion. Peter responds that he had a vision of flying as well, despite the fact that it was Nathan who could fly - a fact that impresses Claire. After Peter and Claire leave, Nathan makes a phone call,to Mr. Linderman saying "We have a problem."
DL and Jessica phase through walls and into Linderman's office. They find detailed files on their whole family, including Micah. D.L. is angered to find that they have been used. The pair attempt to determine Micah's whereabouts, and find a painting of Micah in what appears to be a burning New York City.
Mohinder continues to research a cure for Molly Walker. Molly finds a long-forgotten photo of Mohinder's parents and sister, which inspires him to investigate his own blood for antibodies to fight the disease. He administers the treatment, and both are hopeful of the results.
Peter and Claire go to Petrelli Campaign Headquarters to meet with Nathan. Upon arriving, they see Nathan meeting with Thompson, whom Claire recognizes as her adoptive father's old boss. She identifies him to Peter as the man she is running from. Thompson and Nathan, meanwhile, discuss the planned explosion, and Thompson tells Nathan not to worry or have second thoughts. Later, Nathan's mother arrives and reveals her part in the planning of the explosion. She tells Nathan that after a catastrophe like this, a leader is needed, and tells him that he needs to be that leader.
Sylar's mother hides in her room, frightened of her son, while Hiro and Ando look on. Sylar tells his mother that he is sorry, and that she should come out. Ando tells Hiro to kill Sylar now, while he is distracted, but Hiro refuses to kill someone asking for forgiveness. Ando angrily shows him a page of the comic depicting a dead Ando, saying that it is Sylar's fault, and that he needs to die.
Candice Wilmer, as Niki, tells Micah that she is taking a shower. Micah apologizes for their earlier fight, but then attempts to escape when he hears the water running. He runs into the hallway, and enters another room - only to find that he has returned to the same room he left. He tries again, but Candice reveals that the illusion is her doing. She threatens to use her powers to truly frighten him if he makes further attempts at escape.
Peter hands Claire a handgun, telling her that she is the only person who can get close to him if he begins to explode. He instructs her to shoot him in the back of the head, in a spot she knows will prevent him from healing. She reluctantly agrees to carry the weapon. The pair recognize a location from one of Peter's drawings of Ted, and decide to go look for him.
Sylar's mother exits her bedroom, telling Sylar that she doesn't know who he is, hysterically asking what he did to her boy. Sylar tries to comfort her, but she attacks with a pair of scissors. In the struggle, she is accidentally stabbed in the chest. Before she can fall, Hiro freezes time and prepares to decapitate Sylar. His concentration falters, however, and time resumes, permitting Sylar to stop the sword's movement. He demands to know why Hiro is following him. Hiro says he must stop Sylar, and Sylar starts taunting Hiro and telling him to try and kill him. He calls Hiro a coward, and begins to freeze the sword. Ando bursts into the apartment and Hiro grabs Ando teleports them away. Hiro and Ando reappear in Isaac's loft, and Ando remarks that they'll have to try again. Hiro finds that the sword, frozen by Sylar, had snapped when they teleported - and that now he has no weapon with which to kill Sylar.
In the plaza, Claire and Peter discuss how their powers have changed their lives. Claire then sees Mr. Bennet walking with Ted and Matt Parkman. She runs to her adoptive father and hugs him, as Peter and Matt acknowledge each other. Peter's hands begin to glow, and Bennet realizes that Peter is absorbing Ted's power. Peter, realizing what might happen, alerts Claire to prepare to kill him.
Back in Queens, Sylar is seen using Isaac Mendez's ability to paint the future, as he fingerpaints using his mother's blood to duplicate Mendez's earlier painting of the New York explosion. He tells his mother's body that she was right about his potential to become President.