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|First appearance||"One Giant Leap"|
|Last appearance||"Sundae, Bloody Sundae"|
|Portrayed by||Jimmy Jean-Louis|
|Ability||Memory manipulation and ability suppression.|
The Haitian is a fictional character on the NBC television series Heroes, portrayed by Haitian actor Jimmy Jean-Louis. In the show, he is an associate of Noah Bennet, and for the first three seasons, he was only referred to on-screen as "the Haitian." Even his associates at Primatech called him the Haitian. In "Shadowboxing," Claire reveals that his name is René.
Wearing his father's necklace which displays a symbol seen throughout the series, the Haitian is an aloof character. He is referred to almost exclusively as simply "the Haitian" until he is referred to as René by Claire in "Shadowboxing." (After which a number of characters refer to him by his first name.) He does not speak until "Fallout", and his associate Eden McCain expresses the belief that he is mute. He kisses his necklace before erasing Matt Parkman's memory, and expresses a belief in God—specifically, a belief that superpowers are a gift from God, and should be respected.
The Haitian first discovers his ability to inhibit other powers as a child when he inadvertently stops his father's ability during an attack on their village. When discovered by the Company in Haiti, he does not speak, and describes his powers with a drawing of himself pulling "grubs" out of people's heads. One of his earliest assignments is the first mind wipe of Sandra Bennet ("Company Man"). He is next seen fourteen years later in a bar by Matt Parkman in "One Giant Leap." In "Collision", the Haitian is brought in to see a captive Parkman. On Bennet's orders, he uses his memory-related power to erase Parkman's memories of being kidnapped. Ted Sprague later reveals to Parkman that he had seen the Haitian under similar circumstances. The episode "Six Months Ago" shows that the Haitian also had a hand in capturing Eden McCain, who went on to work with him and Bennet. The Haitian and Bennet attempt to kidnap Nathan Petrelli, but Nathan escapes by flying away.
Bennet's tasks for the Haitian are not limited to dealing with people possessing powers. In the episode "Hiros", the Haitian follows Bennet's order to "hollow out" Brody Mitchum, a schoolmate of Claire's who attempted to rape her. After this encounter, Brody no longer recognizes even his own name.
The Haitian and Eden work together in "Homecoming" to capture Sylar. In "Fallout", Mr. Bennet orders the Haitian to erase the recent memories of Claire's friend, Zach, as well as her brother, Lyle, after Claire told her father that they both knew of her healing powers. Although the Haitian follows through with these orders, he secretly defies Mr. Bennet's order to erase Claire's memories.
The Haitian finally speaks when encountering Claire Bennet. He tells her how he erased Zach and Lyle's memories, and asks her, "Can you keep a secret?" Two weeks later, in "Godsend," the Haitian and Claire meet at an old factory area. Claire asks if he can at least restore Zach's memories so she'll have someone to share her secret with, but he states that he cannot do so because "that's not how [his] gift works." He also considers the superpowers he and Claire have to be "God's gift," and advises Claire to respect hers accordingly.
"The Fix" reveals that the Haitian gave Claire special wind chimes to hang outside her window if she needs to talk with him. The day after Claire does, they meet again at the same factory area. The Haitian asks if it's an emergency, but Claire just wants to know about her biological parents. The Haitian says that Claire's biological mother died in a fire, something Mr. Bennet told him at a time when he had no reason to lie. He claims not to know anything about Claire's biological father and recommends that she let it go.
In the episode "Distractions," the Haitian accompanies Claire's adoptive father Mr. Bennet to his home in the pursuit of Sylar who escaped Primatech and locked Mr. Bennet in the cell he'd previously occupied. While Mr. Bennet tended to his wife, the Haitian chased the wounded Sylar outside, but soon returned having lost his trail. The Haitian then wiped Sandra Bennet's mind to make her forget ever having met Sylar, incidentally making her forget she allowed Claire to skip school that day.
In "Company Man", after Matt reveals to Mr. Bennet that the Haitian can speak, Mr. Bennet confronts the Haitian about his ability and why he did not erase Claire's memory. Afterwards, the Haitian helps Bennet rescue his family from Ted Sprague. When Bennet is ordered by his superior to bring Claire in to the company, Bennet turns her over to the Haitian. He then asks the Haitian to shoot him in the stomach and wipe his mind of anything that could lead the company to Claire.
In "Parasite", the Haitian tells Claire that they must leave the country. At a gas stop he spoke on the phone in French and revealed they were instructed to head to Marseilles, France by way of New York. Desperate to see Peter Petrelli, Claire steals the Haitian's passport, preventing him from following Claire through the airport security checkpoint. Claire then goes to Peter Petrelli's apartment in New York, where she meets her biological grandmother Angela Petrelli. Much to Claire's surprise, the Haitian is there, and speaks to Angela in French. He has been secretly working to protect Claire on Angela's orders.
In "Four Months Ago...", the Haitian handcuffs Peter in a shipping container, saying that Angela Petrelli helped him in a time of need; he wipes Peter's memories so that he can "start a new life" and escape the Company. He also gives Peter his Helix chain. Peter later manages to use regeneration to restore his memories.
In "Lizards", Mohinder finds the Haitian in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, suffering from the same virus that attacked Molly Walker. Initially, he wishes Mohinder not to cure it, as he believes it is God's will that he die to atone for his past, but Mohinder convinces him that God sent Mohinder all the way from America to find him so the Haitian allows himself to be treated.
In "The Line", the Haitian accompanies Bennet to Odessa, Ukraine, following a lead on some missing Isaac Mendez paintings. Once there, Noah uses the Haitian as a torture device to remove the memories of his mentor until he breaks down and tells Bennet where he can find the paintings.
In "One of Us, One of Them", the Haitian takes part in the handover of the second part of the Formula. Hiro and Ando retrieve it from him, only to have it stolen by Daphne. He then captures Hiro and Ando and detains them in Level 2.
The Haitian makes a return in "The Eclipse", where he is being sought out by the Petrelli brothers in Haiti, believing that he is one of the few people that can stop their father. Initially, Nathan believes that he is responsible for the loss of his powers; however, the Haitian informs him that his abilities are also gone. The brothers explain to him that their father Arthur Petrelli is still alive and that his assistance is needed to help defeat him. The Haitian reveals that he is on the run from his half-brother, who goes by the name "Baron Samedi" and possesses the ability of impenetrable skin. The three are then ambushed by gunfire. Peter and the Haitian manage to escape, but Nathan is captured by Samedi and his insurgents. Ultimately, the Haitian and Peter rescue Nathan and two girls. His powers restored once the eclipse ends, the Haitian chooses not to kill his brother, mind-wiping him instead.
In "Our Father", he aids Peter in his attempt to kill Arthur Petrelli, blocking Arthur's powers so Peter can shoot him in the head. Arthur's vast range of powers is eventually able to overcome the Haitian's negation ability, leaving them both weakened. Sylar steps in and stops Peter, but kills Arthur after learning that he is not really Arthur's son. Sylar doesn't bother to attack either Peter or the Haitian since they do not possess abilities he desires.
During the fourth volume, the photo of the Haitian can be seen several times in the fugitives board at Building 26, as one of the top targets Danko's agents must capture.
The Haitian is seen again in "Orientation" working again with Noah Bennet for the New Company. He appears in Noah's office to erase any memory of Tracy Strauss from Danko's mind, in order to convince Tracy to join them.
In "Once Upon a Time in Texas", 3 years ago, fellow company agent Lauren Gilmore wrote Noah a note revealing that she had the Haitian wipe her mind of her feelings for Noah, in order to keep their relationship professional.
In "Shadowboxing", the Haitian and Noah appear at Becky's sorority house having mind-wiped the girls who witnessed Becky and Claire's abilities. After Claire lectures them about what they are able to do with people around her, the Haitian and Claire go back to her dorm to make sure Gretchen is okay. Once Gretchen decides to return home, Claire sends René, the Haitian, to make sure Becky won't hurt Gretchen until she leaves.
In "Brother's Keeper", the Haitian shows up at Nathan's senate office, where he finds Peter and "Nathan". He then confesses to Peter in private that Angela sent him there to mind-wipe both of them, but he believes Angela is not thinking well but being emotional, so René instead gives Peter the address to the real Nathan's corpse.
In "The Fifth Stage", without Angela's knowledge, the Haitian meets Peter in order to "lend" him his abilities. René is left at the ER while Peter and Angela argue about killing Sylar/Nathan.
In "Odessa", Noah visits the Haitian, having lost his memories of the day Claire died due to the Haitian's memory wipe ability. The Haitian inexplicably tries to kill Noah, who is forced to kill the Haitian in self-defense. With his dying words, the Haitian cryptically claimed he was following Noah's orders as part of a plan that required Noah to have his memories erased of something crucial.
Over the next several episodes, Noah attempts to discover the truth of what happened to Claire as he has no memory of it, resorting to asking Molly Walker who witnessed the bombing and Noah believed Claire's death. However, he has no such luck.
In "June 13 - Part 1", Noah has Hiro take him back to the day of the Odessa Peace Summit and experience the events of that day for himself. Noah finally understands why he had the Haitian erase his memory of June 13, 2014: to protect Claire's newborn children from Erica Kravid. By erasing all knowledge of the children, he couldn't betray them to Erica.
In "June 13 - Part 2", present Noah realizes that he has to have his memories erased in order to protect the children and says that he will find René to do the job, but future Noah knowing what would happen tells him to use Caspar instead, setting the course to undo the Haitian's death.
In "Sundae, Bloody Sundae", the Haitian is alive in the new timeline and is part of the Hero Truther group working to expose Erica Kravid. Erica's daughter, Taylor Kravid, contacts the group and in "11:53 to Odessa", they plot to rescue Micah from Sunstone Manor, an EVO prison run by Matt Parkman.
In "Send in the Clones", Rene and Taylor Kravid confront Matt, blocking his powers and questioning why Matt has turned evil. After learning he won't go to the future, Matt fires a gun next to Rene's head, stunning him and allowing Matt to telepathically order him to leave.
In "Project Reborn", Tommy views an erased memory from seven years before where Angela tested Tommy and Malina's powers and had Rene on standby to erase their memories of it. Though Rene asks if Noah shouldn't be there, Angela tells him that Noah's plan required him to have no knowledge of anything. Tommy later travels back in time and brings Noah along to view the full event: when Tommy and Malina's powers prove too much for them, Rene witnesses as a technician pulls them apart only to die himself while releasing a massive blast of energy. Angela tells Rene that the twins need a conduit, someone who is willing to sacrifice themselves to save the world. Angela tells him that in her vision she saw a third faceless person helping the twins. Rene asks who it could be and Angela looks through the observation window, seemingly at the future Noah behind it and tells Rene she's pretty sure she knows.
In the first season, the Haitian works for Mr. Bennet and Primatech Paper, though he ignores the order to mind-wipe Claire. Even though he takes the memories of Matt Parkman and Ted Sprague, they still remember the Haitian himself, just not the event; victims without powers, like Sandra Bennet, Lyle Bennet, and Zach, exhibit no recollections of the Haitian, however.
In the episode "Company Man", when questioned by Mr. Bennet about to whom the Haitian answers, he alluded that his allegiance was to someone significant "in Claire's life." This person is revealed to be Claire's grandmother, Angela Petrelli, who is working with Mr. Linderman. It is also revealed that Angela Petrelli helped the Haitian at one point.
In the alternate future seen in "Five Years Gone", the Haitian is aligned with Matt Parkman in Homeland Security, and is taking orders from the person whom he believed to be President Nathan Petrelli.
In season two, he works with Mr. Bennet to bring down the Company. However, in the episodes "Four Months Ago..." he is seen in Bob's office where he suppresses Peter's abilities. He is also seen working for Bob again after the events of Season 2 in the graphic novel, "Donna's Big Date: Part 2."
In season three, the Haitian is allied with both Mr. Bennet and the Company as Noah is in the Company's fold after the escape of the Level 5 inmates at the beginning of the season.
It is stated that the Haitian keeps a moral debt to Angela Petrelli ("Four Months Ago..."). His loyalty is proven when he decides to act against the Company's orders and mind-wipe Peter, so he can have a second chance as another person. Also, when he returns to the Company after Angela takes over, he is trusted with Angela's part of the formula ("One of Us, One of Them"). He is present in Angela's attempt to kill Arthur Petrelli ("Villains"), and can be listed as one of Angela's Heroes against Pinehearst ("Our Father").
After being on the run during the Fugitives' arc, he returns to work in the New Company for Noah Bennet and Angela Petrelli ("Orientation"), and even he is among the few people that knew Nathan was dead and Sylar was impersonating him ("Brother's Keeper"), although he decided to act against Angela's orders and told Peter the truth about Nathan's death.
During the events of Heroes Reborn it is unclear where his loyalties rested before his death as he erased Noah Bennet's memory of June 13, 2014, the day Claire died and the day of the Odessa Peace Summit bombing. The Haitian claimed to Noah that Noah himself ordered the wipe, yet the Haitian tried to kill him after he discovered the wipe. Noah eventually learns that he did order the Haitian to wipe his memory to protect Claire's children from Erica Kravid.
- In "Five Years Gone", the future Haitian is working for the Department of Homeland Security, assisting Matt Parkman in the interrogation of people with superpowers, and the capture of the future Hiro Nakamura, where he proves to be useful as he can prohibit the usage of Hiro's powers to some extent. Eventually, the Haitian is killed by Mohinder Suresh, who injects him with a lethal fluid that was meant for the present-day Hiro Nakamura.
- In "I Am Become Death", the Haitian is working alongside Claire, Knox, and Daphne to capture and/or kill Peter because of his "terrorist" status.
- In the original timeline of Heroes Reborn, Rene was shot by Noah in self-defense after following his orders to kill Noah if he ever came back to protect Tommy and Malina. While time traveling, Noah had his past self use Caspar Abraham to erase his memory instead of Rene, causing him to be alive once more in the present.
Powers and abilities
The Haitian has the ability to selectively erase the memories of anyone he wishes. In the graphic novel "It Takes a Village, Pt. 1", he is shown to accidentally clean out the minds of nearby villagers, but precise memory removal appears to require prolonged physical contact. The Haitian describes the experience as ranging from being like "picking flowers just after a spring rain" to "reaching into the moist soil of freshly dug graves" with "grubs biting at your fingers." When removing specific memories, he describes it as becoming "one with [the subject's] mind." He can erase memories of short periods, as demonstrated on Matt Parkman in "Collision", or erase a person's memory so thoroughly that they cannot remember their own name, as he does to Brody Mitchum in "Hiros" and Peter Petrelli in "Six Months Ago". While the Haitian cannot restore erased memories on his own, as revealed in "Godsend", the process can be undone by those with healing or regenerative powers. While armed with a copy of the Haitian's powers in "The Fifth Stage", Peter Petrelli was able to use this aspect of his abilities to suppress Sylar's consciousness and bring forward the copy of Nathan's mind within Sylar.
The Haitian has a constantly-active ability to dampen or completely negate the powers of anyone within a certain distance of himself, akin to telepathic static. This ability deactivates if the Haitian is unconscious or if he selects specific individuals to allow the use of their abilities in his presence. His ability is not insurmountable; various characters have overcome it with great effort and the Haitian can exhaust himself from concentrating to suppress unusually strong abilities. In "Send in the Clones", Matt Parkman was able to stun Rene with a gunshot next to his head which caused an intense ringing in his ears. While disoriented, Rene was unable to use his powers and Matt was able to use his telepathy on him.
Character development and concept
In an interview on The Post Show on G4, Jimmy Jean-Louis stated that the Haitian was originally supposed to be from New Zealand, and that the character was going to be "The Kiwi." Kiwi is a colloquial term for the people of New Zealand. Jimmy Jean-Louis also stated that he auditioned three times for the role of D.L. Hawkins, which he did not get.