“The Following” 1.04: The Flashbacking

In this week’s epsiode of The Flashbacking – sorry, The Following – we learned a bit more about Ryan Hardy’s tragic past, checked another Followinger off our list, and heightened the threat levels for one of the supposed “good guys”. Oh – and there was lots more stabbing and a shower threesome, if you’re into those kinds of things.

We start with a touching scene of Paul (Adan Canto) and Meghan (Li Jun Li) chatting like old friends who have just brutally beaten and kidnapped one another after a few drinks. Jacob (Nico Tortorella) and Emma (Valorie Curry) tell Paul he’d better clean up his mess – Emma goes further by telling him to “kill her and bury her behind the stable, barn, whatever.” Anyone else shocked she’s not entirely familiar with the term “stable”?

Paul tells Jacob that he’s tired of all his lies – and at this point it’s pretty clear that this isn’t just about the 458 games of Gay Chicken that they happened to lose to one another and a bottle of Barefoot Cabernet during their three years as a couple, right?

Back at the place where the Good Guys hang out, Mike (Shawn Ashmore) is busy studying the YouTube clip of Jacob and Emma going all Ted Bundy Day Care on wee Joey. Mike insists that he’s okay despite the fact that his impossibly humpy colleage just died in his bloody arms a few hours ago. Claire (Natalie Zea) isn’t comforted by the fact that people can’t just be turned into psychopaths: “You put heroin in someone’s arm long enough, they become a junky.”

Oh – and Jordy’s definitely dead, having gone off to the great My Strange Addiction: All Delicious Gauze Edition in the sky. Ryan (Kevin Bacon) gets a call from someone named Jenny (I think the incoming number was 867-5309), and suddenly flashes back to 2009. He was drunk! Okay, to be more specific to 2009, he was drunk and leaning on some chick named Jenny, who was pretty and very patient with him and whose calls he now has no interest in taking.

Ryan meets with Joe (James 100%PureFoy), calling The Followingers “amateur hour”. Joe’s thrilled to hear that Ryan killed Rick, because it means he’s getting his groove back. He says that Maggie – who is still at large – is “tenacious”, and mentions that she pulled off a killing spree in Alabama eight years ago.

Back at Sociopath Plantation, Paul fishes a cell phone out of a tasteful piece of pottery stashed high on a library shelf, and Emma uses it to call Maggie. Wee Joey sees this from the stairs, where he is waiting patiently for someone to tell him what his character’s point is. Emma senses that Paul still has beef, and she asks, “Is that about you two getting your gay on?” Paul says no, it’s about Jacob lying to everyone – including Joe – about the fact that he’s never actually killed anyone.


Okay, it’s kind of funny when the episode’s shocking twist is that someone actually is NOT a serial killer.

On a parking lot surveillance camera, the Feds see footage of Maggie stabbing someone in the parking lot of a store where she bought a bunch of magnets. Whah? She’s headed for New York or Connecticut, they think. AND SHE’S ARMED AND MAGNETIC.

Ryan gets another call from Jenny, and has another flashback. God – can he please turn his cell phone to “Silent with No Flashbacks,” please?

He was still drunk. Jenny was still over it. She walked out.

This time Ryan decides to take the call – it’s Jenny, but also Maggie, who has taken Jenny hostage. Maggie asks, “How do you want me to kill your sister?” She says she’ll trade Jenny for him if he comes alone and doesn’t pack heat. He agrees. Brass cupcake Debra Parker (Annie Parisse) of course notices that her vodka-soaked MVP is up to something fishy, so she sends Mike to tail Ryan. Ryan isn’t keen on Mike coming along, but he eventually relents – it turns out Jenny owns a restaurant in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, where I actually lived for the last eight years. This should be fun. Is it wrong to hope that the bust goes south and they catch half the cast of Girls in the crossfire?

Back at Stabby Plantation, Emma tells Jacob that he needs to kill Meghan. We flash back to a touching scene where Jacob lied to the group about murdering a girl and standing on her body in a lake to make sure it was waterlogged. Pretty, sociopathic, AND thorough? Move over, Martha Stewart!  Emma is over the moon that her man is so handy with a corpse.

After the fastest drive from Richmond, VA to Williamsburg, Brooklyn ever (we only see about three seconds of what would be about a 6-hour drive, on a good day with no traffic on the New Jersey Turnpike), Mike tries to get Ryan to take a gun, but he won’t. He tells Mike to watch from the side door and to save Jenny no matter what goes down. Ryan sneaks around the dark warehouse of a restaurant (a dime a dozen in Williamsburg, truth be told) until he finds a chair with a blindfold and a sign that says to put it on in the middle of the empty room. That was easy! He puts it on and sits, and Maggie comes out of the darkness speaking in a dead-on but admittedly strange Winona Ryder impression. I’m seriously not sure what’s going on here – but Jenny screams in the distance and Ryan takes off his blindfold, only to be knocked to the floor by Maggie. Well that was just a waste of time, wasn’t it? Not to mention a clean blindfold.

Back at Crazy Pines, Jacob gives Meghan water and she pleads for him to let her go and pretend he killed her – he can even cut her all over so there’s lots of blood. Back in 2009, Jacob did actually tell Joe that he’d lied about killing – but after quoting some Poe back and forth Joe decided that this was alright, and that Jacob would get stabby when he was good and ready. There’s mention of Jacob not being able to go back to his old life – not sure what that’s about. Maybe he was Mormon?

Back in the present, Jacob wipes a knife all over Meghan’s face before cutting her free and telling her to run. Thanks, Mr. Mixed Messages! She runs into the unstable and hides, and after a few minutes Emma and Paul corner her and Emma stabs her in the gut, quipping, “relax, it’s only a flesh wound.” Easy to say when it’s not YOUR flesh!

Maggie slaps Ryan awake, and he is tied to a table. Okay, you know what? This is officially ridiculous. She says she’s “off-book” and that she’s going to kill Ryan and make Jenny watch. Sure, it should be Claire that’s forced to watch, but any tousled blond in a storm, right? She takes out the giant magnets that she bought and begins to place them on Ryan, messing with his pacemaker.

This is seriously one white cat away from being the jankiest climax to a James Bond film EVER.

Oh – in a flashback with Ryan in bed with someone (Claire? Jenny? Who cares.), we learn two things: One, Kevin Bacon is still in extremely good shape. Two, Ryan’s had a rough life. See, he fell in love with the daughter of a book-burning preacher, and then staged a revolt at the school by getting everyone to dance – which was against the law of God. Oh -and his entire family aside from Jenny is dead, each lost in a tragedy worse than the last, culminating in a firefighter brother who died in – you guessed it – the 9/11 attacks. Yes, they really just went there.

Back in the present, Maggie is making oblique references to foster dads and I’m just wondering where the hell Mike is through all of this. Did he jaunt off to check out Blue Bottle Coffee Company? Maybe he got caught in a Warby Parker-sponsored flashmob over on Bedford. Maggie cuts the tape (why?), and Ryan rolls off the table. Mike shows up just in time to punch and then shoot Maggie and take the magnets off of Ryan. Whee.

Back at the farm, a very dirty Paul and Emma are laughing about that time that they caught an escaped Asian girl in a barn and stabbed her in the mud. Wasn’t that a hoot? Emma turns on the shower and she invites Paul to join her, laughing that clearly nothing’s going to happen: “We both love him, Paul.” She kisses him – he laughs and kisses back. Clearly by “nothing’s going to happen” she meant “I’m not taking my bra off in the shower.”

Jacob, meanwhile, goes downstairs to get some more beer and finds Meghan back where she started: tied to the chair. Whoopsies!


Back in Billburg, Mike has Maggie’s cell phone and is certain that they can pull some useful data off of it. Ryan asks Jenny if she can disappear somewhere, and she says that Miami would be good. Look up Dexter Morgan at Miami Metro Homicide – tell him Mike sent you! She asks how Claire is doing, what with the whole murderous ex-husband escaping from jail and masterminding the kidnaping of her son and all. Ryan flashes back to 2005, where he tells Jenny that he broke it off with Claire because she deserves to move on past all this awfulness, and he will always be a reminder of it. Jenny thinks their family’s cursed. She may be onto something.

Back at the plantation, Jacob enters the bathroom to find Paul and Emma showering together. They both reach out to him, saying, “We’re not giving up on you and we’re making out with one another to prove it!” and he joins them in a wet group sexhug. Aww!

Ryan tells Claire that they just got a signal in upstate New York (Dutchess County). Claire offers to make him breakfast as Mazzy Star on the soundtrack confirms that this is officially the most boring thing ever. Ryan refuses Claire’s bodacious frittatas, and walks away in the dullest, longest final shot imaginable.

So did this raven just sh*t the birdcage or what?

What We Know

  • Maggie’s serial killing mentor was obviously this guy:

  • Jacob – and not Paul – is the weak link in the psycho threesome
  • Joe Carroll graduated magna cum laude from the Tyra Banks Academy of Smeyesing

What We Don’t Know

  • What the heck took Mike so long to come to the rescue? There had to have been PLENTY of opportunities when Ryan was knocked out cold and Maggie was preoccupied with, oh, LIFTING HIS BODY ONTO A TABLE BY HERSELF to make his move.
  • What the hell the deal was with Maggie’s voice – did someone force her to watch Welcome Home, Roxy Carmichael too many times as a child? That could drive anyone to murder.

Notably Dead

  • Maggie, Jordy (officially), some dude at a Lowe’s off the New Jersey Turnpike

Notably Gay

  • Everyone and noone

Notably Following

  • We just have Emma, Jacob, and Paul still standing – but rest assured that the numbers are going to grow again soon.

I don’t know about you, but The Following is The Floundering for me. Has the show’s strikingly original concept proven unsustainable beyond a few episodes? Is Ryan sharing his hootch with the writers’ room? Or am I just suffering from nausea from all the effing flashbacks to the Bush administration?

I was initially intrigued by the idea that this hyperliterate mastermind had laid out an enormous game board and had set it all into motion while twirling his mustache in prison – but the show has languished in redundant scenes of Claire sitting on a couch surrounded by Feds, Joey asking to call his mommy, and three less-than-captivating amateur psychos playing house in the Catskills.

Idunno – hopefully this is just an off week and things will rally again soon – but for now, I’m giving this puppy four out of ten That’s So Ravens:

 But that’s just one Poe-boy’s opinion. What’d you think?

In 2003, Brian launched the world's first website devoted to horror film from a gay perspective (CampBlood.org), mining an untapped (and occasionally unintentional) source of entertainment and bringing together a huge and colorful population of gay horror fans and filmmakers. When he's not pulling skeletons out of closets, Brian writes reviews for horror megasite Bloody-Disgusting.com, general film site Freezedriedmovies.com, and can be found on the ever-informative RottenTomatoes.com. Brian is also a filmmaker, having produced, written, and directed two shorts (the dark romantic comedy An Apple a Day and the eerie suspense piece Two Story House) that have played at film festivals worldwide and left audiences generally uneasy. A born-and-bred Midwesterner, Brian studied Mass Media and Film at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. (I know – crazy, right?) before fleeing the district for the warm and occasionally stinky shores of NYC. Brian is a proud member of the Online Film Critics Society, loving husband to illustrator Andy Swist, and benevolent overlord of their two cats.