Before we tackle this week’s exercise in believability-stretching, can anyone tell me why the “Previously, on The Following…” bit at the beginning of the show is always EXACTLY the same? Can you imagine if The Walking Dead started every single episode with a square-one reminder that there was a zombie plague that took over the earth? The only other show I can think of that does this at the beginning of every episode is Arrow, which seems to delight in reminding us that once upon a time Stephen Amell was stuck on an island with nothing but a very bad wig to keep him alive. At this point, if you don’t know that Joe Carroll killed some chicks and escaped from jail, you should probably be watching something else.
Emma (Valorie Curry) and wee Joey (Don’tknow Don’tcare) pull into a creepy garage and meet an even creepier dude named Bo. He has a neck tattoo, which of course screams “childcare provider of the highest caliber.” As Joey soon learns, Bo also has a girl locked in a cage near the bathroom. Full service station, I guess? The girl begs Joey to let her out.
Olivia (Renee Goldsberry), Joe’s lawyer, plays the video footage of Ryan (Kevin Bacon) breaking Joe’s (James 100%PureFoy) fingers for the warden. Good times…
Meanwhile, Claire (Natalie Zea) tells the Feds everything that she knows about Charlie, which is exactly nothing beyond “he was military” and “he kind of reminded me of that guy from The Goonies – you know, the one that married Diane Lane?” Ryan’s little ears perk up at her mention of Roderick, and Debra “Brass Cupcake” Parker (Annie Parisse) says that any good cult leader worth his weight in Manson chicks has a strong “second” to run the operations for him.
Parker asks Claire if she can count on her not to run off with one of Joe’s followers again, and Claire rather awesomely answers, “No. Not any more than I can count on you to find my son.” Okay, I like her.
Bo gets mad when he learns that Joey found the girl in his closet, and he tells Emma that she’s none of their damned business.
Meanwhile, Parker’s pissed at the warden, the warden’s pissed at Ryan, and Joe’s going on vacation… to Georgia! Oh. Really? Okay. Have fun with that.
Mike Weston (Shawn Ashmore) asks the marshals for a moment alone with Joe – and Joe and Mike meet face-to-face for the first time (or so they would like us to believe). Joe tells Mike, “I don’t believe I’ve had the pleasure, but aren’t you on Warehouse 13?”
“That movie about the gay prom king?”
“No, not me, sorry.”
“Wait, don’t tell me – The Ruins?”
“Alone time” for Mike of course means “with Ryan,” who instantly manifests as though someone just spoke his name three times. Ryan asks where Roderick is and Joe pretends not to know who he’s talking about. Ryan thinks this means something. Okay… Parker assures Ryan that nothing will go wrong with Joe’s transfer, meaning that everything will. Ryan tells Mike that he thinks the warden has been compromised. Oh no! Now he’ll never find a suitable husband! [weeps into hankie]
While Emma presses Bo about Roderick, Joey swipes his keys (swiping keys is now the show’s second-most popular pastime, right after “checking around back”) and goes off to free the girl, whose name is Dana. She runs, and Bo grabs Joey, and Emma pulls a gun on Bo. He knocks her over and punches her, and I almost feel bad about enjoying it just a little. But before he can stomp her to death, Charlie (Tom Lipinski) appears from out of nowhere (no, that’s not a WW2 flashback I just had) with Dana in hand.
Back in Richmond, they load Joe into a jazzed-up UPS truck. Mike tells Ryan that the warden is clean but he does have a daughter in college – and her name’s Dun-Dun-DUNNNNNNNNN. Sorry – that’s “Dana”. They ask the warden if Joe’s people have taken Dun-Dun-Dana but the warden denies it.
Charlie explains to Emma that Bo is “useful in a limited way”, which describes most of the guys I dated in my twenties. Atta Bo! He explains that Dun-Dun-Dana is leverage. Charlie asks Emma what happened to Paul and Jacob, and she doesn’t answer. Hey, good question – where’d those crazy queens get to, anyway? Am I the only one who’s hoping they threw in the towel on the whole cult thing and have opened a B&B in the Catskills? Ten bucks says we haven’t seen the last of their pretty faces.
Ryan and Mike figure out that the warden looped the surveillance footage of the transfer vehicle garage to sneak Joe out of the truck. He calls Parker, and as she pulls over the transport truck, Ryan ambushes the warden as he takes off in the middle of the day. While Parker demands to be let into the back of the transfer truck, Ryan demands to be let into the warden’s trunk. Faster than you can say “Let’s Make a Deal”, what’s behind Door #1 and Door #2 is revealed to be nothing. Joe has vanished. But wait – doctored surveillance video or no, Ryan was looking directly into the damn truck when they loaded Joe in by the U.S. marshals. How’d they get him back out without the marshals noticing?
Of course, Joe is actually behind Door #3, which is Olivia’s trunk. She lets him out at some abandoned warehouse. Ryan gets the warden to confess, and they trace Olivia’s phone, which is on the move. Joe’s wearing a suit now and she’s driving him somewhere. Job interview, maybe? He has her stop the car and tells her to call Ryan, which she does. FBI dispatch connects them and he tells her to tell Ryan that Joe Carroll is killing her and it’s his fault. Uh, Joe – ever heard of speakerphone?
Okay, so he strangles her, with Ryan begging on the other end of the line that Joe kill him instead.
Is anyone going to miss this woman? No? K, just checking. Also: Worst. Mock. Interview. Ever.
Joe goes into this massive atrium building where about 300 extras are trying very hard to look like they are eating lunch. I hope to God this is a giant Following flashmob and they’re all going to dance to “Thriller” or something – but no, Joe is only there to meet some guy on the top level of the atrium. His name’s David and he’s just tickled to meet Joe. Why this had to happen in public is anyone’s guess – as is what the hell kind of gold-plated real estate they must be giving out at this joint to have so many frigging people eating there. How many people live in Richmond, anyway?!
Ryan and Mike give Joe chase through the crowded atrium-restaurant-thingie, while Joe and David sneak through a back door into a hallway. A security guard follows them, but a blond in a power suit slices his guts open with a straight razor. Her name’s Louise. Of course it is. This is ridiculous.
David hangs back and gets Ryan’s gun, and then grabs Ryan, and then Joe has the gun, and he tells Ryan that he could kill him then and there but that would be So Not Raven for him to die in a parking garage. Right – because everything else up to this point has just been dripping with gothic atmosphere?
Joe says that this is just the end of the first part of the novel, which he spent 9 years writing in jail. And it’s going exactly according to plan! Of course it is. Joe and Louise leave, and David stays behind with a gun on Ryan. Ryan gets it from him, and he shoots him in the leg and runs upstairs, where Joe’s helicopter is leaving. Ryan shoots a bunch of times at the helicopter. Wouldn’t it have been hilarious if he’d hit it and the copter had exploded and that was the end of Joe Carroll? Then I could be watching RuPaul’s Drag Race right now instead of screaming at Kevin Bacon to find the nearest bottle of Stoli and drink until he blacks out.
Charlie and Emma are cleared to leave Bo’s garage, and Charlie tells Bo they need to finish up some business – oh, and earlier Charlie promised Joey that Dun-Dun-Dana wouldn’t be harmed.
Back at the crime scene, Parker agrees to give Ryan Seven Minutes in Hell with David because her way of doing things clearly sucks. Ryan puts on rubber gloves (again with the guys I dated in my twenties!) and jams his thumb in David’s bullet wound. No, that’s not a euphemism. Seconds later, Ryan and Parker are in Bo’s garage, where they find both dead Bo and live Dun-Dun-Dana in the cage near the loo. So Charlie is a man of his word, huh?
Claire, meanwhile, is being put into protective custody – neither she nor Ryan know where. She actually complains about this, as though it’s someone else’s fault that she married a f*cking serial killer and had a kid with him that she then put into the care of a murderess. Remember when I said I liked her? Strike that, reverse it.
Ryan tells Claire not to worry, that Joe won’t win – she snaps at him that it’s not a game.
A dark car pulls through a big set of gates and up to a mansion, where Wadsworth and Yvette have no doubt laid out a delicious dinner of monkey’s brains and shark’s fin soup. A bunch of people start filing out of the front door. Joe gets out of the car as about 20 of his Followingers stand welcoming him to their mansion. One of them is Emma, who hugs Joe. Charlie stands back looking glumly Brolinian, as ever. Then wee Joey comes out. Emma calls him over, but he doesn’t move, so Joe approaches him and kneels.
Joey says, “I know you, you’re my dad.” Joe confirms that yes, he is his dad.
Notably Dead: Olivia, Bo, the Security Guard
Notably Absent: Jacob, Paul, Meghan, that tall, older black Fed who lost Claire at lunch (where’d he go?!)
Notably Gay: Nobody.
Notably Following: [takes deep breath] Emma, Charlie, David, Louise, Roderick, Paul, Jacob, about 20 other people hanging out at the Joe Carroll Dream House
What We Know
- This show’s writers really don’t like the FBI (see: continued gross incompetence and the preview for next week)
- Emma may be a murderous traitor, but at the end of the day she’s not a bad au pair
- People in cults get to stay at nicer places than I stay on vacation. Is there a cult timeshare option?
What We Don’t Know
- Who Roderick is (I should just go ahead and create a keystroke shortcut for that phrase)
- Where Claire is going
- Whether or not Mrs. Peacock and Colonel Mustard have been invited to Joe’s mansion
- How a guy with several freshly-broken fingers managed to strangle a healthy adult woman in a car across from a busy atrium in broad daylight
Okay, at this point the only way I can enjoy this show is to completely forget the first two episodes ever existed and pretend that everything started with Joe having Joey kidnapped – because that’s clearly all the show is concerned with. Once I’ve come to terms with that, my enjoyment of the show comes primarily from appreciating the weathered beauty of Kevin Bacon’s visage as one would admire a particularly handsome piece of silvered driftwood. Secondary enjoyment can be found in watching just how ridiculous the machinations of Joe’s plans become. This episode at least let the wheels spin entirely off the careening wagon of the plot, allowing the chief antagonist to slide, toboggan-like, into his mansion with several dozen lunatics in tow.
Having said that, I’d give this week’s ridiculousness a respectable seven out of ten That’s So Ravens. Hey – I wasn’t bored, and at least Joe did something other than squint at people across a table.
What’d you folks think? Am I being too hard on the show? Too easy?