Finally, The Following starts asking the same questions that we’ve all been yelling at the screen for weeks, starting with, “How did Joe Carroll escape in a helicopter in broad daylight?” Pretty soon they’ll have characters on screen asking things like, “How many people live in Richmond, anyway?” and “How many dimes can I fit into Kevin Bacon’s adorable frown lines?” and “Who writes this stuff?”
At a videoconference debrief with The Washington Brass, Debra “The Brass Cupcake” Parker (Annie Parisse) reports that they have thus far uncovered 47 false identities for Joe’s prison visitors. In other words, it is officially easier to get into a maximum security prison to visit a notorious serial killer than it is to get a library card. (You don’t have to bring a utility bill with you to the prison!)
They now think that’s it’s possible that there are over 100 cultists, ranging from bored or lonely housewives to full-on Real Housewives (i.e.: full-bore psychopaths).
Speaking of the cultists: back at Nuts’ Landing, Joe (James Purefoy) quotes “a dream within a dream” to the cult and thanks them for their time, efforts, and willingness to sacrifice themselves for a twinkly-eyed college professor with a God complex. He tells them that it is time for “the next part of the story.”
The Feds move their base of operations to DC – which makes sense, considering that there has been a major bloodbath happening within a four-block area of Richmond, Virginia every five minutes for the last week. Parker and Hardy are allowed to keep operating their task force there, because that would make the least amount of sense.
Back at Nuts Berry Farm, a nervous blond girl pitches her chapter to Joe, and we flashback to a 2007 prison visit: her name is Amanda and she wrote Joe letters about her cheating husband, whom she just killed and dismembered along with his mistress. Apparently Joe told her, “insist on happiness,” and to her, happiness was a warm gun. She can’t go back to Oklahoma so Joe hooks her up with Roderick to take her to the safety of the compound. So at the end of the day Joe is basically the serial killer equivalent of a Pokemon trainer, capturing and cultivating various psychos to later pit against Charmander and Squirtle in the arena?
Back in the present, Amanda says, “I want my chapter to have a happy ending.” GOOD LUCK WITH THAT.
Meanwhile, on-the-lam Jacob (Nico Tortorella) surprises his mom at their country house. She is there hiding from the manhunt for Jacob, and Jacob is there hiding from the previous several episodes. Paul (Adan Canto) is not looking too good, despite the protestations to the contrary being made by his open shirt and heaving, furry bosom. Meow. Jacob insists to his mom that he never killed anyone. Mom says Paul has sepsis and will die soon without a hospital, and that Jacob’s dad – whom Jacob clearly hates – is on his way.
Joe calls Ryan (Kevin Bacon) to follow up on Mike’s condition and commiserate about how hard it is to love Claire. Women – can’t live with ’em, can’t kill enough of ’em!
At a diner in Richmond, two women meet for lunch. One goes to the bathroom and while she is gone Amanda sits down with the other lady. She is fiddling with something under the table as she tells the woman to tell Ryan Hardy that “love hurts.” The other woman comes back from the bathroom and asks what’s going on and what Amanda has under the table. She says it is a speargun and she wants to try it out. She spears the lady straight through the back of her booth, and Amanda and Louise make a quick exit.
Okay, that was f*cked up.
Ryan learns that the dead woman’s maiden name was Claire Matthews and they start tracking down other women with the same name. “Ah you Sarah Connah?”
Back in 2008 Paul was sent to kill a woman to pledge his allegiance to the cult, and Jacob was sent to watch. Not only did it come out that Jacob couldn’t commit murder, but Paul was clearly sweet on Jacob. They found love over a freshly-perforated corpse in a trunk! Paul’s also a total nut job, by the way – and he killed his abusive father when he was 12.
Turns out the second Claire Matthews on the list is extremely stupid – she opens the door for a stranger WHILE WATCHING A NEWS REPORT ABOUT HOW SOMEONE IS MURDERING WOMEN WITH HER NAME, is garroted, and then thrown out a window. You know what, Amanda? We’re all good on this one. You may actually have done humanity a favor.
Ryan says that Joe is trying to draw the real Claire out, but the Feds insist she has no media access and doesn’t know a thing.
Cocktail hour at Nuts’ Landing! Emma (Valorie Curry) stares daggers (not real ones) at Joe, and Roderick asks why she is “bumming” and also where her missing boyfriend is. Whoopsies! Looks like Rod doesn’t like anyone getting closer to Joe than he is.
Claire #3 is a college student who is at some rave off-campus without her phone. No joke, this was an exact setup from the third episode of Cult.
Jacob, meanwhile, gets an email from Roderick with an address to go to for a pickup. Paul tearfully tells him to go without him, that he only wanted his life to have meaning and now it will. Paul tells Jacob, “I love you,” and Jacob smothers him with a pillow, then kisses his dead forehead. Aww. Jacob’s a true romantic after all! And now also a murderer.
At the Mardi Gras masquerade rave thing – which they probably could have easily made Poe-themed if they had felt like it, but hey, why bother? – Claire Matthews Tres meets a guy who tips her off to the fact that she’s a marked woman. He instantly gets stabbed by Amanda.
Ryan spots Louise, Claire finds a cop, and then Louise shoots the cop just before Ryan shoots her. Geez, Louise! Nice knowing ya. There’s an inevitable face off against Amanda – with a nailgun to rave Claire’s head – and Ryan of course slyly plays her own emotions against herself as the executioner of the bad people who steal other people’s spouses (“It’s a fricking metaphor, Ryan!”). He also begs her to kill him instead. How many times can your hero literally beg to die before it starts getting annoying? One less time than this one, I guess.
Back on Hysteria Lane, Roderick tells Joe that Louise is dead (Rod seems mildly upset that he didn’t get to kill her himself) and Amanda is in custody. The good news is that they were able to trace a call to Claire and they know she is in Pennsylvania. The bad news? Well… she’s in Pennsylvania.
Nick (Mike Colter) tells Parker that he thinks the fact that Ryan is still in love with Claire is “just twisted.” Sure, Nick. Out of all the bloodshed that’s gone down in the last five hours, the fact that Ryan still holds a torch for an ex-girlfriend is what’s TRULY insane.
And Roderick surprises Emma – who was clearly expecting Joe – with a special guest: Jacob.
What We Know
- It is next to impossible to get fired from the FBI
- Even insane cults break for happy hour (“Hey – it’s crazy o’clock somewhere!”)
- Joe’s PhD is in smeyezing:
What We Don’t Know
- How many insane cult members Ryan can beg to murder him before somebody actually does it. Seriously, Ryan Hardy is the most suicidal hero since Lane Meyer.
- What the hell passes for a masquerade party or a rave anymore. Kids these days!
- How on earth Joe actually expects to accomplish anything meaningful with this whole “progressive storytelling” approach, considering most of the authors are foaming-at-the-mouth out of their minds.
Notably Dead: Paul, Louise, a cop, two Sarah Connors Claire Matthewses, Rave Steve
Notably Absent: Joey (Wait, who? Oh yeah, the kid!), Claire, Mike Weston, the older black dude Fed who’s been missing for like six episodes now
Notably Gay: Paul (deceased)
Notably Following: Amanda, Roderick, Emma, Jacob (probably?), the rest of the singing forks and knives
At the end of the gay – oops, sorry, Paul – day, this episode at least had a few genuinely shocking moments, and they acknowledged the fact that some of the people in the Following are clearly unhinged. While I’m glad Jacob and Paul’s little star-crossed romance was given closure, it wasn’t exactly earth-shattering. I did miss the adorable, mildly ferrety presence of Shawn Ashmore – let’s hope he recovers soon and brings back the pretty.
Despite the fact that Edgar Allen Poe was clearly one of the show’s early victims, I’d still give it six out of ten That’s So Ravens:
What do you folks think? They’re making a big deal out of the fact that there are only six eps left – and though the show has been re-upped for another season, creator Kevin Williamson is saying that this storyline will resolve in the finale and is teasing that next year could be something totally different. Is this American Horror Story bandwagoning, or might the anthology concept work here as well?