I have to say, just when I think The Following can’t get any better, it goes and proves me wrong. Now we’ve moved past the AAAAAH screaming and into the I’m-so-tense-my-back-muscles-hurt.
Let’s start with Carroll since he blew me away this episode. Considering he was only in a grand total of maybe seven minutes, that’s pretty damn impressive. His scenes with the attorney gave me the chills in the best way possible. She’s sitting there, nearly crying, and he’s just got a pleasant smile on his face while he threatens her without actually threatening her. Personally, I find that type of charisma in a villain so much more terrifying than that guy who’s posturing and threatening and waving a gun around. Rationally, Carroll shouldn’t scare people like he does. I mean, he’s in freaking prison. It’s not like he’s going to successfully murder your entire family… Except maybe he can. As we see in the flashback with that same attorney, the man doesn’t have to do a whole lot personally because he’s got an army of wild-eyed followers willing to show up in people’s offices to cut off their fingers.
The attorney was pretty up-front with Claire. Obviously it’s a trap of some sort. Even if she hadn’t been quite so frank (and that really makes me like her character and hope the show keeps her around for a while), Claire’s not an idiot. She knows her going to this certain place at this certain time is going to feed into Carroll’s plan (whatever the end result may be). But she’s a mom. So, of course, she throws all common sense out the window and does exactly what he commands. As a mom, I can totally understand, but as a viewer, I want to smack her upside the back of the head for playing right into his hands.
Pretty much how I see that end result playing out is that Hardy is going to save Joey, but Claire’s going to get taken. Which… Who knows? Maybe that was Carroll’s grand plan. He didn’t seem all that concerned about Hardy and the FBI closing in on the farmhouse, which makes me think he either has a pretty damn good poker face, or he’s not all that worried about Joey being saved. It is enough to make a girl wonder what the hell his endgame is. I mean, sure, a fight between good and evil. The ultimate showdown. But I feel like there’s more going on than that.
Hardy is both becoming more efficient and unraveling. Every time he does something insane like run through the woods, I’m sitting here hoping his pacemaker is up to speed. I’m absolutely DELIGHTED to see what comes in the next episode now that he’s in the house with the threesome, Joey, and that poor unfortunate girl tied up in the basement.
Which brings me to the sorta-they-totally-slept-together threesome. Emma remains one of my favorite characters in this show, second only to Carroll himself. Seeing her and Paul kind of teaming up together, or playing house, or whatever the hell they’re doing, is fascinating. I keep wondering if she’s really all doe-eyed over the sexy times, or if she’s just manipulating him into being content so he’ll work with her for/against Jacob and stop dragging his feet every step of the way.
Paul has actually grown on me. It’s the different layers he’s showing now that he’s content, I think. His dealing with Jacob—their talk about knives and how it’s important not to lie anymore—fascinates me. He’s so calm now that he’s gotten what he wants. And, quite frankly, Jacob being all freaked out and “I’m not gay!!” makes me raise my eyebrows. Is he really more worried about being homosexual than he is about the will-he-or-won’t-he kill that poor girl? Or is he picking the most blatant thing to freak out about while actually freaking out about all of it?
Which brings us to Joey. I’m really proud of that kid. As Claire said in a previous episode, he’s really smart. This episode only highlighted it. Not only does he manage to call his mother and give them enough information to find the farm house, but he escapes (and SERIOUSLY, older couple?! You think you have a kidnapped kid in the area and the first thing you do is go to a phone? Why not a phone AND a weapon? Because people in the country aren’t exactly without means. They should have known something terrible was going to happen since they saw him) TWICE. Joey is pretty fantastic at this point, and I’m curious to see how this entire thing plays out and if he’ll have a larger role than just Victim.
Honestly, my only beef with this episode isn’t a true beef. I just wish so many of these followers weren’t throwaways. The man who came to fetch Emma and the rest of them had a story—and did anyone else notice the SUPER shiny wedding ring on his finger? PLEASE tell me that plays into future episodes!—and he died pretty freaking quickly. I know we can only focus on so many characters at a time, but there are so many compelling factors surrounding Carroll that I want to know more about the people who love/obsess with him enough to follow him on this intense and insane journey.
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Katee Robert is the New York Times bestselling author of the Come Undone series. She is zombie-prepared.