I have mixed feelings about this episode and a great majority of those come from the marketing for The Following rather than the episode itself. All I’ve heard via commercials is that this episode is going to have a twist no one saw coming. So I was sitting here, waiting to be surprised, and I wasn’t in the least.
Which isn’t to say the episode was bad. It definitely wasn’t. Some interesting elements came to light, and the entire cast was pretty much on point. But by shouting “YOU WILL NEVER SEE THIS COMING!!” from the rooftops, the marketing people kind of blew it.
I’m not going to lie. Hardy kind of annoyed me in this episode. I’m not exactly sure WHY, either. I think it’s because he was so good in the last one, and now we’re back to “You’ll pay, Joe. NOOOOO, don’t kill that innocent! I’m going to run after you all by myself and JUST miss you!” We’ve seen this song and dance before, and I’d really like to see them delve a bit deeper, because right now he’s doing little more than chasing his tail. The other FBI agents aren’t stupid, so having Hardy be the only one who realizes things in time to run after the bad guy is getting kind of old. I know he’s the protagonist, and he knows Carroll better than pretty much anyone on this planet, but still.
There was definitely not enough Debra in this episode, either. After the last one, I’m pretty much Team Debra, even if she ends up being one of Carroll’s followers. I’m not exactly sure what it is about her—either the no-nonsense attitude or the dry humor—but I really enjoy every minute she’s on screen.
Claire isn’t really doing much for me, either. I’m glad they kept her part to a minimum because the most interesting thing she did all episode was going into witness protection. It sets things up for future episodes, and for the cat-and-mouse game to change.
Speaking of which, Carroll told Hardy we’d only gotten to the first part of the book, but from the clips of next week, it looks like all his planning is going into finding Claire. Since the original plan—as far as we know—was to have Claire there and waiting for him, I don’t see how this is all his genius I-knew-what-you-were-going-to-do-before-YOU-knew-what-you-were-going-to-do. And why doesn’t he just have a follower set up in her team? There HAS to be someone inside the FBI, but the jury’s still out on who it is.
But Carroll was simply amazing in this episode. We finally got a full range of emotions at the end, and I’m totally guilty of wanting to hug him when he knelt in front of his son. I had kind of been operating under the assumption that his son was a means to the end (his ex-wife), but I may have been wrong. I had forgotten the flashback in the first episode where he and Claire are so overjoyed to find out they’re pregnant. So, yeah, he definitely teared up and I definitely went a little melty, even though this guy just calmly choked a woman to death earlier in the same day.
Charlie is an interesting character to me. With how he acted with Claire before, you almost get the idea that he’s a few crayons short of a Crayola box, but if that were true I doubt Carroll would allow him to be in charge of anything. His conversation with Joey was particularly fascinating because he has that zealot’s gleam in his eye, and few people can reassure a child more than a true believer. And when he gave his word that the captive girl wouldn’t be harmed? I wasn’t really sure what to make of that, but the FBI busts in and she’s still alive and as unharmed as possible. So obviously he’s a man of his word, which I think—HOPE—will come into play in future episodes.
Which brings us to Emma. She’s been strong, and she’s been a good follower, and now Carroll is home. I really, REALLY hope there ends up being some disillusionment in the future, because there’s no way Carroll can live up to the standards she’s created for him. Or at least I hope so, because it would create a great conflict. I mean, for all intents and purposes, she was in love with Jacob, and she actively left him (and Paul) behind.
Speaking of those two, we didn’t see a single hint of what they’re up to. From the comment Emma makes, there’s a possibility they’ll make it to the compound (because every cult simply must have a compound), but at this point we don’t have any real way of knowing if that’ll happen. I hope they show up at some point, if only to avoid a dropped plot thread. Since this show has surprised me time and time again, I really don’t think that’s something I’ll have to worry about.
(Editor's Note: Everyone seems to be talking about THIS closing song by a Swedish artist, so we're adding the super-creepy, PERFECT-for-this-show video here, nice and handy.)
All in all, I enjoyed this episode. I would have enjoyed it more if not for the marketing BS. Obviously there’s a compound of Carroll’s people. I’d guessed that there was some sort of base set up, so this just takes that one step further. And obviously Carroll’s going to escape at some point, if only to change things up a bit. The man has a plan, and I doubt that involved him being in prison any longer than strictly necessary.
That said, I very much look forward to what the next episode will bring.
Katee Robert is the New York Times bestselling author of the Come Undone series. She is zombie-prepared.