The Following Episode 3: “The Poet’s Fire”

Whoa, Nelly! I take back every doubt I had concerning the second episode and then some! Every time I think this show is going to zig, it zags.

Jordy? Still scares me. And, seriously, I actually gagged in the closing scenes. There we have Hardy, all noble and describing Carroll, and then Jordy, shoving bandages down his throat. That level of devotion is freaking terrifying.

On to Hardy. I liked that this episode took him further from Claire. I maintain my suspicions about her (one giant love story…with Carroll), but I was glad to have more time with him on his own. His interaction with Debra is delightful. Having him deal with her—definitely not a damsel in distress—is fantastic. And Hardy’s total disregard for Weston’s attempt at bonding had me laughing a little bit. Weston’s so starry-eyed and full of hero worship, and Hardy is having none of it.

James Purefoy and Kevin Bacon in The Following

And the flashbacks with Hardy and Carroll? Priceless. Absolutely priceless. Carroll is so earnest and helpful while obviously enjoying his role in the investigation, and his bonding with Hardy over their respective isolation is wonderful. This, right here, is the foundation that makes me believe Carroll is willing to go above and beyond to play out his own personal game of Heroes and Villains. I want more of this dynamic, so much more.

My favorite flashback has to be the first one, where Carroll is teaching about taking morals for yourself and how it’ll bleed through your writing… As a writer myself, that scene rocked me. He’s so passionate and, even knowing he gets his rocks off murdering college co-eds, I felt the undeniable pull. He’s so brilliantly charismatic, it’s easy to believe that young people would flock to follow him.

EmmaWhich brings us to our delightful non-triad. Emma (formerly Denise) might be my favorite character, second only to Carroll himself. She’s so tiny and waifish and will not hesitate to cut a bitch. In this case, that’s Paul. Poor Paul. The man is so beautiful and has me feeling sorry for someone who helped kill Carroll’s only surviving victim. But he’s obviously harboring feelings for Jacob that they want to keep hidden from Emma (for good reason, obviously). But his jaunt off to the quick-mart to pick up a companion… Not the actions of a man in his right mind. Now they have a hostage (Women, do NOT go into the woods with a man you just met. He’s probably a serial killer!) which means it’s increasingly likely that things will be spiraling out of Carroll’s carefully created plan.

I have to say, I didn’t see the wife as anything other than a victim. Which is foolish, because we already saw how Jacob and Emma were set up, but I never thought that she’d be a major player. I am LOVING how the women followers are actually the more… Not powerful. That’s not the right word. Creative? Sadistic? Psychotic? All of the above? Carroll might have got them started on this journey, but they are players in their own right. You can especially see that when you compare them to Jordy with his simple-minded, “I like Carroll’s chapter. There’s nothing wrong with it.” To the arsonist’s, “I like fire. I’m not good with knives.” Each, in his own way, is emulating Carroll. It’s Emma and this other woman who are stepping out, stepping UP. I cannot wait to see what the next episode brings.

I love Debra the more I see her. She’s so no-nonsense, and brutally blunt in a quiet sort of way (Vodka-breath! HA!). And how she gushed over Carroll as if she were a fan-girl—though he didn’t buy it—and convinced Jordy to spill his guts… This woman is not an amateur. After seeing this episode, I think it’s less likely that she’s one of Carroll’s insiders. She’s not young and naïve enough to get pulled in by him. I could see her trying to match wits with him, and failing, but not being rolled over as he has with his other followers.

The one I CAN see this happening with would possibly be Weston. As I mentioned before, he’s so young and starry-eyed. Yes, that’s currently turned in Hardy’s direction, but who better to admire than his leader’s fearless nemesis? Obviously, this is all conjecture at this point. But the slice of him that we got to see when he tried to get Hardy to open up—the military brat without roots of his own—seems to indicate it’s possible that he’d be a prime picking for Carroll.

Then again, the fact that I suspect that probably just means it’s not true.

Hell, we could throw all tradition out the window and say Hardy’s in on it. That this playing out between him and Carroll is orchestrated from the get-go. Would that be the greatest trick or biggest cop-out? I’m not really sure.

Paul and Jacob

But the kicker of this episode was the email sent to Claire. Having Joey kill the mouse… That’s brutal. I mean, it wasn’t literally brutal. It was almost an aside, but that just makes it worse in my opinion. I can’t tell if they’re actually grooming him for his place in the cult, or if they’re just manipulating him to hurt Hardy and/or Claire (though the email seems to be aimed at Hardy). I’m still not convinced that Claire isn’t involved, but only time will tell on that front.

So, yes, this episode knocked my socks off. Brilliant all around.

What did you think?

Katee Robert is the New York Times bestselling author of the Come Undone series. She is zombie-prepared.


  1. Taryn Elliott

    Brilliant!! This show just kills me in every way. I just watched this episode and I’m a damn wreck because of it.

    I think the best part for me was that Ryan was sooooooo pulled in by Joe. That he really liked him. That’s the perfection. And gives a whole new level of empathy toward the cult followers. Ryan knows EXACTLY how it feels to fall under Joe’s spell.

    Brilliant writing. SHOWING so much.
    A writer’s dream to be able to pull it off, but then adding in truly stellar actors that make those words come alive.

    Just GAH!!

    And the Joe/Ryan plot. Jaysus. What a twist that would be if it was true. I’m not sure how i feel about it. You want to trust at least SOMEONE in this freaking show.
    And so far.
    I trust NO ONE.

  2. Laura K. Curtis

    It was also unclear to me in the pilot how long before Carroll’s arrest Ryan’s affair with Carroll’s wife began. That is, timing is an issue. Is it possible that Joey is actually RYAN’s kid?

  3. Katee Robert

    Laura, I DID NOT EVEN THINK OF THAT. For Joey to be Ryan’s child… that would be the ultimate revenge/sacrifice/etc. Because in the first episode, you see Joe being pretty damn excited that Claire is pregnant, and then you move to the point he now, where he doesn’t seem to care one way or another (other than using the kid as a pawn).

    And Taryn, I feel the same way!! I can trust no one. I keep examining character’s reactions to see if they’re what they should be, or if they’re suspicious. I totally did NOT see the arsonist’s wife as a follower, and that’s shaken my belief that I’ll know a true follower from a “good” guy.

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