The Following Episode 2: The Saga Continues
Episode two of The Following, titled, “Chapter 2”, was aptly named. As we continue serial killer Joe Carroll’s (James Purefoy) ambitions of writing a sequel novel featuring Ryan Hardy (Kevin Bacon) as his flawed hero, we see the monstrous machine that is Carroll’s plan as its gears begin to turn.
When we left off last episode, security guard Jordy had approached a young woman. Now he tells her he needs to check her windows and secure her house because Carroll is on the loose. She agrees and allows him in. This is where we, as the audience, cringe because we know better. We also know when the girl hears the strange noise outside during a horror movie that she should DEFINITELY not go and check it out. But they do. They always do. So here we see Jordy take her to a room that he claims to know not only the basic house layout, but who lives in the room and also admits he’s been studying their house. The girl doesn’t say a thing, however, until he opens the window and snags a black bag from outside. Not. Good. He pulls out his “tools” and points a knife at her.
Jordy was unsettling in this scene, to me, because he was eerily able to speak to the girl honestly and even though he was sweating profusely, and even shaking a little he was pretty calm about the whole thing. Even when he tells her he’s been planning this a long time. We see Carroll’s novel start to have some life with Jordy’s storyline.
Hardy goes to Claire’s house and tells her of his suspicions that Denise is really one of Carroll’s followers. When she comes to terms with this, they find out that Denise’s car was found forty-five minutes away, but there is no sign of Joey.
Denise and Sarah’s neighbors, Will and Billy, have taken Joey to an abandoned house, and when Joey asks to call his mom, Denise cunningly steers him away from this by saying his mother told them not to call. I think we’re only beginning to see what Denise is truly capable of.
Hardy stumbles on a conversation about him where he learns that he’s close to being sent home because he can’t handle the case. He meets Agent Debra Parker, who explains that he’s too valuable to kick off the case, but she won’t give Hardy a gun when he requests one. Parker doesn’t like to use the word cult when referring to Carroll’s followers.
In an effort to learn the whereabouts of her son, Claire agrees to go talk to Carroll. But he won’t answer her questions until she answers some of his, which are mostly about the letter she received. He asks her questions about her and Hardy’s affair until Claire breaks and hits him. Carroll retaliates, and tells her he will always love her. They still know nothing about Joey.
Inside the house, Joey has a room that is set up to look just like his own real one. Denise remembers her first contact with Carroll. Her real name is Emma, and she was a shy, self-conscience and impressionable young woman. Carroll preyed upon her by signing her copy of his novel, “The Gothic Sea”, and using his sexuality and charm to ensure that she would do anything he asked. Hardy and the team have found out that Emma, Will and Billy have all visited Carroll in prison, and they find out Emma’s address. There is no one there, but they find the same disturbing writing on the walls, pictures of eyes pasted on the wall, and odd drawings. To round out the weirdness of the house, Hardy finds hand drawn blueprints and a row of creepy Edgar Allan Poe masks. Suddenly, one of the masks advances on Hardy, promptly scaring the crap out of me. The person in the mask points a gun at Hardy and says, “You know you’re going to die. Only not today.”
Emma’s house was used for Carroll and his followers to meet and plan. His followers saw Poe’s work as a religion. Carroll would find people who were weak already and often with their own disorders. Agent Parker speculates on Carroll’s motivations. We also find out that Parker works on the Alternative Religion Unit, with cults being her specialty.
Carroll had set up Emma with Sarah’s neighbor, Will, whose real name is Jacob. Emma is continually hearing how Jacob is out of her league and how she’s not good enough for him, first by her mother and next, by Paul. Jacob stands up for her and professes his amazement with Emma. In a 2006 flashback, we see Emma’s mother berate her in front of Jacob, and consequently, Emma killing her. Emma may come off as a shy, quiet mouse, but she is a vicious killer. Emma’s mother’s body is found at Emma’s old residence, and they identify at least nine different handwriting styles on the wall, but not all of them are accounted for. Hardy finds a picture of both Sarah and Claire with the words ‘nevermore’ written in red.
In the meanwhile, at Claire’s house, Jordy lowers himself from the ceiling and kills the cops nearby, securing Claire. When Hardy realizes the blueprints on Claire’s wall are of Claire’s house. Hardy comes running and finds Jordy holding Claire at gunpoint. Hardy tricks Jordy, and is able to shoot Jordy and save Claire.
Hardy wants to see Carroll, and when he visits, Carroll reveals that he had wanted Hardy to save Claire. Killing Jordy was Hardy’s first step toward reforming, his first heroic act. There is real disappointment in Carroll’s face when Hardy tells him that Jordy isn’t dead.
Back at Claire’s house, she gets ready for bed, lying down in Joey’s bed. She asks Hardy to stay with her, saying he is the only person she can trust.
As the episode wraps up, we see Carroll get a book he requested delivered to his cell by Agent Parker. Surprise, surprise. It’s a large volume of Edgar Allan Poe works. Hardy goes back to Claire’s room and sits in a chair beside the bed, watching her sleep. And lastly, in a public area during daylight, someone dressed up in the Poe mask and clothing throws gasoline on a man and lights him on fire.
Tonight there were some genuinely spooky moments. Like when the person in the Poe mask attacked Hardy. Having Joey kidnapped raised the stakes, and pulled the empathy and concern cards from the viewers. I don’t think we’ve seen what Carroll is truly capable of, and it may just be more horrific because these capabilities reach to many, many followers. Another favorite of mine is the soundtrack. It enhances the experience and matches the show perfectly. There are questions that I hope are answered next week, such as who is the person dressed up as Poe? What are his intentions with his own son? And who can we trust?
But I believe the trust issue is something we will be battling all season long. And rightfully so.
Tags: drama, edgar allan poe, fox, horror, jack hardy, james purefoy, joe carroll, kevin bacon, natalie zea, sarah fuller, serial killer, suspense, the raven, thriller