The Following – Episode 3 – The Poet’s Fire
We were left with the image of someone in a Poe mask setting a civilian on fire. In episode three, “The Poet’s Fire”, we pick up with the person in the Poe mask delivering a street performance that has attracted quite a crowd. As our curiosity grows concerning who is really behind the mask, the person methodically walks across the street and sets the person on fire.
Hardy (Kevin Bacon) is with Special Agent Parker, trying to figure out where Joey is. The suspects, Emma, Jacob, Paul and Jordy, along with the mysterious Poe-mask-wearing pyromaniac, all have their pictures on the wall as the investigators attempt to understand Carroll’s cult. During their conversation, Charles Manson is referenced, and the parallels between Manson and Carroll, such as their ability to persuade other people to murder in order to prove their devotion, is discussed. Carroll as an extreme manipulator and with his ability to inspire as a teacher also help to explain how he has started the cult and continue it while he’s been incarcerated. A quote from Carroll as he was teaching his college course, thick with irony, “What is your moral code? Make it unique unto yourself and it will bleed into your writing.”
Agent Parker and Hardy go to visit Jordy in the hospital, but when they ask him where Joey is, he refuses to speak. Hardy tells Jordy he was a disappointment to Carroll, and a visibly shaken Jordy begins singing as he tries to ignore Hardy. Frustrated, Hardy hits Jordy on his wound and leaves.
It turns out that the victim of the burning was a guy who wrote a bad review of Carroll’s novel, leaving the investigators pondering if Carroll is seeking revenge on all of his critics.
In what I thought was pretty disturbing, we see a flashback of Emma, Jacob and Paul hanging out, like any other college kid would. But they are definitely not your regular college kids. Their conversation consisted of how to kill people and how to come up with your own signature murder. The natural way that they discuss it is the creepiest part. I believe we’re only seeing the surface of Emma. She seems more sinister, intense and dark than we may know.
In the search to find out who the arsonist Poe killer is, they bring in a woman, Maggie, who is married but separated six months from her husband, Rick. She seems fragile, upset and shaken, and when she is shown pictures of herself after a nasty fight with her husband, she explains that he stabbed her when she asked for a divorce. Are we seeing a knife trend here? I think so.
Paul tries to call a truce with Emma, but when he extends a hand to shake with her, she takes a knife and slices his arm. This is another moment where Emma is unsettling and can come off as twisted and down right evil.
Now it’s Agent Parker’s turn to have a one on one with Carroll. She starts off giving him kudos for his brilliant plan, however, her compliments are as inconsequential to him as a gnat and he takes to addressing Hardy through the security camera.
Among Carroll’s non-fans are Hardy, the critic who was burned and a dean at the university Carroll worked at. Phillip Barnes, the dean of literature, denied Carroll tenure, and by doing so, put the nails in his own coffin. We now see Rick, otherwise known as the person who dresses up as Poe, paying the dean a visit. When Rick confronts the man, asking why he denied Carroll tenure, he becomes worked up and stabs the professor repeatedly then watches him die. I have to say, these kids who make up the cult can be pretty damn creepy all around.
Parker admits her suspicions that Carroll is out to torture Hardy, and Hardy agrees that it’s working. I don’t think I like this tortured Hardy. I want the tougher persona he was portraying. He seems to be going a little soft.
The strange little love triangle that is Emma, Jacob and Paul are given a flashback where Emma pushes the boys by telling them that they need to be homosexual for Sarah to open up to them. They give their first kiss and sparks fly. Back in present day, a distraught Paul leaves the safe house but not without first telling Jacob that he is a liar. This leaves us with the impression that there is more between Paul and Jacob than there appears to be.
Hardy calls Claire and tells her that they have a credit card statement showing that someone has purchased Joey’s favorite toys. This gives her hope, but not for long.
Rick calls his wife, Maggie, while she’s still at the station. They start to trace the call while she puts it on speakerphone. Rick tells Hardy that everything was done for him. Hardy is really starting to look weak now. They soon learn that the phone was on the same system as the computer in jail and is untraceable.
Paul goes to a convenience store and hits on women. When he finds one who is receptive, Megan, he takes her to a remote area and starts to make out with her. When Megan tells him to stop, he chokes her then beats her until she’s unconscious.
Speaking to Jordy alone, Agent Parker tells Jordy that Carroll wants to see him. Jordy admits he wants to see Carroll, too, but he also tells her that he doesn’t know where Joey is. He says they all divide their secrets. In a turn of events, Jordy tells Parker that Maggie knows where Joey is and that Emma and Maggie had planned it together. Maggie is another member of the cult!
Agent Riley accompanied Maggie home, and when he hears a noise in the backyard, he looks but sees nothing. Hardy and Weston, who are outside in a car, go to check. Maggie receives a text and stabs Riley in the throat. Weston holds pressure on Riley’s wound as Hardy goes into the darkened backyard after Maggie. Rick is out there and attacks Hardy, but after a struggle, Hardy manages to shoot him. Maggie has run away. In the meantime, Agent Riley has died.
Paul brings Megan, the girl he beat up back to their hideaway. Jacob helps Paul to take her downstairs so that Joey doesn’t see her, and by way of a flashback, we see that Jacob and Paul had developed feelings for each other over the years and were romantically involved.
Tortured and crazy Jordy, in a screaming fit, begins to chew his gauze and swallow it, choking himself until he dies.
Lastly, Claire shows Hardy an email she just received. It has a video in it of Joey, but it’s not innocent. Jacob is showing Joey how to burn ants with a magnifying glass and has a mouse in a glass jar, instructing Joey to put the lid on and tighten it. He tells Joey to watch the mouse go to heaven. They are now teaching Joey, Carroll’s only child, how to kill. Jacob tells Joey that if he kills the bug, his life will mean a little more. Hardy looks disgusted.
I like how they’re delving deeper into the cult members’ psyches. They don’t need to be cookie cutters, and I don’t think they will be. One thing The Following is good for is to provide the audience with gruesome and disturbing deaths. They have in this episode, and I hope they don’t stop doing this anytime soon.
I miss the harder, not softer, Bacon. Since this episode started, we are getting a quieter, internally suffering Ryan Hardy. Nothing against his soft side, but I want to bring home the Bacon, strong and determined.
Tags: charles manson, creepy, death, edgar allan poe, evil, jordy, kevin bacon, mask, murder, scream, secret, sinister, the following