This episode of The Following had a heaping helping of crazy, didn’t it? I mean, on the one hand we have Jacob going full Rick from The Walking Dead by seeing the ghost of Paul in his bedroom. Then on the other we have Claire once again handing herself over to Joe’s men shortly after a sweet “I love you” moment with Ryan Hardy. We also can’t forget the fact that the FBI telecommunications were hacked without resident computer whiz Charlie there to do the dirty work. C-c-c-craaaazy! But hey, this is The Following and crazy is where things get fun.
We ended last week with Roderick telling Joe that they’d located his wife. Score one for the bad guys! Roderick pulled a double-whammy and also surprised Emma with a very pissed off Jacob. Another for the really bad guys! Nick Donovan finds out that Claire might be compromised and gives a very insistent Hardy the clearance to convince her to move to safety.
I don’t know about you guys, but I’m starting to see Claire as the new Andrea from The Walking Dead – so, so dumb. Now tell me, when you’re in witness protection because your crazy serial killer husband has made repeated attempts to kidnap you again, and you hear that he’s found you again, why wouldn’t you move? Is it because she’s angry and defiant? Waiting for lover boy Ryan? Just plain dumb? The most likely answer is that the writers needed a way to get Claire and Hardy back together again, which is exactly what happened.
With the best type of coincidental timing, the crew of homegrown militia boys show up at the hotel with Roderick, killing everyone in sight. Roderick’s about done being a cop now, right? What with the hotel cameras and everything. Claire and Hardy make it out the back but not before she’s tagged with a tracking device in the parking lot. They speed away to an old friend of Ryan’s, also in witness protection, before finding out that GPS’ really do work and they’re all royally screwed. They make an attempt to hold out using a shotgun and a rifle but it’s all for naught. Ryan’s friend takes one to the stomach and Claire, clearly interpreting “stay here” as “no really, please go wander in the front yard” does exactly that and gives herself over once again. That whole “I love you, Ryan” scene happened in the middle, too, but like Ryan replied, “that’s a bad idea.”
In all seriousness, I rather liked the cabin sequence. We got to find out about a former beau of Ryan’s, Molly, who we find out through flashbacks stole his heart like no one except for Claire. The assault sequence was also great but tended to stretch belief. When Claire left, there was a sense that she was doing it to protect Hardy, but it still came off as poorly thought out and dumb. And mouthing “I love you” through the back window… really? Because if you knew him at all, or had watched in past weeks, you would know that Ryan is now doomed to go into the lion’s den to save your ass. Real smooth, Claire.
Back at the compound, Jacob is losing his shit. Ever since killing Paul, he’s haunted by him. Joe asks him to make peace, so he tries, but it doesn’t go very well. Emma, knowing the value of seduction, visits him in his room at night. Unfortunately, Paul appears mid-coitus and spoils the mood. Jake, just wanting a release, sees himself stabbing his friend over and over again before cutting his throat in a dangerous kind of joy. Returning to Emma, he tells her how he killed Paul. When she tries to comfort him, he nearly chokes her and tell her that he’s developed a taste for murder, so she’d better watch her back.
While the visions of Paul are convenient, especially in light of how reminiscent they are of Rick and Lori in The Walking Dead, I still enjoyed them immensely. The Paul-Jacob dynamic was one of my favorite parts of the show; sweet, sick, and twisted all at once, with Emma only making things worse. This new Jacob may well have jumped off the deep end, but I’m not quite so sure. Are the truly evil haunted by their misdeeds? I don’t think so. Part of this may well be his way of ending things with Emma so she’ll no longer be “distraught” in front of Joe.
Overall, I think this episode did a lot of things right but had a few eyerolls packed in as well. The hotel scene was especially cringe worthy. Mini-UZI bearing thugs? Good. Sending only Hardy in when the FBI knows an attack is on the way? Bad. Lone officer standing alone in virtuous certain defeat? Good. Standing right in front of the door when the bad guys will inevitably shoot through it? Bad. The final revelation that Molly was a plant of Joe’s is also a belief-stretching twist, but, hey, I can accept it if it adds to the plot. Back and forth we go leading toward the ultimate confrontation this season. Parts excellent and parts terrible make The Following one of the most unique shows I’ve ever seen. It’s also a lot of fun. So long as they keep that up, it’s a roller coaster ride worth taking.