Spoilers to follow.
We’re going to try something new this week, given the five days out from air, and assume you’ve already watched it. As a brief reminder, here’s what happened: Claire was taken back to the ranch and finally met up with Joe who’s set on “conditioning” her back into loving him. He joyfully reunites her with Joey to show that he’s not all bad. Emma and Jacob’s relationship remains strained and he makes it clear that the Jacob we’ve all come to know is dead. The FBI, on the other hand was able to trace the cult’s website back to an S&M club and track Vince, one of the followers from last week’s assault on the cabin, back to a training facility. Roderick, having given Vince permission to leave the compound, earns a broken nose from Joe for letting him go. Molly’s sub-plot is also advanced when we find out that she’s a nurse and has been quietly killing her patients for some time. The episode concludes with the revelation that Joe promised Molly she could kill Hardy before we find her popping up inhis apartment, making eggs.
Unlike past weeks, we’re starting to see that all is not well on the compound. The cracks are surfacing and, like any, will continue to spread unless something is done quickly. There’s an interesting power dynamic taking place between Joe and Roderick. Namely, Roderick wants power and Joe has it. For his part, Roderick is handling it well but Joe doesn’t like being pressured to move forward with “the plan.” The growing resentment here is like watching a block tower slip its foundation. Prepare for a slow-mo free fall until either Roderick or Joe is out of the picture.
Roderick remains delightfully crazy. The scene where Vince touches his arm was engaging in a “someone is going to die” kind of way. Thankfully, no one did. His dual reaction, laughter, then attacking the witness, then immediately apologizing, further reveals the great rift in his psyche. There’s no doubt, Roderick has a schism in his personality. One has to wonder, however, how long the rest of the cult will follow leadership that seems so unstable, even by their own “we’re psychopaths!” standards.
The growing shift in Jacob’s character seems to be working out well for him. Joe has trusted him to guard Claire, though it’s unclear whether he was actually given permission to attack her or not. Emma get’s the Understatement of the Week award for telling him he’s “acting weird.” He’s cold, duplicitous, and much more flat than he’s been in previous episodes. He went from being a conflicted would-be, desperately holding on to his innocence, to being a detached, stone-faced automaton — unless he’s faking it for Joey. Just like everyone else, he’s the cold killer and average joe. You’re right, Emma, he is acting weird, so let’s hope weird doesn’t also mean boring.
It’s becoming obvious that there’s some kind of terrorist sub-plot here. Roderick keeps pushing for Joe to begin the plan, and it’s clear that everyone at the compound has common vision beyond simple murder. Seeing the weaponry at the armory and the desensitization training required of new followers, I wouldn’t be surprised if a bomb goes off and we see a WACO-like finale. Which is okay, I suppose, but it’s a far cry from anything I would have expected earlier in the season.
Whips and Regret was a quality episode that notably lacked many extensions of disbelief. Tensions are ratcheting higher on both sides of the fence, but as the government takes over more aspects of the investigation and we pull further from the FBI, we’re seeing the walls begin to crumble at the compound. With only four more episodes to go, the confrontation is coming and I’m predicting a lot of in-fighting amongst the followers and a dead Molly, because really, are they going to kill Hardy off? Either way, getting there should be an experience to be had. After a season with many ups and downs, The Following seems poised to end with a bang.