The Following Recap: The Enemy Is Everywhere

following s1ep2 Last week, the majority of you TVLiners said you’d follow The Following, which tells me you are not a squeamish bunch. I, too, consider myself generally unflappable… but turn into a squeam queen while watching this show.

It’s not the ick factor. What flips my business out is the idea that the up-for-anything serial killer fan base on the show is everywhere, and it’s preternaturally patient. How is it that I can’t last the full three minutes before yanking my Eggo out of the toaster in the morning, but those freak shows can pretend to be normal, trustworthy members of society for years as they await their master’s bidding? I shudder.

This week, we get a bit of backstory on how Carroll’s closest “friends” got involved in his plan as well as how and when Ryan and Claire first hooked up. Let’s review the major developments in “Chapter 2.”

MEET THE NEW BOSS | Ryan arrives at Claire’s house in the wake of her discovery that Joey and babysitter Denise are gone. Claire has a hard time believing that her live-in nanny of two years could be working for Joe’s interests – “I did a background check,” she protests – but it’s soon revealed that Denise, like Sarah Fuller’s gaybors, used a fake ID. Ryan’s day gets worse when he returns to the FBI command center to find that Debra Parker, a new agent from Quantico, is now in charge of the investigation. We soon learn that she’s blunt (“When was the last time you had a drink?” she flat-out asks Ryan in response to his request for a gun), she knows about his dalliance with Claire and she plans to keep him in line.

The FBI thinks it’s a good idea for Claire to fulfill Joe’s request and meet with him. Ryan says hell no – flashing back to an easygoing evening during Carroll’s 2004 trial when the agent assured her she’d never have to see her twisted husband again – but pretty soon, Prof. Matthews is at the prison, sitting across from her ex. She wants to know where Joey is. He wants answers to the specific questions he posed in the letter referenced in the previous episode. She barely holds it together as she admits to a two-month affair with Ryan — after the trial and divorce, she insists – but then gets fired up as he presses on. “Was it good, the sex? Did your body quiver to his every touch?” Joe sneers. “Yes,” she says, staring him down. “It did.” (I know this is serious and all, but you just know that as he watched the interaction via closed-circuit TV, a teeny part of Ryan’s psyche was like, “Aww yeah.”) Joe’s last question, though not stated out loud, seems to be about whether she loved Ryan. It infuriates her, and she slaps him – a move he uses to grab her by the throat before Ryan and Agent Reilly can bust in and break it up.

Carroll’s pervy inquisition is made even worse when we later see a flashback to 2005, in which Ryan and Claire have a glass of wine at her place to celebrate the finalization of her divorce. They’re so clearly into each other and have obviously been waiting for a while in an attempt to do the right thing, so when she says, “Kiss me,” it’s both sexy and sweet – as is their banter about how much talking should precede a first smooch. OK, Following, I’m all in: What the heck happened to these people between then and now?

THE WRITING’S ON THE WALL | Jail video tapes and visitor logs help the Feds prove that Denise and Sarah’s gaybors knew each other and likely were working together. The FBI also piece together that “Denise” is really named Emma and the guys who brought Sarah to Joe in the previous episode are really named Jake and Paul. Emma lives close by in Petersburg, so Ryan and Mike Weston go over to check out the place. It’s a seemingly empty suburban home that’s locked… until Ryan breaks in. (“OK, you can’t do that,” Mike says nervously. “No, you can’t do that,” not-a-cop-nor-an-agent Ryan responds. Ha!)

Inside, he finds that Carroll’s followers have turned the place into a Poe/Carroll shrine, with lots of verse and paintings – as well as crude floor plans — emblazoned on the walls. It’s totally their clubhouse, guys! (Side note: How much fun must the set designers/painters have had with this one? It looks amazing/terrifying.) In one room, Ryan is momentarily creeped out by four rubber Poe masks lined up on a shelf. He continues to explore the room, and as he looks up and catches his reflection in a mirror, one of the Poe masks actually has a person in it and that person attacks him! What?! How did that even happen? I rewatched the scene a few times, and I can’t tell if Ryan just didn’t realize that there was a man standing there at first – which might be an indication that your alcoholism is starting to mess with your life in a very serious way, bro – or if the guy stepped into the room and super-quietly slipped on the mask without Ryan noticing. In any event, I yelped when it happened. “You shouldn’t be here, you know,” the guy tells Ryan before knocking him out with a blow to the head. “You’re gonna die someday, only not today.”

When Ryan comes to, he and the FBI find Emma’s dead mom boarded up in the walls of the attic with indications that Carroll’s peeps have designs on adding Claire to their collection. Debra spouts some high-falutin’ talk about gothic romanticism and “a new vacancy in our humanity” but seriously, I’m distracted by the portrait of Carroll hanging on the wall. I guess if you’ve got years to kill while waiting for your murderous marching orders, it helps to have a hobby… Back to the important stuff: Debra outs herself as head of the FBI’s alternative religion unit – “Did I not mention that? Cults – my specialty” — and finally agrees that Carroll’s followers are a “cult” and not just “accomplices.”

MEET THE GANG | Speaking of the killer’s acolytes, they’re holed up in a country home where Joey blindly trusts that DenisEmma is going along with a plan of his mom’s. The gaybors are there, too, and it turns out they’re not gay. Mostly. Jake and Emma are an item, and Paul is not happy about that – though it’s a little unclear whether it’s because he has feelings for the man he was pretending to love for a few years or because Emma is such a gigantic bitch. Via flashbacks, we watch a mousy Emma meet Carroll at a booksigning – where her Real Housewife of a mother embarrasses her by flirting with him – and then fangirling all over the place during her many visits to the prison. It turns out that Joe – working as a sort of eBizzaremony — set her up with Jake, and their first date was really cute… until I remember that these are two totally screwed up individuals who plan to do the bidding of a sick killer. They get a jump on it when Emma responds to her mom flirting with Jake by stabbing her in the back, killing her. “You did it,” Jake says in awe. “You really did it.”

Other important stuff to know about Carroll’s minions: The guy who gave Ryan a lump on the noggin is named Rick, and by the end of the episode, he wears one of the masks as he lights a stranger on fire in broad daylight. (At least, I think it’s him.) Jordy, the prison guard we met in the last episode, succeeds in killing three women at a sorority house but fails – thanks to Ryan’s sharp shooting — when he tries to off Claire. Ryan breaks the news to Carroll, who calls Jordy a “half-wit” and then blanches a little when he realizes Ryan wounded, not killed, someone privy to his plans.

By the end of the hour, Claire begs Ryan to stay with her at the house – “I don’t trust anyone but you,” she says sadly, and can you blame the lady? – so he watches her sleep in Joey’s bed. Out at the country home, Joey snoozes in an identical room as Paul spies on Emma and Jake having sex with the door open. And at the prison, as Sepultura’s “Angel” plays in the background, Debra gives Joe a knowing look as she slips him the complete works of Poe he requested. Now that can’t be good, can it?

Now it’s your turn. What’s your gut telling you about Debra? Did the mask scene startle you, too, or am I just a horror lightweight? Do you think Jordy will turn on Joe once he hears the insults thrown his way? Sound off in the comments!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Jake says:

    So the new FBI chick is on it? I saw that coming. I really like this show but some of these plot twists aren’t that hard to see.

    • Russ says:

      I don’t know. I do think that someone on the FBI will end up being in a follower, but I think they made it too obvious that it will end up not being her. I also think Paul the fake gay neighbor is gonna die.

      • Jake says:

        I’m not sure how fake his gayness is. Haha. But I agree before the end of the season he will at least have an attempt on his life.

      • Scott says:

        I think Mike Weston (Shawn Ashmore) will turn out to be the Follower in the FBI. He’s young and has an established knowledge of Ryan Hardy and his book which means he may also have knowledge of Joe Carroll. He is also very tech savvy and would have known how to set up Joe’s secret use of the internet in jail and the untraceable internet use of the Followers. Not to mention he could have followed Ryan into the house and attacked him. How did the attacker get past Mike after he knocked out Ryan?

      • John says:

        I agree with Russ. I think they made it too obvious, so I don’t think she’s a follower.

    • dee123 says:

      She’s either in on it or the classic red herring.

    • Liz says:

      They have to be very careful onwho’s a follower and who isn’t. I think after Nina Myers and David Palmer’s wife on 24 we are quite immun to this. I hope they won’t keep on giving us tidbits every episode on which FBI agent is in too. Didn’t see this one coming.

      But very solid episode. Am now officially sold in. And James Purefoy is hot he can make me his follower (to the shower) anytime!

    • KD says:

      I don’t think that she is. She’s probably trying to build a rapport with him, so that they don’t have to always depend on Kevin Bacon, who can be flaky.

  2. Jon says:

    Second episode was too slow paced. Almost nodded off there for a minute. Need to step it up to match the adrenaline pump of the first episode.

  3. Nick says:

    So is the new FBI lady one of his followers?

  4. Eric says:

    I wasn’t quite as hooked by this episode as I was by the pilot, but it was still a very solid episode. I can safely say that I am a fan of this series.

  5. Trresa says:

    That scene scared the Bjesus out

  6. nitemar says:

    FBI lady is on it too for sure..scary moments made me jump couple of times. U_U

  7. Trresa says:

    That scene scared the Bjesus out of me

  8. i hope it’s more that she’s trying to get in carrol’s head

    • GM says:

      That could be it too, It seems like too much of a giveaway for that “look” to mean she’s a follower. I was shocked to find out that the babysitter was a follower, I didn’t see that coming, so I think she won’t be another loonie….or maybe she might be…. NEED MORE EPS!!

  9. t says:

    What was the song at the end

  10. Angel says:

    I don’t think Debra is in on it. Her specialty is dealing with cults; perhaps this is her way of trying to find an “in” with him in hopes of gaining his trust and getting info out of him. She could then try to take him down from inside his cult. If she truly was in on it, it would have been better to not let the audience know by the end of her first episode.

    • GM says:

      That could be a possibility, that she might pretend to be infatuated with him to get information out of him, since he’s clearly not in the mood to share. But I think they’ll probably play on that for suspense…the is she…or isn’t she a “follower”

    • Elaine says:

      I think so too. It would be too obvious if Debra was a follower.

  11. MaryAnn says:

    I am betting that Debra is part of the cult. Did anyone else see the arc on “The Mentalist” a year or two back in which an F.B.I. was an assassin for Red John? He totally managed to hide what he was, and even attempted to kill his fiancee in loyalty to John.

  12. Jon says:

    I for one enjoyed the slower pace. I actually thought the premier was too faced paced. I like it when an episode has time to work on itself instead of throwing thing after thing at us just to keep up “momentum”

  13. RJ says:

    That last scene, I was thinking, “What the hell!!” God I loved it!

  14. Matty Ice says:

    Any show that uses the Deftones in its soundtrack is a winner in my book

  15. You would think that the Feds and the cops would learn by now to not have a SINGLE, SOLITARY MAN outside the bedroom door of whoever they are meant to protect. Sarah Fuller was taken away with a house full of cops (some outside her door), Joey was taken away in a house full of cops (all over the estate)… and yet, when they go in to check on Claire, there’s only a single, creepy looking cop standing outside her door. Sigh. That bit bothered me because it felt like sloppy writing.

    I like the mythology of Carroll’s cult that’s being set-up, I just wish we saw the pace quicken. But I don’t like the FBI finding answers to all their problems so quickly – it seems a little bizarre. It took them almost no time at all to identify the fake gaybors or to identify the real name of the nanny AND connect the three of them. You would think there would be more work needed…

    • connerc says:

      At least it took them longer than Five-0 and their magic computer table.

    • GM says:

      Wasn’t really sloppy to me. That cop looked like a psychopath, and for a minute I thought he was going to jump her…until the psycho cop drops from the ceiling and kills him

  16. scg10 says:

    I completely jumped at that masked man scene… and I NEVER do during tv or movies lol….

  17. chris says:

    It bugged me that he ran into the house and up the stairs without his pesky heart problem acting up that they made such a big deal about in the pilot.

    • Alichat says:

      They also didn’t seem to be concerned about it when he fought with the masked guy and got knocked unconscious.

      I was also bothered that no one tried to stop the masked guy on the street after they watched him douse someone with gas and light him up. He just walked off….no one stopped him.

      • ej says:

        It didn’t look like anyone tried to help the guy on fire either! Hoodie guy and everyone else just stood there when he could have tried to snuff out the flames! But then maybe that’s saying something about today’s society, where people video tragedies instead of trying to help.The episode was slower-paced than the pilot, and the single cop guard thing is so cliche, but you can’t go wrong with the Deftones. I liked the addition of Debra as well, a much stronger character than her predecessor. And Denise/Emma is one evil Mary Poppins… who looks a little like Snow White (OUAT), which will probably lead to twisted crossover dreams… or nightmares!

        • alexia says:

          i won’t take pictures but I am not sure I would do anything either. I mean that guy clearly is crazy. I can’t take him down on my own.

  18. James says:

    while I find the whole thing completly predictable and unscary, it is very psycologically creepy which makes it awesome. Kevin Bacon is great as always, and i think Mr. Purefoy is a little to into this role. That Marc Anthony is one wicked Mofo :)

  19. Michael says:

    I think Mike is going to turn out to be a Follower; it’s in his eyes. He’s a young, white, impressionable male. I hope it’s not Debra.

  20. majamababe says:

    Great episode. This is really a crrepy show – dealing with cults and how people can get caught up in them. Both my son and I believe that Debra is in the cult. It will be interesting to see how this plays out over the season.

  21. Kevin W. says:

    I’m really digging this show so far. Also, as someone who enjoys rock on the harder side I also appreciate all the music they’re using…Marilyn Manson, deftones, Sepultura. And is it just me or do this show have kind of an early Criminal Minds vibe too it?

  22. Maggie says:

    I think by the way JOE and the FBI CULT EXPERT were looking at each other means she IS a follower or more likely, she is PRETENDING to be a follower. As an expert, she would know how to act. I’m not sure that JOE would fall for it though? I think she is trying to get intel. I hope so.

  23. Ed says:

    Carroll specifically says he requested books to read, so the fact she brought the book isn’t a big deal. I think Ashmore is the Follower, he had on the same hooded sweatshirt under his leather jacket that the attacker had.

  24. RobbieC says:

    I think the young cop/detective is in on it and I also think he was the guy in the house with the mask on

    • S says:

      What if he AND the other agent were in on it…which would be why she made sure that the young guy was taken and she looked at him to say “call…blah blah” what if she was telling the young kid to call whoever was in the house?

      • i didnt think of that, good spot and its possible. not ruling anything out but i dont think she is in the cult, the end where she is handing him the book, i believe is her merely just trying to work out how serial killer joe operates and if he will give her clues as to who these cult people are and finding the boy.

  25. kees says:

    That was a REALLY thick book. I wonder if it was hollowed out & something was smuggled in.
    I don’t like the idea of the new FBI chick being a ‘follower’, but if the other ones played their part for years then I suppose she could too. But that seems WAY to predictable.

  26. kees says:

    Also, did anyone else think those masks kinda looked like Ron Jeremy?

  27. Ann says:

    I jumped a few times and I kept thinking what the f-. I was thinking the FBI chick was a follower too but maybe not, it would be good tv to keep us guessing at all of them. Those masks were way creepy. SO loving how this show is unfolding.

  28. S. says:

    I thought this episode was really good. I am a big fan of this show so far and they are doing a very good job of keeping the story moving forward all while filling in the back story or creating the show’s mythology. There were a couple of jumping moments for me and my friend while we were watching, that’s for sure!
    The final scene was interesting. Joe gave the agent the same look that Ryan gave her in the house when she started to spout the information she did about the “feelings” the group had on Poe in the club house. I think she may not be a follower YET. But she does admire him and is intrigued by him because if cults are her specialty…she is doubly intrigued probably by someone who could start one while behind bars. That takes a STRONG will.
    Did anyone catch the nod to Chi Omega in the sorority house? I am pretty sure that there is a book end on the bookcase behind the girl who is hanging when they come into the room. Odd since Chi or X isn’t in their letters at all,, but I think it might have been a nod to the Bundy murders in the 70’s…Crazy.

  29. MaggieQuack says:

    I think the last question was if Joey was his son or not.. and then she said “I don’t know”

    • Jen says:

      I think the last question was if she loved/loves Hardy or not. She says how Joe has runined her – I assumed that meant how can she love/trust anyone else after what he did to her. I think there’s no doubt Joey is his son since she was pregnant and had him before the initial murders. She didn’t meet Hardy until after that.

    • AT says:

      Actually, I think It was “Do/Did you love him?” given that her follow-up comments were about how she was unsure if she could ever love again after what he (Joe) had done to her.

  30. TS says:

    That scene, and everyone knows which scene I’m talking about, freaked me out. I will never be able to read Poe the same way. Great start to an exciting and fresh series.

  31. I’m almost positive that Ashmore will be a follower. Which is a shame, cause he’s adorable.

  32. AT says:

    The man in the Poe mask snuck in while Ryan was looking at the book. I rewound the scene. You can see him slip in via the reflection in the mirror. Heck, look at the image you attached to the recap. He (“Rick”) was between the shelf and the doorway, so no, he was not there when Ryan was messing with the masks.

  33. Dee says:

    I had to watch the Joe and Claire interrogation room scene twice b/c I was too busy staring a Natalie Zea the first time. That broad is gorgeous!!

  34. Liz says:

    I think the young agent (Weston) is definitely part of the cult. I’d put my money on him. Parker I hope not. It’s too much and too obvious. And this may be a reach … but is there any reason to dismiss the ex-wife? I mean I don’t have any reason to suspect her from what I’ve seen, but it would be a brilliant twist perhaps near the end of the show if she turned out to be part of this ‘story’ her husband is weaving and that her role is to keep Ryan emotionally anchored to this story.

  35. Rachel says:

    When the ex-wife told Kevin Bacon that he was the only one she trusts, I was like “well, yeah, at this point!” I wouldn’t even SPEAK to anyone but him after the nanny turned out to be evil!!!

  36. Deedee says:

    I felt kind of like a creep when I found myself rooting for Emma to kill her annoying mother. Totally get her and the cute psycho as a couple

  37. i must say i am hooked on this show. i thought the 2nd ep was better than the pilotep or just as good as.

    that endingdid have me thinking if debra is working for joe but then i quickly dismissed it as i feel she is familiar with cults and is simply trying to use her experience and knowledge to find a way in with joe, however i do think she is way over her head with this case and that he is more than likely a few steps ahead of her.

    eager for next weeks episode already.

  38. ToneWatch says:

    The song is Angel by Sepultura ( original by Massive attack)

  39. Can anyone confirm that at the end of episode 2 the piece of music was a remix of massive attacks angel or was it a cover?

  40. Redman says:

    What was the song playing when Emma kills her mother?