The Following Recap: Down in Flames

following s1ep3 blogRyan Hardy, who’s apparently not miserable enough for Kevin Williamson’s liking, took on an additional world of hurt in this week’s episode of The Following.

Thanks to Joe Carroll, our alcoholic, barely sleeping, slightly too thin, literally and figuratively brokenhearted hero shouldered guilt for a bunch of new murders. Meanwhile, we met some more of Joe’s followers and got some very interesting backstory on a few others. Let’s review the major developments in “The Poet’s Fire.”

WHO’S THE NEW GUY? | The hour opens with a slight rewind on the attack that ended the last episode; this time, we see the follower in the Poe mask entertaining a crowd with a streetside recitation before dumping fuel on a passer-by and lighting him aflame. Turns out, the victim is an influential book critic who slaughtered Carroll’s novel, The Gothic Sea. (That’ll be important later.)

At the FBI command center, Debra and Ryan talk about the multiple sets of fingerprints were found at the followers’ hideout; Emma, Jake, Paul and Jordy are a given, but that leaves a few unaccounted-for crazy people. Debra also wonders what message Carroll’s trying to communicate. “I witnessed him in class. He could engage and inspire his students in ways I’d never seen before,” Ryan offers, which doesn’t exactly answer her question but does hint at what we eventually find out: Ryan was a little charmed by Carroll himself before realizing what a monster he was. The feds get news that Jordy is awake after his surgery, but he’s disinclined to help them – as a former corrections officer, he knows he won’t last long in in prison, and he doesn’t seem to care. The only thing that rattles him a little is Ryan’s news that Joe knows his portly pupil failed to kill Claire. Still, Jordy refuses to say anything and instead sings the theme to The Greatest American Hero (ha!) to himself, which makes Ryan slug him. Hey! Show William Katt a little respect!

THE BLAME GAME | Through security footage and DMV records, the FBI realize that Carroll’s masked flamePoer is a man named Rick Kester. At his home, they find Kester’s estranged wife Maggie, who’s a skittish, nervous ball of abuse. “Rick can be scary when he wants to be,” she says, and a police report documenting the time he stabbed her in the belly seems to back that up. Debra believes her. “She’s my mother, my sister, my other sister,” the G-woman muses. Interesting… Though Ryan wants another shot at talking to Joe, Debra says she’ll do it. She starts by flattering him, but Carroll only wants to communicate with his pal Hardy, whom he addresses via the close-circuit camera. “There are really only three people I hold accountable for my professional downfall,” he says, velvet-voiced. Ryan realizes that those people are himself, the critic Rick flambéed and Phillip Barnes, the dean who denied Caroll tenure. Too bad Rick, who we see via flashback has devoted himself to getting revenge on the prof’s professional enemies, is one step ahead of the FBI. He offs Barnes, ratcheting Ryan’s guilt a few notches higher. “Carroll’s out to torture you,” Debra points out. “It’s working,” Ryan notes.

FOOLED YA | Agent Reilly accompanies Maggie Kester back to her place, and against Debra’s wishes/orders, Ryan and Mike sit outside in Mike’s car, stakeout-style. (Loved Mike’s attempts to bond with his idol, loved even more when Ryan shut it down by getting out of the car to stretch his legs.) At the exact same time at the hospital, Debra tricks Jordy into giving up two key pieces of info: No one follower has all the information (“We divide the secret”) and despite her battered wife act, Maggie is a follower, too – and she knows where Claire Matthews’ son Joey is.  That info comes too late for poor Agent Reilly, though, who tries to protect Maggie when there’s some scary thumping at her back door and is rewarded by her slashing his jugular. (Side note: After the nude eyeballer incident in the first episode, maybe all agents involved in the case should know to duck when they see a text message that says something like “Now,” no?)

Flashbacks show us that Rick stabbing Maggie wasn’t an incident of domestic abuse; it was him practicing to try to get over his squeamishness with knives. And in the present day, as the pair try to escape, Ryan shoots Rick twice but Maggie slips away. The moral of the story, driven home by Debra lamenting her faith in Maggie and Ryan remembering how cool he thought Joe was when they first hung out: Everyone gets snowed sometimes. Meanwhile, back at the hospital, Jordy tearfully screams his apology to his absent mentor, rips his shoulder dressing with his teeth and then starts to swallow it, choking himself. Impressive.

THREE’S A CROWD | Off at Casa Cracked, Paul tries to make nice with Emma… who gives him the sweetest look as she slices his forearm with a kitchen knife. “Don’t try to turn Jacob against me. It won’t work,” she warns him. Later, Paul calls Jacob a liar and takes off with the car. He picks up a stock girl at a local convenience store and takes her out into the woods for a little kissing and head trauma before bringing her home so he won’t feel like a “third wheel” around lovebirds Emma and Jacob.

Realizing that stuff is about to get real, Jake sends Emma to check on Joey (who, by the way, is still unaware that he’s been kidnapped). “We promised we wouldn’t tell anyone, especially Emma,” Jacob reminds his former roommate. Whatever could he be talking about? Unless… Yup. Though in an earlier flashback we saw both men balk at the idea of playing gay to gain Sarah Fuller’s trust – which, for the record, was Emma’s idea (“gay chicken,” ha!) – we now witness the first night they drunkenly hooked up for real in their shared townhouse. It’s hot. And messed up, given the circumstances. (But mostly hot.) Note to Paul: If Emma slashed you over merely trying to win Jacob’s allegiance, she’s gonna have your parts on platter when this little secret comes to light.

All of the tangled feelings drama doesn’t interfere with the followers’ agenda, though, because they’re able to record a video of Joey and email it to Claire. She summons Ryan, who watches in horror as Jacob teaches a reluctant Joey to kill a bug and then a mouse. Taking a living being out of existence, he tells the boy, means “your life means a little more.” Claire realizes they’re teaching her son to become a monster. Then, as instructed by Emma and Jacob, Joey turns to the camera and waves with another creepy message disguised in an innocent package: “Hi Ryan!”

Now it’s your turn. Did you see the Paul-Jacob complication coming? Do you think – as I do — that maybe Ryan’s taking on a little too much responsibility for the insane machinations of a criminal mastermind? And how soon in the episode did you suspect Maggie wasn’t what she said she was? 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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42 Comments
  1. Brittany. says:

    Disappointed that Agent Reilly was killed off so soon in the show. I really enjoyed the actor of ‘Dexter’, and was really liking him on this show.

    This episode really upped the ante. I’m looking forward to future episodes. FOX has a good show on their hands. Hopefully they give it the attention and care that it needs to flourish.

  2. Nadia Cureton says:

    I’m done…how do you kill off the only black agent? Seems pointless! Also I pegged Maggie from the get go.

    • Alichat says:

      Agree about Maggie. It seemed really obvious to me. Why didn’t they check her fingerprints against those from the attic? I mean, if there’s one thing the first two eps have shown them, it’s that his followers could be anybody….and they are patient. You’re telling me that none of the agents had a thought…..even a fleeting one….that she might be a follower too?

  3. Deion says:

    Of course we saw it coming. Emma telegraphed that last week when she asked Jacob if he was sure that Paul was straight. I’m starting to be obsessed with this show.

  4. Kinda saw the Paul-Jacob thing coming. It WOULD be interesting to see the fallout, especially because Emma seems to be more psycho than the others (which is… really saying something).

    After last week’s episode, which disappointed, I was actually impressed with this one. The Maggie story SEEMS obvious but I was slightly blindsided.

    I’m more interested to see the developing storyline of Joe Carroll “seducing” Ryan Hardy with charm. We saw a glimpse of that but I think that’s something to look forward to.

    Two notes: Sad they offed Reilly, even though we didn’t really get too much into his character. Also, is it me or does Carroll’s Cult appear REALLY homogenous at this point? They all (aside from Jordy) kinda look the same…

  5. Meaghan says:

    I to am sad and disappointed they killed off Agent Reilly. Poor Billy Brown, he gets killed off every show he is on. I still plan on watching. Love Natalie Zea and James Purefoy.

  6. me! says:

    Ryan’s assistant is a follower. Watch out!

  7. Trresa says:

    I really love this show it scares the crap out of me. I just hope it’s doing well in the ratings because I’d be soooo disappointed if it were cancelled.Loving Kevin Bacon all star cast!

  8. Laine says:

    I think Shawn Ashmore will be revealed as a follower. He has studied this a lot.

    • Brendan says:

      Well duh, of course he’s an obvious choice for secret follower since he’s an expert on Joe Carroll. But I personally think he might be a red herring…

  9. Ali says:

    I’ve repeatedly watched this and tried to enjoy it but I just can’t. I don’t care for Bacon or Zea but love Purefoy but his character is just too unlikeable for me. The show seems forced and uses violence to try and shock the viewers but it backfires and just seems silly. I guess it’s just not for me. For Purefoy’s sake, I hope it lasts and gives him the star status he has earned and is deserving of, but on a selfish note, if this show fails I hope to see him something else and soon. He’ll shine in anything and it’s his time. Good luck to him. As for the show…..meh….I’ll pass.

  10. DC says:

    Please don’t kill Paul off…please!

  11. James says:

    this show is completely predictable, nothing about it surprises me, so if that’s what they’re going for they’re failing. with that said the psychological aspect of it is very intriguing. I also like how it’s serialized the arc of the story flows really well. rick getting up so soon after being shot in the stomach is a little weak, and maggie escaping into the blackness is a bit trite, overall a good episode though i liked that they elaborated on the Joe and Ryan relationship.

    • Jay says:

      People get shot once and keep fighting all the time. It’s called adrenaline! Ryan’s first bullet didn’t hit anything vital so Rick was only stunned for a minute. The second bullet killed him!

  12. Anon says:

    Liked it but couple of things that bugged me:
    1) Why wouldn’t the Debra call Agent Reilly and not the kid when Agent Reilly was the one who was protecting the liar and was the one in danger.
    2)Why would you just merrily go outside when you think you’ve heard gun shots and stand in a position that would give someone an excellent shot AND not call it in.
    This whole teaching his child thing is soooooo creepy. The psychological aspect of this show is chilling. I think I keep expecting twist’s and turns and while there will be those, I think this show is more about the mind. Too creepy.

    • Tom says:

      I thought the same thing of her calling Iceman before she would call the guy from Dexter when he was with the girl in the house. She didn’t know that he was outside the house. Iceman is going to totally be a red herring.

    • The Beach says:

      I thought the very same thing as your two points and I’ll add a couple more that kinda bug me:
      1. Why didn’t the FBI move Claire (and Maggie when they believed her to be innocent) into a Safe House instead of letting them return home where they would be more vulnerable?
      2. These amateur killings/kidnapping have all gone like clockwork with no glitches, except for dumb Jordy and even he was able to almost pull it off in a house full of agents…a little too easy.

      I’m still loving the show though.

  13. Para says:

    Starting to really love the show… Don’t kill off the pretend gay couple!

    • Jay says:

      In case you missed last night; they stopped pretending.
      Also they’re the bad guys. They’re supposed to be killed off! Hopefully not for a while though.

  14. Sparky says:

    In the minority but the amount of violence is starting to leave a bad taste in my mouth!!! And I love Kevin’s Williamson and Bacon. Think it might go on the DVR and watch it later…

  15. Tom says:

    I really think that the wife is in the cult. The whole revenge aspect last and how Kevin Bacon’s character just disappeared. Plus she is just staying in the kids bedroom doing nothing? It is going to lead up to the ending and be the ultimate betrayal on Kevin Bacon. Just out of curiosity, who is the father of the boy?

    • Paul says:

      I agree that Claire is going to wind up being in the cult, as well. The season will need a big cliffhanger/twist and it would completely mess with Ryan.

      On another note, as mentioned by others: Maggie being apart of it all was way too obvious.

      • Kate says:

        I sincerely hope that Claire isn’t in the cult. I’d like a scenario where we and Ryan question her though….maybe Carroll making him believe that she’s in the cult when actually she isn’t. Why? Simply and annoyingly because I love Ryan and I want him to be happy, maaan…her really deserves it. The fact that Jordy did try to kill her and she excaped and all that in front of Ryan also makes me think that you might be right but I don’t want you to be :-)

    • Jay says:

      There’s no way the wife is in the cult! She’s in the kid’s room because he was taken. Not everyone turns into an action hero, okay! I do suspect someone else though.
      And Joe the psycho killer is the kid’s father!

  16. Christina Schmid says:

    First of all, “flamePoer”?? Brilliant! I did see the gay twist coming. It was the only thing that explained the dude’s jealousy. But in a house full of depraved psychos, Emma seems to take the cake so that will get messy.

    Btw, the creepiest part of the ep is when they teach the little guy to kill! That stuck with me.

  17. A says:

    I really hope there aren’t any plans to kill off Paul or Jacob cause I’m kind of rooting for those two crazy kids to make it. Doesn’t hurt that they’re super hot together.

  18. Gillian says:

    Incredible show! Great cast and brilliant writing. I’m hooked!

  19. N says:

    Did the people Ryan saw in the back yard disappear…..or was it an hallucination?

  20. muhayerboy says:

    I pegged Maggie from the get go. Ryan needs to be more sharing with his thoughts.

  21. Lor says:

    I think that Debra isn’t really on the up & up?? She seems a little shady and she’s a cult expert?! I think she’s a follower for sure.

  22. Cee says:

    The creepiest part of this episode for me was definitely Paul’s solution to being a “third wheel”. There were a lot of really disturbing connotations packed into that statement, made even more creepifying when Jake offers to help stash her in the basement. I kind of hope that one of them gets overzealous and she cops out with a quick death. I don’t really want to see them draw that out.

    Regardless, I actually do find the trio in the house to be the most interesting characters so far.

  23. Vevie says:

    What about an actual review of this episode? This is just a summary of the episode. As much as people love the show, it’s hard to ignore all the plotholes, the non-characterization, stuff that just isn’t in line with previous behaviour our events. It just seems like Kevin Williamson is going for cheap thrills and no real substance. This episode especially was poorly maded. And this is coming from someone who liked the first two episodes

    • Lola says:

      Vevie, that’s what a recap is. If you want a review, maybe go read Jeff Jensen at EW.

      • Vevie says:

        Lola, you’re partially right. But I think a recap should contain comments about the events in the episode as well. Comments about the storyline, what the characters are up to and how actions might progress in later episodes

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