If ever you doubted, this week’s episode of The Following made one thing abundantly clear: Don’t mess with Emma.
She’ll scream at you. She’ll withhold information from you. And she’ll leave you to be strafed with gunfire without once looking back. With that pixie cut and aggressive ambition, she’s like a likable Anne Hathaway. (Too soon, you say? “It came truuuuue,” I say. There. We’re even.) That girl’s gonna go far — that is, if she doesn’t meet an inauspicious end in a bloody standoff with federal agents somewhere along the way. (I’m obvi talking about Emma – those dress darts weren’t that bad.) Let’s review the major developments of “The Fall.”
DISSENTION IN THE RANKS | We pick up where last episode left off: with Paul’s gun poking into Ryan’s medulla oblongata and Joey supremely freaked out. The kid hides in his room as Paul disarms the former FBI agent, then Emma and Jacob enter and (of course) immediately know who Ryan is. Mr. Hardy makes sure they understand that just about every law enforcement agency in North America is about to bear down upon them. “This is the end,” he says, very confident.
He makes some headway in freaking out Jacob and Paul, but Emma is a tougher nutjob to crack. After giving Joey some “special milk” that knocks him out for the duration, she marches right up to her new prisoner and tases him in the chest, messing with his pacemaker. As he flops and heaves like a carp on dry land, she waves the weapon in his face. “By the way, Joe’s idea,” she says. She’s totally insane, but I appreciate how this chick regulates.
THE CAVALRY ARRIVES (AND THEN SITS THERE) | The FBI (including Debra) and the press set up in front of the farm house as Emma emails Roderick and quietly starts to fall apart. It’s a great turnaround from her bravado of a few moments before. Jacob calms her a bit, kissing her and telling her it’ll all be OK. I have to say, I’m digging the freaky way the young trio’s group dynamic shifts depending on what’s happening. Given what happens later in the episode, I hope the love triangle (and unlike most on television, this is a true love triangle) continues. But more on that in a while. Emma puts her badass pants back on and goes downstairs where she threatens Ryan, to no avail. But when she pulls Meghan up from the basement and threatens her safety, it takes a lot of swagger out of Ryan’s step. At Emma behest, he calls the FBI and they talk to Debra. Debra tries to draw Emma out a little, noting that all of the women in the murals at the followers’ hangoug look like Emma’s mom. But Em wants none of that and, before hanging up, tells the FBI to draw down or bad things are going to happen.
Weston wonders why Debra was so friendly and understanding with the psycho shortie; his boss responds that murdering her mom likely traumatized Emma so much that she’s still reeling, and reminding her of her humanity might make her pause before deciding to end another life. “Parental influence defines us,” Debra says, leading us into a set of flashbacks that explain exactly why she’s such an expert on cults: She grew up in one. In 1989, her parents forced her to sleep with the leader of a community called Serenity Hills; soon after, she ran away and only returned 15 years later in order to forgive her folks, who are still members of the cult. (Side note for all you Watchers out there: Her mom is Joyce Summers, looking decidedly better than the last time we saw her.) (Second side note: Buffy fans, please don’t fill the comments telling me that the actual last time we saw Joyce was in the show’s final season, when she was markedly less corpse-y. You know what I mean.) Interesting point: Debra still carries the cult’s amulet in her purse. Reminder of her beginnings or proof that she’s still partially sympathetic to those who blindly follow? Discuss.
INFILTRATED AGAIN | Ryan, recovered from his jolt, pokes at the Triad of Good Genetics but Bad Decisions and surmises that Jacob loves Emma but Paul loves Jacob. When he goes a bit too far, there’s a kerfuffle, and Ryan manages to grab a knife they’ve carelessly left lying by his seat. Emma gets a call from Roderick and is all, “Oh everything’s totally OK now! No worries! I’m going to go upstairs and check on Joey nobodyfollowme’kaybyeeee?” Ryan frees himself and Meghan, sending her out the front door while Jacob and Paul are in the other room. When they come in, Ryan stabs Paul in the gut and decks Jacob, leaving them to realize that the SWAT team is slowly encroaching and Emma has taken off with the boy. “We’re in trouble,” Jacob says, his talent for stating the obvious at an all-time high even as the gunmen’s laser sights form a big red constellation on his chest.
Meanwhile, Weston and the female local cop from the previous episode are skirting the property to try to cut off Emma and Joey. And they do! But when Mike pulls a gun on Emma, the officer shoots him. Aw man! “I’m with Roderick,” she tells Emma. “Let’s go.” Back at the house, the SWAT officers riddle the living room with bullets and bust in to find Jacob and Paul tripping over themselves to surrender. But then two of the SWAT members – who, we now realize, are actually Joe’s followers who killed two other SWAT members and stole their gear – kill the other two SWAT members and help the guys get free. Ryan finds Mike laid out but still alive, thanks to his bulletproof vest, and almost gets to Emma before she and Joey take off in a vehicle the female officer procured for them. He kills the follower cop but Emma and Joey speed away, and a few moments later, the realization of just how enormous this whole thing is – and how he has let Claire down — nearly reduces him to tears.
Elsewhere, Jacob beats up the poor motorist who pulls over to help him, then loads a weak Paul into the passenger seat and takes off. They call Emma, who doesn’t speak but is clearly affected by hearing Jacob’s voice… before she hangs up. Jacob promises Paul – who, for the record, is still bleeding copiously from the stomachular area – that he’s going to get them help.
CLAIRE, MEET CHARLIE | Remember how Claire, despite everything she knows about her twisted ex and the lengths his followers will go to at his bidding, slipped her FBI protection and got into a strange van with a strange man at the end of the last episode? Yeah, about that… uncool, Claire! She winds up locked into a random basement full of guns and computers with Charlie, a Joe follower whose military career was cut short by a psychiatric discharge. (Translation: He likes to kill too much.) He’s been watching Claire for two years, taking copious notes on her whereabouts and even breaking into her house to videotape her sleeping – though Emma didn’t know about him or what he was up to. He’s also kinda in love with her, a fact of which Joe is aware. When Charlie makes it clear that she’s not going to see Joey and she’s not going back to her house, she tries to escape. That doesn’t work. He kisses her. That doesn’t work, either – and his shame is so great, he repeatedly bashes his head into a wall. It’s like Chris Farley’s “Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!” but bloodier. Thanks to an intercepted email, the FBI finds Claire and gets her to safety, but Charlie tosses what I’m told is called a “flashbang” – a grenade used to draw attention away from a hasty exit — and scurries away.
Meanwhile, Joe’s lawyer Olivia procedes with what he calls “the next part of the story” – she files paperwork claiming infringement of his Eighth Amendment (aka “cruel and unusual punishment”) rights. Back at the house, Claire runs out to see Ryan return… without her kid. She beats at him with her fists and cries, and you can tell he kinda wants to do the same thing as he pulls her near.
Now it’s your turn. What did you think of the episode? On the creepy spectrum of Joe’s followers, where would you put Charlie? And exactly how much of a beating can Ryan’s pacemaker take? Sound off in the comments!Follow @kimroots