You thought eye-gouging and choking oneself to death on surgical gauze was scary? This week’s episode of The Following introduced us to an even more frightening proposition: male bonding, psychopath style. In other news, Emma got precisely what she was gunning for and Mike had a really, really bad day at work. Let’s review the major events that took place in “Welcome Home.”
DADDY’S HOME | Joey wakes at Chateau Crazy and is scared to find his dad staring at him. (Trust those instincts, kid.) Joe’s awkward attempts to make his son feel more comfortable (“I have the ability to be a rather cool and fun guy”) would be cute… if dad weren’t a multiple murderer who glories in his work. Emma assures Joe that Joey just needs time to warm up, then ushers him downstairs to meet his acolytes. It’s interesting to note that throughout the episode, Joe seems a bit overwhelmed that his plans are actually playing out – the cocky bravado that charged his scenes at the prison is muted almost to the point of being absent.
MEET THE FAMILY | As Emma and Joe stand in the driveway, a sherriff’s vehicle screams up and a lawman gets out. Of course it’s not an actual cop, silly – it’s just the much-hyped Roderick, who is decidedly not Mike Weston, like many of
us you thought. Through flashbacks, we learn that Joe took the rap for killing two women actually offed by Roderick and that Joe considers Roderick his “first student.” Roderick, it should be noted, is still the sheriff of the town in which Joe’s Traveling Circus of Insanity is currently staged.
Also at the house: Louise, who we met in the last episode, and Charlie, the techie who kissed and lost Claire. Roderick’s been recruiting, he tells his mentor, and he’s added about a dozen more followers since Joe last checked in. Roderick also proudly shows Joe the study they’ve prepared for him. He can use it to write, or hold class, or have an incredibly intimate and horrible moment later in the episode – y’know, a real multi-purpose room! Throughout it all, Emma beamingly trails behind Carroll; you get the feeling girlfriend is just waiting for her moment. It looks like it’s going to happen when they’re both a little drunk in the kitchen later that night; she mops Scotch off his chin and leans in real close as she whispers, “I’m sure there are a lot of things you need to catch up on.” It’s a little hot… until you remember that the pair of them are multiple murderers who glory in their work. Joe then abruptly reminds her that he loves Claire, and when another follower interrupts to give a totally unnecessary update, the moment is broken. Don’t fret, Miss Emma. You’ll get your chance again – and sooner than you think! (But Follower With One Line Who Singlehandedly Prevented Emma From Sexing Up Prof. Joe? I’d sleep with a shiv under my pillow if I were you. The tiny, murderous pixie will not forget that anytime soon.)
THE STRONG, SILENT TYPE | Roderick spearheads the effort to find Claire by kidnapping Mike from his hotel room and bringing him to an abandoned shipyard. Louise, Charlie and a bunch of others are there to beat the info out of him, but he claims to have no idea where the Protective Custody people have stashed Joe’s ex-wife. Mike gives as good as he gets for a while – and even manages to deduce who Roderick is in the psycho scheme of things – but when the lead pipes come out, he is but Nancy Kerrigan to Charlie’s Tonya Harding (or Jeff Gillooly, if you want to be precise). The knives come out just as Ryan and Debra arrive at the shipyard – there’s a whole lot of FBI tracking that gets them to that point, but I’m skipping it so we can get more quickly to the end-of-episode sex and murder. Cool?
Charlie runs his blade into Mike’s abdomen, Ryan takes down five followers with his gun and the rest of them – including Roderick, Louise and Charlie – get away. Ryan cradles Mike while they wait for the ambulance. Did anyone else think that Weston was a goner when he lost consciousness? But he makes it through surgery and Ryan waits by his bedside; despite the way Hardy often seems annoyed by the younger agent, he makes a point of waiting by his bedside. “I just think somebody should be there when he wakes up, that’s all,” Ryan tells Debra. Aw, bromance blossoming! Hardy’s even more impressed when Deb fills him in: Mike is the only member of their operation who actually does know where Claire’s being kept, which makes his silence with the followers even more heroic.
I LOVE YOU, MAN | Roderick, Charlie and Louise find Emma and Joe in his study and apologize for not bringing Claire home with them. Charlie, in particular, can’t get over the fact that he’s let Joe down twice – and Joe doesn’t help when he admits he’s disappointed in his devotee. Charlie spouts some nonsense about wanting his life to mean something and then hands Joe a blade. “This is my gift,” he intones, which I might’ve found a bit more affecting if I hadn’t been giggling at Louise’s matter-of-fact unfolding of a plastic tarp on the ground behind him. Guys, the estate is huge – can’t this symbolic and utterly gory act take place somewhere that isn’t draped in Persian rugs? Apparently not, because Joe kisses Charlie and they embrace, then Joe guts his acolyte like a Yellowfin fillet.
The moment is highly erotic (if those aren’t “O” faces on both men, I’ll eat my recapper’s hat) and it charges everyone in the room. Emma trails Joe upstairs, ostensibly to help him clean up and change clothes. But pretty soon she’s right up in his serial killer stuff. “I love my wife,” he reminds her. “She’s not here,” she replies. Professor Joe can’t refute a correct and strongly backed-up argument, so they kiss and fall into bed. Downstairs, Roderick looks unsettled as he tells Louise, “Things are different with Joe here.” She tries to tease him out of his mood and gets choked for her trouble. He releases her just before she blacks out, then they get it on. It would be really sexy if they weren’t both multiple… no, you know what? I pride myself on being pretty laid-back about these things, but the concept of violent near-strangulation as foreplay leaves me a little cold.
Now it’s your turn. Did follower David and his cyanide pill realness serve any purpose in the episode? What did you think of new FBI boss Nick? Were you proud of Mike’s fortitude in the face of so much pain? Are you wondering what became of Ryan’s alcoholism? Sound off in the comments!