The Following Recap: 'It's a Freakin' Metaphor!'

following s1ep9 300The title of this week’s episode of The Following is “Love Hurts;” as the hour progresses, the emotion also impales, garrotes and smothers with a pillow.

Elsewhere, Natalie Zea’s absence is so marked that it takes three Claire Matthews to replace her (you’ll understand later), the series introduces my favorite follower so far and there’s a major death. Let’s review the big, bloody developments that take place in the installment.

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WHO’S THE NEW GIRL? | While Ryan and Debra get dressed down via FBI teleconference – and the show handily recaps the story so far for new viewers – we see Joe gather his acolytes at the mansion. The way Carroll works the room is part Harold Hill, part sexy professor and part Tony Robbins. He’s all wink-smile-smolder, hand touch-knowing glance-lingering gaze. His charisma in the group setting is so palpable that by the time he says, “And so we begin,” I’m about to do anything he suggests. (Good thing my days at the Recappers’ Academy gave me the training and internal fortitude to resist charming-yet-murderous, fictional rogues.)

Joe soon reconnects with Amanda Porter (Revenge shout-out? Now that I think about it, Emily’s dearly departed juvie pal is precisely the kind of person who would’ve sucked up Joe’s brand of insanity with a straw). Amanda’s a flibbertigibbet of a follower, a double murderer who’s super nervous as she tells Joe she wants her chapter to have a happy ending for him and Claire. Long, crazy story short: Amanda goes around killing women whose only connection to Joe’s ex-wife is that they share her pretty generic name. Amanda shoots one with a spear in a diner (I’m sure there’s a disco fries joke to be made here, and I welcome yours in the comments), then strangles another before tossing her through her apartment window. With them comes a message for Ryan: “Love hurts.”

ANOTHER CLAIRE SNARED | Ryan is assured that the Claire we know is safe in protective custody, but he’s worried about her nonetheless. So when Amanda hunts down a college-student Claire and holds a nail gun to her head, he’s even worse for wear than usual. He tries to reason with the screwball, telling her that she’s not actually dealing with the real Claire Matthews – prompting her to roll her crazy eyes and utter this fantastic reply: “It’s a freakin’ metaphor, Ryan!” (Ha!) Even though he’s playing along and saying anything Amanda wants to hear, he tells the truth when she asks why he “cheated” with Joe’s wife: “Because I love her,” Ryan says, thisclose to crying, and I am reminded again that even when this show is a little less whizbang than I’d like, Kevin Bacon is the man.

Hardy’s not so caught up in the moment, though, that he can’t creep close enough to disarm Amanda and free college-student Claire. With follower Louise dead (he shot her) and Mike still unconscious at the hospital, Debra and Ryan return to the command center. They share a moment of something close to friendship when he tells her she’s not a failure… despite the fact that she’s lost control of the investigation to FBI headquarters and her main purpose now is to keep track of Ryan’s “wildcard” tendencies. Then he sits in his dark, grungy, not-at-all private office and stares at his Claire’s picture on the evening news. Aww.

PILLOW TALK | Jacob and Paul turn up (hi guys! We’ve missed you!) at Jacob’s parents’ vacation home. Unfortunately, so does Jacob’s mom – who knows her son is wanted for murder but doesn’t have it in her to call the cops. So she patches up Paul as best she can but warns Jacob that his pal has sepsis and needs a hospital, or he’s going to die. (She also drops “Your father is on his way and you’d better get out of here before he arrives” a few times, and Jacob’s strongly adverse reaction makes me wonder what that relationship is like.)

When Paul is lucid, he reminds Jacob that he never trusted Emma – who has cruelly left them to fend for themselves. And when Jacob finally is able to set up a rendezvous with Roderick, it’s too late for Paul. Spouting sentiment similar to what Charlie said at the end of last week’s episode, Paul begs Jacob to help his live have meaning – then adds that he “owes” him one. Via flashback, we see Jacob having a gigantic freakout in 2008; it’s unclear whether he’s more upset by the fact that he couldn’t stab a woman, that Paul had no problem slicing her up like a sashimi special or that Emma’s going to know he’s never really offed someone. Paul promises he won’t tell, but that Jacob will be in his debt. So in the present, Paul smiles and tells a crying Jacob that he loves him, then demands that the debt be paid. So Jacob reluctantly holds a pillow over his fellow gaybor’s face until Paul stops breathing. I’m guessing that this method works so quickly because Paul was already doing so poorly? Whatever the reason, Paul’s gone (though I’m sure he’ll keep showing up in flashbacks), and Jacob is sad. So am I. I loved that creepy little triangle they had and wanted to see how it was going to play out once they got to the big house.

AN UNSTABLE WOMAN SCORNED… | Speaking of which, Joe makes it clear to Emma that he doesn’t want everyone at Casa Crazy to know about their “indiscretion.” (Did you see her face when she realized she was getting the brush-off? Scary. Who wants to place a bet now that Emma ultimately nevermores Joe out of existence?) Roderick lets on that he knows exactly what’s happening, including the fact that Emma has abandoned her farmhouse family. So when he says he has a surprise for her at the end of the episode, guess who it is? Jacob, looking royally cheesed off.

Now it’s your turn. What did you think of Amanda? How about Roderick’s reaction to Louise’s death? How are you feeling about Paul’s end? Sound off in the comments!