A lot was left in the air after last week’s cliffhanger, but luckily we had Ryan Hardy to put this episode on his back. Kevin Bacon has done an admirable job of portraying FBI Agent Ryan Hardy in the harrowing The Following, but this episode has reset the bar higher than I ever could have imagined for the character. He’s smart, cool and collected in the face of three psychopaths armed with guns, knives and Tasers.
Hardy shrugs off their threats as the three little psychopaths hold him and Megan hostage, playing the game without them recognizing it. He sarcastically taunts them, forcing their relationship to be tested. While the relationship between Emma, Jacob and Paul started off as a hindrance to the show, it is one of the strongest aspects now. Its complexity and intimacy allows viewers into the minds of sociopaths, and when Paul slips in front of Hardy, the FBI agent begins to pick the three apart.
Eventually Hardy sneaks a knife and attacks Paul and Jacob—only Emma had already abducted Joey without anyone knowing, leading the boy through the woods, leaving the two to fend for themselves, effectively ending the trio’s relationship. Weston (who I briefly believed might be involved only because I thought it would be a crazy twist) catches Emma but is shot by the local police girl, who is revealed to be Roderick, a missing link often referred to. Inside the house Paul and Jacob are surrounded by FBI agents, but two of them were previously killed by Followers, and they escape as well.
Everything happens so quickly. My heart was pounding, and I was screaming in disbelief over and over. Unfortunately, Hardy’s heart couldn’t take it, and after he checks to make sure Weston is OK and puts a bullet in the female cop’s chest, he runs after Emma and Joey but is unable to stop her from abducting Joey again.
The rest of the episode is just as up to par. Claire is trapped by the new Follower who was supposed to take the mother to see her son. The Follower is a former soldier who has killed nine people: three terrorists, two Iraqis and four people he simply wanted dead. While being held in a warehouse, Claire notices surveillance photos. It turns out he was Claire’s “follower”—an assignment to learn everything about her. He is very adamant that Carroll wants Claire to survive “all of this” and reveals just how tightly Carroll runs the cult. The subplot also reveals just how unstable Carroll’s Followers truly are as the Follower begins to bash his own head against a pipe after making a move on Claire, whom he had fallen for after years of surveillance.
Another unique aspect to the show is the flashback into Agent Parker’s past. Little by little we discover that Parker’s parents were in a cult and they exposed their young daughter to aspects of sadistic lifestyle. It explains why Parker is so well versed in cult activities and why she’s an expert in the field for the FBI.
It was an unbelievable episode, but it only did one thing: prove that Carroll has more resources than we could ever have imagined and that he has the ability to pull off unbelievable escapes and stay one step ahead of Hardy and the FBI. Carroll heinously tells his lawyer to set in motion the next part of the story. I have to admit as excited as I am for the rest of this season, I’m a little terrified what Carroll’s twisted mind has in store for us.