SEXY POST-STABBING SHOWER! But before we get to that, let's recap the rest of this week's The Following.
The farmhouse murder crew assembles in the basement to figure out what to do with the poor store clerk Paul wooed/kidnapped last week. Emma, naturally, suggests their only option is to kill her. Jacob squirms a bit. Paul reads the line "do you like pancakes? Oh that's right, you'll be dead. They've got a wacky Three's Company energy that really counterbalances all the bondage and murder.
Back at Claire's house (which is sort of The FBI's second command station these days), Claire demands to know when they're going to find her son. Remember last week's home video, Hardy? They're teaching Joe Jr. how to be a killer! They're indoctrinating him into THE FOLLOWING. But before you can say "helicopter parent," Hardy's attention is diverted by an even more pressing issue: Maggie has kidnapped his Williamsburg-based restauranteur sister, Jenny. And she's going to make her eat non-local.
…Actually she's probably going to knife her or something, but that's splitting hairs. In the wake of her husband's death, Maggie has ditched Carroll's prescribed narrative (or as she jokes, gone "off-book," LOL) for a little personal vengeance. And as we learn from Carroll himself, she was a killer long before joining Team Follower: under the name Margaret Schuler, she stabbed her way through the midwest. Chick's got skillz! Which makes Hardy even more hot to find her and save his sister. Joey? You've gotta hang tight, kid. We'll get to you during March Sweeps, promise.
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Super-smooth, Hardy offers a "something suddenly came up" to Parker as he bolts for Brooklyn. But he won't be alone — Weston (who is not in fact named "Iceman" on this show, convenient as that would be for me) tags along, eager to learn more about Hardy's past and probably save the day when all hope seems lost. But in the meantime, just shut up, dude, Bacon needs some zzz's.
Back at the farmhouse, Emma and Paul continue their frosty dance. That is until Paul drops a bomb that upsets her more than any Bravo marathon he and Jacob may have shared undercover: Jacob's never killed anyone. WHU-WHAT?!? And you're hanging with Team Follower, No. 1 Kill Crew in the Northeast?!? Emma's heart is broken. Love means never having to lie about whether you murdered then disposed of someone, right? To say nothing of the time a few years ago when, in a graphic game of Never Have I Ever, Jacob claimed to have tossed a fresh kill in the river. You're a TAYLOR SWIFT SONG WAITING TO HAPPEN, YOU LYING BOY.
NEXT: It's Flashback Time!...
Hardy's about to spend the rest of the episode tied up on a gurney while someone else talks, so luckily we're given a few fun flashbacks to his post-Carroll time in BK. Dining out with Claire, sharing secrets in bed (his firefighter brother died in 9/11; his parents are dead; everyone's dead) — it's basically Girls, only Hannah's an alcoholic and super into Edgar Allen Poe.
(Sidebar: ALCOHOLISM. Can you dramatize someone's dependance on booze — or any substance for that matter — without making it the complete focus of the story? Flight tried valiantly but wound up a two hour testimonial for AA, and the long history of "Very Special Episodes" suggests it's rarely, at least on network television, a subject that can just be treated "as is." Clearly The Following is trying to treat Ryan's alcoholism as another wrinkle in his larger serial killer-hunting story, but every time the subject is raised you can still feel the episode grinding momentarily to a halt.)
Returning to the present, Hardy enters his sister's restaurant, puts on a blindfold next to a "put this on" sign, and is soon greeted by Maggie. She does her villain thing, explaining how and why she kidnapped Jenny, before clocking Hardy in the head.
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Just like Paul suggested, Jacob is having a difficult time readying himself to kill the store clerk. She pleads with him. If he lets her go, she won't tell anyone. Hell, she'll even bleed a little to convince Paul and Emma he really did kill her. We cut to commercial with the knife at her throat, but, I mean, you've seen the episode — he unties her and urges her to make a run for it. It's not long before Emma and Paul cotton to Jacob's actions, though, and soon they're chasing her across the property. They catch her. Surround her like a hunted boar. And in another DEEPLY UNPLEASANT SCENE, stab her a few times.
Don't worry! She's not dead. (But she probably will be by the end of next episode.)
Maggie tells Hardy that her foster dad wore a pacemaker much like the one in Hardy's chest, which she learned to manipulate (fatally so) with magnets. And so Bill Nye sets to work in the restaurant, disrupting his pacemaker as she goes on about "real love" she shared with her husband, the dearly departed fire guy. Then Weston makes like any good character-cum-plot device and saves the day, shooting Maggie to death.
Finally what you've been waiting this whole recap for — as a dirtied Emma and Paul dance less frostily around each other in the shower, washing themselves off from their recent hunt. "It's not like we're gonna get it on," says Emma. BUT OF COURSE YOU WILL. I just like when characters are able to overcome their differences. Jacob discovers the clerk re-tied to her chair in the basement, his effort to set her free totally shot. And now Emma will know what a loser he is! He finds her in the shower with Paul. But rather than freak out and kill him, he takes this new union of souls as an opportunity to get wet with the people he loves. It's the closest thing to a beautiful moment we've seen on this show!
That is, until Hardy heads back to Claire's. Those of you familiar with show creator Kevin Williamson know that in addition to his horror and thriller work, he's also a master of teenage melodrama — most notably Dawson's Creek. (Which I've never seen. Sorry!) And if there's anything that screams "teen melodrama," it's swelling indie music to underscore to a moment in which two characters talk about love. In flashback, Hardy explains to Jenny that he's a "constant reminder of the worst time in [Claire's] life." "But you love her!" she admonishes. In the present, Claire begs Hardy to stay. But he can't! He's committed to his work! Hardy leaves, the music reaches a crescendo, and camera tracks him like Dawson — all sad resignation and emotional vulnerability, walking away from his lover and into a world beset by madness and Poe masks. SCENE.
There are two shows in The Following vying for dominance: one's the often disturbing procedural we tracked last week; the other is Dawson's Creek with butcher knives. It's a weird combination! But one that, properly modulated (and I should note I'm being totally serious right now), could actually be among the more interesting concepts on television. Imagine it: late into an all-night stake-out, Hardy is ready to throw in the towel. An incoming text reads "OPEN YOUR WINDOW." Hardy panics, grabs his gun. But it's just Claire, smiling as she holds a bottle of wine outside the passenger door. "Bad Religion" by Frank Ocean starts playing as they clink glasses. Three hundred feet away someone is probably being murdered. Y/N? Please tell me I'm onto something in the comments.
[Image Credit: Nicole Rivelli/FOX]
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