True Blood star Rutina Wesley has filed for divorce, two days before the season finale of the cult vampire drama aired. The actress has split from her husband of eight years, actor Jacob Fishel, citing irreconcilable differences.
Wesley lodged her papers in Los Angeles County Superior Court on 16 August (13) - two days before the latest True Blood series wrapped up (18Aug13).
The couple met as students at drama school and exchanged vows when they graduated in June 2005, according to TMZ.com.
"Umm, Joe?" I call out meekly. His office is so cavernous my voice actually echoes, which is cool. "Yes, yes, please come in." God, that dulcimer tone. Panty-dropper! Joe has already made his way to the liquor cabinet. "Brandy?" I hesitate, which he senses — looking me up and down like a gastropub menu. "It's 11AM but sure, why not!" "Splendid!" He pours — slowly, methodically. I'd be annoyed with the extreme protraction with which he does every. Single. Thing except he's just so sexy. You lose yourself in his —
"So Roderick says you have a question or two for me, is that correct?" I nod. "Well, let's get to it, then! Joey and I are making — what did he call them? — yes, ants on a log this afternoon. Mustn't be late." It's very true that he's got a lot of parenting work to do. I clear my throat:
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"Some of the other Followers and I have been talking, you know? And I guess, Joe, what we're wondering — we want to know what it is we're actually doing? Like, what our mission is?" He looks me over again, slowly and vaguely perturbed, like he may need to update his contacts prescription. I sense I should say more. "Not that we're not thrilled to be here just hanging out, making good friends. Last night's Settlers game was off the charts fun."
More staring. Then: "Quite right. I must say, Ha—Henning?" He got it! Joe knows me! "Henning, one…needn't divine the misty beyond for want of proper earthbound foot. Do you understand?" I absolutely don't, but I assume Joe is quoting Po— "That's Poe, from his short story 'Soft Steps on the Embankment'. Have you read it?" My GOD I can't stand P— "Marvelous stuff. But I digress. What Poe is saying in that particular work is—" Joe's looking at his watch, trailing. Then he shakes to life. "My goodness gracious, look at the time! I must be going." He heads for the door. "Have we put those fears of yours to rest?" Definitely not. I smile. "Splendid!"
ANNNNND SCENE. Joe was obviously quick to brush us off, what with needing to go turn his son into a mini-murderer, but Follower Henning's question is one that bears repeating (and answering): what exactly is Joe's "Following" up to?
Let's make an important distinction here. We are not demanding character-irrelevant answers in the vein of LOST, needing to know "what the four-toed statue means" or "by what quantum physics theories can a frozen donkey wheel effectively unmoor an island from time and space?" (Come on, nerds!) Nor is this just impatience with the particular speed at which The Following's writers have chosen to dole out this first season story. Plenty of similar shows have opted for the slow burn (hello, Breaking Bad!) to great effect, and in such a way as to give the audience exactly the right information needed, episode to episode.
But The Following — I mean, it's called "The Following." The show is named for this group of people! And 11 episodes in, with four left to air, we only have a muddled sense as to a) who these people are and b) what it is they're aiming to accomplish. That's not mystery; it's a fundamental story problem. For a few episodes, at least, the wanton acts of violence felt…if not fresh, then at least unpredictable. Which is great as far as beginnings go! But sooner or later unpredictability becomes predictable, Joe's tight lips become the writers' tight lips, and it's near-impossible to keep caring. Are The Followers even serial killers anymore? The weapons cache and "training center" Hardy and Parker found their way to last night suggested maybe terrorism is more their speed. Or hell, they could be a Furry splinter group. No one knows.
Yes, there's clearly a growing schism between Joe and his #2 Roderick, who's been tired of all the personally-motivated plots generated since Joe's escape. But why not NAME that schism? It would hardly nullify our sense of The Following as a group of dangerous killers; if anything, it would heighten the intra-house drama Kevin Williamson is clearly aiming at. And, help us to identify (as much as possible, anyway) with these people we're spending 15-21 minutes with each week. Maybe it's just the amateur Follower in me acting out, but I'd really like to feel more like a part of the group. That's all.
"Whips and Regrets" divides its attention between Claire, recently arrived at Following HQ; and Hardy, putting the FBI's recent hardcore Googling to use as he tracks down the Following server (really!) and subsequently tails one of the militia boys we met last week. Keeping in line with the way she's been handled so far, we learned nothing more about Claire, or Claire's relationship with Joe, or Claire's hopes and dreams, or anything Claire-related in any of her scenes. Mama looks great in a slinky black dress, it can't be denied, but I'll tell the writers what Jacob told Claire: "You've gotta make an effort!" Natalie Zea might actually die of boredom onscreen if she's not given more to do soon. And considering half her lines have been about her son, with whom she was just reunited? TICKING CLOCK, EVERYBODY.
There was such an opportunity last night, too, to delve into the whys and wherefores of Claire's relationship with Joe. What was he like when they met? How does she cope, generally, with the fact that she shared a home with this serial killer? Those are valid questions! Instead: "You're crazy, you know that?" (We ALL know that.) And she seemed frankly cool with Joe's response, in which he explained — for the first time? — that he's got a "disease" he needs to deal with. By, you know, stabbing everyone to death. My only explanation is they had great and extensive couples counseling to get to this point.
Hardy followed up (LOL) on the FBI's crack web research from last week by hitting the titular "Whips & Regrets" S&M club/bar which, coincidentally, was right down the block from Hardy's apartment. It's a lonely Friday night — what else are you gonna do? He and Parker caught up with the establishment's owner, Hailey, who admitted to being involved with one of the Militia boys, Vince, who had come after Claire. Did they…date? "No. We just flogged each other." Girl, we've all been there.
Using Hailey as bait, Hardy lured Vince back to Whips & Regrets for a package pickup (literally a package pickup, you sickos, not the other kind) which quickly went south. Maybe the weird guy who tells Roderick he "just wants to be friends" and barks — dog barks — at club patrons on his way to see Hailey and, oh, is in The Following is slightly unhinged? But it all worked perfectly for Hardy who, reneging on his promise of protection to Hailey, used her to tail Vince — hopefully back to Follower HQ.
Instead he led them (and an accompanying SWAT team) to a new location, some bunker deep in the woods. "It's a training center… for killing" Vince explained to Hailey. "People must be conditioned before they can be trusted." Then he found the wire on Hailey and was NOT happy.
THERE'S YOUR CUE, HARDY! Running in to defuse the situation, our man found Hailey tied up in a chair and Vince, nowhere to be found. Hailey took the moment to chew Hardy out for allowing her to be kidnapped. Don't you understand your role in this episode, and the larger Following story, Hailey? Come on. And anyway, you're distracting from the real revelation/new plot wrinkle here: The Followers are hoarding explosives, with the possibility of some "big op" on the docket. (Please refer to our question from earlier: are these guys serial killers? Terrorists? Crazy partiers?) NO TIME TO THINK ABOUT THAT, THOUGH — another member of the SWAT team who tagged along stumbled on three people deep in the facility, seemingly held hostage. I say "seemingly" because duh, they were Followers, which didn't work out so well for the SWAT guy. Basic Law of People Encountered on This Show: If they might be in the Following, they are probably in the Following. Everyone got that? Hardy? You're gonna want to think about it soon, trust me!
The post-mission ambulance check-in is quickly becoming my favorite part of each episode. Hardy and Parker get to reflect on the events of the episode, make a few snide remarks about cultists and literary studies, and tally up — in case we missed it — the body count of their latest mission. Last night, that was 2 SWAT dead, along with the three "victims" who'd been sprung. Maybe you're not wrong about that trail of dead you leave in your wake, Hardy? Certainly it's not unfounded.
Right, Molly! The redhead ex-girlfriend of Hardy we met via flashback last week was filled in a little more. She was, it turns out, always in the Following — assigned to Hardy on Joe's orders. And now, post-breakup, she still lives in the same apartment building as the guy. They do it, occasionally. It's cool. So of course it's no surprise to find her waiting for Hardy on his return from the armory. She collected his mail while he was away, like any friendly neighbor would. Hardy, as always, is the last guy to know anything.
One more flashback: "When it comes time to kill [Hardy]…I get to do it." I doubt Joe would really agree to that, sweetheart, but the enthusiasm is great! Keep reaching for the stars!
Four episodes left, people. Could the show squeeze in another crazed ex-girlfriend, or would that disrupt the carefully-crafted believability of this universe? Will Joe bake a pie with Joey, cementing their fractured relationship? Will Roderick run out of Followers to take out his aggression on? Tune in next week!
[PHOTO CREDIT: Giovanni Ruffino/FOX]
Follow Henning on Twitter @HenningFog
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Let's start at the end of the episode, where Joe Carroll offered some truthful affirmations to his pursuer/literary masterwork in human form, Ryan Hardy. "This is your story, Ryan. Your rebirth. Everyday you come just a little bit more back to life. You can't quit now. You're not yet quite the man you need to be." I've gotta say, the guy makes some pretty decent points! Before the series kicked off, after all, Hardy was a lousy drunk. Or drunker, anyway — eking out a miserable existence in his (well-appointed) Brooklyn loft, utterly defined and crippled, literally and figuratively, by his history with Joe. For a show about a pack of "terrorist-level" serial killers hyper-adept with all forms of technology and thrilled at the prospect of murder-sex, it's probably Hardy who's the most damaged character in the mix. Earlier in the episode Claire pointed out much the same thing when she asked why, in the eight years since putting Joe away, he'd never called her. (Or texted. Poked.) Even Tyson, the Hardy BFF whose witness protection cabin provided shelter but more importantly a NARRATIVE PAUSE this week insinuated as much. "You gotta stop with this death curse, bro!"
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Everybody, on my cue: RYAN, WE VALUE YOU. YOU DESERVE LOVE. YOU DON'T NEED TO DIE ALONE.
Not that every moment of "Guilt" was overburdened with 12-step emotion. The FBI, for one, spent the duration of the episode troubleshooting computer stuff! That's how all of the scenes at FBI HQ play out, anyway — some brief overview of our Follower(s) of the Week peppered with fun commentary (last night: "they found their way to a foster home that was busted for militia activity"), followed by an array of "encrypting" or "decrypting" activity that leads to some shocking revelation about Joe's group. Not that any of us watching want a beat-by-beat, methodical demonstration of the information technology the FBI employs to capture these bad guys. God forbid this become The Killing. But maybe a little more verisimilitude might help scenes like last night's, in which Parker stumbled onto a Follower recruitment website, achieve more resonance? (Without changing anything about the website's login screen: "Hello friend, you've been allowed entry. Please enter your name and email and someone from The Following will get back to you." Hahahahahahahahahahahaha)
Emma and Jacob, too, got to play out their own little domestic drama away from the Hardy plot. So Emma's boyfriend whom she sort of left for dead? Kind of peeved to have been left for dead! Threat of jail or not, that is simply not the behavior you find in a healthy relationship. And now, with Jacob seeing his deceased friend and lover Paul everywhere — and telling him to kill Emma — well, "trouble in paradise" would be underselling it. When they break up, it will probably be because one killed the other.
But the primary plot thrust last night: Joe enlisted two of his people (self-styled "constitutional extremists," not that that matters) to help finally track down his wife. Roderick tried to use "work" as an excuse to get out of the operation, which didn't thrill Joe. You want to prove yourself as a Follower, man? Then at least call in sickto your sheriff job or something. Show a little cause commitment.
Hardy managed to protect Claire for about three and a half minutes before Joe's team found her — effectively neutralizing an entire hotel wing to do so — and very nearly made off with her. "Very nearly" because Hardy managed to shoot the guy holding Claire, and drove her to safety. Or more accurately Timblin, Pennsylvania (such a tour of the mid-Atlantic region we're getting!), where his best friend and former partner Tyson has been holed up in witness protection. Could he be a Follower? Turns out no, at least not based on this episode, but good thinking — it's important to be prepared for any and all deus ex machinas.
Some flashbacks fleshed out a little more of Hardy's pre-Claire existence. He'd had a few girlfriends. One in particular, Molly, got close but Hardy never opened up enough to truly let her in. "What's the dirt on this guy?" she coyly asked Tyson. "I guess he's sort of an emotionally damaged alcoholic" is what he should have said, to save time, but he gave more of an "LOL you should be with me" response. BROS. Flashforward to Claire, just a girl standing in front of Hardy asking to be loved. "When is there ever a good time for us to talk about anything?" she asked, five minutes before their safe house was attacked by Joe's Followers. She continued. "What if I told you I love you?" Hardy, always turning the other cheek to happiness: "I'd say that's a bad idea." But wait! "…And I love you too." Kiiiiiiiiissssssssssss.
Then Roderick and the guys shot up Tyson's place and Tyson killed one of them before getting shot himself (he's okay!) and then Claire said ENOUGH and took off with Roderick, because she may love Hardy and recognize a trap when she smells one but this is her son we're talking about, goddammit — and this was before Hardy found his tires slashed and yelled "aww, crackers" to anyone in Timblin, PA who could hear him, mind you. That all happened. But it's not the important part.
You know what is? That ex from two paragraphs up, Molly…who in a twist I didn't see coming (but I'm not that bright) turns out to be one of Joe's Followers. You hear that, Hardy? Joe can (probably) sleep with one of your exes, too! And it all slowly begins to make sense, this "bros before hos" logic that governs every beat of the show. That was a lesser-known Poe work, right? Has to be.
Next week on The Following: sexy cocktail dresses. See you then!
Follow Henning on Twitter @HenningFog
[Photo Credit: Barbara Nitke/FOX]
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Imagine school that day. The loudspeaker crackles to life. "Uhh, attention kids — I mean students. Would Claire Matthews, I repeat would CLAIRE MATTHEWS please come down to the principal's office? There's an urgent matter we need to discuss. No one is going to stab you. Uhh, that's all. CLICK." The math class where this particular Claire Matthews currently sits all turn to her. "Oh my god, Claire, that was so weird! Did you hear those muffled noises?" "Yeah, Claire, I'd think twice about listening to that." Claire is just so confused. Her teacher chimes in. "I think you'd better go, Ms. Matthews." He motions to the door with one of those "I don't make the rules!" expressions on his face, which gives way to one of those "LOL I'm totally a Follower" faces the moment she leaves the room. Should've been paying attention to the news on your iPhone, Claire!
Hot off (what I think was) a semi-decent episode last week, the latest The Following continued in that direction with an outing that was at once bonkers, glib, and oddly focused. Just like its colorful cast of characters! Network show that it is — and hot off a nice write-up in the latest Entertainment Weekly — the show offered a tidy catch-up opening that juxtaposed Hardy and Parker's CIA/NSA/Homeland Security briefing with a scene of Follower HQ in full swing. Or should we say Follower U, for how much this whole operation feels like serial killer state college? Practicing stabbing techniques, tracing phone calls, deprogramming kidnapped little boys. Top it off with chill Professor Carroll always down for a quick Poe discussion section, and you've got the best years of your life. I know I missed fall admission, but maybe I can still get my application in for spring?
At office hours, Prof. Carroll listens intently to one of his newer Followers, Amanda, as she outlines plans for her "chapter" in the "book." (Maybe they should bring in a guest lecturer for a class about the limits of metaphor?) The idea: test the power of love, as well as Ryan Hardy's sanity. The method: killing a bunch of women named Claire Matthews, in the hopes of flushing out Joe's Claire Matthews. The weapons: spear and nail-guns. Writes Joe on the margins of her essay, "Amanda, I think your work shows a lot of creative potential! B+."
Moments later Amanda just gets right to it when she sidles up to a random woman at a local diner, asking her to "tell Ryan Hardy that sometimes love hurts." "You've got crazy eyes and I really need to go!" is what the random woman should say, but before she can get to this her other friend has sat back down. "What's up?!" this friend, Claire nee Matthews, asks with genuine curiosity. Amanda answers honestly, telling Claire she currently has a speargun pointed at her from under the table. Then she shoots her. Writes Joe, "I really like this part. Very weird but good weird. One question: speargun? Feel like a silenced pistol would do the trick but stylization can be fun, too. Keep writing!"
Hardy and Parker show up soon after to study the scene and ID the body, whose name obviously gives Hardy cause for concern. "DON'T LET CLAIRE FIND OUT ABOUT THIS!" he screams. And we can assume, somewhere far offscreen, Claire's Internet and cable have just been turned off. She can't even read this recap! At best she's able to re-read her husband's book about the lighthouse, which suuuuuuuuuucks.
Remember Paul and Jacob? They're BACK, turning up at Jacob's mom's place to get some much-needed medical assistance for Paul. But before we get to that, Jacob's mom has some stuff she needs to air out. "Help me understand this, Jacob!" she asks, a perfectly reasonable request from the mom of an alleged murderer. "I don't think I could explain…" "You're a murderer!" "STOP SAYING THAT, MOM!" In Jacob's defense, he is not technically a murderer (not until later in the episode, anyway). But try telling that to mom! She lays out the truth of Paul's situation — he's got sepsis, and will likely die if he doesn't get a blood transfusion soon. From, you know, a hospital. Suffice it to say Jacob is not thrilled by this option. He hates hospital! Plus he's wanted for murder everywhere.
Emma, meanwhile, continues her seduction of Professor Carroll. But where post-Charlie stabbing he was so turned on, such a psycho-sexual dynamo, operating in a less-frenzied atmosphere Joe seems… cold. Distant. GUYS, RIGHT?! Roderick watches the whole bedroom drama play out from just outside the bedroom and thinks to himself "I can use this!" Which he does, later, at the freshman orientation mocktail party. Spying Emma spying Joe, Roderick approaches her to talk. She's having none of it. He presses, trying to get under her skin. "Joe LOVES his wife, Emma. And yet he slept with you. You? You've got a boyfriend. I think you understand gray areas." Then, to really mess with her, he recites some of the many messages Jacob had left for her. Emma is so over this catty b*llshit and storms off. I'm sure it'll blow over.
What she doesn't know is that however many miles away, one of her former lovers is preparing to leave this world he loved (to stab) so much. We flash back to the first night Paul and Jacob Followed together. It was Jacob's mission, but when he couldn't kill? Paul wound up covering for him. "You owe me!" Paul playfully offered. Tussled his hair. Now, in the present, Jacob is asked to pay that debt…with ASSISTED SUICIDE. Jacob grabs a nearby pillow. Caresses Paul's face with a tenderness I assume he never felt with Emma. Hovers over his friend…and then smothers him to death, Cuckoo's Nest-style. So one-third of the original Follower tripod is now dead. On the plus side? Jacob notches his first kill. Way to go, buddy!
Hardy and the FBI team learn there is one last Claire Matthews out there for Amanda to kill, and track her to what looks like a college steampunk Mardi Gras rave, because everyone was tired with "Golf Pros; Tennis Hos." All too quickly they identify Amanda and Roderick's sex pal, Louise, who in turn have identified their Claire Matthews. Everyone's running. Followers are stabbing. Cops are helping. Followers are killing. Hardy chases down Louise outside the party. "What are you going to do, Ryan, shoot me?" And in a victory over that sort of lame thriller setup, he DOES. We all cheered!
Finally Hardy catches up to Amanda and Claire, who has a nail-gun pointed at her face. Hardy pleads with Amanda to put the gun down and walk away. "It doesn't work that way! She has to die!" When Ryan points out that the Claire she's holding hostage isn't Joe's Claire, the English major in Amanda just SNAPS. "IT'S A FREAKIN' METAPHOR, RYAN!" Even near-killing or -death, the characters on The Following have a grave respect for literary technique. Hardy presses forward, confessing his love for (Joe's) Claire. As a trade, he suggests, he'll offer himself in her place. Dude's got crazy eyes. He keeps walking. Amanda balks — which is just the moment he needs to grab her gun and apprehend her.
Joe and Roderick quickly learn of Amanda's apprehension and Louise's demise. Neither of which seem to faze Roderick, who it turns out was pretty "meh" on the whole Louise thing. Good thing Follower U is just overflowing with serial killer strange, bro! And anyway, there's some good news mixed in with the bad — somehow, through efforts conducted entirely off-screen, they've managed to track down the original Claire Matthews. Joe flashes that devilish(ly annoying) sexy-professor smile.
Later Emma is prompted by Roderick to see what's at the front door. And just like you guessed, it's Jacob — angry, newly murderous, hated-by-his-mother Jacob. "Hello, Emma" is his cold greeting. But things are about to get WHITE HOT.
On that note: solid ep! Are you guys with me in seeing some subtle improvements these past two weeks, or should I consider this revised assessment of mine the first sign in a full-on psychological collapse? I have been playing an unhealthy amount of "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon" lately. But who knows!
Follow Henning on Twitter @HenningFog
[PHOTO CREDIT: Michael Lavine/FOX]
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