I'm going to say something brazen that you're free to ignore, even use against me at a time of your choosing, but that's okay (because what is the Internet if not a mounting evidence file in the trial of our lives?). You ready? You're still reading this recap? Okay, here goes:
Last night's Following wasn't the most terrible hour of television imaginable. I know! I'm in shock, too! Still being the show we've come to lovingly mock these past two months, it wasn't lacking for goofball moments. Just dumb moments. But opposite that was this weird sense of…fun? Fun that, for the first time yet, didn't feel completely anachronistic to the ongoing plot of anescaped serial killer of women who for whatever reason the FBI, despite what have to be unquantifiable resources, just can't find?Lots of shows take time to find themselves. Comedies more so than dramas, sure (The Office's season two transition, anyone?), but plenty of dramas have retooled over time, figured out their strong points and jettisoned the weak. Is The Following finally getting itself on track?
…I mean probably not, but we have to talk about SOMETHING. Recaps are hard.
Part of what lent "Welcome Home" an edge over the previous weeks was its focus, finally, on The Following. You know — those guys they named the show after! No longer just a faceless mob of Poe fanatics lurking around the edges, threatening to ruin Hardy's Happy Hour buzz, we've now seen a sizable chunk of Joe's devoted acolytes. And guess what — they all live in a friggin' party mansion! A quick tour of the retrofitted two-story colonial shows our dudes and dudettes shooting pool, enjoying reading time. Do they have a dog? Probably! Everyone's just having a blast, and to finally bring Joe — the man on whom they've reshaped their lives — there to see what they've become, how much (bad) good they're doing? I mean it's sort of heartwarming. When Joe's Followers greet him at the foot of the stairs on his first morning there, it might as well be the farewell concert from Mr. Holland's Opus. It's weird and perfect. And maybe little Joey is totally freaked out by the place, and by his dad staring at him when he wakes up ("I know you're scared of me. I sensed it."). But sometimes love is FREAKY AS S**T, you know?
But before the Open House at Followers HQ we're at the FBI equivalent, where the new lead investigator, Nick, gives his staff what for. "This is a bureau nightmare, people!" What a boner-filled series of days, right? A prison escape by a convicted serial killer. Kidnapped kids. Bodies EVERYWHERE. You guys are just a bunch of goofballs! And Hardy's just getting the worst of it, too, when Nick chews him out. "Nobody likes me!" he jokes to Parker. Workplace comedies have gotten weirder over time, but definitely funnier.
After weeks of his name being dropped the way LOST used to do with Jacob, except subtler (never did I think I'd describe LOST as the "subtler" of anything), we finally meet Roderick, Joe's number two. Like a BOSS he rolls up to Follower HQ in a police car, convincing us for a split-second that he's real law enforcement. Fake out! Everyone's just pumped to meet him. Emma couldn't be happier. This is the murderer Joe's always gushing about! Roderick's arrival gives us a greater tour of the premises, which he has outfitted to Joe's anticipated needs and specifications. Roderick had his main squeeze Luisa install an "inspiration room," for when Joe needs to read Poe or think about Poe. "Everyone's anxious to get started," Roderick tells his boss. "Get started on what?" you ask?
SORRY NO TIME BACK TO FBI HQ. The Follower Hardy shot then tortured last week wants a few words with Hardy, which amount to "I'm weird." Then he chews a cyanide pill he'd stashed under his skin, killing himself. No one is thrilled with this turn of events, least of all Nick — especially when Weston and Hardy "hack" his computer to do some research on the guy post-suicide. Weston is sent back to his hotel. You know the worst place for anyone in a story about serial killing to be is? AWAY FROM THE GROUP. So it's little surprise when, 3 minutes later, Weston is apprehended by a gang of Followers. Even less surprising when they'd all been hanging out pretty openly in the parking lot. I'm telling you — it's less a gang of serial killers than it is an after-school program for at-risk adults.
Continuing the theme of "let's just have a good time, man" that permeates this whole episode, Joe and the whole Follower house have a casual party to celebrate Weston's capture. Joe, who has only been drinking toilet wine for ten years (if anything) gets sloshed pretty easily. "You're sloshed!" says Emma. "But you deserve it." She caresses his hand much like in a specific Poe work, I'm sure, before the two of them are interrupted by Aaron. Real buzzkill for everyone. GO AWAY, AARON. When they get back into it, with the hand-caressing, Joe finds his principles. "I love my wife." Emma is crestfallen to not be able to hook up with this guy who just loves women too much. Meanwhile, in flashback: Joe kills a woman.
Down by the docks, Roderick, Charlie (who had unsuccessfully kidnapped Claire a few weeks ago), and Luisa unmask the captured Weston and explain to him the game they're about to play: he's going to tell them where Claire is, or they're going to hurt him. Now guys, Settlers of Cataan — that's a game! This just seems, I don't know, torturous? The gang does nothing to convince me this is a non-tortoruous game when Weston and Charlie are forced to punch each other. Then use lead pipes. Then knives. While this is going down, though, Hardy has used his powers of deduction to figure out where they took Weston and positions himself according. Before Luisa can finish Weston off, BLAMO — Hardy opens fire. A redshirt here. A redshirt there. Killed. Roderick, Charlie, and Luisa make their escape. Feeling left out of everything that's just happened, Parker yells "Stop! FBI!" at their fleeing Escalade and even fires off a few shots, but to no avail. A concussed Weston assures Ryan he told them nothing about Claire's whereabouts. Which is good, because Hardy would have had to kill Weston himself. That's his lady, bro!
Tail between their legs, Follower Kidnap Team returns home to find a pensive Joe in the fireplace room listening to classical music. They're all deeply apologetic. Crazy apologetic is Charlie, who is so tired of disappointing himself and most importantly his TEAMMATES that he'd prefer to honor kill himself. "To be important." You sure, Charlie? Even Joe seems kind of weirded out by your offer. "I want my life to mean something. This is my gift." Okay, dude! At which point Luisa grabs the tarp she carries in her yoga bag and unrolls it on the floor. Quietly, tenderly, Joe draws Charlie in for one last embrace. Whispers a Lost in Translation-style sweet nothing into his ear. Then guts him like a pig. It's almost beautiful in a wait, it's actually really very disturbing, kind of way.
…And then the LOVE-MAKING, my god. Shows like Dexter have of course demonstrated the aphrodisiacal effects of murder/violence in general, so it's really no surprise when Joe finds himself hot and bothered post-kill. He still loves his wife, Emma, as he'll tell you one more time. But for tonight, just tonight — you can be his creepy mistress. Downstairs, Roderick and Luisa find their way toward the same finish line a little differently with some light-to-heavy-choking. Serial killers! They're just like us!
So there's the count: weirdo murder sex. Follower fight club. Honor killings. Billiards. I'm sincerely looking forward to next week, everyone. Do your thing, DISH Guy!
[PHOTO CREDIT: David Giesbrecht/FOX]