‘The Following’ Recap: Hardy’s in the House

The Following Recap The Siege“The Siege” offered that patented blend of laissez-faire bodily violence and “media analysis” we’ve come to expect from The Following in its first four episodes, but before we dive into the recap I just wanted to share an email I received last night from a very special guest. I’ll let him introduce himself.

Hey dudes! My name’s Ryan Hardy. Aside from this wicked hangover I’ve been nursing for eight plus years, I’ve got stuff to deal with right now. a kidnapped child. An apoplectic mother (and ex-lover, heyo). Not to mention the ever-mounting stack of bodies I can’t help but feel I’m sort of responsible for. Maybe? Open question. My therapist and I are going to have an all-time great session next week, but before I hit the couch there’s this one question I feel I should address now: why haven’t we just killed Joe Carroll?

Those are tricky legal shores, I know. Not to mention the fact that for all his serial killing and Poe references — Jesus the Poe references — I have to admit I sort of like the guy. Plus he lends some regularity to my schedule which had mostly been filled with longing stares out my loft window and my bi-weekly hair-tousling appointment. Interrogations are not nearly as tense as television would have you believe. Did you see the guards they stationed in the room? They add two more each week.

But I digress. This week, Joe really tested our friendship! Getting that attorney to hop on national television, read that line from “The Masque of the Red Death.” Not cool, bro. Of course I’m mad at myself, too. It’s like AHH — why didn’t we put the kibosh on this before it could spiral out of control?! BONER MOVE, Hardy. (Imagine me hitting myself repeatedly in the forehead, which is what I’m doing right now.) But whatever jokes you want to make about my alcoholism…I’m not the bad guy. Joe is. And I’m starting to wonder if we shouldn’t just stamp his passport to Deathtown.

(That was badass, right?)

Think about it. Everything that’s happened in this last crazy month has been on his command. Behind bars or not, bro’s like a psychosexual Jedi — able to mind-control anyone with daddy issues within a 50 mile radius. (Maybe wider! I don’t read the paper! Is California okay?) As long as he’s able to open his mouth, literally or figuratively, the body count keeps rising. Parker calls this a “correlation,” which I’m guessing she heard in her religious cult studies graduate program (I don’t know what it means). In any case: I have to believe that if you eliminate Joe, you eliminate the power of his Following.

Here’s where Parker tells me things become problematic. There’s this documentary crew, tracking us at FBI HQ and the Followers in all their respective Follower homes. For a while I couldn’t figure out what all the cameras were for. I was drunk, BIG WHOOP. But then I learned this program they’re shooting and airing concurrently is, like, shockingly popular. Each week MILLIONS of people tune in to watch me furrow my brow, watch Joe smirk. (I frankly don’t get the appeal, but then I don’t presume to know what anyone is thinking ever.) This makes us money? Point is, these people want to keep watching. Our bosses want them to keep watching. And in order for both of those things to happen I’m forced to throw common sense completely out the window and let Joe live.

Again, I like the guy. Maybe I even love him? I would not be shocked if this became a plot point I mean issue for me midway through season two I mean the next year of this ongoing serial killer task force. But it’s so frustrating to be a smart guy who KNOWS WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE and not be able to do anything about it. Is this what Batman feels like? Dancing with the Joker over and over again, falling prey to the same tricks only to throw him back behind bars before his inevitable escape? At least the Joker had an interesting worldview. Joe is an English teacher who has never studied any books that weren’t written by Edgar Allen Poe. Maybe I’ll tweet that. I’m so bored.

I don’t even know who I’m writing this to, or if I’m even sober, but it felt important to put these thoughts to paper as recorded evidence of my not being a total law-enforcement doofus. I know stuff, okay? And while we’re doing this — I’m fully aware that my tie is perpetually loose. It’s not because I’m a disheveled alcoholic mess. It’s because the alcohol lodged in my pores makes it difficult to aerate. YOLO.

Talk about a Chatty Cathy! Ryan, I can now admit, has been emailing me for weeks. Most of the time it’s Twilight conspiracy theories or that Kony 2012 video, which he just will not let go, but I thought his latest scribble was worth sharing. From now on I’ll be sure to forward his more coherent messages as they arrive.

So what’s left to say that Ryan didn’t cover? Enough! The episode was called “The Siege” and, as the title suggests, the FBI (well, Ryan and Hanson) finally deduce the location of the farmhouse and quietly make their way in. But not before some wacky side adventures, some fun (palling around with local law enforcement!) and others less so (stumbling into the home of two nice townies freshly murdered by the farmhouse trio). You’re up and you’re down, you know? The latter scene, oddly enough, offered a wonderfully human moment for Hardy as he coached the local officer shadowing him through the shock of seeing his first body. What a great contrast: this one guy so raw, so rattled, while Hardy’s so beyond desensitized it’s like taking in a still life for him. THIS IS WHAT YOU NEED MORE OF, THE FOLLOWING!

Of course, quiet moments can’t last, and a scene or two later our heroes arrive at the farmhouse to ferret out Joey and make their escape. Unbeknownst to Hardy, the trio he thought he’d be facing was joined earlier by another Follower, Hank, who was “triggered” by the Poe-laced statement Joe’s lawyer made. But no worries! Hank dispatches the rookie cop — non-recurring character blood everywhere, very sad — before being killed by Hardy. Hardy finds Meghan tied up in the basement. And then he’s onto Joey, who he assures he’ll rescue…except it’ll have to wait until next episode, because Paul finds them both. Hardy’s going to have to use summon every line of “The Raven” to get out of this one!

Returning to jail after her wackadoo press release, Olivia tells Joe she “won’t be [his] messenger.” He smiles that smarmy English teacher smile. “Darling, we’re just getting started.” Then he asks her to please take dictation, they’ve got a lot to go over. WHY IS NO ONE PAYING ATTENTION TO THESE CONVERSATIONS FROM A MONITOR OR SOMETHING HOLY HELL YOU COULD SAVE YOURSELVES SO MUCH TROUBLE.

If I’m yelling a lot in this recap and calling situations and people “stupid” it’s only because I sort of care and want The Following to be the best version of itself possible. This criticism I’m lobbing? It comes from a place of love. Or at least not complete dislike. Certainly a place where the library’s got more than one volume of poetry on the shelf.

…Holy moly this show’s dumb. See you next week!

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