Your regularly scheduled Following recapper, Starlee Kine, is out this week, so I will be filling in with a numbered list of the moments that stuck out to me.
1. "Previously on The Following" — What am I supposed to make of the fact that whoever edited this preshow catch-up included that newscaster audio footage telling us that Joe Carroll was convicted of killing a bunch of women. As if seven episodes in we have forgotten that this guy is a serial killer. Have faith in your audience!
2. Joe Carroll is let out of prison (plan is to transfer him to a facility in Georgia) because Ryan Hardy broke his fingers several episodes back, which is a violation of his Eighth Amendment rights. (That's the one about cruel and unusual punishment.) This happens in a room with a couple of people, and there is no press to be seen anywhere, especially not that newscaster guy from the "Previously on The Following" footage. This would never happen. Which, fair enough, this is a work of fiction and I don't believe it needs to have a particularly tight relationship with how things would actually happen. But once you've established that your antagonist is a serial killer whose hunt, capture, and trial received tons of coverage and who is currently leading a cult from his prison cell, you better believe that there would be satellite trucks camped outside that prison 24/7.
3. Claire: "Don't! Just find [my son!]" Yeah, seriously, Ryan Hardy. What the hell?
4. This has got to be the most unflattering portrayal of the FBI I've ever seen onscreen. Sure, we've had shows and movies in which FBI agents are corrupt or insane, but there's something about how goddamn useless this squad is that strikes me as even more insulting.
5a. Characters standing in front of a computer screen, looking at footage. One of them goes, "Run that back. Enhance that!" Is that this supercut? Yes. But it's also Ryan Hardy in this episode.
5b. They realize that Carroll is not in the truck just a few minutes too late. LATE AGAIN, RYAN HARDY!
6. Does Joey really ever think he's going to see his mother again? With all he's seen: people getting shot in front of him, a woman in a cage ...
7. Is this guy a long-lost Brolin brother?
8. Ryan Hardy, upon hearing Carroll's lawyer say that she is about to be killed: "He can kill me!" I get it. If I had failed as many times as Ryan Hardy had over the course of ... how much time has passed in the show's story? ... if I had failed that many times, I'd probably also be like, "Look, just fucking kill me already. I'm done. Somebody else find that kid, because this isn't working here. Let me go back to drinking vodka out of water bottles, because I did that in the first episode before it became a character trait that was dropped completely."
9. There is a moment when the good guy runs up to a rooftop just as the bad guy takes off in a helicopter and the good guy shoots at the helicopter to no avail? Is this a scene that can be found in 15 percent of modern American action movies? Yes. But it's also Ryan Hardy in this episode. LATE AGAIN, RYAN HARDY.
10. What is up with this shot? Did Tom Hooper shoot this?
11. There's a real 24 feel to this episode (and this show), what with the supervillain and the computer stuff and the renegade main character who is not above breaking fingers or fingering wounds in order to achieve his goal.
12. Poor Joey. What if The Following runs for seven seasons and then they make a feature-length movie and we discover that the entire show has been a prequel to the true story of Joey, a nice boy who took over his father's cult?
13. Carroll drives up to a frat-house-looking mansion and followers just pour out of the front door. This continues to be the scariest/most compelling part of the show, this idea that any plain John or Jane could be a batshit-crazy murderer. I mean, just look at these people! Could they look any more anonymous?
14. This has the potential to be a bit of a different show going forward. Maybe back to what we initially thought it was going to be before it became a story about a kidnapped child. You have Carroll holed up God knows where with seemingly endless followers at his command. Now the show can be about an evil man in an evil lair sending out his evil minions to do evil things.
15. The FBI won't be able to stop him.