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The Following Recap: Witless Protection

THE FOLLOWING: Ryan Hardy (Kevin Bacon) questions Joe Carroll's whereabouts in the "Guilt" episode of THE FOLLOWING airing Monday, March 25 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2013 Fox Broadcasting Co. CR: Sarah Shatz/FOX

Last week we learned that one of Joe Carroll’s followers ingested a zip drive and fused it to their colon, which then enabled them to pinpoint where his wife, Claire, is being kept. Or something. I’m pretty sure that’s how they said they did it. The point, though, is that now Claire’s screwed. The Hampton Inn safe house where she’s been staying — with its super-secure lobby full of strangers coming and going at all hours, multitudes of friendly, unvetted staff members and key cards that can deactivate if they brush too close to your cell phone — has been compromised. It’s time for the three FBI agents protecting her to call up that new tech lady, have her log onto Priceline and book them a room somewhere else.  

Oh, wait. Claire is refusing to go until someone tells her why she isn’t allowed to watch television anymore. Game of Thrones and Mad Men are both starting up again! Even though she’s worried sick about her son, she still has needs! Call Me Nick (the follower) tells Hardy he needs to call Claire up and convince her to move. “On what? Some sort of handheld device that can be used to communicate with people who aren’t in the same room or city or even country? Good one!” The tech lady rolls her eyes but bites her tongue. Hardy insists on going to see Claire in person: “This is nonnegotiable.” I thought he was supposed to love her, but I guess to him love means ensuring the worst thing happens to that person, since there’s no way Hardy plus human beings equals a happy ending. And I had this thought before various characters explicitly spelled this out for me later on in the episode.

Meanwhile, Jacob, in a nice and cozy bed at Ravenclaw House, has a dream hallucination about Paul taking a shower and Emma dead and covered in blood in the tub. He wakes up and goes exploring. Joey is psyched to see him and gives him a tour, “That picture on the wall … and that one … and that one … is of a dead writer named Ethan Allan Poe or something who everyone here won’t shut up about. I guess he wrote about murder and stuff, sort of like the guy who wrote the book that the TV movie The Shining was based on but a lot gorier and more senseless. That jolly maternal lady told me she’s making a needlepoint pillow with his face on it. Can I call my mom now?” Emma sees them and asks to talk to Jacob alone, but Jacob refuses. She leaves, Joe enters, and Joey gives him the cold shoulder. Jacob tells him not to be rude to the serial-killing father who kidnapped him. Joey is all, “Whatever.”

We meet two new followers, brothers who we later learn aren’t related by blood. They were foster kids adopted by the same militia group. “Constitutional extremists, actually,” one of them corrects Roderick. I’m into when this show throws out funny lines. Makes me think that the people who are making it aren’t taking it all that seriously (in the right way, if you follow) and so we don’t have to either. Now if only it promises to never eroticize murder again and we’d be good to go. Joe orders Roderick to go on the Claire mission. Roderick says he has to work. Joe’s mouth says, “You’re going,” while his eyes say, “Or else I’ll toss out a Poe quote and you’ll willingly allow me to knife you to death while thanking me.”

At the Hampton Inn, Claire and Hardy are reunited just as Roderick and the militia brothers arrive. One of the brothers compliments a tourist kid on his shades and a hotel security guard is immediately suspicious. He radios up to the room. The three FBI agents make a plan: remove Claire from the hotel without calling for backup. They do that thing that football players do where they pile their hands on top of one another and then brrrreaaaak!

On the surveillance screens, Hardy, Claire, and one of the FBI agents see Roderick and the brothers machine-gun down the other two agents. Hardy is all, “We need to get you out of here,” to Claire, but I think that maybe it still takes a minute or two before this happens. The followers kill a housekeeper and steal her master key card. They go door to door, unlocking and then checking each room. Each time, they don’t see Claire they yell, “Clear!” which if someone hasn’t already optioned this scenario for an Airplane revamp, I’ll do it myself.

Hardy runs with Claire to his car, but one of the militia brothers is there and he grabs her. He holds his gun to her head but Hardy, having learned from recent past experiences, points out that there’s no way that the dude’s going to kill her. He grabs Claire back and they speed off. The militia dude shoots at Hardy’s tires and Hardy thinks, What a jackass! The FBI would never tolerate such bullet-wasting!

Joe tells Jacob he needs to try and make up with Emma. “But she left me for dead,” Jacob tells him, and Joe doesn’t say, “Well, dead is what our whole nonsense philosophy is based on, so in a way, you should feel flattered.” Jacob agrees to try and goes and finds Emma, all curled up on Ravenclaw’s sofa, doing a charcoal sketch of Joe. She hides the sketch and tells Jacob that she loves him and only left because she needed to protect Joey. Jacob says he doesn’t believe her, that she had plenty of time to take Paul and him too. For some reason he doesn’t throw in her face all the phone calls from him she didn’t return or answer after she had gotten away and was safely at Ravenclaw, which seems like extremely ground to be pissed at her for. Ghost Paul hovers about, warning Jacob not to trust Emma and wishing he were still alive so he could be spending his afternoon having threesomes and sketching portraits instead of having to watch a bunch of random aspiring serial killers playing pool.

Hardy takes Claire to the safest place he can think of (which is not his apartment in Brooklyn, which is Agent Parker’s best and only guess as to where Hardy and Claire might be): the home of his best friend, Tyson. Tyson used to work for the FBI, too, but he got on the mob’s bad side or something and so now he’s living in witness protection. So Joe took a woman whose very dangerous husband will stop at nothing to find her to the doorstep of a man who is living there in order to not draw attention to himself. I know it seemed like a good plan, Hardy, on the car ride over, when you were saying it to yourself in your head, doing different voices for all the parts. But really, it’s not.

Tyson and Hardy bond over past times, which seem to solely consist of fun discussions about Hardy’s Book of Joe (which I had totally forgotten he’d written! I really can’t wrap my head around this show’s whole finishing the story/a new chapter begins thing) and Hardy’s “death curse” (cancer, gunned down cop, 9/11, etc.). Flashback Tyson doesn’t have a beard, which is in keeping with this show’s conviction that different hair arrangements will distract us from noticing that everyone’s the same age in both the past and present. Claire drinks her wine. Hardy adds some water-bottle vodka juice to his. Hardy leaves the room and Claire asks Tyson about Hardy’s other girlfriends. He says the most serious one was named Molly and there’s a flashback to Hardy making out with some woman in a club. But, Tyson says, there was really ever only one lady in Hardy’s life, Claire. Before Claire has a chance to properly swoon over this line, they realize that the militia brother had tagged her sweater with a tracer. Joe’s followers know where they are!

Again, no one suggests calling backup of any kind. I wouldn’t be surprised if, off-camera, they doused all electronic communication apparatuses with gasoline and set them on fire. They also don’t posit a scenario where the three of them get into Hardy or Tyson’s car and drive to the FBI. Instead, Tyson takes out an open box of ammo, the kind that will blast through a bullet-proof vest and says they don’t have much so they’ll have to make it last. He smiles at Hardy all, “Just like the old days except sans the literary critique,” and Hardy smiles back.

Hardy tells Claire to stay upstairs. She says she wants to talk about their relationship. He’s all, “Is this really the time?” and she gives him some uncalled for attitude considering he definitely has a point there. At least Ghost Paul doesn’t have Tyson’s secret house address, so he doesn’t have to haunt it and listen to another wack couple try and communicate their feelings. Claire tells Hardy that they’re both such wrecks that “who else would have us?” That must be the wine talking. She says she loves him. He says he loves her. Then he says he has to go downstairs and botch her rescue really fast, but they’ll continue this conversation later, he promises.

They do a scheme where Tyson holds the tracer and stands by the back door so that one of the militia brothers thinks that he’s Claire. Then Tyson shoots him dead. “One down, two to go,” he tells Hardy. The followers also don’t call backup even though past episodes made it seem like either they had secret friends everywhere or their known friends were able to appear at a moment’s notice as soon as they were given the word. I guess the capturing of Joe’s wife, one of only three people he’s concerned about in the world, just isn’t a high enough priority. It’s more important that all those other followers at the house stay in their many rooms, lying on their many beds, merely daydreaming about helping their murderous idol while staring at their many ceilings. I know that when you heard, “One down, two to go,” you thought, Oh, great, then I guess it’ll all turn out okay then. They’ll simply shoot down the second one, followed by the third and be done with it. Claire will get a chance to polish off that bottle of wine. Maybe they’ll even play Apples to Apples if they’re not too tired. But sorry, guys, you’re wrong about this one. Tyson gets shot, like, badly. Hardy and Claire lay him on the floor and neither of them look like they think he’s going to make it, even though they tell him he’ll be fine. Then both Hardy and Claire leave Tyson to, as far as they know, die alone.

Hardy goes off to do something, and Claire slips out the back door. Roderick is in his car with the other militia brother. She pulls a gun on them, but then they remind her about Joey and how they’ll be happy to take her to him. She shrugs, “Sure. Sounds good. Can’t be any scarier than hanging around with Hardy, even though I love him, don’t get me wrong. Can we stop and pick up some more wine on the way?” She gets in a stranger’s car for the second time of her own accord and they drive off.

Emma comes into Jacob’s room and they start doing it. He has a tattoo on his back of which I fear is a Raven quote spelled out in Chinese characters. Ghost Paul appears. Jacob stops having sex with Emma in order to have a word with Ghost Paul in the bathroom. Ghost Paul gives Jacob a knife and tells him that he has to kill Emma. Can a ghost knife kill a living person? Jacob instead stabs Ghost Paul. Oh, good, because I was hoping to see a gory stabbing scene of a person who I felt relieved to not have to watch die a gruesome death last week. Jacob comes out of the bathroom and he tells Emma that he killed Paul. I mean, he tells her about the first time, in his parent’s cabin. He doesn’t tell her about the second time he killed him, in the bathroom just then. Emma tries to comfort him, but Jacob tells her she better watch her back, he’s done his first murder and he’s got a real taste for it now. (Ahem, just like I predicted last week!)

Oh, and there’s also some business with a website that the tech lady hacks into. There’s a graphic of Poe morphing into Joe and then a preview for Fear Dot Com, which is weird since isn’t that movie like ten years old? Agent Parker drags the cursor over a corner of the screen and discovers a secret cyber door. The tech lady is annoyed that Agent Parker is stepping on her turf, but again, she keeps silent. She’s biding her time until the staff Christmas party when she’s going to drink Claire’s truth serum wine and let them all have it. The cyber door unlocks a video of one of Joe’s followers wearing one of those Poe masks and telling people who are watching to send an e-mail and then wait to be contacted.

Joe works his charismatic magic on Joey by asking him to teach him how to make s’mores. You just know that’s how he got half those people in that house to follow him. Tyson doesn’t die. He’s in a coma. That hospital is going to be full pretty soon if the FBI keeps sending all of their unconscious people there. I wonder if Weston and Tyson can communicate with each other somehow, like through telekinetic text message. Hardy is looking sad because the death curse turns out to be even worse than he thought it was. It’s a death-plus-coma curse! His phone rings. Now he turns it on. It’s Joe, blathering about something. Hardy tells him he’s done. Joe is all, “You can’t quit because your chapter isn’t over! You haven’t been brought back to life! Gibberish noise sounds! Quoth the Raven quoting man!” Hardy looks even sadder and then hangs up on him.

Photo: null/Sarah Shatz/FOX