I’d forgotten how icky Joe’s orgasmic murder sounds were until this week, when his true nature got the best of him. His victim was the local preacher of the one-whore town Joe’s been hiding out in for the past year. Some more details of how Joe ended up there emerged this week, not that they really helped clarify anything. This is the kind of backstory that only confuses you more as you get deeper into it. Here’s what we know so far: While Joe was in prison, a prostitute with a heart of gold wrote to him and told him that she could help change his ways. After he faked his own death, all the vast wealth and connections and fully furnished mansions that he’d collected until that point apparently vanished and he was forced to take refuge with the prostitute, in her brothel. She lived there as well, with her adopted teenage daughter, Mandy. Joe sat down at his typewriter and transcribed a scene from That '70s Show from memory and the next thing he knew, become his favorite character, Kelso. A scruffy beard grew like magic on his face and a trucker’s cap sprouted on his head.
With his disguise fully in place, he was able to pass off as the prostitute’s brother until he figured out a proper plan. Step one was learning how to use the Internet, because it turns out he’s just as bad at computers as Hardy. Another parallel! He’s having a hell of a time with it, though. He’s gotten pretty good at searching for summaries of Poe’s work on SparkNotes, but otherwise he’s useless. He asks Mandy if she’ll hack into the Baltimore Gazette’s classifieds section on her tablet and she’s all sure, while thinking, I just won’t tell him that by "hacking" I mean "Google search." He finds a code listing from Carlos with his New York cell number, which Joe writes down on a piece of paper. He’ll periodically take out that piece of paper for the rest of the scene. He never dials the number, just looks at it as though he’s hoping that if he stares long enough it will function like a Magic Eye picture and reveal a hidden, 3-D Poe quote.
The preacher’s fate is sealed after he pops in for a quick one with Amanda’s mom, but she’s out on a house call. She’s in such high demand that you’d think they might be able to afford nicer digs. I mean, nothing on the level of the accommodations that housed Joe’s independently financed cult or anything, but at least a new couch. Joe and Mandy had been sitting around watching a best-of episode on Joe’s sorority house murders when the preacher came knocking. Joe hears Mandy and the preacher talking from the couch for at least 30 seconds which you would think would give him time to change the channel to a That '70s Show rerun, which would result in a whole other revealed secret identity issue but a much more harmless one. Instead he just keeps the TV on the same channel, as it flashes one photo of his face after another across the screen. The preacher comes in, sees one of the photos of Joe, and is all, “Wait a minute … ” He tries to make it to his car, but Joe smashes his window followed by Mandy knocking him out with a shovel, even though she’s just spent an hour watching a special about all the young women he brutally stabbed to death. Joe’s just too charming! She doesn’t want him to get caught! If he goes to jail, he won’t be able to become a professor at the local community college she’s hoping to get into, so that she can study under Joe!
The preacher is tied up and then stabbed by Joe. Which is when that gross sound happens. I hate it so much. I wasn’t feeling super-great about how comfortable The Following was with the scene earlier, where the twins luxuriate in the murder of two innocent parents but that sound is just the worst. It makes killing into a sexual act, which Joe believes is true. Mandy’s eyes go blank after witnessing this trauma but instead of wiggling out of Joe’s grasp when he goes to comfort her, she just says that his mom is going to be pissed if she finds out what happened. I guess it’s slightly different that Mandy didn’t start off with a bloodlust like Joe’s other followers, but it also makes it all the less believable that she’d fall for Joe’s creepy ways in the first place. Maybe she really does think he’s Ashton Kutcher.
The rest of the episode weirdly felt a bit like filler even though it was full of terrible acts of violence. Is this what desensitization feels like? The twins murder a mother and father in their home while letting their child live. There’s a disturbing dinner scene with the corpses where the twins act like they’ve all sat down for a harmonious family meal. We also get a glimpse of how the twins are different from one another, which is that Luke is the more shut down about his feelings while Mark is more sensitive (he wears a hoodie). They decide for some reason to engage Hardy at this point, luring him to the murdered family’s house. Hardy, of course, refuses to allow his cousin to call the cops, mumbling something about how “Cops just catch bad guys and send them to jail; it’s so boring and predictable.” The same can’t be said for the FBI, who have been sent to protect the lone subway attack survivor, Lily, at a ceremony where she is being honored. The twins lure Ryan there as well, revealing first one of their faces to him and then the other, which is the same face.
There are three undercover FBI agents watching Lily, but none of them think to follow her to the underground marble hallway, with its many darkened passages, that leads to the parking garage. Not to worry, though, Hardy’s on it. He clearly has a crush on Lily, though, so as not to seem too eager, he waits a beat before getting down there, just long enough for her date to get stabbed by the twins. Then Hardy makes his move, shooting Luke, like, a dozen times in the back. This freaks Mark out, he starts chewing on his hoodie strings and pulling the cuffs down over his hands but it makes Luke just seem to feel more alive. They speed off while Mike and the rest of the FBI show up to chew Hardy out. They’re so used to giving Hardy the same speech Mike doesn’t even alter the words to fit this new situation. “You screwed up tonight,” he tells Hardy even though Hardy has finally managed to save someone in time. Then he gets all up in Hardy’s face and is like, “She was our only surviving witness, of course we sent agents to protect her,” completely leaving out the part where those same agents were too gorging on hors d’oeuvres to notice that their only surviving witness has gone home.
It feels like Emma is due for some bigger scenes too. I’m dying to see what look she’s going to try to pull off next. Do you think when she rides the subway and sees the advertisements for Nicki Minaj’s perfume she thinks, Wow, she’s totally a chameleon like me. Also, you would think that even is Carlos is bad at languages, he would’ve grasped some basic, reoccurring vocabulary by now. For example, the word kill, which just has to have been said by his crew a thousand times a day since they all started hanging out.