The Following Recap: Campfire Ladies

Photo: Giovanni Rufino/FOX
The Following
Episode Title
The Messenger
Editor’s Rating

I didn’t think I’d ever say this, but next to this new cult we’ve got going, Joe’s suddenly makes a lot more sense. At least his followers are united by a common interest: a psychopathic need to kill. I imagine Joe’s speech to Micah about that, by the way, written sort of like a game of hangman, with all the writers crowded around the computer, each suggesting a new word when it was their turn, excited to find out themselves why Joe does it. Micah’s cult has come together based on a shared need to … slow dance? Back slap, gently? Because they all find a terrible beauty in red being worn over red? Weak.

So after Micah unlocks the cabinet full of guns and surveillance footage screens in order to hand Joe a copy of Joe’s own book that they then don’t proceed to read, Micah then goes to his wall safe, enters the combination while standing a little off to the side so Joe can get a good look, has Joe hold the stacks of money, fake passports, and bottles of arsenic bills for minute so he can reach the back and then pulls out his vision board that just has the words “kill people” glued on it, really sloppily, I actually understand why Joe fails to take him seriously. Where Joe loses me is when he says “You still need to find people who have a desire to kill” as though this is some insurmountable challenge. If The Following has taught us anything, it’s that everyone is one Simpsons Halloween special loosely based around an Edgar Allen Poe story away from becoming a homicidal maniac. In fact, Micah’s followers share many of the traits Joe sought out in his own: warmth; robust social skills. a love of life; a lack of self-consciousness when it came to “woot wooting”; an Instagram bio that was just the bikini emoji next to the little martini glass.

Not that Joe’s the only one overdosing on self-righteousness. What is with the attitude in this episode? It was out of control. Emma walking around calling Micah’s followers crazy and acting so offended that they tried to kill her, when her own former cult as well as every one of her relationships has either been based on wanting to stab the other person or hoping to be stabbed by them one day. I can see why she’d be jealous of Mandy — whose life has really been on the upswing ever since she killed her mom — finding a crush who she’s allowed to touch in public or private or ever, but it was uncalled for when she comes back to Joe’s room and is all eye-roll-y about Mandy crying after her crush is poisoned to death. First of all, that guy was one of the problem members of the group. How agreeable do you have to be to survive that place? Second, Emma loses her mind when Joe just goes out to get the mail.

Then there’s the reporter, Carrie, who could not be snottier after Hardy saves her from being dismembered, like, five minutes before. Hardy isn’t off the hook himself either. Considering Carrie is the reason (the writers hastened to add) Hardy got clean and sober (literally, since his shower is much more effective now that he’s disabled the vodka setting), he could be a little nicer to her as well. Maybe he’s really afraid she’s going to ask him specific questions about her book, which he clearly didn’t read. There’s only room for three books in his life: Joe’s book, his book about Joe, and the Collected Works of Poe, which he was totally about to start until he heard that Joe’s dropped the whole Poe as motivation thing and so now Hardy’s just using it as a coaster to keep the vodka bottles full of water he reaches for in the middle of the night. Old habits die hard. He did manage to get to Carrie in time to save her, although he could’ve maybe guessed what was about to happen before she entered the doctor’s house. He definitely didn’t have to wait until he heard the doctor lock all eight deadbolts plus the chain one.

Charles S. Dutton appears at Mike’s father’s wake. When he sees Max, he’s all “I understand your uncle has kept you quite busy,” which just reconfirms what I’ve always known; the Roc and I are dancing to the same beat. Yes, sir, I also find Max and Hardy’s relationship weird. Good job with managing to make the delivery of a sexual innuendo line not creepy. You’re a pro. He takes Hardy outside and asks him about his heart. “Bounced back,” says Hardy, pounding his chest for emphasis, and then looks nervous because he forgot that hitting solid steel makes a different sound than hitting flesh. Charles S. Dutton is too caught up wondering what’s he’s gotten himself into to notice. He tells Hardy that the FBI believes Joe’s alive and they need Hardy to help them catch him. He means they need Hardy as bait, right? But he’s just being too polite to say it? Hardy, of course, says yes, as long as he gets to call everything his way. Because that’s worked so well for him in the past. Inside, Max tells Mike that her dad died when she was young. “I know what this moment is like. Sometimes it helps to talk to someone who gets it.” And you can just tell that Mike is thinking, “Oh really, lady? You know what it’s like to have an exotic, billionaire art dealer helicopter mom exact revenge on the pummeling of her psycho son by stabbing your father on videotape while you watch?”

Max shows Hardy how to insert a flash drive, and because she’s a member of the younger tech generation, she’s able to identify two men whose faces are turned away from the camera as the same two guys covered up by other papers on Hardy’s bulletin board. Joe recognizes the doctor and Max clickity clacks her way to the discovery that the doctor lives a mile away from where Joe supposedly dies. Yeah, there’s no reason Ryan should’ve put that together while he was researching his book, spending day after day at Joe’s death site, often taking a stroll around the area in order to collect his thoughts. The doctor gives Ryan a speech about influence on Ryan, “I’m sure you have people in your life who unexpectedly speak to you even what you already know, but for some reason the message is suddenly clear. When the student is ready, the teacher always appears.” Ryan looks at him hopefully, like maybe Joe will appear. Maybe all it took was the chanting of the right spell. No such luck, though. It’s still just Hardy and the doctor and Carrie and yet another promising young person with a lust to murder. This kid actually does seem sort of off, though. He’d probably be put in charge of compiling iTunes playlists at Micah’s camp.

Going back to this thing about certain people resonating in your life. That’s obviously supposed to imply Joe’s effect on Ryan, which, out of all the stuff that doesn’t make any sense on this show, that really doesn’t make any sense. Because that would make Ryan also have a secret psychopathic need to kill. Right? Or is it more like Harry Potter, where Harry’s wand is made out of the same wood as Voldemort’s? Is that the rule? I don’t know, but I guess we’ll find out. I’m more curious to discover what Joe means when he says he and Emma have so much more to accomplish. Shouldn’t that sentence have been, “We have to finally accomplish one thing”? No wonder this guy’s books tanked.