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The Following Recap: Freedom!

Hey, guys, this is going to be my (and Vulture's) last Following recap. The show has gone so far off the rails that next week I’m pretty sure that Joe and Lily are just going to have their people stab every character to death halfway through and we’ll be watching an empty room for 30 minutes.

As far as closure goes, I think I may have finally figured out why Joe’s followers are so easily swayed into becoming serial killers. Up until now, I had a few theories bopping around my head — the bloodlust that a rousing game of ping-pong brings out in people; the possibility that they were all descended from minotaurs and thus were made murderous but the the color of Corbin’s uniforms — but none of them seemed exactly right. After this episode the answer seems so obvious that I can’t believe I didn’t think of it until now. Joe’s followers are the happiest people on Earth. And it’s driving them mad.

Followers of Joe get giggly over the idea of just standing in clusters on the sidewalk. This phenomenon is known as lingering. It’s what happens at the end of the night when you and all your friends have decided the night’s over but you still have to stand in the cold not saying anything real for a few minutes before you can go home. There’s nothing fun about it, as any miserable person will tell you, but for Joe’s Followers, it’s the best. Their joy over everything cannot be contained. They love life so hard that it’s spilling over into a love of death.

Of course, they still have to be shown this and that’s where Joe steps in. He’s training the Corbin cult members how to become killers just like him, so that they can then go out into the world to murder people and eventually get murdered themselves while he stays behind at the campground, warm and toasty. He’s been meaning to teach Mandy how to make s'mores by a pressing marshmallows between pages from Poe pocket editions, but it looks like Mandy’s gone rogue. She’s craving a maternal figure and so she decides to flee from the care of one sociopath and into the arms of another: Lily Gray. She goes to Micah’s magic wardrobe, pulls out a laptop, ignores the glowing passage to an idyllic alternate dimension and types in the website Joe used to contact Lily in the first place.

Mandy is the last person on Lily’s mind, though. Right now she only cares about getting Luke back, her favorite son, the less creepy in one way and more creepy in another way twin. She buys a hotel franchise with her unlimited funds and does a Priceline search for the cheapest room. “It will be like a game,” she tells Mark, who’s been so traumatized by the absence of Luke that he’s taken to sucking on the drawstrings of his hoodie like he used to do as a little boy, “We’ll pretend we’re poor people running from the law instead of fabulously rich ones. Have you ever seen Running on Empty? We’ll pretend we’re like that family. I’ll be Christine Lahti and you’ll be Judd Hirsch. Oh wait! You can’t be Judd Hirsch. You’re not the twin who has inappropriately sexual feelings for me. Damn it, we really need to bust your brother out. There’s so many movies we can’t reenact without him here.”

Luke agrees and together they strategize about how to sneak their people into the hospital. “Maybe they could buy some medical personnel clothing and a gurney and just walk in?” suggests Luke. Lily slaps him and tells him to focus. That plan is ludicrous. Finally, after many hours, she knows what to do. First they’ll need to enlist a bunch of murderers. They’ll do this by walking through the hotel lobby asking for volunteers for a killing spree. They’ll have to turn people away, there will be so many. Then one of those murderers — preferably a smart, beautiful woman with a promising future — will hunt down a doctor and stab her in her car in order to steal her scrubs. The rest will go all stabby in a bakery, with the goal being that they will deliver wounds to two of their own people so that those guys can be admitted into the hospital where Luke is. Once in the hospital, those guys will then get up out of their hospital beds, grab a gurney and making their way over to Luke’s room by pretending too be a doctor and patient. Then there will be a lot of machine guns fired and everyone but Luke will die. And as you saw on this episode, that plan went off without a hitch.

The only thing Lily failed to factor in was how quickly the FBI and Hardy would arrive and for this they can hardly be blamed. She watched season one, too, and is baffled at how much faster the authorities are this time, how sophisticated their equipment has gotten. They now have ways of communicating information back and forth. Their squad cars are able drive on city streets instead of just rocking up and down in front of the supermarket, after you put a quarter in. Hardy’s also acting different. It turns out that he’s never had sex while sober before and so this is the first morning that he’s able to actually remember the experience. And it feels great! He’s a new man. He makes a fresh pot of coffee, wakes up the guards who have fallen asleep standing up in the hall and asks how would they like their eggs?  Then, of course, Mike has to show up being all pouty still about his three days deceased father. He’s also throwing some passive aggressiveness Hardy’s way, with his whole, “Max and I spent all morning searching for dangerous cults while you were busy, I guess.” Is Max on another show or something? Why wasn’t she on this episode? Now that Natalie Zea’s back, they can’t afford them both? All Claire does is hang out in a motel room. That can’t cost them that much. Even after she insists on the FBI taking her to Hardy, she’s just moving from one halfway soundstage to another hallway soundstage. For all we know, it’s the same hallway.

Emma wants to know what the hell Joe’s plan is. He tells her that it’s “the same as it’s always been” but even she isn’t falling for that again. She asks if he could be more specific and he looks panicked. He starts flipping through the pages of the Bible and then looks up smiling. “Poe was never the answer” he says, a sentiment which I’m sure we have all thought to ourselves at one time or another. Then he starts spouting about how it’s been about religion this whole time and if this new reverend character that’s being introduced to us just now wants a holy war, he’s going to get it. Emma seems satisfied with that for now and she goes off to find Robert who wants to go over some new comedy material he was thinking of doing at Corbin’s open mic night.

Just as Hardy is getting over his death curse, he’s inflicted with a new one: a life curse. The door to his apartment opens and there’s Claire standing there, exactly the same except for her confusing new hair color choice. Claire now has to make a choice. If she stays with Hardy, she’ll never be able to see her mom and Joey again. I can’t speak to the merits of her mom, she may be the most wonderful woman in the world but as far as Joey is concerned, it’s a no brainer. The cushions on Ryan’s couch have a more dynamic personality. The members of Corbin have more to say!

If this decision sounded familiar to you, by the way, here’s why: It’s the exact same plot as the movie Splash. Remember, when Madison has to choose between going back home or living with Tom Hanks in New York City forever? In the end, Tom Hanks ends up going back with her, which hurt my brain so much when I was a little kid. It was before CGI and so you just see the two of them swimming together in real water with their eyes open and it doesn’t look like a fun way to spend the rest of your life at all. If The Following, however, were to end with Hardy and Claire jumping into the East River and just swimming off, I’d take back everything I ever said about it not having a master plan all along.

Photo: FOX