Picking up from the last episode of The Following, from a slightly different vantage point, we see the Edgar Allen Poe masked street performer waiting for his ‘Victim’. The man tells someone on his cell phone to call his editor if he doesn’t like it. Newspaper guy, no doubt.
At FBI HQ Ryan discusses the cult with agent Parker. As they pour over items retrieved from the Raven’s nest, Ryan recall’s Carroll as a man of ideas, flashing back to a lecture Carroll was giving on how characters can and should have their own moral code.
Jordy awakes but is absolutely useless. Ryan goads him a bit, but the loyal Jordy isn’t giving up any information, but he does do a mean rendition of the theme to The Greatest American Hero.
Back at HQ it turns out that the man the Poe imposter burned was on of Carroll’s critics; on the pieces of confetti the performer through in the air are quotes from Poe.
Jacob approaches Paul about warming up to Emma. I’m still a little confused about what the tension is here, but regardless it is thick and palpable.
At HQ, Mike Weston nails the identity of the Poe Performer: Rick. They descend on his house and find his wife, Maggie, hiding in a pantry. She springs out with a knife and Ryan disarms her. Back at HQ Ryan and Park question Maggie who reveals she has been separated from Rick for six months. She reveals that Rick tried to stab here and a flashback confirms this, she also mentions his creepy “new friends” and Rick had become dark and depressed. Parker tells her they will assign protection. Ryan seems to doubt her story, but Parker believes him.
Paul approaches Emma on his own and apologizes for his behavior. He says he wants to be friends, or at least pretend. He holds his hand out to shake her hand and she surprises him with a butcher knife, slicing his forearm and warning him not to turn Jacob against him.
Parker begins her first sit down with Carroll by praising his progress so far, then by calling his act of torching his critics “Petty.” A double edged appeal to his ego? He replies amused, “Oh my, has someone been playing with matches,” and we flashback to him meeting Rick while in prison. Rick explains how he prefers fire, and how he wants to target the people who hurt Joe professionally. Carroll makes the comment that he only blames three people for his downfall. After a few moments something clicks in Ryan’s mind and he exits the observation room in a hurry.
Ryan tells Parker that the three people who brought about Joe’s downfall are himself, the critic that was already burned, and a professor that had denied Carroll tenure. The rush to reach him, but somebody else is way ahead of them:
In the office of the professor, we find Rick laying in wait. The professor enters, there is some verbal interplay, and Rick stabs him. So much for being a fire purist.
The team arrives to do the post mortem. Ryan is particularly hard hit, telling Parker that he blames himself for not putting the pieces together soon enough. Parker tells him to stop, because Carroll is expecting him to torture himself over these things.
Back at the kidnap house Jacob snaps pictures of Emma and Joey, Joey again asks to call his mom. Paul, watching them, has a flashback to planning embedding as a gay couple. Emma tells them to try it out and kiss. The kiss is far less than convincing. Is the tensions between Parker, Jacob, and Emma really about a homosexual rouse become real? Paul grabs the car keys and leaves, telling Jacob he is a liar on the way out.
Ryan calls Claire with Rick’s credit card statement. He begins to list off toys, and Claire confirms that they are toys that Joey owned. Ryan tries to reassure her with the fact that they are buying him toys, but Claire won’t be convinced Joey is safe until he comes home. Ryan takes the statement to Maggie, but before they can talk Rick calls her. She puts him on speaker phone, they banter for a sec, he asks if Ryan is there and says “Tell Ryan it was all for him.”
Parker assigns Reilly to protect Maggie at home and specifically forbids Ryan from joining him in the protection detail, Ryan naturally pays no heed and Weston plays enabler.
Paul visits a local convenience store and winds up picking up a girl named Megan.
Ryan and Weston are sitting outside of Maggies and Ryan has a flashback to meeting Carroll to discuss the murders, discussing eyes and Poe’s symbolism as it relates to the murders. Carroll enjoys helping out way too much.
Paul and Maggie make out for a bit. She tells him there isn’t going to be any sex, so he does what every good sociopath would do and smashes her head against the car taking her prisoner.
Parker takes a shot at Jordy, telling him that Joe wants to see him and she is willing to make it happen if he provides information.
Agent Reilly and Maggie engage in a little small talk when a thumping resonates through the house. Reilly goes into ‘I’m checking this out mode’. No one at the door. He drifts through the silent house, ready for anything.
Back to Parker and Jordy. Jordy cracks, he doesn’t know where the kid is but he slips and reveals that Rick and Maggie are together and working as a pair. Parker calls Weston, but he and Ryan are a distance from the house.
Inside, Reilly notices a text coming in on Maggie’s phone. She asks what it says and it says “Now”. Maggie suddenly and viciously stabs Reilly in the neck. Ryan and Weston arrive and Hardy heads to the backyard to stop Maggie from escaping. He finds her about to descend over a rock wall and holds his gun on her. Rick tries to sneak up behind him but Ryan is too fast and shoots him in the gut. Maggie, meanwhile, escapes. Reilly. Dies.
Back at the kidnap house Paul introduces Megan to Jacob and Emma. Paul asks if Emma knows how much of a liar he is. Jacob says they promised they wouldn’t tell anyone, especially Emma. Another flashback reveals there was some homosexual exploration going on in their past. Back in the present, Jacob helps Paul take Megan to the basement.
At Rick and Maggies house, Parker is experimenting with self-loathing. She beats herself up over believing Maggie. This triggers a flashback for Ryan and his meetings with Joe. They have what seems like authentically friendly banter, and it is believable that as we see more of their past we will see Ryan and Joe become friends long before he figures out he is a killer. Ryan recalls this to Parker, trying to take the edge off Parker’s guilt trip. He admits that he himself was taken in by Joe, he knows what his followers feel.
As he elucidates the hypnotic power of Joe Carroll over his followers, we are treated to intercut scenes of Jordy choking himself on bandages. Ick.
Back at Claires, she has received an email; a video of Jacob teaching Joey how to torture bugs and mice. “They’re teaching him…” Claire says. The video ends with Emma telling Joey to say “Hey Ryan”.