luke kalamar is all tied up …
Plot: Following the discovery of Joe Carroll’s (James Purefoy) recruitment video, Ryan Hardy (Kevin Bacon) and Debra Parker (Annie Parisse) set out to find where it’s coming from. Their search leads them to a fetish bar in New York where follower Vince McKinley (Christopher Denham) is a regular guest. Meanwhile, Claire Matthews (Natalie Zea) receives an unexpected invitation from Carroll, and Roderick (Warren Kole) is growing frustrated with current events.
Last week’s episode of The Following ended in a very unexpected fashion. Not only did Claire give herself up to Roderick so she could return to her son, but it was also revealed that Hardy’s ex-girlfriend Molly (Jennifer Ferrin) has some connection with Carroll. Honestly, this ending mainly bemused me for the most part. I had no idea what role Molly played and why the show felt the need to introduce her now. Plus, how exactly is Hardy going to cope with the fact that he failed to protect Claire once again? I expected answers regarding these two scenarios, and thankfully “Whips & Regret” gave me all the information I needed. However, this episode was hampered by the supreme predictability of the main story.
The main focus of the night was naturally Hardy trying to continue his investigation against Carroll while suffering because of Claire’s departure. Carroll’s recruitment video is one of the freakiest things this show has ever given us and after its big reveal last week it’s no surprise it played a major role in helping Hardy get closer to Carroll. Naturally the FBI and their computer geniuses would be able to find where the video was coming from, so all we really had to do was wait. The revelation that the owner of the computer source was a relatively normal fetish bar owner named Hailey Mercury was a surprising moment too. I’m really glad that she didn’t turn out to be a follower and was instead an unwilling assistant to their plot. The decision for her to help the FBI was a good moment this week too, and I’m glad that there are still some good people amongst a sea of crazy.
How exactly Mercury was going to help the FBI is where problems arose. Naturally Mercury was going to wear a wire when Vince came to pick up his chemicals, so I really have no issue with that. I’ve seen plenty of law enforcement dramas to know that having a wire helps in these situations. However, having a wire tends to come with a very obvious price in fiction: The person is ALWAYS found out. Seriously, have you ever seen someone get a wire and not have their cover blown? This allowed the rest of this story to follow in a very predictable fashion. Mercury is picked up, the FBI follows, they go to a random location, Mercury is found out, FBI storms in, Mercury is saved, and information is gained. That’s basically as cookie cutter as you can get.
Hardy and Parker wandering around the dark tunnels of the training facility was a great moment tonight and an excellent homage to those classic “wander in the dark, evil is everywhere” horror fiction scenarios. I started to feel mighty uneasy and even a bit scared when those caged up people got out and were wandering around the darkness. Truly nothing is scarier than seeing something in the darkness and then having it vanish right in front of your eyes. It was also great to learn how exactly Roderick and his teammates have been able to amass such a massive army of rabid followers. The whole idea that almost everyone is probably an indoctrinated psycho is a whole new level of crazy for the show. Plus, how about Vince hinting at some massive killing? This is most likely what Roderick was referring to earlier in this episode, but it never got a solid answer. I look forward to learning more about this.
The Jacob (Nico Tortorella) and Emma (Valorie Curry) situation took a massive backseat this week compared to his return in “Guilt,” and I’m honestly quite okay with that. We all know Jacob is pissed at Emma and Emma will do anything for him to forgive her. We don’t need to see that hammered in anymore than it already has. What their brief moment together did instead was show how much of a shift in character Jacob has made following Paul’s (Adan Canto) death. He’s now cold and holds no compassion, not even to Claire despite her being his dear leader’s wife.
The other two events in the follower house were both pretty great as well. Claire’s dinner with Carroll was naturally full of tension and anger, all of which was directed at Carroll. Both Zea and Purefoy did a good job finding that balance between having a peaceful dinner and having a furious outburst right around the corner. As for Roderick, I like how this week showed him at odds with how Carroll is doing things. It’s only natural for Roderick to have developed a fondness for being the leader after Carroll was in prison for so long. Now it seems like a thread is barely holding the group together in that house. Will there be a rift so bad that Carroll and Roderick separate? We’ll have to see.
Lastly, the revelation of who Molly really is was a nice added touch. I mean, being a spy for Carroll to keep an eye on Hardy was definitely top of my list of “Things Molly Could Be,” but that doesn’t mean I don’t like the idea. It’s surprisingly new for this show to have a follower revealed without the FBI knowing about who they are first, so this basically makes Molly the classic wolf in sheep’s closing. Whether or not Molly will actually attempt to take Hardy’s life remains to be seen, clearly, but I definitely expect to see some kind of internal struggle take place.
“Whips & Regret” was a pretty solid episode of The Following thanks to its answers to last week’s events and introduction of some deep tension between Roderick and Carroll. However, it is the massive predictability of the main story that really held this episode back and took me out of the experience. I would’ve been more surprised if everything went right! But hey, that’s television for you.
All Photos Credit: Giovanni Ruffino/FOX