The Following starts off mocking us with Paul and his finely god-carved body. Obviously we know that he’s dead, but his spirit continues to haunt Jacob. So far, we don’t know how it has affected Jacob. Your first kill stays with you, even more so when it’s a loved one. We’ve seen this in Emma, and how it could be used against her, now we see this again with Jacob and Paul. Throughout the episode, Emma and Jacob have a lot of tension, mostly over how she betrayed and left the two to die as she ran off with Joey, but also over the fact that Paul’s death has come from this. The episode is laced with their tension, as Jacob puts on a happy face for Joey, but is clearly distrustful of Emma. It ends with Emma and Jacob in bed together, but not the way we thought. After a haunting reappearance from Paul’s ghost, Jacob musters together enough anger to attack Emma, confessing his first kill to her and how she contributed to it.
Meanwhile, Joe berates Roderick for not getting the job done on getting Claire home. As I, and undoubtedly many others, have predicted, the power struggle has begun. One that will dominate the cult as the season goes on. Joe holds the reins to the livelihood of the cult, but Roderick is the one who has been keeping it afloat while Joe is in jail. When handing off the job to the paramilitary guys, he’s yelled at by Joe who tells him that he’s failed twice and this time he would ge the job done. For a character like Roderick, one who thrives off of power, having it taken away is not a satisfying feeling. But for now, he’ll abide by Joe’s rules, despite being hungry for more.
Joey continues to fend off his father’s advances, but Joe makes a small step forward in the form of the worst attempt to make smores. Seriously, I know he was trying to lure Joey out of his silent treatment, but did he have to crumble the graham crackers like he did? Joe’s attempt to use his wiles on his own son is a little questionable, as is his intention with him, but I don’t think Joey is actually at much risk. If anything he might be used as leverage against Joe when Roderick plans his inevitable coup. I want to see Joey have more interaction with his father as much as I want him to run away from all of this into Ryan’s arms. I just have a lot of mixed emotions when it comes to Joe.
The main part of the story this episode is Claire. She’s been in protective custody, but we know that the Following has pinpointed their location. Of course not everyone is positive Ryan Hardy should lead the group in her transport, but we know that Claire is the safest when she’s with Ryan. Claire’s reaction to the fact that Joe’s been killing girls with her name comes in two tiers, I believe. The first is realization, in which her reaction is sedentary and she accepts that her ex husband is an insane psycho killer who has some screwed up views of love. The second is prevention, in which she willingly gives herself over to Roderick, knowing that if she doesn’t worse things that killing innocent people could come of it. With her son in their grasps, it’s not hard to see why Claire hands herself over, but it doesn’t keep us from being pretty infuriated with her.
When Roderick and the paramilitary bros come for Claire, they are just one ste behind Ryan as he takes off with Claire. In the process of their attack on the hotel, more agents are gunned down as the guilt from the episode’s title is weighing Ryan down. It’s the same guilt that keeps Roderick from completing his job as the sheriff, forcing him to chase after Claire. It’s weighing down Emma in her relationship with Jacob. But Ryan’s guilt comes from years of people dying around him. Mike is still in the hospital, the rookies assigned to him are dropping like flies, the other FBI agents working the case are being shot off one by one, and Claire is at a constant risk of death/corruption.
As he heads off with Claire, they take off all tracking from the car and from their phones and head towards Ryan’s old friend Tyson’s place. Tyson is under witness protection and also a longtime friend of Ryan’s. Through a series of flashbacks, we learn about their history. His knowledge of Ryan’s relationship with Joe, as well as Joe’s first serious relationship with a girl named Molly. I doubt Tyson for about half of the episode, never sure when he’s going to betray Ryan and send Roderick after him, since we know that anyone can be in the Following, but when they find a tracker on Claire’s jacket and the Following hits them, it’s pretty much assured that he’s one of the good guys. Tyson takes a deadly shot to the chest and ends up in the hospital, much to Ryan’s dismay.
The attack comes in a whirlwind, as Ryan is tugged back and forth between keeping Claire safe and keeping his bff alive. It ends by drowning us in a hurricane of feelings. Ryan chases after Roderick’s car as Claire willingly steps into it, turning and whispering an I Love You as she is carted off into crazy ville. If he wasn’t so disoriented and heartbroken, I would have been angry that he didn’t try some how to track it.
In the end Ryan is left with nothing, yet again. Roderick has succeeded, finally, and Claire is brought back to her husband. Joe calls Ryan in gloating happiness, reminding Ryan once again of his failures to catch him. But Joe is not as secure as he thinks, the FBI team has found one of the methods of recruitment that the Following is using. A super creepy video with a secret door that leads to something that reminds us of an email subscription. Maybe Mike will come back and figure it all out while simultaneously healing Ryan’s little broken heart. Back at the creepy mansion culthouse, we end the episode with a shocker (one that my suspicious ass should have seen coming): Molly, Ryan’s first serious girlfriend, is in the Following. No doubt we’ll see this dynamic more in play as the season progresses.