The Following “Chapter Two” Review
REVIEW OF THE FOLLOWING: Episode 1.02 “Chapter Two” by Carol Tacker
We begin the second episode of The Following with another sorority house massacre. This one occurs at Delta Rho Gamma at Winslow University. Jordy, the dog killer in the pilot and the errant prison guard who helped Joe Carroll escape from prison, shows up just as one of the girls who lives there unlocks the front door. He is dressed in a cop’s uniform, and although he is sweating and a little creepy, he fools her into believing he is a cop and he wants to check all their doors and windows. She mentions they caught Carroll, but he is just being cautious, he explains. We all know what’s going to happen, except her. She clearly does not watch scary movies. In one of the rooms, he pulls in a bundle from the window and says it’s his “kit” and it’s important “to have the right tools”. The killing begins, but thankfully not on screen.
Next up, Ryan Hardy (Kevin Bacon) talks to Joey’s mom, Claire (Natalie Zea) at her house and tells her he believes Denise, her trusted nanny orchestrated the kidnapping of Joey. Claire is incredulous and brings him Denise’s references. Cut to Joey running out of the car he was in with Denise and the “gay” couple who lived next door to the young doctor Carroll killed just before being recaptured. He is screaming, but we soon see it is all a game with him as he starts laughing when one of the men, Jacob (Nico Tortorella) playfully tackles him on the green lawn of a beautiful white country mansion. Joey asks Denise if he can call his mom and she sweetly tells him he can’t because his mom doesn’t want anyone to know where he is. She reminds him that they are “on an adventure”. The scene shifts to the “gay” couple and Paul (Adan Canto) tells his “partner” Jacob that he hates kids so Jacob reminds him “Not this kid”. When Jacob starts kissing Denise, we begin to believe the gay romance was just a pose, but are we right? Seems to be a little something there, at least for Paul.
Joey isn’t the only one who has gone missing. The female agent of the pilot episode, Jennifer Mason (Jeananne Goossen) has been “sent off to Quantico” for improperly controlling Hardy, and the new female agent Debra Parker (Annie Parisse) has taken over due to her expertise with cults. She doesn’t like the word “cult” or “acolyte” however, preferring to refer to the followers as Carroll’s “accomplices”. Hardy tells her he wants a gun if he is going to stay on the case and she says she’ll take his request under advisement. (This is a plant with a payoff later). When they get the call on the sorority house murders, they discover, once again, the victims’ eyes have been gouged as before.
Meanwhile Carroll wants to see his ex-wife, Claire. In flashback she tells Hardy she never wants to see him again, but she goes because of her missing son. He asks her intimate questions about her affair with Hardy, which she answers in hopes of finding out where her son is, but instead Carroll lunges for her and grabs her throat in his fist. In close up he has the dead eyes of a shark in that otherwise handsome face, as she is rescued.
Back to the big white house where Joey is being held. His room there is almost an exact replica of his room at his mother’s house, even down to the specific toys. He is elated. But then he asks Denise (who’s real name is Emma Hill) why his father is such a bad man and she responds maybe he is just misunderstood. Turns out Denise was a groupie for Joe Carroll even before his arrest. Flashback to 2003 where she goes to his book signing and gushes praise for his critically panned novel, “The Gothic Sea”. In the creepiest moment of that meeting, he brushes her then long hair from her face and says, “You have such lovely eyes, Emma, don’t deprive us of them.” He inscribes his book, “To Emma, Hopefully yours, Joe”. Truly a skin- crawling moment. When he meets her flirty semi-trashy mom who obviously finds him attractive and who believes her daughter is a dud, Carroll recognizes Emma is someone with Mommy problems and will be easy to manipulate, so Denise/Emma becomes his early acolyte.
Real time again and Hardy and the other agents go to Emma’s childhood home in Petersburg, Virginia and find it stacked with used food containers and pizza boxes and decorated with Poe graffiti, Poe masks and images of women without eyes. Suddenly one of the rubber masks comes alive as its wearer lunges at Hardy and says, “You know you’re going to die, only not today” and runs away. Agent Parker admits, “We have a cult.”
Things are not copacetic at the big white house. Paul has admitted to Jacob that he doesn’t see what Jacob sees in Emma. Clear that Paul has feelings for Jacob that go beyond make believe gay couple. Emma overhears and as Paul leaves she tells Jacob he is acting like a “jealous little bitch”. Jacob tells her it’s just an adjustment after they were alone with each other for three years. She tells him that her being with Jacob is what Joe wants. This is proved in flashback where Joe, being visited in prison by Emma, sets her up on a date with Jacob, another of his followers. She is smitten with him and has him over to her home for dinner. While she is cutting up vegetables, her flirty mother tells Jacob she can’t believe he sees something in Emma, since most boys don’t and her daughter plunges the chopping knife into her mother’s back and kills her.
Back to that house in present time, and the team finds the desiccated body of Emma’s mother in the wall, a la Poe’s “The Black Cat.” Hardy also sees pictures of victims, along with a picture of Claire bearing the legend “Nevermore” scrawled beneath her image.
At Claire’s home, a young cop escorts her upstairs so she can rest, and as she is brushing her teeth we see legs descend from the hall ceiling opening to the attic as Jordy comes down and kills the young cop and then traps Claire in her bathroom. Meanwhile, Hardy has figured out one of the maps at Emma’s old home is of Claire’s house. He rushes over there and kicks open the bathroom door to find Claire on the floor with Jordy pointing a gun at her head. Jordy orders everyone out but Hardy. As she leaves, Agent Parker slips a gun in the back waistband of Hardy’s trousers (the payoff for the earlier plant). Jordy explains to Hardy, “I have to kill her and you have to watch,” or Hardy has to kill him. Hardy shoots him, but not lethally.
When Hardy confronts Joe in prison Joe assures him, “I hoped you would save her.” Hardy demands to know what is the end game since Carroll is in prison, and Joe responds, “The hero must answer that question.” Hardy returns to Claire’s place. She is in her son’s room, cuddling the same stuffed toy he has at the white house, and she asks Hardy to stay as she trusts no one else. He assures her he will. Cut to the boy, also asleep, with Paul staring at him from the doorway with a very intense expression. When Paul walks down the hall, he sees Emma and Jacob having sex in another bedroom and looks devastated. Trouble brewing over that threesome, probably not what Carroll intended.
The end shows Agent Parker delivering to Joe’s cell a thick volume of the collected works of Poe. The bed is empty and then suddenly Carroll appears from the side of the glass window of the door, his shark’s dead eyes fixed on her.
The last scene is the man in the Poe mask, who threatened Hardy, is on the street, wearing the mask and costume. He suddenly douses a passerby who is talking on a cell phone with gasoline and lights the fire. More mayhem to come, as promised.
In this second episode, The Following managed to keep the fear and intensity going, while also giving the viewers a deeper look at the followers and their motives. By doing so, the people, good and bad, become more fleshed out and real which saves the show from being just a string of grisly murders and nothing else. We do want little Joey to be rescued. We do want Carroll to pay for his crimes. We do want to know what really went on with Jacob and Paul. We do want to know if Hardy and Claire can put it back together someday, and we begin to wonder, could someone on the FBI team also be a follower? At least I wonder that. Having a bunch of “wants” to be answered is a good thing when trying to hook an audience, and I am good and soundly hooked on this one.