The Following Episode 1.03 “The Poet’s Fire” Review
By Carol Tacker
The Following keeps the heat up in Episode 3 of the series. The man we saw set on fire by the person in the Poe costume at the end of last week’s episode is the book critic who wrote a scathing review of Carroll’s novel, “The Gothic Sea.” The man in the Poe mask is named Rick (Michael Drayer), and Carroll’s following grows by one more murderer. We meet Rick’s frightened and crying wife, Maggie, who comes across as an abused and pathetic person who fears her husband. He stabbed her some time before all this, there is hospital evidence of that. But the beauty of The Following is the viewer can never be sure whether someone is who they appear to be.
Agent Parker (Anna Parisse) tries to schmooze Carroll (James Purefoy) for information, instead of relying on Hardy’s (Kevin Bacon) “in your face” method, but it does not go well. What they do get from Carroll is that he holds three people accountable for his current state of affairs. Those three people are Hardy, the burned up book critic and the professor who denied Carroll’s tenure. Hardy recalls interviewing that professor years ago, but by the time they get there, Rick has already killed him too.
Meanwhile, the kidnappers are still not getting along. Paul tries to make peace with Emma but she doesn’t buy it and cuts his hand with a knife. Note to Paul: If Emma has a knife in her hand, avoid. Remember what happened to her mom. Sick of being a third wheel, Paul takes the car and goes into town and ends up kidnapping a nice Asian woman named Meghan (Li Jun Li). He takes her back to the house where they hold Joey, and shows her to Jacob, after binding her in a chair. In flashback it is revealed that Paul and Jacob really did became lovers during their stint as a gay couple, so that explains Paul’s angst over Emma and Jacob’s rekindled romance.
Agent Parker is interviewing Jordy in the hospital and when she promises him a visit with Joe Carroll, he slips and tells her that Rick’s wife Maggie knows where Joey is because she set up the arrangements. When she leaves, Jordy chews off his own bandage to commit suicide by choking himself, but it’s inconclusive if he succeeded. Meanwhile, Maggie is at her home being guarded by the unaware Agent Reilly (Billy Brown), who has been in the other two episodes as a solid part of the team. Surprise. Maggie stabs him in the throat to escape the house, where husband Rick hides outside. She manages to get away, but in the struggle, Hardy kills Rick.
Again, The Following graphically reminds us that no one is safe, not even a cast regular like Reilly, and anyone, like supposedly poor, abused Maggie, can be a follower. To better understand Carroll’s ability to orchestrate this mayhem, Hardy flashes back to when he originally met Carroll and how the man was so charming and convincing and strangely seductive that even he fell for his act at first. He blames himself for not seeing through it.
The closing segment is a chilling video of her son that Claire (Natalie Zea) receives. The clip shows Jacob showing Joey how to burn bugs with a magnifying glass and smother them in jars. When Joey says, “I’ve never killed anything before,” Jacob tells him “We’re just getting started.” Mom realizes, “They are teaching him how to kill.” Given his paternity, that is a scary conclusion indeed.
“The Poet’s Fire” was a particularly gruesome episode with lots of blood. So far I count six known followers, although Rick and maybe Jordy are dead. The body count tally is at twenty-eight, give or take a couple cop victims (the original thirteen sorority girls Carroll killed, the fourteenth victim Carroll got when he escaped, plus the three prison guards when he broke out, approximately four dead cops who were guarding the targets, the three sorority girls Jordy killed, Emma’s mom, the book critic, the professor, and Agent Reilly) for Carroll and his followers, plus one possible suicide by Jordy, and one dead follower thanks to Hardy. This episode alone accounted for two new followers and four victims, one death by cop, and one possible suicide. At this rate, there should be full employment in Hollywood, at least for a guest death. Violent, yes, but so far the gripping story still outweighs the shudder factor. I remain an enthusiastic follower, but not in the way the title suggests.