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The Following “The Poet’s Fire” 

Photo Credit:FOX
Photo Credit:FOX

The old saying is “Revenge is a dish that is best served cold”.  That’s not so in tonight’s episode of The Following.  In “The Poet’s Fire”, revenge is the theme, but the method is by fire.

Like a good deal of the viewers, I was caught a little off-guard by the torching of the victim at the end of last week’s episode.  After all, Joe Carroll (James Purefoy) is all about the eyes, and up until then, the murders all involved the removal of the victim’s eyes.  However, we learn that our new follower, Rick Kester (Michael Drayer), isn’t very good with the knife and claims to have a “gift” for fire.  After pointing out to Carroll that many of Edgar Allen Poe’s works focused on revenge, Rick convinces Carroll that his “chapter” in Joe’s sequel will be about revenge, and the method of execution should be fire.  With Carroll being a teacher and wanting to encourage his new student, he decides to allow it.  And, who are Rick’s targets for revenge?  They are the people who impeded Carroll’s professional advancement – a critic who gave his book a bad review, the Dean of Literature who denied him tenure, etc.  Of course, I suspect that Agent Hardy (Kevin Bacon) is at the top of that list, but that really doesn’t matter because Carroll’s end game is Hardy’s death anyways after he gets done playing with him.

For the most part, I thought that this particular plot was weak, even with the twist of Rick’s wife, Maggie (Virginia Kull), being involved and their working as a team.  Each and every follower of Carroll’s that we’ve seen has been a loner, with no tangible relationships in their lives.  They are lost, alone, looking for a purpose.  It doesn’t make sense for a married man to be a follower, when he has a perfectly willing wife at home who doesn’t appear abusive or undermines him.  The only scenario that made sense is if Rick and Maggie were working together, which is exactly how it turned out.  Regardless of the plot being predictable, Virginia Kull’s performance as Maggie Kester was extraordinary.  She fooled me, and she fooled the best, including Agent Parker (Annie Parisse), which ultimately cost an agent his life.

With Agent Parker being down on herself by being fooled by Maggie as the battered wife, Agent Hardy goes on to remind her that he was fooled too – and by the master himself.  This is where we see the flashbacks of when Agent Hardy and Carroll first met.  In these scenes, we see how Carroll manipulates Hardy, knowing exactly what to say and do and playing him like a fine violin.  Just like all of Carroll’s students, Agent Hardy is completely mesmerized by the man, and catches him completely off-guard.  To him, Carroll is almost like a buddy or a friend, and he doesn’t realize that the monster he is hunting is right before his eyes.  With late nights and fine scotch, Carroll has Hardy wrapped around his finger.  Both actors gave Emmy-worthy performances in these scenes, just absolute brilliance.

Photo Credit:FOX
Photo Credit:FOX

So, the big question is what is Carroll’s next move?  The gay neighbors who actually turn out to be gay (or at least bi) along with clueless Emma (Valorie Curry) still has Joey, and we still don’t know what Carroll’s plan is with kidnapping his son, aside from torturing his ex-wife.  And, just how many more followers are out there?  I certainly doubt Rick and Maggie are the last ones, and the next one is ready to step up and take Rick and Jordy’s places in a heartbeat.

All in all, this episode was a decent one, and while it may have lacked in depth of plot, the fantastic character development and actor performances made up for these deficiencies for the most part.  I’m still waiting to see if/when the series is going to get out of the “serial killer of the week” routine.  Executive Producer Marcos Siega has said in previous interviews that the series will not lead in the direction that the Pilot hints at, meaning that the series isn’t going to revolve around a new cult member popping up each week.  As of episode three, it still remains to be seen what direction that will be.

The Following airs on Monday nights at 9 p.m. EST on FOX.


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