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The Following “Mad Love” 

Photo Credit:FOX
Photo Credit:FOX

Ryan Hardy (Kevin Bacon) is not one to reveal much about his personal or family life at all.  He strikes me as a very private person, and it hadn’t surprised me that even after three episodes, we still know next to nothing about this reclusive former FBI agent. Fortunately for us (maybe not so much for Hardy), a good deal of Hardy’s private life is forced out in the open in tonight’s episode by one of Carroll’s (James Purefoy) followers gone rogue.

After Hardy kills Rick Kester last week and his wife, Maggie (Virginia Kull), escapes, most of us probably knew the grieving widow would be back soon with a vengeance. This is especially true after we learn that Maggie Kester is an alias for Margaret Schuller, a female serial killer from Arkansas.  With nine murders already under her belt in Arkansas alone, Maggie was already a pro when she met Carroll for the first time in prison, and for that, Carroll called her “special” and saw her as one of his most promising “students”.  However, what Joe failed to see is that a woman is driven more by emotion than by passion or logic.  What’s more, when you’ve enlisted an army of personal serial killers, for that to work requires steady access to the teacher or mastermind behind the operation.  Prior to Carroll’s escape, he had visiting and mail privileges on death row, and so all of his disciples could contact the master during any moments of weakness or doubt.  However, now that has all been taken away, and you have soldiers like Maggie, acting out of blind rage and grief and not thinking rationally. It is not part of Carroll’s plan to kill Agent Hardy with his new book just beginning, but for Maggie, it doesn’t matter because Hardy must pay for killing her husband.

How does Maggie accomplish this?  She kidnaps Hardy’s only family – his sister, Jenny (Susan Misner, Person of Interest).  In a series of flashbacks, it appears that Ryan and Jenny are very close, as she has been helping him for years with his mental issues and alcoholism after Carroll is caught and Hardy is forced out of the FBI on disability.  Maggie Kester is clearly not thinking straight, but she does have enough forethought to come up with a clever way of killing Hardy – shut down his pacemaker.  Her rationalization for the entire thing is because Carroll stabbed Hardy in the heart and did not succeed in killing him, her actions would be like finishing Carroll’s work (even though killing Hardy means ending Carroll’s entire plot and “sequel”).  I certainly don’t think Joe would be pleased.  Fortunately, Mike Weston (Shawn Ashmore) had talked Hardy into letting him tag along to meet Maggie, and so kills Maggie before Hardy’s pacemaker completely shuts down.  So, that’s three of your followers dead now, Joe.  That doesn’t sound like a very good track record to me.

With the introduction of Jenny, we also get to see more flashbacks of Ryan and Claire’s relationship and what exactly went wrong.  Hardy gives a self-righteous speech about how he’s a broken man and his hanging around will only continue to remind Claire of Joe.  Gee, Ryan, let me get my violin out, and we can cry ourselves a river.  The irony of the situation is that there is no one that can understand the pain that both Ryan and Claire are suffering.  No one else besides Claire will be able to understand Ryan’s injury and the fixation on Carroll that led up to it.  And, no one else besides Ryan will be able to comprehend being married to a serial killer and actually conceiving a child with him.  Both of them are frozen in time, and the cure is each other.  But, Hardy is blind to that fact and stands by his pious beliefs — at least for now.

In the midst of all of this, the situation is getting worse for Emma (Valorie Curry), Jacob (Nico Tortorella), and Paul (Adan Canto).  Here, the writers throw us for a loop, and an unlikely alliance is made between Emma and Paul as Jacob’s secret of having never killed anyone is revealed.  We see in flashbacks Jacob admitting this to Carroll, but like a good teacher, he encourages his student and probably hopes that when the time is right, he’ll be able to follow through.  Valorie Curry does an excellent job in these scenes, and I swear I thought she was going to get a knife and stab Jacob in the gut, just as coldly as she did her mother.  But, she doesn’t.  Instead, she tries another approach.  She starts to get it on with Paul, not because I think she really wanted to, but to bring out a more primal instinct – jealousy.  We don’t know much about Jacob’s past, except the fact that he was a shining star at an Ivy League university before joining Carroll.  Carroll gave him a purpose, a girlfriend, and he has a very strong bond with Emma.  If my theory about Emma is correct, then I think Jacob may be losing his murder virginity soon, with Paul serving only as a pawn.

The big question is what is Joe’s grand plan.  In the Pilot, it appeared as if each episode would spawn new serial killers or “followers”, but so far, that hasn’t really happened.  And, with Joey close to being found, we should be seeing soon what Carroll’s next move is.  Joe Carroll is a brilliant man, with this entire scheme having been plotted for years.  So, whatever is next in Carroll’s sick game, expect it to be big.

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

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