I just finished reading former FBI agent and often-Hollywood consultant John Douglas' new book "Law & Disorder." For reasons that are not relevant to go into here, Douglas was one of my favorite authors in junior high and high school, when I was going through a major true crime and forensic analysis phase when it came to media. His criminal profiles always echoed in my ears when I would watch crime shows, and I would shake my head at the writers for taking too many liberties, crossing too many jurisdictions, cutting too many corners-- I still do. But in his new book, Douglas focuses heavily on the death penalty, why he feels it should be not only instituted in every state but also carried out accordingly, as well as when and where it has both succeeded and failed in high profile cases. I feel pretty strongly that Douglas would think Joe Carroll (James Purefoy) should have received the death penalty. If not for the initial murders of the co-eds he killed almost a decade ago on FOX's The Following, then at least for his recent prison escape and orchestration of the kidnapping of his own son. He still would have found fans, because his case was high profile enough to be splashed all over the news, but he wouldn't have been able to inspire the kinds of acts his followers have carried out on his behalf. It's kind of a wonder why he wasn't re-sentenced, this time with the death penalty, when they caught him after that recent escape.
But it was no wonder why he has mastered pulling so many strings while sitting behind prison walls. The FBI has always been a couple of steps behind Carroll in his plan, even when Hardy (Kevin Bacon) stormed the farmhouse and came thisclose to taking Joey (Kyle Catlett) home. But in "Let Me Go," it really became apparent just how far behind Carroll everyone else is. Claire (Natalie Zea) point-blank asked Parker (Annie Parisse) how many followers Carroll had amassed, and she couldn't even answer; she had no idea. So while Claire can give a really detailed description of Charlie (Tom Lipinski), right down to the fact that he served in the armed forces, she has only heard of Roderick in passing. He's a type, a mystical figure, right now. There is no solid way to get to him, no indication that Charlie has ever even truly met him in person. Emma (Valorie Curry) is suddenly the least of their problems, even though she still has Joey.
Carroll could even get to his current prison warden's family, having a not-quite follower kidnap her and hold her in a cage until it was assured Carroll got the transfer he requested. It was a little ridiculous to see his lawyer build a case for a transfer around the fact that Hardy broke a couple of his fingers upon a visit a few weeks earlier. For one thing, the visit was after an escape and Hardy wasn't even acting as a member of law enforcement. For another, it's a known fact that prison guards institute way harsher beatings on their new inmates in order to show them who's king in that not-quite castle. Don't believe me? Just ask Damien Echols. Or at least read the chapters about him in Douglas' new book.
Now Hardy is deputized, though, once again an official member of the FBI team tasked with finding Joey and all of Carroll's followers. And now, Parker actually gave him permission to hurt one such follower in order to get answers. They say you can never get too comfortable with the characters on this show because any one of them can go at any time, and while usually they go by way of gunshot or knife wound, Parker may just go by way being taken off the case. As much as these guys (especially this particular sniveling little half-wit followers, not worthy of Carroll's attention) might deserve to be inflicted with half the pain that they have caused, the FBI still has to play by the rules.
In this case, though, breaking the rules lead them to saving a victim-- just not the one they had been looking for this whole time.
From the minute Mike (Shawn Ashmore) found out that the warden had a college aged daughter, suddenly it made sense why he caved to Carroll's lawyer so quickly-- and who that seemingly unrelated girl in the crazy man's cage was. At first he was made out to be just a run of the mill psycho who was lending himself to Carroll's cause even without believing in it (the way he sneered at Emma said as much and made me wonder if he was being paid). The girl in the cage, at first glance, seemed to be his own personal project. But Mike's discovery made the pieces click into place for me long before the episode actually connected the dots. She wasn't just another random like Megan (Thankfully! It's too early for this show to start repeating character tropes!), and she wasn't a trap for Joey to shove him into the cage. She was a part of this, in a very important way.
But speaking of Joey, that little boy is my personal hero. He is so much better at survival instincts and at sympathizing with other people in trouble than anyone else on this show! ...Although, I really don't know why the word of a stranger is something he takes at face value. Especially when that stranger didn't deliver his mother as planned and is currently keeping him in the same location as a girl in a cage!
Both the warden and Olivia thought they were doing what they had to do in helping Carroll escape-- again-- but the truth is they played into his hand, foolishly believing he'd be honorable, too, and only escape, not drag them down with him. They both actually deserved to die for such stupidity and being accessories to the crime. I couldn't see either of them getting the death penalty, but thankfully Carroll, and probably the general inmate population where the warden once provided, took care of that.
I am, however, oddly fascinated by Carroll just waltzing around, meeting new followers out in the open. I admit I thought his initial escape came in the helicopter following the transport, so it was poetic and fitting that his eventual escape was through a helicopter, even if a different one. He looks damn good in a suit, but you'd think he'd be somewhat recognizable, what with having his face constantly splashed on the news and all. That was my biggest WTF moment of this episode and maybe even the whole series. That and the fact that he was trusting two unknowns to him to get him to safety. You might say it's crazy they would trust him, but no, they clearly looked up to him, so they had blinders on. And also, they had weapons. Even if they were so infatuated with him they wouldn't attack, even if he tried killing them with his bare hands, well, if I were him I'd want some kind of extra assurance.
Though I admit I missed the presence of Jacob (Nico Tortorella) and Paul (Adan Canto) in "Let Me Go" (I swear to Carroll, if they let Paul die off-camera, I will never forgive them!), the episode had something I was waiting a long, long time for: another face-to-face between Carroll and Hardy outside of the interrogation room. I admit I assumed the only way we'd get more of those would be through additional flashbacks, so to see them standing in front of each other in the stairwell as Carroll mistakenly called this a novel warmed my dark little heart. Though the tension wasn't what it would have been if Carroll truly wanted to kill Hardy, the emotional effect was still great. You put those two in a room together, any room, and sparks fly. I worry now that Carroll is "free," there won't be many more of those moments to come this season.
However, I'm insanely excited to get to see a new side of Carroll-- one with his son. We got a glimpse a truly sensitive, paternal man at the tail end of tonight's episode, and those were things I wouldn't have guessed him capable of. The first thought I had when the zombie-like followers filtered out of that house was that they were not worthy enough to take part in the plan, so why should they be worthy enough to meet the legend himself, in the flesh? Seeing Emma step out of the pack made my heart soar, because at least she got rewarded. She really earned that hug, and it was impossible not to feel happy at that encounter. She so clearly loves Carroll, but more importantly, she worked so hard for this moment, and even if I can't condone some of the things she's done to get there, I have to acknowledge her impressive accomplishment.
And then I knew Joey had to be there, too, and all I wanted was to see the show pick up where episode three left off: lessons for Joey in turning into his dad. Don't send me angry emails about wanting a kid to be a killer; that's not what I mean. I merely want to see the show explore the question of whether or not environment and teaching is enough to turn someone into a killer. Because I deeply believe it's not, and I'd bet the writers of this show would agree, and I'm so sick of people saying things like that-- and like violent TV shows-- are the causes behind some of our recent tragedies. But anyway, I digress because I know that is not where this story is going; Kevin Williamson said as much. And I don't really want to assume or guess where this story is going; I merely want to get swept up in it and let it take me there. I had no idea they'd bring Carroll and Joey face-to-face so early in the story, and it makes me realize that just like the FBI, I, too, am a few steps behind Carroll. He really has seemed to think of everything.
The Following airs on FOX on Monday nights at 9 p.m.
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