'The Following' recap: It's only 'Chapter Two'

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"The Following" -- "Chapter Two"
FBI Specialist Debra Parker (Annie Parisse) and Ryan Hardy (Kevin Bacon) dive deeper into the history of Joe Carroll's psyche in the "Chapter Two" episode of "The Following."

Don't trust anyone.

If that message wasn't abundantly clear from the premiere episode of "The Following," it certainly rang loud and true in "Chapter Two." Even Claire Matthews (Natalie Zea) points out that she can only trust Ryan, but, seeing as he's an obsessive alcoholic with heart problems, we probably shouldn't.

Still, for better or for worse, former agent Ryan Hardy (Kevin Bacon) is the only agent we trust who isn't one of serial killer Joe Carroll's disciples.

Cult or not a cult?

This episode introduced us to agent Debra Parker, who immediately appears less than thrilled to be working with Hardy and even more unwilling to call Carroll and his disciples a cult. Too bad for her.

If you'll recall, Claire's son, Joey, was kidnapped at the end of the first episode by his nanny Denise and supposed gay duo Jake and Paul. After some digging, the team learns that Denise is really Emma Hill. When the team storms Emma's childhood home, the writing is on the wall… literally.

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Surrounded by passages from Poe covering the entire house, floor to ceiling -- mixed in with some seriously creepy drawings of the author himself and women bleeding from their eyes -- agent Parker gives in.

"So, we have a cult," she says. "Carroll is using Poe's work as a religion. He's speaking to people through Gothic romanticism… Find the ones with additional disorders: jackpot. Enter a handsome, charismatic man who can touch them, make them feel their lives for the first time, conditions them. The only way to truly live is to kill, or some crap like that… I run the bureau's alternative religion unit. Did I not mention that? Cults, my specialty."

Something is not quite right about her…

Romance run amok

Desperate to get her son back, Claire visits Carroll in prison, only to be asked the questions that made up the mysterious letter Carroll sent Claire one week before his escape from prison. The subject matter: Claire's relationship with Hardy way back when. Of course, it's through this interaction that we finally get some answers as well.

Turns out, their fling lasted only about two months and didn't really start until after Carroll's trial and the divorce was finalized. The last question -- which presumably was whether or not Claire loved Hardy -- finally incited her rage.

"I don't know is the answer," she snapped. "How could I love anyone after you? You destroyed me."

But the Claire-Hardy-Carroll love triangle wasn't the only fraught romance ruling this episode.

[Related: Natalie Zea: 'The Following' defies expectations]

Turns out, Emma and Jake (Nico Tortorella) are a hot item, and have been for several years. Furthermore, they met on a blind date… set up by Carroll, natch. Deeper into their relationship, Jake comes over for dinner to meet Emma's mom. When Mom starts getting flirty, Emma stabs her to death, cementing Jake's affections for her. He think's she's "amazing." Obviously.

In the meantime, Paul, who insists he's straight despite spending the past few years as half of a pseudo-gay couple with Jake, is acting a bit jealous of the happy psycho pair. Worse yet, he really doesn't like kids and keeps looking at the prodigal son, Joey, as if he could snap his neck at any moment. Danger, Will Robinson!


'Score for the Village Idiot'

As expected of that oaf of a minion, Jordy (Steve Monroe) went ahead and killed a small handful of sorority girls. Then -- yikes! -- he's after Claire.

Thankfully, Hardy and the crew were tipped off that Claire was in danger while going through blueprints found in Emma's house. Among them: the map of Claire's basement.

When Hardy gets upstairs, Jordy has Claire in his grasp. After a quick duck-and-cover move that looked way too rehearsed, the former Mrs. Carroll is safe and Jordy's been shot.

After that big showdown, our Hardy boy visits Carroll for another chat, where he learns that the action was all part of the killer's plan… and book.

"I was hoping you'd save her," he said. "A heroic victory by the leading man cements the love story. … Jordy was a mere puppy compared to some of the games I have in store for you. … The challenge, Ryan, accept it. We've barely even started."

If that's not enough to give you the willies, the look on Joe's face when he learned that Jordy is alive certainly will.

Lingering questions and theories

  1. Who is the masked man? Toward the end of the episode, a masked man -- presumably the same masked man who knocked Hardy out at Emma's house -- lights a man on fire in broad daylight. We're guessing this guy is named Rick (could be Nick?), as Jake and Paul make reference to a Rick who "got away" from Emma's house and wants Emma to call him.
  2. What's in the book? In a final scene from the episode, agent Parker -- who's gotta be bad, right? -- passes Carroll a copy of "The Complete Tales and Poems of Edgar Allen Poe," but we're guessing this isn't just some light reading for the man who's already a total expert on Poe. Oh, no. This isn't our first trip to the prison show rodeo. We're guessing the pages have been carved out and something is hidden in that tome. What could it be?
  3. What happened between Claire and Ryan that caused them to split after just two months? Was it his drinking?
  4. As Ryan asks in the promos for next week, do we really believe there are only about six disciples of Carroll? Seems unlikely. Especially given that there were eight or nine different handwritings found in Emma's house. This goes deeper. Count on it.
  5. What's up with agent Mike Weston (Shawn Ashmore)? They really haven't given him anything to do. It's hard to get a read on him, but suffice it to say that we're willing to bet that just about every character is bad news bears.

Watch the full episode:

Did you like this episode? Who do you think is on Team Joe and who lands on Team Ryan? Are these forces of good and evil really as black and white as they seem?

See what the Twitterverse had to say about the episode:

"The Following" airs Mondays at 9 PM on Fox.