You know the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women campaign? I propose a Following-related tweak: Go Red for Ryan. After all, as the latest episode reminds us, the former FBI agent and his heart need all the help he can get.
Hardy’s busted ticker is at the center of this week’s offering, which is titled “Mad Love” but which, unfortunately, does not involve a mid-’90s Chris O’Donnell trying to talk a butterfly-bedecked Drew Barrymore off the ledge. (The hour does offer a very interesting group-shower scene, though, so we’ll call it a draw.)
So let’s don some red for our flawed hero and review this week’s major developments, shall we?
A WOMAN SCORNED | The FBI uses details from the video Claire received at the end of the previous episode to extrapolate Joey’s location, but the process takes a while. In the interim, Ryan and Debra discuss how Jordy choked himself to death on his own bandage. (I’ll say it again: That’s dedication.) Ryan gets a call from someone named Jenny but lets it go to voicemail as he interrogates Joe. Hardy taunts Carroll that he killed Rick, but gets ta reaction he doesn’t expect. “Oh, I’m delighted to hear that! You’re getting your mojo back,” the prisoner gushes. Ha! He realizes Ryan wants information about Maggie and, for once, gives it to him: She went on a killing spree of her own in Arkansas years ago and got away with it, and her real name is Margaret Schuller.
Jenny calls again. As it turns out, she’s his sister, a Brooklyn-based chef from whom he’s slightly estranged, thanks to his drinking and generally terrible views on life and happiness. He picks up the phone and is surprised to hear Maggie on the other end telling him, “I’ve gone off-book;” she demands that he come to New York, alone and unarmed, to trade his life for his sibling’s. And because that worked out so well in the pilot, he agrees. Ryan won’t tell Debra the nature of the personal matter that demands his immediate attention, so she sends Mike to follow him. In full-on Jimmy Olsen mode, Weston lets Ryan know he knows what’s going on and that he’s coming along, the eventual dressing-down be damned.
NO SLEEP ‘TIL BROOKLYN | Their road trip is pretty great for two reasons: Ryan’s utter disinterest in bonding with the young agent, and Mike’s fearlessness in calling his car buddy out for being such a jerk. (Though I will have to issue them a demerit for the complete lack of snacks. I know your sister is in grave peril, Ryan, but there are very few situations a bag of Red Vines and a 20-oz. Diet Coke won’t improve.) Once they arrive at Jenny’s restaurant, Ryan blindfolds himself per Maggie’s instructions… and winds up knocked out and duct-taped to a table while his similarly restrained sister looks on from a chair.
Earlier in the episode, we see Maggie kill a guy and steal his car after buying some powerful magnets at a home-supply store. Now she tapes them to Ryan’s chest in order to mess with his pacemaker and kill him – thus getting payback for Rick’s death and completing Joe’s long-ago murder attempt — and it seems to be working. To pass the time while Ryan’s slowly kicking the can, how about flashbacks? We see the first time Jenny met Claire (they hit it off) and Claire asking Ryan for details on his family during a lull after lovemaking. “It’s kind of a downer,” he tells her. He’s not lying. Mom died of leukemia when Ryan was 14; Dad, a retired cop, bit it when he walked into a corner-store robbery. Older brother Ray was a firefighter who died on Sept. 11. The Hardy family, its only remaining son surmises, is cursed.
MIKE TO THE RESCUE | In the present, we hear the ever-slowing thump-thump of Ryan’s failing ventricles. (Side note: I’m totally OK with this as long as the show doesn’t only trot out his heart problem when it’s storyline-convenient. For instance, I don’t recall him having a lot of trouble sprinting after the baddies last week…) “It’ll be soon now,” Maggie promises, cutting him loose so he falls to the floor and some of the magnets fall away from his chest. Is she that cocky? On a related note, am I insane, trying to find logic in the actions of a crazy person? (If only I had some Red Vines and a diet beverage to help me figure it out!) But Mike sneaks in though the side door Ryan left open; he shoots Maggie and rips the remaining magnets off Ryan, saving the day.
Ryan and Jenny have a brief check-in, which lasts just long enough for him to tell her to disappear for a while and for him to remember her telling him, after his 2005 break-up with Claire, that he “can’t go through life alone.” Then he’s back in Virginia, letting Claire know that the FBI is narrowing in on her missing kid: Joey is likely in Duchess County, NY. She offers to make him breakfast but – remembering how he told Jenny he doesn’t want to be a constant reminder of her tough times with Joe – he declines. (Ryan, honey? She’s got a far bigger reminder of her tough times with Joe at the moment; girlfriend might just want some support. Take a waffle for the team.)
LIAR, LIAR… | At the followers’ farmhouse, the kidnapped stock girl is alive and in the basement. Jacob sums up the situation with “This is not cool.” Ha! Emma’s worried that Maggie hasn’t checked in, but Paul says there’s an even bigger issue to contend with: Jacob’s been lying to everyone about something really important. “I don’t care how much you fooled around,” she tells him breezily. “Jacob’s not gay.” But Paul’s referring to something darker: “Jacob’s never killed anyone. Ever.” She’s gobsmacked, a development in which Paul revels. “God, I wish you could se your face right now,” he gloats.
Emma instructs her boyfriend to kill the girl (whose name is Meghan) and makes it clear that she knows his little secret. But in the basement, Jacob just can’t bring himself to slit their captive’s throat. Sensing his apprehension, Meghan promises not to breathe a word if he’ll just let her go. He flashes back to a jailhouse visit where he confessed his kill virginity to Joe, who proved an understanding confidant. “I want to,” Jacob says earnestly. “One day, you will,” Carroll reassures him.
But that day’s not today. Jacob cuts the girl free and she bolts from the cellar, nearly clearing the property before Emma realizes what’s happened and calls Paul to help her bring Meghan back. For reasons I can’t figure, Meghan does not make for the road and start beating it back to town. Instead, she loops all over the grounds and winds up in the stables, where Emma and Paul find her. Emma gives her a good one with the knife but doesn’t kill her; Jacob later finds Meghan re-bound and re-installed in the basement.
… PANTS ON FIRE | Upstairs, Emma gets ready to shower off the mud she acquired during the chase. It’s a light moment for the two psychos who just hunted another human being like she was a rabbit. “We both love him, Paul,” she says, starting the shower and beckoning him near. “Don’t freak out. It’s not like we’re gonna get it on,” she jokes. (And that person you hear yelling, “The Following, you are a cruel tease!” is so not me.)
When Jacob makes his way upstairs to tearfully apologize to Emma, he finds her – in her bra – with Paul – in nothing? I can’t tell (and believe me, I checked) – standing under the stream. “We’re not giving up on you,” she says. They welcome him into their shower party, and Jacob launches a thousand fanfics as he steps into their embrace. It’s sweet. It’s messed up. And I really like the way it changes the dynamic among those crazy kids. (No seriously, they’re insane.) Also, um, who’s keeping an eye on Joey?
Now it’s your turn. What did you think of the episode? Sound off in the comments!