Violet recaps the season finale of Fox’s The Following, while Josh provides his commentary (in blue font). Following the recap, we also give our thoughts on the season as a whole, and share our guesses of what next season holds. Make sure you’ve watched the episode before you read past the jump, because this recap is filled with spoilers!
If you’ll remember to the end of the last episode, we left off with Joe taking Claire away in a boat, while a couple of Joe’s followers put Agent Parker in a coffin and buried her alive out in the middle of the woods. This episode starts off with the FBI watching surveillance footage of Parker being put into the trunk of a car parked behind the rec center. Hardy looks outside and sees someone walking up to the station wearing a Poe mask. They go outside to investigate, and it turns out to be a young boy wearing the mask because Emma had paid him $20.00. Hardy finds a phone number written on the inside of the mask and calls it.
Again, I am wondering what is going through the FBI Agents mind here. They don’t know it is a kid yet walking around for sure, or if perhaps he is wired with explosives. Why would they just let him walk right up, and take no precautions when talking to him?
We then find out that the phone number belongs to a cell phone that has been left inside the coffin with Parker, as she answers the phone and tries to tell Hardy where she is. The followers have made sure that FBI is unable to trace the location of the phone. Parker had tried to keep track of where the car went, but her description still leaves a very large area for them to search. Marshall Turner reports that the police found Alex’s car (the one that was used to transport Parker), so everyone goes to check it out.
This episode of the Following is starting to feel like the movie Buried, a movie that starred Ryan Reynolds who was buried in a box for the entirety of the movie. A bit claustrophobic for some viewers I am sure.
Meanwhile, Claire wakes up somewhere near the ocean, but when she goes outside, where she sees a lighthouse nearby, Joe meets her there with a gun and brings her back inside. Claire criticizes the fact that Joe is going to use a lighthouse as his ending, because it is too predictable, but Joe says that he finds the lighthouse ending “fitting.” Claire tells Joe that if he’s gonna kill her, he might as well get it over with. But Joe says he’s waiting on Ryan because Claire’s death will finally be the one that does him in. Claire also criticizes this move as predictable. Joe gets fed up with Claire and locks her in a room – where she finds an unfamiliar man already there. The guy tells Claire his name is Neil Meyer and claims that he sailed his boat up to this place, where Joe and the followers broke his leg and left him in this room. I was a little suspicious of this guy, considering that by now the show has trained us not to trust anyone, because apparently everyone is secretly a Follower.
Claire is seemingly trying to push Joe’s buttons here. Perhaps her thoughts are to force Joe to make some rash decisions that might lead her to being able to escape, or at the very least help avoid bringing Ryan into the mix and him dying too. Claire’s character in the past couple episodes of The Following has been brave, and really self-sacrificing to try to save others. I quite enjoyed her scenes in the last two episodes. As for Neil Meyer, I have my conspiracy theories of this person’s role in the show, which I will elaborate on later…
As Hardy and Weston check out Alex’s car, they discover that someone knifed the tire, and Hardy comments that they wanted them to find the car. Just then, someone starts shooting at them. Hardy asks Weston for cover, as gunfire continues to be exchanged. Hardy catches the shooter and asks where Parker is, but he plays dumb. The shooter is taken into custody, and Hardy asks Turner if he can transport the shooter. Turner replies, “Do what you need to do,” obviously knowing they’re going to get answers out of this guy however they can.
The shooter turns out to be Alex, actually, and he was specifically aiming for Weston. Weston got luckily however, and another agent walked right in front of the trajectory of the bullet, inadvertently saving Weston. Thank goodness! I am hoping Fox keeps Agent Weston round for season two of The Following!
Weston and Hardy drive the shooter to an abandoned building for “questioning,” where they beat him up trying to get him to tell them where Parker is. The guy taunts Weston, referring to when the Followers beat him up, but Weston gets some revenge on this guy. The shooter seems pretty resistant to reveal anything – that is, until Hardy shoves his thumbs into the guy’s eyes, at which point he spills the beans. Hardy quickly calls in the location.
We see in this episode of The Following both Weston and Hardy flying off the rails trying to save Parker. I thought both Kevin Bacon and Shawn Ashmore performed amazing during this interrogation scene. As a viewer, I could not help but hope they beat the tar out of this scumbag.
Claire and Neil try to look for a way out so Claire can go for help, but Joe comes in and takes Claire, who tells Joe that he should let Neil go. However, Joe mocks Claire for being “so bloody noble, always thinking of others.” He also reveals to Claire that he’s left a pretty big trail of breadcrumbs for Hardy to follow, so Hardy should be there shortly. Then Joe reminisces about when he and Claire were in love, saying that they were really good together, and that he’s going to miss her.
We can see that Joe is having a real hard time keeping “it” together at this point in the game. He is severely injured, and the plan hasn’t gone ideally for him. On top of that his nagging wife doesn’t appreciate the work he has done! Such a frustrating life right Joe?
Hardy and Weston are on their way to the site, with the shooter directing them where to go, while they are on the phone with Parker. She sounds very weak and subdued, and tells them to call her sister and parents to tell them she loves them. Weston tells her to stop talking and save her air, but she doesn’t listen. She tells Hardy that she is not his fault, she knew the deal. Both Hardy and Weston are almost in tears as Hardy tells her to please just hold on, and that they’re gonna be there soon. This was actually a very good, emotional scene, but the whole time I just kept thinking that this was going to end up like Buried, that Ryan Reynolds movie where he gets buried alive and, well, I won’t say how it ends in case you haven’t seen it.
As Violet has said, it was a very emotional scene. As a viewer you really want to have Parker rescued. I also wanted to scream at her to stop talking and keep the remaining air she had left! They were so close!
They arrive at the site and start digging her up, as the shooter taunts them saying that they “better hurry.” They finally reach the coffin and open it, but she is not breathing. Hardy does CPR, but it is too late. The shooter notices this and again taunts them, saying “Aww that’s too bad. Just a little too late. Bummer.” Hardy shoots him in the head. Part of me thought, good, he was really annoying, while the other part of me thought he got off way too easy. Anyway, so Hardy finds a manuscript of Joe’s book in the coffin. He reads a passage that describes exactly what just happened, with Hardy arriving too late to revive Parker. However, Hardy also notices that the book says that Weston is dead, killed from Alex shooting him in the woods. Weston comments, “So we can still change the story.” As Hardy skims the last pages, he sees that he must go alone, so he gets in the car and leaves, forcing Weston to stay behind.
Ahhh! I really wanted Hardy to toss this madman in the box and bury him alive. Of course, for Hardy he could explain off a head shot to the FBI, but trying to figure out a cover for burying a man alive isn’t going to work out no matter what excuse you try to cook up. What I thought was really great about Joe’s book was the fact that his story did not “predict” necessarily how the events would play out. I am curious to know what other events didn’t go as planned that we do not know.
Back to Joe and Claire, Joe asks when she knew he liked killing things, to which Claire answers, when Joe was arrested. Claire starts blaming herself for those girls’ deaths, saying she should have known. Joe tries to tell her not to blame herself, that she is the victim here. To prove that the girls’ deaths weren’t her fault, he goes and grabs Neil from the other room and stabs him to death while Claire watches in horror. It was a demonstration to show Claire what it is actually like to kill someone. Apparently he is offended that Claire is trying to take the credit away from him, as he angrily tells her not to take responsibility for his killings, he owns them, they are his. Guess Neil wasn’t a Follower after all. Either that, or he sacrificed himself like so many other Followers have done.
This was creepy scene, showing how deranged Joe has really become. Joe starts off sounding consoling, saying that she isn’t responsible, and it was all his fault. Then the darkness creeps in when he murders Neil, and he is appalled that Claire would think of trying to take his “work” from him. Very disturbing. Another thing that did bother me about this scene. Wouldn’t Claire have noticed something in Joe’s serial killing days when they were married? I would have to believe you would be able to identify something “off” in your husband if he was a serial killer.
Hardy pulls up to a building, where Emma is waiting. She tells him to lose his gun and phone, and to get on his knees with his hands on his head, that if he wants to see Claire again, this is the only way. He reluctantly complies, as a guy sneaks up behind him and stabs a syringe into his neck, injecting him with something that knocks him out.
I don’t understand Hardy’s requirement to go alone. Having backup of at least Weston seems to make sense logically. Again for the sake of the show, and the “drama”, The Following figures out how to lead Hardy off on his own, which as usual puts him in a situation that could have been avoided if he had a little backup.
Hardy wakes up and is in the room with Claire and Joe. Joe makes sure to point out to Hardy that the final chapter of his book was missing because they are writing it right now. He asks Hardy, How does it end? Hardy questions what his part is in all this, and Joe replies that Hardy has to be honest, and asks him when he fell in love with Claire. Hardy says he doesn’t know, but Joe says that the acceptable answer would be the first time he saw her. Joe tells him “We are connected,” referring to himself and Hardy. Then he asks Hardy when he realized he was the killer. Hardy tells Joe that he followed Claire to see if she would lead him to Joe, and Joe interjects “and then you fell in love with her,” and Hardy admits that it’s true.
Joe is about to angrily stab Claire in the eye, but Hardy stops him, saying it’s too predictable to kill Claire, and that Joe has to kill him because no one would see it coming. (Speaking of being stabbed in the eye, Agent Donovan has not returned after he was stabbed in the eye. I figured he’d be back by now, but he’s nowhere to be seen.) After throwing out several insults about Joe’s writing ability, Hardy touches a nerve and takes the chance to lunge at Joe, and is able to get a couple of shots off, as Joe runs away, and Claire yells “Go kill him!” as Hardy runs after Joe. After all Joe’s done, sure, he deserves to die, but to hear someone cheering someone else on to go kill another person sounds kinda gruesome and unsettling…
Joe is so weak for criticism! In his lunging at Joe, he manages to grab his gun, which is how he shot at Joe. What I have been wondering this whole time with Hardy being on the island, is where have all of the Followers gone? They are not going to assist Joe in his final chapter? Seems like they would be pretty useful about now.
Joe runs and hides in the boat house, as Hardy chases him. Hardy appears to be having trouble catching his breath, probably because his pacemaker is being strained. Oh yeah, his pacemaker, they haven’t brought that up in awhile. I’d almost forgotten about that half-hearted plot device. Anyway, so Joe jumps at Hardy from behind and a shot goes off, catching barrels of fuel on fire. The rest of the boat house quickly catches on fire, and Hardy throws Joe into the fire and runs out, just before the boat house explodes. Claire runs up to Hardy and hugs him, as they watch the house burn. Guess the pacemaker didn’t affect him much. Not sure where Emma and the other Followers had disappeared to at this point…
Kind of a letdown for Joe and Ryan’s final scene together I felt like. I was hoping for some dramatic, personal conclusion.
In the aftermath, we learn that the FBI has taken 7 followers into custody. They found a body, and will have official confirmation soon that it was Joe. Joey is being held in DC, and Claire gets a phone call from him. Hardy says he’ll take Claire to his place for the night and they’ll fly down tomorrow. Weston is very quiet, and when Hardy asks him if he’s okay, he says no. Well, Hardy, what’d you think he’d say after you ditched him like that?
Here is where my conspiracy theory kicks in. They found “a body” which they can’t seem to readily identify as Joe. Also, back before the explosion, Joe is not writhing in pain from being on fire. We also don’t see him actually die in the fire, we only see the explosive aftermath. Could there be a secret trap door in building he ran to? When he took off, he seemed to have a specific place in mind, and he didn’t seem too keen on trying to escape the blaze he fell into…
Hardy is at his apartment with Claire, and they get a phone call – the dental records match! Joe is officially dead. Meanwhile, in a bar in Mobile, Alabama, Emma (wearing glasses and a wig) sees the report of Joe’s death on the news, starts crying and leaves the room. Back at Hardy’s apartment, a delivery guy shows up with food. As Hardy starts to open the food bag, he hears noises. Molly jumps out and stabs him, saying he was always her chapter. Molly hears Claire coming in from the other room and hides, as Claire comes in and sees Hardy lying on the floor. He tries to warn Claire, but it’s too late, and Molly stabs Claire from behind. The end.
Sure the dental records match…But we do know that the Followers have infiltrated deep into all levels of society, so perhaps Neil Meyer’s dental records were swapped out for Joe’s. I don’t think the episode mentions finding Neil Meyer’s body, and typically that would probably come up when wrapping up a crime scene. As for Claire and Ryan, I am pretty certain she will be dead for next season of the Following. As Joe has explained, it will make him “reborn”, giving his character a deeper “vengeance” story arc. I was curious when Molly would show up again, as we have not seen her directly in a few episodes. If Joe is not back as cult leader, I have a feeling Molly will be taking over.
I was quite disappointed in this season finale. It seemed like most of the episode was about finding Parker, who ended up dying anyway, rather than finding Joe. Hardy’s confrontation with Joe is very short and anticlimactic, and it was almost too easy for Hardy to defeat Joe. I feel like Weston could have played a bigger part, rather than getting ditched. It also seems like the show assumed that most people forgot about Molly. I kept expecting her to come in at the end, just as I predicted in our last recap, and once I saw her I knew right away that Claire was dead.
I have to agree with Violet’s assessment of the episode as a whole. I think Parker’s episode should have been The Following episode 15, and the final story arc with Joe should have been The Following Season Finale. The end was abrupt, and really, kind of lacking, as Joe spends the whole season with essentially a small army, only to be undone because he decides to finish his story alone. I don’t feel it makes much sense really. I felt this episode of The Following wanted to finish the episode with a Joe and Ryan face off, but I think it would have come off a lot better having more people from both sides present.
My thoughts on this season and predictions for next season: I think that the show did not allow several characters to live up to their full potential. For example, they kept playing up the fact that Roderick was going crazy, and they could have used this to make something really interesting happen, but in the end, Roderick doesn’t really do anything all that crazy, and gets easily killed off before he has the chance to. Same with Jacob. It seemed like they were putting all this character development into him, as if it was leading to something big, only to kill him off before anything came of it. Additionally, Parker was supposed to be a cult expert, but it didn’t seem like they made much use of her expertise, and of course ended up killing her off as well. It was also very annoying how there were hints about Followers disagreeing with Joe, but none of the Followers ever actually challenged him, they all blindly followed him. The show would have been much more interesting had an internal struggle within the Followers taken place. But no, everyone follows crazy Joe completely through to the end.
My biggest issue with The Following, I will paraphrase Roderick: “What happened to the plan Joe?” Was the plan seriously only about this stupid book he wanted to write? Clearly this is not what Roderick had in mind, and from what I can infer from the show, Joe was using Roderick for his resources and never really intended to follow through on whatever this other plan was. What I can’t understand is what motivated The Followers to revere Joe Carroll, while he simply documents his vendetta in novel form against Ryan Hardy? I really cannot find a compelling enough reason for these people to continue following Joe episode after episode, with nothing to show for it other than a few deaths here and there on both sides. I really feel the season’s story arc of The Following falls apart without a deeper plan being in play. I felt most of the actors were excellent however, Kevin Bacon, Shawn Ashmore and James Purefoy were all riveting on camera. I enjoyed Natalie Zea’s performance as well in the last few episodes. I even came to appreciate Valorie Curry, Nico Tortorella and Adan Canto’s performances, despite thinking they seemed a little “pretty” for being cultist murderers.
As for next season, it looks like Emma is going to be the one to carry on the Following now that Joe is dead. It seems like the show has tried to strengthen Emma’s character, as far as killings go, toward the end of the season in preparation for her taking over leadership. Her mission, presumably, will be to get revenge on Hardy for killing Joe. I’m not sure that I’ll be able to buy Emma as the new leader, as she was always a blind follower of Joe, and her character always seemed weak and never struck me as leadership material. However, I’m not sure what condition Hardy will be in following the death of the woman he loves, further enforcing the reality of his Death Curse. It might be a little too easy to get to him. If that’s how it’s going to be, I’m not sure how excited I am about next season, though I’m sure I’ll check it out just to see what direction they take.
My next season crazy prediction has Joe Carroll escaping death, and resuming his terrorizing of Ryan Hardy and the rest of America. If my crazy theory is wrong, I think Molly will take over if she is able to escape Ryan Hardy and the FBI. I really hope they come up with an innovative story though, as more of the same ole “the FBI is always 1 step behind these crazy smart cultists” story will get old quick. While the show hasn’t set it in stone, I think Claire is dead, which will spin Ryan out of control at the start of the season, and Weston will have to try to reel him in, since he is really the only surviving friend still alive on the show. I really am looking forward to Season Two of the Following though, which is probably a long way away, in January of 2014! Until then, this wraps up Season 1 of The Following!