In this week’s episode of The Following, “Guilt”, Hardy faces off against a new group of Carroll’s followers sent to retrieve Claire, while romantic relationships from both sides continue to complicate the task at hand. What will Carroll do if Hardy quits playing his game?
With Carroll completely focused on retrieving his wife, Claire, Hardy forces the FBI to allow him to personally protect her from whomever is sent after her. But when Carroll calls in a group of followers capable of succeeding where others have failed, Hardy must turn to his longtime friend for protection.
As the intimate surroundings continues to pull Hardy and Claire closer together, Carroll’s plan is executed and Claire is captured. Meanwhile, Carroll attempts to win over his son, and Emma and Jacob attempt a romantic reunion.
The Following, now 10 episodes in (with 5 to go), has slightly paused its ever-growing body count to present an episode largely made up of character development for Hardy, Carroll, Claire, Jacob and Emma. And thanks to the weeks (upon weeks) of a continuous murder and deception, the series itself now has more than enough built-in suspense to allow for some necessary character tweaking to occur without sacrificing the quality of the show.
This act, in and of itself, isn’t the easiest to accomplish for any series – let alone a new one; however, the blood-filled first and (now) second chapter of Carroll’s plan created an action-filled, fast-paced environment for the series to win audiences over more with its consistent action, rather than its relatively unknown, though intriguing, premise. Unlike many other shows on television, there are no real long-term goals or mysteries presented for audiences to hyperfocus on; instead, in its simplest form, it’s a raw, unforgiving battle between Carroll and Hardy, and only Carroll knows what’s going to happen next.
Of course for Carroll, even the best-laid plan has its issues, as this episode continued to show. Now out of prison and sitting atop his well-earned throne, the larger, more overt aspects of his current plan are now done, leaving him just a few small, though important, lingering elements to focus on – all while new, unplanned, complications arise. And as Carroll’s body count continues to rise (thanks to his followers), he’s still concerned about collecting his wife, who he says he loves, and winning over his son. Thanks to a few new members to Carroll’s teams and s’mores, he has now accomplished both.
But even though Carroll’s success has been continuous, his close followers are now having to deal with the emotional burden of having had to feign lifestyles to help out the overall cause, which has left them wholly unprepared to deal with the interpersonal relationships that their dark desires have placed them in. And through them – like Emma’s love-to-hate or hate-to-love relationship with Jacob, who reciprocates the complicated feelings – Carroll, who has largely been masterminding grand plans of prison escape and murder, must now manage, not accept, the idiosyncrasies of those willing to take on his morbid cause. And since any plan is only as strong as its weakest link, Carroll may begin to rewrite who will join him in the third chapter.
Hardy, too, is beginning to burn out from everything his nemeses has put him through. With a simple “I quit,” Hardy regained some of the power that has been taken away from him in the past weeks. While it’s true that Hardy’s love for Claire is real (as well as her love from him), the already beaten-down star of Carroll’s book, the man which all these plans were created for, has had enough of the games – which now puts the pressure on Carroll to force Hardy to want to continue, no matter what.
Much like The Following’s ability to tell direct character stories amidst chaos, having Hardy push back at what is essentially the plot of the show so early on allows the audience to identify with Hardy and his frustrations, thus removing any chance that those watching will come to their own conclusions of frustration (or boredom) and turn the channel.
As The Following now enters its final month of episodes, it’s safe to say that anything can and will happen. With a season 2 already secured, expect the tension between Carroll and Hardy to rise as the series makes its way towards the season 1 finale. And if what happened already is any sign of what’s to come, expect a few more of the sleeper followers to reveal themselves.
The Following returns next Monday with “Whips and Regrets” @9pm on Fox. You can check out a preview of next week’s episode below: