Holy moly! It seems like a million years since we last saw Ryan Hardy running around chasing Joe Carroll, doesn’t it? I’m so glad to finally have The Following back on my screen, and boy did it make a triumphant return. As the title suggests, someone did come back from the “dead” and it’s no secret that that someone is the infamous Carroll and his equally infamous cult. The premiere also introduced us to a few new characters—some more sane than others, some utterly insane—and left us with more questions than answers, which is sure to have viewers coming back for more next week. Okay, let me go ahead and break it down for you.
Previously on The Following...
We learned that Joe Carroll is a psycho cult leader who is just as obsessed with Edgar Allan Poe as he is with the FBI agent hunting him down—Ryan Hardy. He escaped prison, did a bunch of bad stuff, and convinced a bunch of people to kill in his name. Oh and did I mention Ryan had a history with Carroll’s ex wife? Yeah, complicated stuff. We also bid farewell to Agent Parker who was a very good friend of Ryan’s and just a nice lady overall, RIP. Ryan blew up a shed with Caroll inside and everyone was convinced he was dead. Finally, one of the followers was able to slip into Ryan’s apartment and stab him before also stabbing Claire.
The episode picks up with the final scenes from last year’s heart-stopping season finale. The follower—Molly—goes all stabby on Ryan and Claire but he’s quick on his feet—even with a stab in his stomach—and grabs her by the head, slamming it against the floor. It’s safe to say this girl is definitely dead. Ryan goes to Claire’s aid, desperate to save her life. We cut to the back of an ambulance and then the halls of a hospital where both Ryan and Claire have been transported. Ryan watches helplessly in a stupor as the nurses say they’re losing Claire. Later, he wakes up in his hospital bed as Mike walks through the door. He’s there to deliver the bad news—Claire didn’t make it.
We fast-forward to one year later where a super fit Ryan Hardy is getting out of bed and changing to go on a run. When he returns to his apartment, the news reports the release of a new book based on Joe Carroll and his cult. We also find out that he’s joined some sort of support group—because let’s face it, this guy needs all the therapy in the world. He speaks to his sponsor and mentions he’s going to have a dinner for his niece—Max—and her new boyfriend. This show has made me way too paranoid, so I’m obviously suspicious of this new guy and we haven’t even met him yet. Later, Ryan imparts some knowledge on the students at the New York College of Criminal Justice—complete with graphic pictures and descriptions.
Back in his apartment, Ryan gets dinner ready for Max and her boyfriend. He’s also invited his sponsor and one of the girls in the support group named Melissa—possible new love interest? Not to be mean, but she should definitely stay away. Everything that Ryan touches dies. His niece shows up with her boyfriend, Chris, and we find out she’s a police officer for the NYPD. Later, Ryan thanks her for coming over to spend time with him. He knows she’s doing it because it’s the anniversary of Carroll’s death and thought he could use the company and support.
Meanwhile in Union Square Station, things are about to get crazy and I sure hope Ryan enjoys as many Z’s as he can get because I have a feeling he won’t be getting any sleep from now on. Three men wearing eerie Carroll masks board the subway and start chanting “resurrection” before they start stabbing the passengers. They announce that Joe Carroll lives and Ryan Hardy can’t stop them. The subway makes a stop and one woman escapes.
Ryan wakes up the next day to the news on the television. Mike is also at home watching when he gets a visit from Agent Phillips who wants him to come to New York to work as a consultant on a case. We cut very quickly to a scene inside an apartment building where a girl is creepily being followed by a guy, and then we head back to the college where Ryan is being accosted by journalists. He makes a quick statement about not being involved in the case and heads inside. When he enters the classroom there’s already two FBI agents waiting for him.
We head back to the scene of the crime, where Mike’s now taking part in the investigation alongside Special Agent Mendez. She gives Mike and Phillips the breakdown on what happened before revealing that everything got caught by the security cameras. As for the girl who was being followed by that one guy in the apartment... things didn’t end well for her. They’re both lying almost-naked in bed as he’s telling her that he doesn’t want to have sex—he only wants to touch. Turns out he’s talking to her corpse and we see bruises around her neck from where he strangled her. Shivers.
Ryan arrives at the scene of the crime and Mike is less than thrilled to see him. We flashback to 8 months prior and find out why. After everything that happened, Ryan goes off the deep end and falls back into alcoholism. Mike tells him that Joey is being taken care of by his grandmother. He tries to get Ryan to cooperate with him when it comes time to testify in court but Ryan doesn’t want him to lie just to protect him. Back in present time, Phillips and Mendez ask if Ryan’s had any contact with Carroll’s followers but he denies any involvement.
And just when I thought that one guy couldn’t get creepier with the corpse, he starts interacting with her as if she were still alive. He dances around shirtless by himself before carrying the body to the living room and slow dancing with it. But wait, he’s not done, he also puts makeup on her and proceeds to comb her hair. I start to wonder why his hair changes from one scene to another andThe Following offers me a very simple and clever explanation—there’s two of them! As the guy enters the bathroom, he says he needs help with the girl and his twin steps out of the shower. Color me impressed.
We head over to New Jersey where three woman are watching the news about the resurrection of Carroll’s cult. One of the women is Emma, who’s now gone full-on punk—I’m talking pink mohawk, lip piercing and plugs, guys. They question who’s behind the attacks and start to believe it’s a copycat cult. One of them talks about some guy named Carlos as the possible man behind the attacks.
Back at the FBI headquarters, Mendez shows Ryan and Hardy the footage from the subway. While there’s a possibility that the eight cult members who survived have now multiplied—most likely—they are starting their investigation by focusing on the three men on the subway. Surveillance footage shows them exiting the station where two go one direction and one of them leaves by himself. They use a high tech scanning program to find possible matches from the profiles of “Carrollers” they already have. They come up with a possible suspect—Carlos Perez. Ryan refuses to help, stating that he’s now strictly civilian. However, when he gets home, he begins his own investigation and we see that he’s been keeping track of everything. He calls Max to come help and she discovers that Carlos is using a new alias—Robert Diaz. Ryan takes down his address and ignores her advice about sharing the information with the FBI.
Ryan arrives at Carlos’ apartment and attacks him before he can get away. With a gun pointed to his face, Ryan tells him that he knows about him and Carroll. He demands to know where Carroll is even though Carlos insists that he’s dead. Eventually, he admits that the last time he saw him was at the lighthouse. We flashback to the day of the explosion and find out that Carroll escaped through a hatch. Carlos picked him up but Carroll got out of the car before they got to a roadblock. Before Ryan can question him further, he’s able to escape. Ryan is chasing him down the street when he gets hit by a cab. He tells the driver he’s okay and goes back to Carlos’ apartment to look for evidence. He takes a few things, including one of the Carroll masks. When he leaves, we see Emma’s also made her way there to investigate.
Meanwhile, the police has already found the body of the creepy twins’ victim. She’s been placed on one of the neighborhood benches as if she were reading one of Carroll’s books. Mike questions Ryan about what he knows and he reminds him that Carroll is dead. Mike makes an attempt at speaking with Ryan about the past and wants him to open up to him but he’s closed himself off completely. Somewhere in the city, Carlos arrives at a hotel room, where a woman is watching the news and activating prepaid cellphones. She’s angry at him for having been identified. Later, they receive a visit from the creepy twins—Mark and Luke. They want to know how Ryan found Carlos’ place and if there’s any evidence that will lead the FBI back to them. They reveal they’re doing all this to lure Carroll out of hiding. Luke jokes around with Carlos and asks to hug it out but he refuses. He hits him in the throat, causing him to choke and suffer for a bit as punishment for turning him down.
Later, Ryan visits the subway survivor in the hospital. He’s there to apologize for the other people who got killed because he somehow feels responsible. Emma returns to her hideout and tells the remaining followers that while she didn’t find Carlos at his apartment, she did see Ryan leaving but she’s clueless about what’s going on. Meanwhile, somewhere in the country another woman is watching the news when she calls out to a man outside she refers to as Daryl. A bearded Carroll walks into the house just as they’re airing Ryan’s statement about not being involved in the newest case. The episode ends with Ryan trying on the Carroll mask in front of the mirror and then taking it off.
Loved it so much! I don’t know about you guys but this premiere was everything I hoped for and more. I’m not a huge fan of the flashbacks—especially when they take center stage—so I was glad this one only had a couple short ones. Can we just talk about how great of an episode that was though? What does it all mean? They made a point to reiterate Ryan’s statement about not being involved and yet he’s shown wearing the mask. I just don’t think he’d go to those lengths in order to get revenge for Claire and Parker’s death. Or has he? So many questions and the season just started. I can’t wait to see the next episode. Tell us your thoughts and give us your theories below.