I do believe this week’s episode of The Following, titled “Whips and Regrets,” was the first time we actually saw Joe Carroll lose his cool with one of his followers. Roderick was the unfortunate one at the receiving end, after making a decision that endangered Carroll’s plan. But the murderous cult leader isn’t all evil, and that’s probably what I like most about this show. They’re able to depict him in a way that makes viewers question how they really feel about him. At the end we saw him do something for Claire – granted, it was mainly for his own gain – that seemed to have moved him emotionally. I guess only future episodes will tell if he really is capable of feeling love. Now, let’s get down to business and break this episode down.
Previously on The Following…
Carroll and his men tracked down Claire’s location. Ryan and Claire went to seek refuge at his friend’s home. Two ex-militia men helped Roderick find the place and one of them killed Ryan’s friend. After fighting to protect her, Claire still decided to go with Roderick, hoping she’d see Joey again.
The episode picks up with Carroll out for a morning jog, while Ryan is struggling to get up after a night of binge drinking. Carroll gives him a call, mainly just to gloat about having his family back again. He’s enjoying ridiculing Ryan’s state of desperation after losing Claire, and it’s not long before Ryan hangs up on him. Outside the manor, we see Roderick arriving with Claire. Carroll has put Jacob in charge of her, and he takes her to her room, assuring her that Joey is okay but she can’t see him yet.
Back at Ryan’s apartment, Annie pays him a visit. She shows him the video they decrypted from one of the ex-militia men’s emails. The team is currently tracking down the location of the server used to send the message. Ryan tells her about the phone call she received from Carroll and Annie convinces him to go with her to New York to investigate. When they arrive at the location, a club called Whips and Regrets – yes it’s exactly what it sounds like, a fetish sex house – they encounter a woman named Haley. She tells them she’s not part of the cult but can deliver the person working for Carroll, Vince McKinley - one of the ex-militia men working with Roderick.
Carroll for his part, speaks with Molly, she informs him that Ryan dumped her a while back but they still occasionally hook up. In a flashback we learn that Molly works in the terminal ward of a hospital where she’s killed many of the patients. Carroll asked her to follow Ryan and she gleefully agreed. Back in present time, Molly hands him a drive that contains videos along with journals she’d been keeping of her interactions with Ryan. Later, Carroll meets with Roderick and Vince. Roderick asks if they can proceed with the plan now that he has his family. Carroll insists on taking time before continuing, and Roderick doesn’t like the idea but goes along with it anyway.
Jacob returns to Claire’s room with shopping bags and a dress – Carroll wants her to join him for dinner. When she tries to run out the door, Jacob throws her on the ground, informing her that Carroll gave him permission to hurt her as long as he doesn’t bruise or cut her face. He warns her to be smart about things if she wants to see Joey. When he leaves the room, he runs into Emma, downstairs. She wants to know why he’s acting differently and he tells her that the Jacob she loves is no longer there. It’s chilling how Nico Tortorella has transformed the character – he’s much darker and basically emotionless at this point.
Ryan and Annie continue their investigation at Whips and Regrets, where Haley shows them a package that was delivered to Vince. She contacts him and tells them he’ll be coming to pick it up, making good on her word to turn him in. Ryan and the team wire her, asking her to say a code word if she feels she’s in danger. Vince shows up at the club and things don’t go exactly as planned. He forces Haley into his car and even after saying the code word several times – red – Ryan is hesitant to help. They decide to follow them instead, hoping he will lead them to Carroll.
Vince pulls up to an abandoned military armory. Annie immediately orders the team to set up a perimeter as they continue listening in on Haley and Vince’s conversation. Inside, Vince tells Haley the place is used for storage but also as training grounds for the followers. He tries to take advantage of her and discovers the wires. Annie and Ryan head inside, afraid that he might have killed her. They find her strapped to a chair but alive. The team scatters around to investigate the place and one of the swat officers finds people trapped in cages. He tries to help them without knowing they are actually cult members who are being held there as part of their training. There’s a very suspenseful sequence where Ryan and Annie are using only flashlights to light their surroundings. Eventually, Annie gets attacked by one of the followers, but Ryan shows up in time and saves her.
Back at the manor, Claire joins Carroll for dinner. Her hair and makeup are perfectly in place and she’s wearing the dress he got for her. After she questions him about his motives, Carroll says he just wants to help people like him. He knows that he has a need to kill and he embraces it. He’s certain that emotions can be conditioned and therefore she will one day love him again. Claire tries to persuade him to let her see Joey but he doesn’t fall for it. She gets angry with him and goes back to her room.
That evening, Carroll receives a call from Vince, informing him of everything that happened in New York. Carroll tells Roderick that the FBI discovered their server and also the location of the training camp. Roderick admits that he gave Vince permission to go to New York and Carroll angrily punches him in the face. He tells him that he’s no longer in a position to make decisions around there. Carroll is the leader and only he can give orders.
Later, he goes up to Claire’s room, where once again he reminds her that he truly believes she will love him again. It looks like he’s about to shut the door, but instead he opens it more to allow Joey to run inside and see her. Claire and Joey hug and Carroll seems touched by the display of emotions in front of him. He leaves the room to tend to other business and we finally find out what’s in the flash drive Molly gave him. Ryan Hardy has a sex tape! Just when Ryan is starting to think that things can’t possibly get any worse for him, they do. Seriously, the guy just can’t catch a break.
The episode ends with Ryan arriving at his apartment only to find Molly has let herself in to deliver his pile of mail. She hugs him and tells him that she worries about him. Another flashback reveals that she agreed to follow Ryan under one condition – when the time comes to kill him, she wants to be the one to do it.
For as careful as Ryan is when it comes to trusting people, I find it hard to believe he hasn’t once doubted Molly’s true intentions. Obviously she won’t succeed in killing him – unless The Following is planning to get rid of its main star. But I have a feeling there’s still a lot more to see from Molly. What did you guys think of this week’s episode? Is it possible we’ll see a battle for power between Carroll and Roderick? Are you sad there’s only four episodes left?