The Following
The Poet's Fire

Episode Report Card
Sara Brady: C+ | 2 USERS: A
YOU GRADE IT
A Psalm of Death
In a hurry? Read the recaplet for a nutshell description!

Previously on The Following: Joe Carroll is a pedantic and pedagogic serial killer. Ryan Hardy is an ex-FBI agent with a drinking problem, a pacemaker, and a crush on Carroll's ex-wife. Claire is the former Mrs. Carroll, and her son has been kidnapped. Paul isn't gay, but he keeps acting all jealous of Jacob and Emma anyway. Agent Mike is still cute.

A guy in a Poe mask is reciting "The Raven" before a crowd of eager and appreciative spectators, because Fox really went big on their Super Bowl bets this year. Across the street, a man on his cell phone approaches a coffee cart. Edgar finishes with a flourish, then sneaks up behind the coffee guy, douses him in gasoline, and sets him on fire. Not any less alarming than it was last week. I think this is worse than pushing someone in front of a subway train, but only slightly.

Claire wakes up in Joey's bed and she's lying next to Carroll, who immediately tries to strangle her -- and then she wakes up for real. She sticks her head out the bedroom door and asks if Ryan is there. He's not, he's at the prison, where Parker has set up her fancy serial-killer analysis room. She fills Ryan in on the different prints they found in Emma's house -- nine total. Five belong to Emma, Jacob, Paul, Raines, and Rick, the guy in the Poe mask, but they haven't identified the others yet. Ryan asks, kind of densely, if Parker thinks the cult is made up of only six people (including the lady who offed herself with the ice pick in the premiere). Um... no? Don't you know you have a fifteen-episode commitment, Ryan?

Parker is trying to understand what Carroll's message is. She says Manson, Koresh, and Jones all controlled their followers for their own motives, so what are Carroll's? She finishes by saying Manson was a brilliant manipulator who could get anyone to do anything. Ryan non sequiturs that Carroll was a brilliant teacher who enraptured his students, which sends him into a flashback. See, this is why Rick Santorum doesn't think anyone should go to college: because they might be recruited by a charismatic serial killer. No, just kidding. It's because he's afraid of vaginas.

Back in the present, Parker gets a call from the hospital. They go to visit Raines. Ryan asks where Joey is. Raines settles back into his luxurious neck wattle and babbles about how he has no motive to tell them anything, since as a correctional officer, he won't last long enough in prison to be executed. He starts monologuing about how much he enjoyed killing those sorority girls, and I think someone needs a punch in the face right about now. Ryan tells Raines how disappointed Carroll is that he's still alive, then presses again for Joey's whereabouts. Raines starts singing to himself to drown out the questions and Ryan finally decks him. Hooray!

Parker gets another call (that's the only way the writers know how to change scenes, apparently), and she and Ryan go catch up with Agent Mike and Agent Riley, who have the video of Firebug Poe/Rick lighting up the coffee guy. What movies and TV lost in potential for suspense when characters started carrying cell phones they totally made up for now that everybody has a video camera in their pocket.

Coffee guy, it turns out, is a book critic, Stan Fellows, from a Richmond paper. Ryan interviewed him for his book; apparently Fellows gave Carroll's novel a real hide-scorcher of a review. The confetti Rick threw at the crowd had lines from Alexander Pope on it: "The generous critic fanned the poet's fire/And taught the world with reason to admire." Ryan says it's Poe, but it is not, good sir. Back to the classroom with you.

Paul is watching the news talk about them. He and Jacob are delighted that the anchor wants to call them a cult but won't. Jacob brings up how awkward Paul and Emma are around each other, and asks if he's talked to her, but Paul ignores the line of questioning and clicks on the video of Rick. They are thrilled with his work.

Flashback: Paul, Jacob, and Ryan are throwing darts while Emma paints the ceiling in their clubhouse and Raines asks dumb questions. Rick, apparently, isn't a huge fan of blood, so Jacob suggests he kill people with fire, but Raines asks, "But what about removing the eyes? You can't do that with fire." Emma says you can, actually, and she's being all superior and condescending about it, because the two years or so that have passed since she killed her mother (who is boarded up in the wall like three feet away, agh!) turned her into this little coven's queen bee. Paul points out that the eyes are Joe's signature, but Emma says they're supposed to find their own voices rather than copying Joe.

Jacob asks Paul again to talk to Emma, and Paul says he doesn't see the same Emma Jacob sees, that she has a lot of different faces. Emma, of course, is standing right there, which you'd think Paul would have learned since it's happened like four times already, and asks coldly, "Which Emma is that?" Jacob tries to smooth things over, but Paul just says "Forget it" and walks off. He is not surviving through episode six, mark my words.

Mike is analyzing security camera footage and finds Rick putting his mask in the trunk of his car. They head to his house, with an FBI team, and go inside to find it deserted -- except for a woman hiding in a closet who tries to stab Ryan when he opens the door. She's Maggie, Rick's wife. That's different. None of Carroll's other recruits had a significant other (before he hooked up Jacob and Emma, that is).

Ryan and Parker question Maggie. She says she last heard from Rick the previous night; they're separated and he called. She hands over her phone and says she hid because she didn't know who was coming into the house and she was scared, because Rick still has a key and he frightens her. Mike brings in a file on Maggie and Ryan asks about the emergency-room report that's inside. A few years ago Maggie asked for a divorce, and Rick stabbed her.

Flashback to Rick doing just that. I thought he didn't like blood.

Maggie says the police didn't press charges because she wouldn't testify. She says Rick was really sorry and he's not always like that. Yeah, call me naive, but I think the first time he stabs you, that's strike three. Maggie says Rick's behavior changed after he got laid off and started hanging out with some new friends. She never met them, but he would come home talking about death. Parker says they're going to arrange protection for her until they find Rick.

Out in the hall, she and Ryan talk about how Maggie is tragic and pathetic and deluded -- and a lot like Parker's mother and sisters: "No one ever wants to see what's really there." So her suitcase labeled "Baggage" just fell from the rafters. Ryan brings up that Joey's still missing, and Parker says she'll try talking to Carroll, because it's time they met. So she's not telling Ryan about that giant book of MacGuffin she gave Carroll last week.

Emma watches from a window as Jacob and Joey play catch. Paul walks up behind her and apologizes for his behavior. He tries to make peace, asking that they pretend they like each other, and holds out his hand to shake hers. Instead of shaking it, Emma slashes his forearm with a huge carving knife and says, with a completely flat expression, "Don't try to turn Jacob against me. It won't work." PSYCHO BITCH IS PSYCHO, GUYS. Paul calls her a bitch and sticks his arm under the tap, but he doesn't immediately pack his bags and flee screaming, so he's either a dimwit or way more evil than we can comprehend.

Carroll's cell o' interrogation. Parker introduces herself and asks how Carroll's hand is. She congratulates him on all the planning he's put into his elaborate schemes, and Carroll thanks

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