The Following
The Poet's Fire

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Sara Brady: C+ | 2 USERS: A
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A Psalm of Death
her. Watching on the monitors, Ryan and Riley exchange a Can You Believe This Woman look. Parker asks Carroll why he'd torch his critics, and he feigns ignorance.

Flashback to Carroll meeting Rick, who's explaining he's been practicing with knives and is getting better, but what he really likes is fire. He says he wants his chapter to be revenge, specifically on the people who hurt Carroll professionally.

In the present, Carroll says he's not above revenge. Thank you, Professor Obvious. She observes that his followers are finding ways to make him proud, each a chapter in his book, and asks if Rick plans to torch everyone who insulted Carroll. He says he only holds three people responsible for his professional downfall, Ryan among them, and wonders who Ryan holds accountable for his own professional decline. He does some more egotistical serial killer rambling while Ryan goes into Parker's office and grabs a huge Poe book.

He says the three people Carroll blames are himself, Fellows, and Philip Barnes, the dean of literature at Winslow University, who denied Carroll tenure.

And the aforementioned Dean Barnes is just now arriving at his office to find Rick waiting for him. He's not immediately worried, and asks what Rick wants. What Rick wants is to talk about Joe Carroll (and the actor playing Rick has this squeaky little voice that's somewhere between Elijah Wood and Kieran Culkin. It's really strange and rodenty) and then stab Barnes. So he's gotten over his distaste for blood after all. As Barnes is gasping and dying, Rick confesses that he's never killed anyone with a knife before. And then he rotates his head like it's going to pop off his neck, and that might be the spookiest thing so far in this episode. Weird little rat man.

Barnes's office, now full of FBI agents. Mike says the press is calling it a cult, but Parker says they're not going to comment on that angle yet. She goes outside and finds Ryan, to tell him there's no way he could have stopped it. He says he could, and that Carroll is just baiting him. And he keeps grabbing at every hook.

MORE FLASHBACKS. Ryan, on campus, approaches Carroll to talk about the case. Carroll says he'd "relish" the opportunity to talk to Ryan, but not right now, he's very busy and important, you see. He rushes off after telling Ryan to call his office.

Jacob is taking pictures of Emma and Joey while Paul, his arm still bleeding through the bandage, watches from inside. He flashes back to a discussion: it was Emma's idea, apparently, for Paul and Jacob to pretend to be gay in order to get close to Sarah Fuller. The guys aren't convinced, but she says Sarah's too skittish to warm up to a straight guy, and besides, Joe thinks it's a great idea (and presumably Emma would have more luck getting hired as Joey's nanny than the boys would). Emma cajoles them to kiss each other to see if they can pull it off. Neither wants to, but she asks what she's going to tell Joe about their commitment to sparkle motion. Jacob takes a big swig of his drink and then sits down to play gay chicken with Paul. Neither of them chickens out, but they do start laughing after a couple of seconds of kissing.

Paul comes back to the present and grabs the car key off the table and rushes outside. Joey asks what's wrong with him and Jacob tries to intercept before Paul leaves. He brings up that Paul's face is all over the news so he can't really go anywhere, but Paul just snits, "You're a liar" and drives off.

FBI HQ. Ryan takes a swig off his water bottle, which is probably full of vodka, then sips his coffee. Mike slides over, makes a comment about the stimulant counteracting the depressant, and they look at Rick Kester's financial records.

Claire is watching the news about Fellows's death when an FBI agent knocks on her bedroom door and hands her a phone, with Ryan on the other end. He says there are a few items on Rick's credit card statement, which she confirms match toys Joey already has. Ryan says it's good news, because they wouldn't buy him toys if they were going to hurt him.

Ryan comes back in to talk to Maggie and puts the records in front of her, asking why Rick would buy the toys. She says she doesn't know. Her phone rings -- it's Rick. She puts it on speaker and tells them she's with the FBI and asks where he is. Mike is trying to trace the call, but it's bouncing all over the place. Rick tells Maggie to tell Ryan it was all for him. Man. I'm about to go get some vodka for my water bottle at this point.

Mike says Rick's call is untraceable. Riley asks if they should try to make contact (with...whom?), but Parker tells him to take Maggie home and have someone stay with her. Ryan says he'll do it, but Parker calls him "Vodka Breath" and tells him to go back to the motel and sleep. He says he feels fine, but the Baconator is starting to look like one of the non-eye-gougy corpses, so yeah, he probably needs a little nappy-nap.

Ryan gathers up his stuff, and Mike guesses he's not going back to the motel to sleep. Ryan thinks Rick knows where Joey is. Mike volunteers his rental car for a grand adventure, because Mike hearts Ryan.

Jacob tells Emma that Joey is in his room. He says Paul just needed to get away from the house and blow off some steam, but Emma is worried about someone recognizing him. Jacob says Paul will be careful. Jacob asks if she sent "that e-mail," but she says she was waiting for Rick to call. "Why is no one doing what they're supposed to do," she fumes with all the sublimated rage of the world's most martyriffic Girl Scout troop leader.

Paul has taken himself off to a convenience store, and is staring and smiling creepily at a woman who just wants to get her Pringles on. She turns and walks away from him, and he looks up at the store's security cameras, then walks over and smiles even more creepily at a different woman, an employee. He greets her as Megan, the name on her name tag, and asks if they sell wine. They don't, just beer, and she laughs uncomfortably when he says he really wanted wine. He pulls out two six packs of Budweiser and asks "Red or white?" then inquires what time she gets off work.

Riley brings Maggie home, checking her house to see if Rick is there. She asks if he really thinks Rick will come home, but he says he's just there to keep her safe and she should do what she normally does. His phone rings, and Mike tells him he and Ryan are outside. Riley asks if they really think Rick would be stupid enough to come to the house, but Mike says he's killed two people in one day, so they're just being careful.

Ryan asks Mike if Parker knows they're at the Kesters'. Mike admits that she asked him to keep an eye on Ryan, which gives him a case of the sads. Mike protests that he's just trying to be a team player, because while Ryan is a drunken outlaw and can afford to be all lone-wolfy, Mike is still a young agent and wants to protect his career. They make small talk about Brooklyn and Albany, where Ryan grew up, and Mike says he's a military brat. He's about to tell his entire fascinating life story (no, really, I want to hear the part about how he was accepted to Xavier's school!) when Ryan decides he's had enough Pretending to Be a Person for tonight and gets out of the car.

Flashback to Ryan visiting Carroll at home to discuss the case. He shows him the crime-scene photos, and Carroll is all but drooling and excusing himself to masturbate furiously in the guest loo. They discuss the murders, Poe's eye allegories, his affection for gory symbolism. Carroll says it's been a treat for him to help, because Ryan needs a bigger red flag waving in his face.

Paul and Megan from the convenience store are making out. She calls for a breather and says sex isn't on the table. Paul agrees and they start kissing again, and then he starts choking her. Which understandably freaks her out, but not quite enough (GIFT OF FEAR! GIFT OF FEAR!), because she's still politely saying that she needs to get going. Paul agrees, and opens the door to drive her home, then

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