The Following moved away from the direct search for Joe, Claire and Joey to instead focus on the push and pull between people in Joe's cult and outside of it. In "Whips and Regrets," people's needs were revealed no matter how depraved. And, Parker pulled Ryan out of his drunken stupor to return to the investigation.
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Joe and Ryan Forever
Ryan may have quit the investigation after Claire's departure, but Joe wasn't done with him. It's pretty scary how well Joe knows Ryan. Not only does Joe understand what makes Ryan tick, he also can brilliantly manipulate him.
After Molly's relationship with both Ryan and Joe was revealed, it began to make some sense. Even if Claire miraculously fell back in love with her ex-husband and they could play happy family again, Joe wouldn't be able to let go of his twisted relationship with Ryan.
As invested as Joe is in getting his family back, he seems more committed to how the story ends with Ryan. Joe will never let him go. With him even a normally pleasant goodbye is creepy, "Hang in there Ryan. Have a nice day."
Joe and Roderick Battle
It's becoming clear that Joe has two separate sets of disciples at the Follower House: Those that he recruited (Jacob, Emma, Roderick, Molly) and those that Roderick recruited (Vince, Vince's brother, most of the others). And, these Followers all have distinct roles to play and motivations for being there.
Joe told Claire that his guests are there so that they no longer feel alone. But, based on what Roderick said there is a larger plan. Does it have to do with the chemicals and detonators that Vince was procuring? What about the extreme military-like training some of the Followers were going through?
Whatever that plan, it has created a conflict between Joe and Roderick. Joe is delaying this next phase plan, while Roderick and his recruits are anxious to get it started. The two confrontations between Joe and Roderick were telling. Roderick reluctantly backed down the first time. But, after Joe punched him in the face, the underling wasn't agreeable at all.
Is a split within the Following inevitable? The house is full of troubled people and discord between the two leaders could create an even more dangerous situation. Will they turn on each other and start killing their own?
Messed Up Love
Joe loves Claire and expects her to love him back, yet he acts out of control rather than love. According to Jacob, he had permission to hurt Claire. That definitely wasn't the positive start to the former couple's reunion. And, then at dinner, Joe said he would give her time to fall back in love with him, but then he seemed to expect it right away.
After his disturbing behavior towards her at the dinner, he did give her Joey. That was his peace offering to her. Though, the look on his face at the doorway reflected a sadness in him. The joy that Joey showed when being reunited with his mother was something the father will never experience.
As Joe was trying to win back Claire, Emma continued to be confused by the loss of Jacob. After killing Paul, Jacob became a new person and not for the better. He lost his innocence and he blamed that on Emma.
I expected Emma to pine over Joe even after Jacob returned, but she hasn't. She truly loved Jacob. Now that she's lost him, will she act out of her loneliness? She could either use her pain to act out against Joe or she could get pulled in even deeper. Emma was such a strong woman back at the farmhouse, but she has quickly lost her strength.
Whips and Regrets
While the Follower House was full of personal angst, Parker showed up at Ryan's to get his help. She needed him and that was enough to get him to "un-quit." They investigated the lead from the Follower website to a fetish club called "Whips and Regrets."
Parker and Ryan forced the club's owner to help them track Vince in the hopes he would lead them to the Follower camp. In a risky move, they allowed Vince to abduct the club owner, so they wouldn't blow their chance to follow him. That decision almost killed her.
I'm not sure Ryan could have handled another death on his conscience, but he didn't hesitate at all to put her in that position. Even though she didn't willingly help Joe, Ryan seemed to categorize her as an expendable Follower.
In the end, the decision paid off. She didn't die and they found out that Joe's plan involved training his Followers in a sort of boot camp. And, it also involved bombs. With the absence of Mike, Parker and Ryan have developed a workable relationship of respect. They may not have liked each other in the beginning, but have proved their value to each other.
Ryan's Angel of Death
Molly is one messed up chick. When she was first introduced as someone that dated Ryan and now was under Joe's spell, it wasn't clear which came first. That was clarified through flashbacks: Joe sent Molly to get close to Ryan.
She started to date him and informed on him to Joe. Creepy! And, then even after Molly and Ryan broke up she continued to watch him and stop by for neighbors with benefits sex. And, she recorded it!
Joe's fixation on Ryan will likely end up being his downfall. I'm not sure how it will happen, but Joe will let Ryan get the best of him eventually. The oddest part of the Molly reveal was that Joe agreed to let her be the one to kill Ryan.
While it's possible Joe was just appeasing her with no intention of following through. It highly unlikely that Joe doesn't plan on killing Ryan himself in epic fashion. Ryan is after all the muse for his book.
With Followers being found anywhere, including living next door to Sarah, it's surprising that Ryan didn't wonder why all of a sudden Molly would be in his kitchen. The video that Joe was watching was from 2011. If Ryan doesn't become suspicious of her quickly, it will be a huge disappointment.
Who will be the first to openly challenge Joe in a way that causes a disruption at the Follower House? Will Claire and Joey be safe there? Or, could they become pawns in a power struggle against Joe? Will Ryan suspect Molly?
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(Image courtesy of FOX.)