Image credit: Sarah Shatz/Fox
Be careful little eyes what you see... Ryan Hardy (Kevin Bacon) gazes into the abyss in search for the secrets of Joe Carroll's evil in The Following.
Claire inquired about The Victim Who Got Away, Sarah Fuller. In a flashback, we saw that Sarah had aroused Carroll’s attention – and more – by knowing her Poe. Specifically: That Poe equated beauty with death. “Art was about beauty, and nothing was more beautiful than the death of a beautiful woman,” she said during one of Carroll’s seminars. The professor’s eyes twinkled. Gold star for you, sweetie. AND MY KNIFE. Hardy – who began working undercover on Carroll’s campus as a student during the course of his investigation into the teacher – sensed that Carroll had taken an interest in her. That gut instinct paid off one night when Hardy went patrolling the campus, bumped into Sarah, then subsequently heard screams coming from within her sorority house. He found Sarah on the floor, a knife protruding from her abdomen. She was suffering so much, she had actually tried to push the blade deeper into her body, so she could puncture an organ die more quickly. Before Hardy could get assistance, Carroll jumped him from behind, then knifed him through a ventrical. Carroll was microseconds and millimeters away from slashing Sarah’s throat when Hardy mustered the strength to pull his gun and shoot Carroll in the back. And in this way, Carroll was captured.
Sarah recovered from her injuries and went on to become a doctor. Carroll’s wife was pleased to hear this. “I’m glad someone was able to get beyond this,” said Claire. “I’m sure that upsets Joe.” Why’s that? Because of the Poe of it all, of course: The author left behind an incomplete manuscript called The Light-House. Carroll’s novel The Gothic Sea was “sort of a way to finish what Poe started.” Hardy – who had noticed a drawing of a lighthouse in Hardy’s cell – put some things together. His busted heart sank. His worst fear. Carroll wants to finish what he started. He’s making a move on Sarah.
But they were too late. Hardy and company got to Fuller’s home and learned that despite 24-7 armed guard, someone had abducted Carroll’s unfinished work in the middle of the night. The culprits: Sarah’s seemingly good hearted, hyper-protective gay neighbors of three years, Will Wilson, a second grade teacher, and Billy Thomas, a computer technician who worked in the fraud division of a regional bank. In truth, they were Followers of Carroll. In one of the pilot’s best, most suspenseful scenes, Hardy discovered a panel in Sarah’s closet that that disguised a corridor that connected her home to the adjoining Wilson/Thomas house. Hardy and the agents traversed the dark passageway, searched the Wilson/Thomas house, and found, in the garage, one of two murdered policeman assigned to protect Sarah. On the wall, painted in the blood: NEVERMORE from The Raven.
This sensational sequence was immediately followed by one of the pilot’s weakest scenes. One of the cops actually rolled his eyes at Hardy's Evil Fake Gay Guys theory. He could accept that a mass murdering Poe obsessive could brainwash a lady into ice picking herself to death and convert Jordy Raines into a mutt-butchering sychophant. But convincing two men to act gay and babysit The Victim That Got Away for three years?! That’s going too far, Hardy! (Let’s hope there’s a lot less of this bogus incredulity moving forward.) Bacon was made to say a line that explained the title, just in case you were expecting a weird and wacky comedy about Twitter users and were horribly, alarmingly confused. “He’s finding people to help him do it on the damn internet,” said Hardy, sounding like a cranky old luddite. “It's… It’s like they’re his… followers.” Carroll had cultivated a fanatical obsession. A cult. As Hardy began to suss it out, he found himself sink anew into Carroll’s madness, and as he sunk, he became panicky. “Poe! The Raven!” Hardy cried, pointing at the bloody NEVERMORE graffiti. “Poe is symbolizing the finality of death!” He started barking orders, which in turn nettled the federal marshal in charge of the manhunt, who knew Hardy from the original Carroll investigation, and didn’t care much for his reckless obsessiveness. “I knew you’d show up eventually. This is the Hardy I remember.” He told the petulant consultant to take a time out.
After cooling down, Hardy got a status report from Weston. Billy and Will had visited Carroll in prison four times. They also owned some property in Lake Whitehurst, Virginia. Hardy noticed a photo in the guys’ house – a shot of Billy and Will in front of a bed and breakfast called… The Lighthouse. It was located in Lake Whitehurst, Virginia. Hardy should have immediately shared this intel with his teammates. Instead, Hardy decided to go rogue and investigate the lead solo.
To the lighthouse, then, to catch a big bad Virginia wolf. The B&B really was an actual old lighthouse, but it had gone to seed long ago. Hardy found the structure surrounded by a fence and boarded up. This is the part in the horror movie where we well at the screen and tell the hero to call and wait for back-up. But no. Hardy went into the shadowy tower alone. He heard a sound and instinctively reached for his gun. But he was no longer a cop, and he no longer had the heat. He considered his options. “I came alone, Joe! Isn't that what you wanted?” Hardy yelled, trying to draw Carroll out. In response, there was a scream. A woman in agony. Long, drawn out “NOOOOOOOs!” It was Sarah.
NEXT: The Inciting Incident