Image credit: David Griesbrecht/Fox
Sometimes I Like To Curl Up In A Ball. (Okay, Maybe Most Of The Time.) Ryan Hardy (Kevin Bacon) once again tries to avoid making human connections and something like friendships while unraveling the latest chapter in Joe Carroll's sinister plot in "Mad Love."
It turned out that Claire Matthews once had similar bridge-building/intimacy issues with Hardy. In flashbacks to a couple pivotal moments in their relationship, we watched them enjoy a date at Jenny’s restaurant, then later watched Claire prod Ryan into revealing even more about himself and his family following some lovemaking back at his Brooklyn pad. “It’s kind of a downer,” said Ryan of his family history. “My mom got sick as a kid. Leukemia. She fought it for years but it got her. She died when I was 14. My dad was a street cop. Albany PD. His entire life until he retired. One night he walked into the wrong corner store at the wrong time and tried to be a hero.” Claire felt awful for asking, felt more awful Ryan. “So it’s just you and Jenny?” Not always. “We had an older brother. Ray. New York fireman.”
He let it hang. Claire hoped the implication wasn’t true: If you say 9-11... “Okay, I won’t say it,” said Hardy. “Told you it was a downer.”
“You and death go way back,” said Claire. “A lot further than you and Joe.”
The showdown with Maggie got off to a strong, chilling start. The plan was for Hardy to unlock a side door so Weston could sneak into the restaurant at a certain point after Maggie showed herself and then take down Maggie with a gunshot if need be. Hardy found a chair with a blindfold and a note ordering him to put it on and take a seat. That struck me as truly terrifying: Being made to wait in the dark for a pissed off serial killer to show up. When she did, Maggie secured Hardy to a table, and instead of stabbing him to death immediately, she strapped those aforementioned magnets to his chest. She wanted to disable Hardy’s pacemaker so his heart would give out. In this way, she reasoned, it would be as if Joe Carroll had killed him, as Carroll had been responsible for the near fatal injury that required the pacemaker. Maggie would have preferred if Claire was on hand to watch Hardy die... but Sister Jenny would do. As Hardy began to expire, Maggie ripped into him for taking away her dear husband. “Do you understand love, Ryan? Real love?”
Through it all, I kept waiting for Weston to make his move per the plan with Hardy. It felt to me he could have entered much sooner than he did, which was right after Hardy passed out from his failing pacemaker. As Maggie wheeled Jenny into position to watch Hardy take his last breath, Weston clocked Maggie upside the head with his gun. She quickly rose with knife drawn, and Weston put her down with a single shot to the chest. He then removed the magnets, and Hardy quickly revived.
In the aftermath, Hardy encouraged his sister to disappear to stay safe. Jenny said she had some job opportunities in Miami she could follow up on. She wondered if she and her brother were cursed. “I know you’re afraid to let anyone get close to you. That’s who we are” she told Hardy. “But we can’t go through life alone. It’s no life.” We saw one indication that Hardy might be letting his guard down just a bit for one person: He addressed Weston as “Mike.” It clearly meant a lot to Weston. There is part of me that still believes that Agent Weston is a Friend of Carroll. If so, is forging a personal bond with Hardy a key part of his clandestine mission? In the big picture story Carroll is weaving with his acolytes, did this allegedly “off book” adventure serve the purpose of developing a friendship between the two?
Of course, Hardy’s heart truly belongs to Claire, and the episode provided him with an opportunity to draw closer to her, too. He showed up at her house sporting a new look – dark shirt, black jacket, casual cool – and with news that Maggie’s phone held a possible clue to Jordy’s location: Duchess County, New York. He said cyber forensics was just hours away from nailing down a more precise location. Claire asked him to hang out until then, and offered to make him breakfast. Old alarm bells activated inside Hardy. He flashed to the moment he told his sister that he was breaking up with Claire. He believed he wasn’t ready. He believed Clare wasn’t ready. He believed he was a reminder of the past Claire really needed to forget. He believed that if he loved her, and he did, the most loving thing he could do was remove himself from her life. Hardy believed all these things and more, because it was easier to run away from life and love than make either work well. Now, Claire was offering a second chance… and he turned that down, too. “I really need to get back,” said Hardy, and he walked away, alone and lonely as ever, as Mazzy Star sang of that which he could not let himself do, “Fade Into You.”
Do you understand love, Ryan? Real love? For now, the answer seems to be no.
NEXT: Getting dirty with Emma and Paul