FOX's The Following has shown us a lot of really ruthless, cold, and at times socially cut off followers, but tonight for the first time it showed us a downright fan girl in Amanda (Marin Ireland). I have to admit I was surprised it took this long to portray the wide-eyed groupie devotion. In a crowd of a two dozen (give or take), you're bound to get one or two who are not like the others. At first I assumed with her physical similarities to Claire (Natalie Zea) she'd want to replace Joe Carroll's (James Purefoy) wife, so to see her plan for how to give him-- and her chapter-- a happy ending was a welcome treat, even if her part of the story seemed a bit more episodic than usual.
Amanda killing women with the same name as Carroll's wife and Carroll's taunting call to Ryan Hardy (Kevin Bacon) all seemed very traditional when it comes to horror and thriller tropes. In fact, the spear-gun murder (the method of which, admittedly, was completely unique and extremely cool) motive was something out of a Scream sequel. When it was followed up by tossing a woman out of a window, I had to stop and wonder just what Amanda really hoped to accomplish and how she thought this would provide a happy ending. Maybe her giggling, child-like nature wasn't actually the stuff of nerves but insanity instead. Maybe she really wasn't like the others; maybe her chemical imbalance was a bit more severe. Maybe Carroll let her carry on that way because he realized just what kind of a liability she could be and therefore figured he should let the police hunt her and get him out of his hair.
"Love Hurts" indeed. Look what true devotion gets you, right?
Amanda was bat-shit. There's just no other way to put it. Between her sloppy metaphors, and her instance that cheaters don't get happy endings (but um, sweetie, Hardy wasn't a cheater; Claire and Carroll weren't together anymore-- but if you insist on that kind of logic, then Carroll's a cheater, too, now), and her stab-happy tendencies for anyone who even loosely fit the them and got in the way, she seemed much more like someone who experienced a psychotic break and escaped a mental institution. I mean, there was even a glimmer in her eye that seemed to consider killing Hardy, even though we all know she can't do that because that's not part of Carroll's plan. I don't know how she survived this long to even attempt to play out her chapter; if I had been living at that compound, I would have taken her out for being so annoying pretty much on day two.
But Amanda was a casualty that Carroll could afford because it got him what he really wanted: his Claire, the real Claire. Roderick (Warren Kole) managed to decrypt phone signals to find her location. Carroll better make him pick her up himself because no one else can get the job done. As much of a loose cannon I thought Roderick had the potential to be after seeing his discomfort in adjusting to a number two position with Carroll in the house, he really is proving himself to be highly intelligent and intuitive about everything important. And the sick pleasure he took in pulling the few strings he had left proved just how wickedly fun things would be with him around for the long-haul.
There was not one character tonight-- on either side of things-- that didn't fall victim to this theme. Mercury being in retrograde and all that, it makes sense that they'd have kind of a crappy day, but seeing it all happen at once was like watching a house of cards come crumbling down. Emma (Valorie Curry), so eager and willing to give herself completely to Carroll finally got him in the way she wanted him, only to be rebuffed and rejected. Having sex with her was a way to satisfy an urge after a particularly intense situation. It was surely part excitement and part comfort after killing Charlie (Tom Lipinski), but she was clearly hoping it would lead to more. She wasn't consciously trying to go for a power grab, but certainly being with him should have elevated her to number two, in her mind. When she was off on her own, she could believe there were only a handful of others vying for Carroll's attention, but now, she was swimming in a sea, just struggling to keep her head above water to stay in Carroll's eye-line. Her chapter was over after all. Joey (Kyle Catlett) was safely delivered to the compound, and presumably he hasn't even tried to escape (though we haven't seen him in awhile...), so now she had to find a new place, a new role, a new mission. To see that in doing that, she still had to take a backseat to Claire-- and Roderick-- was devastating, made even worse by the fact that Jacob (Nico Tortorella) kept reaching out but her initial "leaving him for dead" was a rejection from which she couldn't figure out how to recover.
For the better part of this season I accepted Emma and Jacob's love for each other as being put together by Carroll, but by seeing a glimpse into Jacob's life-- surprisingly not through flashbacks but instead his very much real, present day mother standing in front of him in what was far too sleek and modern to be someone's summer cabin-- it was clear just how alike they actually are and therefore just how perfect they may be for each other. Jacob clearly has daddy issues; the sneer on his face when his mother mentioned that reporters were following the man to work was not one of satisfaction at the inconvenience but anger that after everything he had been through, it was his impact on his father that seemed to matter more. To her credit, his mother didn't immediately kick him out or turn him in, instead embracing him when he showed her just how lost he was, but in the end, she still chose his father over him, and that stung him just as badly as Emma's rejection had.
Paul (Adan Canto) was really the only one who ever truly had his back, kept his secrets, and loved him unconditionally, knowing who and what he was-- I especially loved the flashback to Jacob and Paul's first mission together to show that at least someone here was worried that he might be set up. I've danced around the topic before-- even earlier in this episode when I considered Carroll was just letting Amanda go wild to get herself caught-- but I'm glad the show considered it, too, even briefly. Like with whether or not you can train someone to kill, I think this is a fascinating topic. There's no honor among thieves, so why is there some among greater sociopaths? And just where is that honor's breaking point?-- Anyway, in turn, Jacob's love for him grew. But now that love was being tested because if you truly love someone, you're supposed to be selfless and put their needs first, yet in this case Paul's physical need (to go to the hospital and get a blood transfusion) and his emotional need (to not be turned into the police) were in direct conflict with each other. Anyway you look at it, Jacob, the boy who could not kill anyone, would be killing Paul here. Sending him to the hospital would kill his future, as he would be taken into custody, but leaving him at the house meant he would literally die of his gunshot wound.
But both would have been completely passive. From before Paul's "you owe me"-- from the moment we got a glimpse at just how white his face was and how he was hallucinating, slipping in and out of memories without even realizing it, I was hoping Jacob would finally take his first life and that life would be Paul's. It was a mercy killing, an assisted suicide of sorts, a death with dignity, and a perfect mirror of Carroll and Charlie from the last episode. Jacob became a man. How that will affect his response to taking orders or even seeing Emma again at the compound is one of the most exciting parts about this new chapter.
Also, did anyone notice Hardy's tie has finally been tied neatly again, and he looked like he got a haircut? Suddenly my theory that Carroll has re-energized him and brought him back to the living isn't so crazy, huh?