The Following Recap: Love Is Like Being Shot With a Spear Gun

Is anyone keeping track of the body count on this show?

This episode is titled “Love Hurts,” but I’d recommend a longer, more accurate version: “Love Hurts (But Not as Much as Spear Guns, Nail Guns, and Being Smothered to Death With a Pillow).” In another gleefully sick and satisfying outing, Carroll turns the next chapter of his real-time murder mystery into a Choose Your Own Adventure, allowing a new cult member to take a crack at the manuscript. And of course, the FBI manages to (mostly) stay one step behind him.

We begin with Ryan and Debra at a briefing with the NSA, ATF and Homeland Security, who would like to know how they could let Carroll escape in a helicopter in broad daylight—a stunt you can’t even get away with in Canada. (If only Homeland’s Saul Berenson was running this op. Or imagine Carrie Mathison in charge of keeping Ryan in line. She’d have one of her jazz freakouts and his pacemaker would explode. She also would have taken down this cult five episodes ago). Perhaps the most shocking moment of the briefing is not that Debra and Ryan aren’t fired on the spot, but that Ryan’s skinny tie is fully knotted. The first thing he does after the meeting is loosen it up. Gotta love his dedication to the “shabby chic” look.

Most of the episode bounces between two hideaways: the Nuthouse where the Carroll Family throws fun cocktail parties and cracks encrypted FBI phone calls, and the secluded cabin where we—and Jacob’s mom—find Paul and Jacob hiding out. Momma J is rather understanding of her fugitive son’s plight, even when he’s whining like a teenager (“I’m not a killer, ok mom? Gawd! Just leave me alone!” [door slams]). As revealed through a flashback (set to this week’s soundtrack headbanger, “New Noise” by Refused), Paul did Jacob a solid by doing his homework for him—which, in Carroll’s cult class, means stabbing someone to death, repeatedly, in the trunk of a car. Like any semi-fake-ex-gay boyfriend would do, Jacob returns the favor by mercy-smothering Paul within earshot of his mom. Maybe Roderick got rid of the body, but Jacob strikes me as the kid of guy who’d let his parents clean up his mess.

At the Carroll compound, we meet Amanda, who could be his most devoted fan yet (“I know I must seem like a groupie,” she tells him after losing her mind like it’s 1964 and the Beatles just touched down at JFK.). It’s fun to watch Carroll in her flashback, empathizing as she rants about her cheating husband and her solution for his infidelity: blast him and his mistress with a shotgun, hack up their bodies, and dump them in Florida, hoping the cops don’t go all CSI on her. Her plan is to kill every Claire Matthews she can find and to apparently do so in the most over-the-top ways possible—this must be the first “death by spear gun in a diner” in the history of network television.

Once Diner Claire and Window-Toss Claire are eliminated, it’s down to College Claire, who’s partying at some freaky outdoor masquerade rave. This is the episode’s best scene for three reasons: the use of a nail gun, Ryan shooting Louise mid-sentence, and Amanda’s impromptu figurative language lesson when Ryan explains her hostage isn’t the real Claire (“It’s a freakin’ metaphor, Ryan!”).

The action winds down as Roderick gives Carroll good news: While the FBI can’t trace their calls, he’s somehow cracked their signals and has learned where Claire is hiding out. (There’s also the oddest line of the night—as Carroll says he knows Louise was important to Roderick, the sheriff replies “Not really. Maybe. I don’t know.”) Unfortunately for Claire, she’s being guarded by U.S. Marshal Turner, who’s been getting chewed out for incompetence since the series began (ironically, the actress who plays Claire is fresh off her role as wife of the best marshal ever, Raylan Givens of Justified, who would have put a few hot rounds in Carroll before he was arrested the first time).

By the end, the “love hurts” theme resonates for nearly every character: Paul and his wish to die by the pillow of his unrequited lover; Emma, who’s irked that her romp with Carroll is now nothing more than an “indiscretion”; Ryan, who admits his love for Claire and gazes a-little-too-longingly at her photo; and the newly minted killer Jacob, who looks like he’s ready to put a hurtin’ on Emma for ignoring his calls. Roderick takes comfort in Louise’s passing by showing off a flawless impression of Jacob’s whiny voicemails. Then there’s Carroll, who’s lost his wife, but gained the adoration of 100 or so devotees, all of whom are ready to kill—themselves, or others with tools or fishing gear—just to make him happy.