The Following Recap: You Can’t Kill Kevin Bacon

But this show is really trying.

To paraphrase Verbal Kint in The Usual Suspects, the greatest trick Joe Carroll ever pulled was to convince the viewers of this show that we are not being tortured, too. With one episode left, the FBI isn’t on the verge of victory; it’s just finally running out of ways to botch their pursuit of Carroll and the Nutjobs (sounds like a band at this summer’s WXPN festival). Joey has been locked away for safe keeping, and Ryan’s boss is being fitted for a cool eye patch, a la Samuel L. Jackson in The Avengers. As for the rest of the gang, there’s no shortage of blood, booze and groan-inducing plot twists to sort through.

The Quotable Joe Carroll
Despite being a total hack, Carroll has the best lines. As Claire kicks and screams while boarding their getaway boat—the “La Dolce Vita”—Carroll delivers an honest assessment of his feelings: “I am really beginning to hate you!” After he serves Claire and his captives a lovely dinner of penne with red sauce, he turns to the husband, like any good host: “Phil … parmesan?” And then there’s this exchange as he gets to know the people he’s home-invaded:

Carroll: What do you do for a living, Phil?

Phil: Mortgage broker.

Carroll: Oh, that can’t be going well.

Phil: It’s picked up.

Carroll: Has it?

Claire: Don’t do this, Joe.

Carroll: This is my wife. The martyr. She takes care of everyone, except me. We were having a nice conversation, Claire.

Ah, those pesky exes. Can’t live with them, can’t kill them until you can figure out a better ending for your book.

A Family That Prays Together
More proof of Carroll’s hackitude is the lame group prayer he leads as they hold hands in a circle and chant in unison: “In death there is life, in death there is love, in death there is everything.” Ugh. Why is anyone still devoted to this guy? Must be the accent.

“Can’t Kill Me, I’m Already Dead.”
As Carroll relaxes with some Ryan porn and whiskey while he bleeds out, he’s captivated by Ryan’s odd post-coital phrase and inspired to re-write his ending. Carroll already made it clear that Claire must die. So what’s new? Carroll says Ryan, his hero, must be “reborn.” My guess: He somehow concocts a way to force Ryan to kill her. Simply making him watch Claire die doesn’t seem devastating enough.

Aaron’s True Purpose Revealed!
My favorite Follower gets a bro-hug from Carroll and is given his final orders. What will they be? Is he Carroll’s personal sommelier? The new Poe Mask guy? In charge of the cult’s official Twitter account? When the Feds arrive at the hideout, they’re one step behind Carroll  as usual and find Aaron—hanging in the foyer. R.I.P, dude. You died as you lived—lamely.

Jacob’s Cryin’
Jacob is on board with Carroll’s plan, then he’s not. He’s gay, then he’s not. He loves Emma, he hates Emma, then he loves her again even though she left him to die and is banging their cult leader. Now suddenly, for no apparent reason, Jacob realizes they’re all dying for some stupid book that will never get published and will make for a really shitty e-single, at best. When Emma slits his throat, the background music is stirring, as if this is a sad moment. Show of hands for anyone who’s sorry to see Jacob go? Hopefully Emma is in for a grisly demise next week. Sure, Carroll is a psychopath, but at least he’s entertaining.

Things That Go Bump In The Night
This show’s favorite motif is the most classic horror-movie scare tactic: Turn the lights out and make you jump. I’d bet that more than half the episodes have a scene in which someone is walking around in the dark. This time, it’s the emergency shelter that serves as a haunted house. New kook on the block Alex—yet another Follower with a name no one will remember—pulls a David Blaine and somehow triggers a blackout amid a sea of federal agents and U.S. marshals. The FBI should stop shooting these guys and start giving them job applications.

Debra’s New Role
So much for the theory that Debra might be a sleeper agent, thanks in part to her own history with cults (really thought we’d learn more about her past this season). She escapes death during the blackout battle, but suffers what could be a worse fate, as she’s dragged into the woods and buried alive. This, of course, begs the question: Was one of Carroll’s final orders to find a secluded area, dig a grave, build a coffin, and bury someone close to Ryan in it? (If the serial killing thing doesn’t pan out, Carroll and his crew should sign up for those Ted conferences. These guys are geniuses.) The scene ends with one of the more disturbing moments of the series—fade to black as Debra cries and begs for help, alone in the darkness (but spoiler alert: with a cell phone, most likely one that’s low on power). Two things seem certain for the finale. The body count will rise. And with echoes of Seven, another Kevin Spacey movie, there will be a tragic ending for our hero, one that will fulfill Carroll’s plan for rebirth and set Ryan on a new path for season two.