'The Following' Finale Recap: Are Joe, Ryan and Claire All Dead?
The Following wrapped up its first season last night in an action packed finale that left the audience wondering who survived serial killer and aspiring novelist Joe Carroll's (James Purefoy) sordid tale.
When Ryan Hardy (Kevin Bacon) is absently looking out of the window at the sheriff's office, he spots a kid sporting an Edgar Allen Poe mask approaching the building. He's stopped by an officer, which gives Ryan and Mike (Shawn Ashmore) enough time to scramble outside to demand the kid remove the mask. They find out that he had been given $20 by Emma (Valorie Curry) to wear the mask and deliver them a letter. The letter has a phone number; Deb (Annie Parisse) is at the other end of the line when they dial it, buried alive.
Trying to discern Deb's location, Ryan and Mike go to the location where the followers' car had been abandoned. Of course, the car was planted as a set up. Follower Alex tries to shoot down Mike and members of the backup team, but Ryan manages to neutralize him before he hits anyone. The duo transports Alex to an abandoned warehouse and opts to torture Deb's location out of him. It doesn't seem like he's going to crack, until Ryan jabs a thumb into his eye socket. On their way to the location disclosed by the wounded follower, they talk once more to Deb. She beseeches them to tell her cult family that she loves them, for Mike to know he's a good man and for Ryan to know that her death won't be his fault.
As Deb predicted, she is not alive when Ryan and Mike arrive to dig her out. Despite Ryan's attempts to revive her through CPR, she is gone. Meanwhile, Alex smugly smirks from a distance – but not for long. Ryan soon strides over to the follower and places a bullet through his forehead. He then turns towards Mike and aims his gun at his feet, threatening to shoot him if he tries to follow him. Since Ryan discovered Joe Carroll completed book in the crate that had held Deb, he not only knows that Carroll had penned Mike's death, but exactly where he was to go to find him.
Ryan meets up with Emma, who drugs him and transports him to the lighthouse where Joe is keeping Claire (Natalie Zea). When Ryan encounters Joe, the sadistic writer is drinking copious amounts of booze and popping painkillers. He seems unstable as he continues to interrogate Ryan about when he fell for his wife. As Joe continues to threaten Claire, Ryan distracts him by criticizing his storytelling, a technique used by Claire earlier on. Eventually, Ryan succeeds in snatching Joe's gun. He chases him into a boathouse that happens to be storing highly combustible contents. When an errant bullet strikes a fuel tank, flames engulf the structure and destroy it.
The following day, dental records and DNA obtained at the scene seem to indicate that Joe was a casualty of the boathouse fire. Ryan and Claire, though skeptical, are determined to find some peace together. They go back to his Brooklyn apartment where he gets them dinner and they share a single kiss before Ryan's ex, Molly (Jennifer Ferrin), makes her presence known. Revealing herself as a Joe Carroll follower and telling Ryan "You were always my chapter," she stabs him before attacking Claire as she comes out of the shower.
Watch Kevin Bacon talking about shooting The Following finale below: