The Following's second episode saw less gore than its premiere, but a lot more depth.

This week, the show introduced a new character, Agent Debra Parker (Annie Parisse), head of the FBI's alternative religions unit and the new head of the Carroll investigation next to Ryan Hardy. Parker, replacing Agent Mason, set off alarm bells almost immediately as she, like Joe Caroll, twitches at the word "cult." "Let's not use that word. People don't hear it well," she said. Would she rather use Carroll's preferred choice of "friends?"

In any case, this chapter of the story offered a background on Emma Hill, the nanny of Carroll's son Joey, who ended up abducting him from his home in the premiere's final minutes. When the agents go to her old address, they find a shrine to Edgar Allen Poe and Carroll, a man in a Poe mask who threatens Hardy before departing and the dead body of Emma’s mother ensconced in a wall. The episode also cleared up (and also muddled) the relationship concocted by Carroll between the two men who had been living together as partners. Emma had been set up with Jacob while Carroll was in prison. And Jacob was only paired up with Paul when their official assignments came in. Once everything was set into motion with Carroll’s escape and recapture, the trio took his son Joey to a ranch in an undisclosed location, where a love triangle emerged. Emma and Jacob rekindle their romance, while Paul becomes the jealous third wheel.

Jordy Raines, the guard whom Carroll had turned in his favor, murders three sorority sisters – removing each of their eyes in the method of his idol. He even scribes "Nevermore" in their blood for reference, in case anyone didn't already see the connection. With one of the victims, he positioned her arms stretched out in the image of Jesus on the cross. “He’s paying homage to Carroll, following in the footsteps of his hero. It’s ceremonial," observed Hardy. Later on in the episode, Raines holds Claire at gunpoint in her own bedroom. Hardy saves the day, wounding Carroll’s follower while saving his ex-wife.

Carroll, holed up in prison, receives a visit from his ex-wife Claire. When she doesn't respond to his recollections of their love, he pivots to an interrogation about her romance with Hardy. When she reveals that nothing happened until they were officially divorced, Carroll sneers, “Noble Claire. Only a proper little diddle will do," he continues. "Did your body quiver to his every touch?” Everything about this scene is reminiscent of Silence of the Lambs, and it's easy to picture the man in orange as Hannibal Lecter and the brave but terrified visitor as Clarice.

Towards the end of the episode, it’s revealed that Raines was supposed to die by Hardy’s hand, according to Carroll’s plan. “I was hoping you would save her. A heroic victory by the leading man cements the love story,” said Carroll. “You have to toughen up, Ryan. You're dealing with depraved minds, sick and twisted. Jordy was a mere puppy. Compared to some of the games I have in store for you.” When Carroll finds out Raines is recovering from his gunshot wounds, his arrogant pretense skips a beat. While the moment reveals a chink in the armor, the idea of everything playing out like some script of Carroll's makes everything more interesting. So, by the final scene when someone masked as Poe douses a man in gasoline before setting him on fire, it's like watching a scene within a scene – it's Carroll's story come to life.

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