'The Following' Recap: Season 1 Episode 9 'Love Hurts'

By Chris Baggiano,

In “Love Hurts,” Carroll tries to goad Claire into revealing herself by having yet another new character kill off women with his wife’s name and the FBI is taking the Carroll investigation out of Ryan and Debra’s hands. That’s all that is going to be mentioned of the larger plot because “Love Hurts” actually offered two very interesting plot points that helped to break up the monotony that The Following is. These two blips of interest in the otherwise flatlining formula actually revolve around Jacob’s return after being largely absent these past few episodes.

Jacob and Paul went to Jacob’s parents’ cabin in hopes of some safe territory but were greeted instead by Jacob’s mom. Paul’s injury continued to worsen to the point where, as Jacob’s mom was kicking them out of the house, they both knew Paul would not be able to survive much longer. This created a very intimate moment that The Following usually confuses for over the top emotional displays and “cool” sex scenes. Instead of Jacob trying to move Paul, he decides, with Paul’s blessing as he says, “I want my life to mean something,” to perform a mercy killing on Paul. This action not only cemented their relationship but also became Jacob’s first kill.

Unfortunately, The Following did their best to try and cheapen the moment. Instead of what could have been a touching scene between two very close friends, the show decided to go back to the magical world of flashbacks to create something completely convoluted. In the flashbacks, Paul realized Jacob had never killed anyone, and in fact found the act incredibly shocking, and Paul promised to keep Jacob’s secret, saying that Jacob now owed him something. Surprise, surprise the foolish cashing in on the fake “I owe you” returned as Paul asks Jacob to end his life. This point of the flashback sequence was completely frivolous and instead of adding to the story it only detracted. Instead of Jacob doing something out of love and respect for his friend by killing him, his action was tainted by the notion of him repaying Paul for keeping his secret. The scene was still good as Jacob smothered Paul to death, but the unneeded addition of the “I owe you” traded what could have been a heartfelt moment into something chintzy and cheap.

The other moment of interest came from the show’s only interesting character, Roderick. He finds out that Emma slept with Carroll and also sees Emma’s continuous advances rebuffed. Instead of letting Carroll take care of it (although perhaps Carroll tries to deal with it by killing women with his wife’s name?), Roderick takes matters into his own hands.

Roderick ends up putting Emma in her place in the middle of a party at the compound (and even though they yell, it seems as if no one heard them). He brings up Jacob and Paul and how Jacob has been calling her nonstop since she left them at the farmhouse. Emma is clearly infuriated by this Roderick calling her “love” for Jacob into question but can’t really say much. At the end of the episode, Roderick surprises her by bringing Jacob back to the compound. Roderick’s motives are unknown. He could be jealous of Emma being able to get so close to Carroll but more likely he is trying to help Carroll out by occupying Emma with something else. Whatever, Roderick becomes instantly more interesting simply because his character is somehow the most likeable on the entire show.

Even though Roderick is basically the second in command for this malicious cult, he has a certain magnetism and enthusiasm that every other character lacks. It actually feels like Roderick is enjoying what he does for Carroll, which gives the viewer someone to root for, oddly enough. The show should utilize his character more by featuring him. In one scene where Carroll informs Roderick that Ryan killed his girlfriend (or at least that is what the audience assumed), Louise, Roderick completely brushes it off as if he had no connection with her whatsoever and remains his usual chipper self. While he clearly is not right in the head and does horrible things, his general enthusiasm and enjoyment of his deeds draw the viewer in, as his reason for being a cult member seems clearly laid out, unlike every other member’s. His character is by far the most interesting in the show and needs to be explored more.

Jacob’s journey could become interesting as well. Now that he has been brought back into the cult fold by Roderick and has finally killed someone, Jacob should undergo a major transformation. The fallout from being left behind by Emma and his gaining kill experience could bring Jacob down a completely new path. Hopefully he doesn’t revert back to his sniveling, pushover self that he was in the beginning of the season. Jacob is currently the only character that has a clearly defined, dynamic arc, which is not the case for nearly every other character in the show.

Unfortunately, the rest of “Love Hurts” was completely by the book. Yet another new cult member was introduced only to be captured and, probably, quickly dispatched or marginalized. The cookie cutter plotline of the investigation being handled by those higher up within the FBI totem pole is well underway. Ryan makes sure to remind everyone involved how much he loved, and still loves, Claire. And Carroll is still ambiguous. Here’s to hoping that Jacob’s transformation isn’t completely mishandled and Roderick gets a lot more screen time.

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