All three of Joe Carroll’s favorite people – his ex-wife Claire, his son Joey and Ryan Hardy, along with the poor store clerk, Megan, have been taken captive by the followers. Now, a couple of things could have gone a little better if Ryan hadn’t turned into some kind of one-man Delta Force last week, and if Claire hadn’t decided to give her personal FBI security team the slip, landing her in some warehouse with a cult member by the name of Charlie. All Ryan had to do was wait for all of that backup that Agent Debra Parker had told him was on the way, and he might have saved at least one police officer, not to mention Megan and Joey. But no, Ryan needed to get closer to that farmhouse, find Megan in the basement, leave her tied up and get himself caught by the bad guys. Claire could have listened to the FBI and skipped that lunch date with her friend.
Okay, enough with my playing Monday morning quarterback. I’ll cut Ryan some slack – he probably doesn’t remember much of the last ten years, never mind everything they taught him at Quantico. While everybody at the farmhouse is waiting around for someone to tell them what to do, Ryan amuses himself by making fun of his captors. He offers some sarcastic comments about the three-way situation among Emma, Jake and Paul, which really ticks off Emma, but kind of rattles the two guys. Ryan managed to insult their masculinity by telling them that Emma wants to control them, and their sexuality by cracking wise about their “gay-not-gay” quandary. Emma tells Jake to tie Ryan up, but Ryan tells him that if he gets within two feet of him, he’ll really hurt Jake. Paul is holding a gun and the conversation went something like this:
Ryan (to Jake): Come near me and I’ll crack your spine.
Paul: And I’ll shoot you.
Ryan: And his spine will be cracked.
Paul: And you’ll be dead.
Hardy: And his spine will be cracked.
Jake: He’s FBI. He knows that stuff.
Ryan: Yea Paul. I know that stuff.
Ryan tells them that he really doesn’t care what they do to him because he knows that they won’t hurt Joey. Emma’s had enough of Ryan and messes up his pacemaker with a stun-gun, something that Joe had suggested to her. Now Jake ties him up.
Debra finally shows up at the Mobile Command Center and she’s brought along all sorts of help – ATF, FBI, SWAT, HRT, DCSO, ESPN, IRA – if it has an acronym, it’s there. Mike Weston is with her and he gets a call from Ryan, which was made by a demand from Emma. After Ryan tells them that Joey’s asleep, Debra starts talking to Emma about her artwork and all of the likenesses of her mother around her house. Emma tells Debra that she killed her mother because she was a slut, and that she tried to control her daughter. No one controls Emma, you see. Debra tells her that she understands everything because she had some issues with her mother, too, but she also says to Emma that Joe is now controlling her because he chose her. Emma says that isn’t true, no one controls her – she chose Joe.
Debra really does know what she’s talking about when it comes to bad parenting and cults. In some flashbacks, between 1989 and 2004, we find out that Debra’s parents are members of a cult and that they sent their young daughter to the bedroom of the leader of the cult for some very bad things. Debra had left her family to get away from all of that, but returned 15 years later to see them and tell them that she forgave them and loved them. They didn’t respond in kind.
Charlie, the follower who’s holding Claire, is also a couple of sandwiches short of a picnic. He’s been following Claire’s every move for 10 years – partly for Joe and in part for himself. He tells Claire that Emma never knew about the secret cameras that were placed in Claire’s house because each follower has their own part to play and Claire is his. He’s got stacks of photos, notebooks full of writings about her and videos of her doing everything in and around her house. He also is infatuated with her on a personal level and kisses her. Doing so sends him into a tailspin of remorse, and he calls himself impure and bangs his head against a wall a few times to drive the point home. In a flashback, we see that Charlie became a member of Joe’s flock after receiving a psychiatric discharge from the Army. He liked the killing part of being in the military a little too much.
At the farmhouse, Emma receives a call, presumably from Joe’s right hand man, Roderick. She takes the call out of earshot from the others and tells them that everything’s going to be okay – Roderick is sending help and that they should have a little faith. Ryan, still mocking the group dynamic, says that the place is surrounded by FBI agents and cops and the roads are closed and they have no way out, but, sure, have a little faith. Paul doesn’t find that very funny and punches Ryan. Emma goes upstairs and wakes little Joey up from the little nap he was taking – there was something special in his glass of milk. When she doesn’t come back right away, Paul and Jake get a little panicky and discover that she’s gone and taken Joey with her. While they’re scrambling about, Ryan has gotten his hands on a knife that the sloppy trio left nearby. He frees himself, then Megan and tells her to run. She bolts for the door and finds some SWAT team members who whisk her away. Ryan has to deal with Jake and Paul and the three get into a fight. Ryan stabs Paul and punches Jack, runs out the door himself, telling the waiting agents that the two men are the only ones left inside and then takes off in search of Joey. The FBI and police open fire on the farmhouse.
Emma is making her escape with Joey by running through the woods, and is met by the female sheriff, Ava, who, it turns out, is also a follower. She tells Emma that Roderick sent her and, when Mike Weston comes along, the sheriff shoots him. Ryan finds Mike, who tells him about Emma and the sheriff and Ryan shoots Ava, too. The police and FBI enter the farmhouse, expecting to find Jake and Paul either ready to surrender or full of bullet holes, but they’re gone, too. It seems that two followers were SWAT, then killed a couple of other SWAT guys and took their places, helping Jake and Paul to get out of the house. So now I have to qualify my earlier comment about waiting for backup. Ryan should have stood down until only those SWAT team members who don’t read blogs by cult leaders arrived. They steal a truck from a neighbor and head for the hills. The two men call Emma, but she won’t talk to them and hangs up after listening to their pleas for help. Paul thanks Jake for staying with him.
Mike Weston did manage to intercept an email from Roderick to Charlie, before the shootout at the farmhouse, and the FBI has located the warehouse. When they storm the place, Charlie destroys just about everything with a flashbang, but Claire is safe.
Joe’s attorney, Olivia, is back at the prison and he has a few more things for her to do. The first one is to give a statement that she is filing a motion, under the “cruel and unusual punishment” clause of the 8th Amendment – claiming he’s been abused by the FBI and the prison officials. For some reason, Joe wants to be transferred to a different prison. I’m sure we’ll find out why soon enough. He also tells her that she’s to continue giving him progress reports on everything that’s going on beyond his prison cell.
Ryan goes to see Claire at her house and she’s angry with him for not returning with Joey. She punches at him, but he hugs her and tries to console her. Back at her office, Debra opens her bag and pulls out a medallion, a symbol of the cult her parents belong to. Let’s hope that it’s only a souvenir. We still don’t know who Roderick is, other than the name of a character from “The Fall of the House of Usher” – could it be Joe, sending his messages out to the cult via Olivia?