My initial enthusiasm for Fox’s new serial killer drama The Following is waning somewhat after last night’s flaccid and uninspired second episode. Picking up where the premiere episode left off, “Chapter Two” is a much less tense hour of television than I had hope for. As the episode opens, we watch Jordy (Steve Monroe), one of Joe Carroll’s followers, present himself as a police officer in order to get into a sorority house. While there, he kills three of the nine girls who were home even though, as we learn later, he is barely a halfwit, according to Carroll. Even with help from other members of Carroll’s cult of sheep, how could Jordy have managed to pull this off? 

Back at Claire Matthews’ house, it’s becoming clear that the nanny, Denise (Valorie Curry), is not who and what she said she was. Through flashbacks, we learn that her real name is Emma Hill and that she was a devoted fan of Carroll’s novel before he was sent to prison and a regular visitor once he was incarcerated. Through their meetings, Carroll arranges for Emma to meet Jacob (Nico Tortorella), known to the recently deceased Sarah Fuller as her former neighbor Will. We slowly realize that Will/Jacob is not gay and that he and his “boyfriend,” Billy/Paul (Adan Canto), are just two more of Carroll’s brainwashed acolytes. 

So, where are they now? Emma, Jacob and Paul, as we saw at the end of Episode One, have kidnapped Claire’s son, Joey, and are now hiding out in a secluded house in the middle of nowhere. Having been separated for so long (years?), Emma and Jacob can’t keep their hands off each other, leaving Paul feeling like a third wheel. We’re not sure what they plan to do with Joey, who is oblivious to the danger he is in, but it can’t be good.

Back in Virginia, Ryan has his own problems, namely his new superior, Agent Deborah Parker (Annie Parisse). After Agent Mason is kicked off the case, Parker is assigned to work with Hardy and she is very familiar (and disapproving) of his past with Carroll and Claire Matthews. But that’s for another time. For now, they are trying to figure out who “Denise” really is. They look back at all of Carroll’s visitors while he was in prison and, based on security camera footage, are able to determine her real identity. When they visit her last known address, Ryan (breaking into the house illegally, of course) is attacked by a man in an Edgar Allan Poe mask who knocks him unconscious and escapes. (How incompetent are law enforcement officials?)

The house is abandoned except for one sleeping bag and, not surprisingly, wi-fi. The walls are covered with Poe references and references to Carroll’s victims. Back at the giant encampment outside Claire’s house, Ryan realizes one of the scrawlings is a detailed map of Claire’s basement. He rushes into her house and sees Jordy holding a gun to her head. Apparently he was hiding in her attic for quite some time. Distracting him for a moment, Ryan shoots him in the shoulder and pulls Claire out of harm’s way. (This one was way too easy.) 

The episode ends with a man in a Poe mask (assumedly the same guy) walking up to a random person on the street and setting him on fire. Wow. Carroll’s followers are starting to put some sort of plan into action and we don’t really know what it is yet. We also discover that Agent Parker may be working with Carroll in some way. 

The episode was far less entertaining than last week’s so I’m hoping it will pick up again. It’s playing into far too may TV procedural pitfalls and the writing is becoming almost laughable. 

Grade: C-