The Following has definitely stepped up its game after its first two episodes, both of which were rather unimpressive. With so much hype going into the series premiere, it wouldn’t have been surprising if the pilot episode had been less thrilling than I (and Fox) had made it out to be. Even so, the pilot was pretty rough. The dialogue was atrocious and nearly every scene was ripped from some other serial killer or psychopath movie/TV show.  I can only attribute the enhanced quality of the show’s writing since that time to the fact that creator Kevin Williamson must read my recaps and saw how disappointed I was. It’s good to know these can serve a purpose. 

What is most surprising is that the characters I have become most interested and invested in are Paul, Jacob and Emma. Joe Carroll’s trio of psychopaths-in-training has become a bizarre little threesome that gets more interesting each week. Instead of becoming cursory players that just move the plot along, the three have themselves become reasons to watch the show. It’s an interesting dynamic: Jacob and Emma are in a relationship, but Paul is clearly in love with Jacob having developed feelings for him after the two posed as a gay couple for three years. We also know that Paul and Jacob’s relationship became physical at some point in those three years, but we don’t know for how long or how intense their feelings were for one another. 

With this week’s episode (“Mad Love”), we see how Jacob and Emma react to the uninvited guest Paul brought home. Last week, we saw Paul run off in a huff and kidnap Meghan, an unsuspecting convenience store employee. Now, she’s tied up in a basement, surrounded by three people who are clearly out of their minds. Jacob and Emma think Paul brought Meghan home as a way of acting out because he isn’t getting enough attention, but his motives are much darker. Paul confronts Emma about Jacob and reveals that, unlike everyone else in Joe’s cult, Jacob has never killed anyone. Paul’s plan is to convince Emma to force Jacob to kill a person who could identify all of them. 

Emma is unhappy with Jacob for lying to all of them and tells him he has to kill Meghan. He tries, but eventually decides to let Meghan escape. Unfortunately, Emma and Paul are much faster than she is and she is caught quite quickly. She is returned to the basement to await her death. Meanwhile, we watch as Paul and Emma bond over their shared experience and begin to kiss before getting in the shower together. Jacob joins them and the three embrace, for once appearing as a single, functioning unit. Now, that’s good TV! 

The rest of the episode is Ryan running around being the worst FBI agent in the world. Maggie, who who’ll remember is a part of Joe’s legion, abducts Ryan’s sister, Jenny, as revenge for Ryan killing her husband at the end of last week’s episode. Ryan volunteers to meet Maggie if she will let Jenny go because, why not? If a serial killer can’t be trusted, who can? Of course, things go badly for Ryan when Maggie ties him up and puts heavy duty magnets on his chest to dull his pacemaker – you forgot he had that, didn’t you? – but Mike Weston comes in and kills Maggie, saving the day.

We get an unnecessary amount of backstory about Ryan’s relationship with Claire and the family tragedies that have plagued Ryan and Jenny. In the end, though, it’s just more filler of Ryan thinking he’s not good enough for Claire and preferring to be a loner than taking the chance of hurting her. Ugh. 

I was very impressed with “Mad Love” and can only hope the intrigue continues to build as the season progresses. 

Grade: B+