REVIEW: The Following’s “Havenport” (1×13), by Anne W. Brennan

Or, In Which Joe Has a Very Bad Day, Part II

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Havenport is no haven for anyone, nor is it the port in the storm that Joe had imagined.  While “The Curse” saw things starting to unravel for Joe, they’re now coming apart like someone’s pulled a thread on a ratty sweater and it’s quickly turning into a ball of nasty yarn.

Weston recognizes Roderick in the police station, and Roderick flips out.  Not only does he flip out at Joe – which makes me question whether he has any fear whatsoever of Joe – he discovers that there is no honor among psychos and that Joe has just been using him all along.  Roderick bought into the “Carrollism” that Joe was selling, and his sense of betrayal is almost palpable.  And Joe?  He doesn’t care a whit.  He’s more concerned about his book and making sure everything goes according to his outline.  But it’s not, its falling apart like a bad souffle.

While the drive of this episode seems to be the safe return of Joey to the arms of the FBI (and Ryan, one of the “good guys” Claire told Joey he could trust), there are deeper threads.  The first question, of course, is just how safe IS the FBI?  With Carroll’s followers everywhere, it’s a safe bet that someone in the Bureau is a Follower (and I’m still narrowing my eyes at Parker).

Then there’s the thread of betrayal and Joe’s acolytes who are discovering that Joe’s nice, careful plan plotted from prison is no longer nice, nor is it careful.  Joe’s going off the deep-end – Roderick stole Joey; he’s at impasse with his book, as he doesn’t know what to do with Ryan whose “one step forward, two steps back” has turned into “two steps forward, one step back”; he’s angry at Claire for losing Joey; he’s angry at Emma for losing Joey; and he takes his psychotic temper out on everyone, ordering Roderick to be killed, slapping Emma, and yelling at Claire.

The one thread Joe hasn’t seemed to see, yet, is Jacob.  Jacob, who’s doubting his place in this house, who called his father last episode, who seems to hang his sense of identity on Joe, even though he knows it’s wrong.  And for all that he questioned his real place with the Followers, Emma’s the one who actually drove him further into Joe’s clutches by abandoning him and Paul at the farmhouse and for forcing him to kill Paul, mercy killing though it may have been.  Jacob will never forgive Emma for that, and he feels the pincers closing in.  And there’s still someone decent in there, I believe – he did let Joey go, after all.

But even as Jacob is doubting what the hell is going on, and with Joey’s safe return, there was the nice bit of clashing violence at the end of the episode.  Claire stabbing Joe was a moment for cheering, and it further pushed him off his edge.  He’s now trying to rewrite his whole book because nothing is holding together, and Claire, the woman he claims to love, stabs him in the gut.  Now, he tells Ryan, it’s time for Claire to die.  Can Joe go through with it?  The more the season progresses, the more the audience can see that Joe holds no one dear except, perhaps, for Joey.

And Ryan’s gambit backfired.  A member of the Following did come to the Havenport precinct, claiming fear and wanting to take the FBI up on its offer of immunity.  But those hair sticks sure do come in handy, and Nick Donovan, the FBI agent in command, learns that the hard way.  Joe’s fetish with the eyes has been transferred to his Follower, and Donovan takes the fall.

My big question now is this: is it easier to handle the psychotic whacko-ness of Joe and his followers now that Joey is supposedly safe?  Children bring out basic urges in most of us – the need to protect, to shield, to nurture, and now that Joey is no longer a hot-spot in that house of nutjobs, do we care more or less for what’s happening to these people?  Or is it at least easier for us to pay more attention to the plotting and the speedy unraveling of Joe and his followers?  We can now focus on the fact that Joe seems so surprised by how his people are turning on each other, not trusting each other, not trusting him.  In the last episode, Joe baldly stated, “I’m insane!”  Are you really insane if you realize the extent of how far off the reservation you’ve really gone?  Is he nuts or is he just an OCD control-freak who’s losing his grip on his Followers?

And really …. is Joey truly safe?