The Following

Season 1 Episode 3

The Poet's Fire

Aired Monday 9:00 PM Feb 04, 2013 on FOX

Episode Recap

A street performer wearing a Poe masks recites "The Raven" for a crowd of pedestrians. A man, Stan Fellows, walks by and ignores the performer, and goes to get some food from a stand. After finishing his recital, the performer goes over to Fellows, pours gasoline on him, and sets him on fire.

Claire wakes up and finds her ex-husband in bed. He strangles her and Claire wakes up from her nightmare. She goes to the door and asks the guard where Ryan is, and he says that Ryan left an hour ago.

At the detention center, Debra tells Ryan that they've identified six sets of fingerprints from the attic of Emma's house. There are several others that they haven't identified. Debra wonders what connects the six of them and Ryan explains that Carroll is a great teacher, and that he knows from when he saw the man teach.


Ryan watches from the back of the oom as Carroll addresses his students. He tells his students that each of them must pick a moral code and apply it to their writing and make it unique.

The Present

Debra is notified that Jordy has woke up and she and Ryan go to see the man. Jordy refuses to tell them where they can find Joey, and point out that they have nothing to threaten him with since he figures he'll die in prison once his fellow prisoners learn he's a correctional officer. Ryan tells Jordy that he's talked to Carroll and warns the man that Carroll is unhappy with him for failing to kill Claire. Jordy realizes that Ryan is trying to weaken his resolve and sings to himself, trying to block out Ryan.

An agent informs them about Fellows' death and Ryan recognizes the victim. He tells the others that Fellows was a book critic that panned Carroll's book. The masked street performer printed words from Poe's work on the confetti that he threw into the crowd, confirming that he's part of Carroll's cult.

At the country house, Jacob and Paul watch the news about the recent murder, happy that Rick carried out Carroll's orders to the letter. Jacob warns Paul that Emma is unhappy that Paul is angry with her.


Emma, Paul, Rick, Jordy, and Jacob gather in Emma's attic and discuss their preferred method of killing. Rick is intrigued by the idea of burning people.

The Present

Paul warns Jacob that Emma can't be trusted and that he sees a different woman than Jacob does. Emma comes in, having overheard them, and asks Paul for an explanation. Disgusted, he tells her to forget it and walks out.

Mike checks CCTV security footage and spots Rick arriving in a car and putting on his Poe mask. They go to his home and Debra takes a team in. As they search the house, a woman with a knife leaps out and attacks them. They easily restrain her and she tells them that her name is Maggie Kester and she lives there.

The team takes Maggie back to the FBI office and she tells them that Rick is her husband. They separated six months ago but has been stalking her ever since. Maggie admits that she hid from them because she didn't know who was coming into the house. Once they check her story and confirm its true, Ryan shows Maggie the police report that she filed when she was in the ER with a stab wound. Maggie tells them that Rick stabbed her after she asked him for a divorce. However, she didn't press charges because Rick apologized to her. Since then Rick has become worse, hanging out with new friends and talking about death and life. Debra tells Maggie that they'll keep her safe until they find her husband. Once Ryan steps out with Debra, he asks her if she believe Maggie and the agent figures that Maggie imagines a certain type of man in her head. Rick figures that Rick is their best chance of finding Joey and wants to talk to Carroll, but Debra insists on doing it alone.

Jacob is outside playing with Joey when Paul tries to apologize to Emma inside the house. He suggests that they call a truce for Carroll's sake and Emma agrees. However, as Paul turns to leave, Emma slashes him with a knife and warns him not to turn Jacob against her.

Debra talks with Carroll and asks about his hand, and then congratulates him on his ongoing story. Carroll thanks her for bringing him the book that he requested earlier and she wonders why he's doing something petty like having his cult members kill his critics.


Rick comes to see Carroll in prison and they talk about how he feels that fire is the best way to murder. Carroll gently encourages him to speak his mind and Rick volunteers to go after the people who criticized Carroll's novel.

The Present

Carroll admits that he's not above revenge and feels that as a universal theme it's suitable for his new novel. However, he says that there are only three people that he holds accountable for his downfall. He calls to Ryan over the camera, well aware that the ex-agent is watching. Carroll asks Ryan who he holds accountable for his downfall and expresses sympathy for the street on Ryan and his heart. Disgusted, Ryan walks out of the monitor room while Carroll turns back to Debra and smiles. Debra leaves to find Ryan, who is going through the books in the office. He's already worked out that Carroll the three men that Carroll is talking about: Fellows, Ryan, and Dean of Literature Phillip Barnes, who refused Carroll tenure after his novel failed.

At Winslow University, Rick breaks into Barnes' office and waits for his return. Once the dean returns, Rick asks why he denied Carroll tenure. When Barnes refuses to answer, Rick stabs him repeatedly and calmly watches the older man die. As Barnes dies, Rick admits that he's never killed anyone with a knife before.

When the FBI gets word of Barnes' death, they come to the university. As Ryan looks around the campus, Debra tells him that he couldn't have prevented Barnes' death. The ex-agent disagrees, pointing out that Carroll is baiting him.


Ran approaches Carroll after the lecture and asks for his help investigating the murders. Carroll is glad to assist but tells Ryan that he has another appointment and that they'll have to meet later.

The Present

Jacob takes photos of Emma and Joey together. Paul watches them and binds his wound, while Joey again asks Emma if he can call his mother. She reminds him that she's already said no and can't let him call Claire.


At Emma's house, she tells Jacob and Paul that Carroll wants them to impersonate a gay couple so that they can get close to Sarah Fuller. She threatens to report them to Carroll if they refuse and they haltingly practice kissing each other before breaking into giggles.

The Present

Paul grabs his cell phone and marches out of the house to his car. Jacob goes after him, warning Paul that people are looking for them, but Paul tells him that he's a liar and drives away.

At the detention center, Ryan drinks from his water bottle filled with vodka. He drinks a cup of coffee to balance it out and Mike comes over, having watched the entire thing. Ryan refuses to discuss his drinking and shows Mike Rick's credit card records. He then calls Claire and tells her that they have a suspect in Joey's abduction. Ryan reads off the purchases, which are all toys, and Claire confirms that they are Joey's favorite toys. Rick assures Claire that the purchases mean that Joey's abductors want him alive, but Claire isn't comforted. Ryan then goes to see Maggie and asks why her husband bought toys, but she says that she has no idea what Rick does with his own credit card.

As they talk, Ryan calls on Maggie's cell phone. Maggie asks what he's done and she tells him that she's with the FBI. Rick asks for Ryan and says that it's all for him, and then hangs up. Mike fails to trace the call and Debra tells Troy to take Maggie home and stay with her. Ryan offers to go with them, but Debra tells him to go to their motel and get some sleep. She smells the alcohol on Ryan's breath and says that she knows she's overidentifying with the cult's victims, but warns him that he's losing control. Ryan reluctantly goes to his desk and prepares to leave. Mike approaches him and, well aware that he's going to go to Maggie's house anyway, offers to drive.

Jacob puts Joey in bed and then talks to Emma. He tells her that Paul just needs to blow off steam and is sure that he won't go into town. Emma is waiting for Rick to call before sending an email and is disgusted that nobody is following Carroll's orders.

In town, Paul goes to a grocery store and eyes a woman. She notices and walks off, disgusted, so Paul turns to the clerk, Megan. He flirts with her and Megan responds, and he asks her what time she gets off.

Troy checks out Maggie's house and then tells her to do what she does normally. Mike calls to tell Troy that he and Ryan are outside, claiming that Debra knows that they're there. Troy figures that Rick won't endanger himself and come back, but Mike figures that Rick and the others will continue escalating their crimes. Once they settle down in the car to wait, Mike tries to chat with Ryan about his family. Ryan doesn't want to talk about it and says that he's going to walk around the house.


One night when Claire is out with Joey, Ryan arranges a meeting with Carroll at the professor's home. They review the photos of the victims and Ryan tells Carroll about Claire's theory that the killer is cutting out the eyes as a homage to Poe. Carroll admits that it's possible and gives Ryan a copy of his novel. Ryan accepts it and Carroll offers him a drink.

The Present

Paul and Megan drive out into the country and make out while drinking. Megan insists that they're not having sex and Paul agrees. However, he then starts to choke her. Scared, Megan tries to get out and Paul assures her that he wasn't trying to hurt her. The clerk says that she has to go home and Paul escorts her to her car... and then rams her head into the car repeatedly until she passes out.

Debra visits Jordy in the detention hospital and tells the killer that she talked to Carroll. She claims that the professor wants to see Jordy but she won't allow it unless Jordy tells her something useful.

As Troy checks the house, Maggie asks if he's married. The agent admits that he's divorced but that his wife wasn't the one with a problem. Troy hears something moving in the backyard and goes to investigate. He sees someone moving but goes back inside. Mike calls and Troy tells him that someone is in the back, and Mike goes to the backyard.

Jordy finally gives in and tells Debra that he doesn't know where they have Joey. He tells her that Emma, Paul, and Jacob have Joey, but then slips and says that Maggie was the one who figured out where they would hide Joey.

Mike finds Ryan outside and Debra calls to tell them that Maggie is one of Carroll's students.

Maggie's cell phone vibrates and she asks Troy to read it for him. He tells Maggie that it says, "Now" and she stabs him in the neck. As he collapses to the floor, blood shooting everywhere, Maggie runs to the back door where Rick is waiting for her.


Rick stabs Maggie in the stomach. They're at Emma's house, playing a game of Truth or Dare. Maggie gasps that Rick drove the knife in too far and Emma says that they need to get her to the hospital.

The Present

Ryan and Mike enter the house and Ryan runs out while Mike applies pressure to the gaping wound. When Ryan orders Maggie to halt, she claims that Rick is attacking her, but Ryan tells her that it's over. He then turns and shoots Rick as he sneaks up on him, but the killer manages to tackle him. They struggle and the gun goes off, hitting Rick in the stomach. When Ryan turns, he discovers that Maggie has escaped. He goes into the house and realizes that Troy is dead.

The next morning, Jacob and Emma are in the house and hear a woman crying in the kitchen. They check it out and discover that Paul has gagged and tied up Megan. Paul tells them that Megan is a friend and that she'll be staying with them. Disgusted, Emma says that Paul has lost his mind, but Paul tells her that he's done listening to her. Jacob tells her to check on Joey while he deals with the situation. Once she leaves, Paul says that he's tired of being the third wheel in the group, and asks if Emma knows the truth about them. Paul reminds his friend that they promised not to tell anyone, particularly Emma.


Paul and Jacob return from a wine party at Sarah's house. They start another bottle and then, drunk, finally have sex with each other.

The Present

Jacob offers to help Paul with Megan and they take her down to the basement.

Debra arrives outside of Maggie's house as the EMTs take Troy's body away. She's angry that Maggie managed to fool her.


Carroll autographs the novel for Ryan and says that it hasn't been selling well. When Ryan talks about how rarely he has time to take a break, Carroll expresses his admiration for Ryan and what he does to save people's lives and bring killers to justice. He offers Ryan one more drink before he goes and Ryan accepts.

The Present

Ryan tells Debra that Carroll managed to fool him years ago, and that the professor has a charisma that lets him give people something that they're missing in their lives.

In his room, Jordy begs Carroll for forgiveness. He then rips off his shoulder bandage with his teeth and swallows it until he chokes to death.

Claire calls Ryan to tell him that he received an email. When he goes to her house, she shows him the attached video. It shows Emma and Jacob showing Joey how to kill a mouse by suffocating it in a jar. As they say that they're just getting started, Claire tells Ryan that he has to find her son before they turn him into a killer. As she leaves the room, Emma has Joey wave to the camera and say, "Hi, Ryan."