It seems like all the pieces are falling into place for Joe Carroll (James Purefoy) on Fox's The Following. The FBI's technology has been compromised, Ryan Hardy (Kevin Bacon) is nearing his breaking point, and Joe's ex-wife Claire Matthews (Natalie Zea) is en route to the mansion where Joe and his followers are hiding out. Heck, Joe's even starting to bond with his son Joey (Kyle Catlett) — over s'mores, no less!
But hold on a minute. According to Purefoy, this part of the story might be only the beginning of Joe's endgame — and his "super objective" remains to be seen.
"People are beginning to realize that maybe there's a dual plan, one which they've been told about and another one," Purefoy tells TVGuide.com. "There's something much, much bigger that [Joe's] aiming towards. ... There's one [plan] for him and one for everybody else."
But in the meantime, his followers are starting to grow impatient. "Joe has essentially told them that there is going to be something big that he's going to be doing with them, that he's going to allow them to do," Purefoy explains. "That was part of the reason that they all turned up there in the first place, that they were going to be able to explore a side of themselves that they hadn't perhaps explored before. And they're all sort of just waiting for that to happen, constantly waiting. But it doesn't seem to be happening.
"Joe is really all about Joe," Purefoy adds. "That's the trouble. That's the thing that they're finding frustrating, is that until he gets Claire and Joey together with him, that he's not particularly interested in moving on to anything else."
So, now that he'll be reunited with Claire and Joey, will Phase II get underway? Not without a few complications, according to Purefoy. For starters, it appears that the frustration of Roderick (Warren Kole), Emma (Valorie Curry) and some of Joe's other cohorts might reach a boiling point in next week's episode. And to say these aren't exactly the type of people one wants to tick off would be an understatement.
"That's the difficulty with this whole community of people. They're psychopathic, batsh--- crazy people," Purefoy says. "They're all a bunch of absolute nutjobs. How can he trust anybody? ... Logic doesn't really play a big part in them in the way that it does for you or I. When people talk about, 'Why would they do it?' Because they're crazy. Because they're psychopathic. That's why."
But while The Following is clearly a work of fiction, Purefoy says that it's important for viewers to keep in mind that the cult members' actions and motivations are not unheard of. "This is not beyond the realms of possibility. It does happen. It has happened. If you look at Jim Jones and Jonestown, he managed to get 700 people to drink cyanide right in front of him," Purefoy says. "I've listened to Jim Jones' final speech, a recording of it, and it's nothing special. Really. I wouldn't follow Jim Jones on Twitter. And yet, they did. So, although we all find it very difficult to understand why people would do something like that, it's happened."
At the same time, Purefoy notes: "[Joe] is not convincing anybody to do anything they don't want to do. ... They want to do it. They're not innocent to begin with."
With that in mind, it's nerve-wracking to know that the major players at the house are feeling "a little bit jumpy," as Purefoy puts it. An emotionally unhinged Jacob (Nico Tortorella) is reeling from the death of Paul (Adan Canto), Emma's vying for Joe's affection as she tries to repair her relationship with Jacob, and Roderick finds himself clashing with Joe more and more. Does their devotion to Joe have a limit?
"[Joe's] pretty secure in the fact that Emma will do pretty much anything for him ... he thinks," Purefoy hints. "Joe has had so much time to plan this and to think about it and to get people in place. ... [But] although he claims to have dozens and dozens of people who will die for him, he starts running out of people. And he starts running out of options.
"We've got some things coming up that will really raise a few eyebrows, I can assure you," Purefoy promises. "People's eyebrows really are flying off the top of their heads."
What do you think Joe's larger plan is? And, with just five episodes left in the season, do you think it will succeed?
The Following airs Mondays at 9/8c on Fox.