"He's unraveling," The Following's Ryan Hardy (Kevin Bacon) said of cult leader Joe Carroll (James Purefoy) in the most recent episode of Fox's serial killer drama.
With Joe suffering from writer's block, dealing with incompetent followers, and realizing that the FBI is getting closer and closer to his hideout, it does seem like the demented web he's weaving is coming apart at the seams. And in Monday's new episode (9/8c, Fox), it becomes clearer than ever that things are not quite falling into place for the escaped serial killer.
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"You start to see that he does have vulnerabilities, and that maybe this master plan is not as well thought out as he thought it was," Bacon tells TVGuide.com. "The second that that happens, [Ryan] has the instinct to know that's what's going on with him."
While Joe may be losing the war, he's certainly won some battles along the way, particularly his psychological battles with Ryan. In last week's episode, as Joe held Mike Weston (Shawn Ashmore) hostage, he forced Ryan to recount the story of his father's murder, which also made Ryan realize that, like Joe, he's fueled and motivated by death.
"It strangely invigorates him, makes him come alive," Bacon admits of his character. "So often, Joe is able to push [Ryan] to an emotional place. And he's not a guy that can really emotionally disconnect himself from his job. ... Which is probably why things didn't work out for him at the FBI. He just is too wrapped up in this, to the extent that he even sleeps with a serial killer's ex-wife. I think that was misguided."
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Misguided or not, Ryan's love for Claire (Natalie Zea) is the main driving force for him as The Following heads into its final three episodes. "Getting Joey and getting Claire are really the big motivators towards the end of the season. I think that they become more important than Joe," Bacon says. "Yes, of course, he needs to be stopped. But I think that [Ryan's] real desire is to get this child and this woman back safely."
Of course, Claire isn't the only woman in Ryan's life. Viewers also know that his on-again, off-again friend with benefits, Molly, is one of Joe's followers. Looks like that might be another way that Joe still has the upper hand over Ryan — for now.
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"It's again one of these just amazing kind of puppet-master aspects of Joe Carroll's mind that he's actually able to find somebody on the outside," Bacon says. "Not only are they watching me, not only is he learning information, but she's actually sleeping with me, and videotaping it. It's pretty hardcore."
For more on The Following, check out our exclusive video with Bacon below:
The Following airs Mondays at 9/8c on Fox.