I’m really coming around to the idea that Agent Parker is a part of the Carroll Cult (or at least some member of this crack investigating team) because otherwise they are just genuinely the most inept FBI agents to ever leave the academy. Under their watch Sarah Fuller has ben kidnapped and killed, Jordy broke in and held Claire hostage and now, after sending one (ONE!) agent to guard a woman with substantial ties to the cult, said agent ends up dead. Oh, and the biggest leverage they had, Jordy, was able to kill himself uninterrupted since he apparently wasn’t being guarded at all. I assume the writers are trying to show how smart and in control Joe is, even behind bars, but all they are managing to show is its not that hard to be smarter than these agents.
Chapter three in Joe Carroll’s magnum opus was all about revenge. Not revenge for Rick, the Poe masked killer actually responsible for the fiery street performance, but revenge for Carroll. We learned that the victim of the midday torching was a critic who gave Joe’s novel a particularly harsh review. So how does one get someone else to exact revenge for them? No idea. Even Agent Parker, the cult aficionado, is at a loss for what exactly Carroll uses to motivate his acolytes; what the message of this cult is.
In this instance I can’t blame it on ineptness, but on poor storytelling. So far the only explanation we’ve been given for Joe’s power over these lost souls is his charm and expert manipulating wiles. That’s great and James Purefoy certainly does charming well, but I have to believe it takes more than an English accent to convince people to kill for you, with absolutely no gain for themselves. But perhaps that’s just wishful thinking. Either way, there’s no time to figure out a better explanation because the dean that denied Joe tenure has just been gutted.
The big reveal of the episode wasn’t the clichéd twist of Maggie’s allegiance (could a woman really be married to a man and have no idea he’s a member of sociopath fan club? Well, maybe, but this isn’t a Lifetime movie). The big reveal came with the only hint we’ve been given to an endgame. The episode ended with an email sent to Claire showing Joey being talked into suffocating a mouse. While Joey is in the care of his captors they will be training him in the ways of his father. And that is more disturbing than any incineration or evisceration could ever be.
Could this be the message of the Carroll Cult? Has Joe Carroll merely moved into a larger classroom with a darker curriculum? Has he lured in these lost souls, drawn to him through their own dark desires, and promised them training and guidance in return for helping him write his own bloody masterpiece? It still seems like a rather weak meaning, but it’s the best we’ve got.