[This is the second in a series of letters sent by writer Jason Reich to Prof. Joseph Carroll, the imprisoned serial killer played by James Purefoy on the FOX’s The Following. The character is fictional. That Reich believes himself to be among Carroll’s fervent acolytes is not.]

Dear Prof. Carroll,

Hi! So many things have happened since I last wrote to you, though of course, you already know that because you’re the one who planned all those things. But still, great job on the murdering this week. One of your masked followers dumped gasoline on a book critic, set him on fire, and then just cruised down the street like a boss. And nobody was even like, “Hey, who’s that guy in the mask, and does he have anything to do with this person screaming in agony?” Apparently, nobody paid attention because this all happened in the “historic district” of Washington, DC, which must be at the intersection of Oblivious Street and Yawn Another Dude On Fire Avenue.

Seriously, though, that human torch bit was by far the coolest thing that happened in the ten minutes of this episode that wasn’t flashbacks.

Oh, Professor, it’s so romantic, the way you see each cult member as a “chapter” in your story. What will my chapter be? Suggestion: maybe it’s about someone who murders a guy who once took up two spaces with his truck so you didn’t have room to park. I hate when people do that!

Is it possible you sent my letter to an old address? Just thinking out loud here.

Professor, I got so jealous watching your followers at their “get to know you” party. That’s where the not-gay neighbors kissed for the first time. They didn’t want to, but they knew you were counting on them, so they got drunk and kissed each other. Gay-for-slay, am I right? (Hey, maybe my chapter could be about a guy who comes up with funny little puns about our group?) But then it turns out that just practicing to kiss actually made the guys gay! Does that really happen when two guys kiss? I knew all those comedy sketches were right.

The nice thing is that the flashbacks are helping me connect with you on an emotional level. For instance, the flashback of you telling Kevin Bacon to call your office and schedule an appointment really made me understand the way you handle routine clerical tasks. I feel like I know you.

You need me now more than ever, Prof. Carroll. The FBI has apparently developed a new way of tracing phone calls, which is to admit the FBI is listening so that the person on the other end hangs up immediately. And meanwhile, your network is falling apart. Your followers are not following instructions. They’re lying to each other. Plus, one of the actually-gay not-gay neighbors hooked up with a woman (?), then smashed her face and took her hostage, while the other not-gay gay neighbor and the nanny (who are dating?) sat around making personalized web videos. Is this all part of your master plan? Can you explain it to me? Seriously, can you explain it to me? Because I have no idea what the fuck is going on in that house.

Well, that’s about it for me. Looking forward to “hearing from you” with a “special message.” (I put those words in quotes in case the prison warden reads this, so he won’t know what we’re talking about.) My sister and the kids say hi.

Your devoted servant,



Comments (9)
  1. I love this series so much. I am going to start watching the show because that is how much I love reading Jason Reich’s letters to James Purefoy. You should get a cut of the royalties, Jason.

  2. I have never been so curious about The Following before. Are the guys gay or are they not gay? I hope they spend like 3 or 4 seasons fleshing out that mystery. I also look forward to finding out if Jason ever ends up getting an encrypted email with secret instructions on who to kill and where to kill them. Do you think that when Professor Carroll sends that email he will see a surprise out-of-office message from the FBI that says:

    “Thank you for your email. The FBI will be out of the office from Monday, February 11 through Wednesday, February 13 with limited access to email. The FBI will be happy to continue to surreptitiously surveil your correspondence when we return on Thursday, February 14. Best, The FBI”

  3. Is there an actual theme to this show? Something warning us about the dangers of authoritarian mindsets? Or even “Mid-19th century American genre fiction is for creeps?”

  4. Am I the only person who has had “Stop, Drop, and Roll” burned into his brain from age 5 on? Because that guy clearly came from the school of “Kneel, Flail, and Howl”…

  5. The two yes-no-gayme-so guys are messing with my mind.

  6. I’ve accepted that this show will be littered with logical inconsistencies. All silliness aside, this show is hitting the sweet spot for me: creepy cults and murderers, a weird mythology, and Kevin Bacon. It’s pulpy and cartoony but I am really enjoying it so far.

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