David Griesbrecht/Fox
Jeff Jensen
February 12, 2013 AT 03:01 AM EST

Sometimes, a crisis can bring people closer together. Sometimes, it can push them further apart. Ryan Hardy, a man who aspires to live unconnected to anyone or anything except maybe a bartender or a liquor store, tried to avoid either scenario last night after vengeful Maggie Kester made a move against his sister. Alas, Hardy could not escape the ordeal without becoming just slightly more re-humanized. But it did yield one change that I think Hardy enjoyed as much as the audience: New wardrobe! Bye-bye, somber black skinny tie, which never got to show us what it could really do. If only Hardy would have buttoned that top button! If only!

“Mad Love” was light on some of the things that have helped keep me interested in The Following, including James Purefoy’s Joe Carroll. We got just two quick scenes with the imprisoned puppet master, beginning with a meeting with Ryan Hardy to discuss Rick and Maggie Kester. You thought firebug Rick with his silly Poe mask was a piece of work? Turned out Maggie was the one who wore to real psycho pants in the relationship. Her real name was Margaret Schuller, and between 2002 and 2005, she had murdered six people in Arkansas. Yep, she was a bona fide serial killer before she ever met and formed a strategic alliance with Joe. “I find Margaret to be extremely resourceful, tenacious and impressive,” said Carroll, sounding like something of a fan himself.

Just as the team discovered that Margaret had knifed a man in the parking lot of a hardware store after buying some brick-sized industrial magnets, Ryan’s phone rang. It was his divorced chef/restaurant owner sister, Jenny Orson, calling for the second time in the episode. He let it pass into voicemail the first time, but decided to pick up the second. It wasn’t a friendly call, but then, the caller wasn’t a friendly person. “I just have one question: How do you want me to kill your sister?” asked Maggie, who had abducted Jenny and was holding her captive at her Williamsburg, New York eatery. She wanted vengeance for her husband. And she was willing to trade Jenny’s life for Ryan’s. She told Ryan to tell no one and to come alone.

Before Ryan could get out of the building, Agent Weston – who pieced together what was going down — was nipping at his heels and demanding to come along to provide back-up. He promised to keep their mission a secret. Hardy warned Weston he’d get fired if caught going off book with him. “Actually, I think I am traumatized from the loss of a fellow agent,” replied Weston, referring to the death of Agent Troy Reilly last week. “I’m not thinking clearly I’ll probably get off with a warning.”

Hardy appreciated the gesture. But he resisted to Weston’s continued efforts to get personal and forge a bond during the car ride to New York. “My name is Mike, sir. You keep calling me ‘Weston’ by my name is Mike,” he said, as if trying to shame Hardy into being more of a human being. Weston asked Hardy about his relationship with his sister. A few quick flashbacks had already given us some insight that Weston lacked: That Hardy and Jenny had once been close; that Jenny nudged Hardy to get some help for his drinking problem; and that Hardy pushed her away for good after crapping on what sounded like self-help/12-step jargon. (Did you get the sense Jenny might have been a recovery addict herself?)  Instead of telling Weston any of this, Hardy merely said things between him and his sister were “complicated.” Weston said he could sympathize, said he had three brothers who… oh, but Hardy didn’t want to hear it, and he rolled up his coat and tried to sleep the rest of he way to Brooklyn. Weston felt rejected.

NEXT: The Downer

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