Flashbacks (also called analepsis) are a common literary technique in which the current events are interrupted to recreate an incident of an event of earlier occurrence. This device is often used to provide additional information about characters and story as well as an insight into a character’s motivation and background relevant to the events that are currently being unfolded in the story.
Flashback devices are commonly used to depict events that have happened before the primary sequence of events in the overall story arc.
In the series, flashbacks are used very frequently to give exposition to new characters or events that are brought up in conversations.
Ryan Hardy tells Claire about has investigation, and she advises him that the killer might be emulating Edgar Allan Poe to some extent. She says that he should talk to her husband, who knows a lot about the subject.
Sarah is walking home with her roommate, Annie, while Joe Carroll is waiting for them in the house. He kills Annie, then makes his way over to Sarah. Ryan Hardy, who is following Carroll around, hears the screams and breaks into the house, saving Sarah's life and shooting Carroll.
Sarah is testifying against Joe Carroll in federal court, claiming that Carroll had stabbed her repeatedly, and that because she was too weak to pull it out, she tried to push it in to bleed out faster.
Emma is attending a book signing hosted by Joe Carroll. He signs her copy of The Gothic Sea and she tells him that she loved it. He tells her that she made his day, then adjusts her hair, telling her that she has lovely eyes. Emma's mother, Sharon Cooper then comes in and he adds an inscription, "To Emma- hopefully yours," as the two walk away.
Claire is in the kitchen of her new home with Ryan Hardy. Hardy tells her that her ex-husband will be sentenced soon and she says that she never wants to see him again. Ryan tells her that she won't have to.
Emma is meeting Carroll in prison, showing him her new shorter haircut. She tells him that her mother thinks it makes her look like a boy, and Carroll tells her that her mother doesn't understand her. He sets her up on a date with Jacob Wells. They meet for the first time at a cafe and he tells her that she's his type... special.
Emma is preparing dinner at her house with Jacob and her mother is also there. Emma's Mom tells Jacob that she can't believe that he's dating Emma because he's presumably out of her league. Jacob tells her that Emma's the most amazing woman he knows. Emma then pulls a knife and stabs her mother, much to Jacob's disbelief.
Ryan sits in on one of Carroll's classes, then goes over to his house. At Carroll's house, they discuss the murders in depth and Carroll offers Hardy a drink. Ryan thanks him for the help (and the book) and tells Carroll that the investigation has taken over his life. Carroll says that he'd be the same way and that what Hardy does is quite remarkable. The two share one last drink together.
Rick is meeting with Carroll at the prison. He tells Joe that he likes fire, and Carroll tells him that it makes a statement. Rick says that he wants to target Carroll's critics and burn them to death, rather than stabbing them, as he's not good with knives.
Rick is meeting with Jacob, Emma, Paul, and Jordy. They tell him that he should just use fire if he hates blood so much. They tell Rick Kester that fire is okay, because even though it doesn't go with stabbing the eyes out, Carroll would want them to find their own ways.
Emma tells Paul and Jacob that they are to act as a gay couple and move in next door to Sarah Fuller for when Carroll escapes from prison. She says that this will better build Sarah's trust than it would if they were straight. But she says that they need to kiss to make it believable and tells them to try it so she can see if it will work. They kiss and Emma decides to go through with the plan.