“I’m not interested in the right thing.”
The Following has been moving along wonderfully this season. It’s been dark, violent, and strangely funny. Luke and Mark (Sam Underwood) have seriously notched up the creepy factor and there have already been a few great twists. Plus now that Joe (James Purefoy) is back in fine form with a clean shave and new suit, we know things are only going to get better from here.
That’s not to say that the show hasn’t had issues since its return. “Family Affair”, the season’s fourth episode, was slow and disrupted the show’s quick pacing and great momentum. And where is Mike (Shawn Ashmore)? Last season he had a hero worship of Ryan (Kevin Bacon) and this season he’s finally in a position of authority. While we’ve seen him use this, it’s been rare and not at all worthy of the character.
Lily’s (Connie Nielsen) still such a question mark. On one hand she has shaken up the show in a way that was desperately needed. She could prove to be either the perfect foe or companion for Joe but no matter what, she will continue to be one of the most fascinating characters on the show. She’s fierce and crazy (just take a look at that kill room), which for The Following is pretty much the perfect combination, and Nielsen is an incredibly talented actress. However, there’s still a potential problem with Lily, in her central storyline.
Her merry band of psycho kids, with the exception of Luke and Mark, who are so fun to watch, may get out of hand and make things messy. As this reviewer pointed out last week, The Following works best when it focuses on the dynamics of the cult followers. The only issue with that is they actually have to be interesting, not just pieces to move around and push the story forward. Remember Roderick (Warren Kole) from last season? He was a good character up until the moment he descended into an obsessive stalker parody.
While it’s interesting seeing Joe potentially have a new cult to lead, it seems nearly impossible that Lily will just give up her control, even if she is crazy about Joe. Her storyline is working right now, especially after the extra bloody love scene with Joe, but the writers will have to tread lightly if they don’t want her and her family to fall into chaos like the cult did last season.
Thankfully, “Reflection” recovers the buzzing energy season 2 had up until “Family Affair”. Ryan and Max’s (Jessica Stroup) interrogation of Gisele is one of the episodes finest moments because it highlights the violent similarities between Ryan and Joe. That connection has always been one of the best things about The Following. It also serves as a confirmation for what Ryan really wants. We’ve known since the episode when Claire (Natalie Zea) died that Ryan would want Joe dead but actually hearing him say the words, “what I want is very simple. I want to kill Joe Carroll”, is chilling. Ryan and Joe have yet to have a face to face but now that Ryan has killed Gisele, it’s put him in the path of Luke. In many ways he’s just as dangerous as Joe.
“Reflection” is a fine episode and a great return to the feeling that the first episodes of the season had. Now that The Following is back on track, it’s going to be exciting seeing where the show will go from here.