The Following, Season 2, Episode 14, “Silence”
Written by Scott Reynolds
Directed by Steve Shill
Airs Mondays at 9pm (ET) on Fox
“What do you think death is?”
Last week’s episode of The Following, “The Reaping”, was perhaps the best hour of the show’s scattered second season. Not only was it consistently entertaining, dark, and effective, it featured the long awaited reunion of Ryan (Kevin Bacon) and Joe (James Purefoy). Claire (Natalie Zea) revealed her survival to Joe and in perhaps the finest twist yet, Mike (Shawn Ashmore), this season’s breakout star, killed Lily Grey (Connie Nielsen) in cold blood as Ryan and Max watched in horror. It was a stunning and exceptionally well constructed moment.
Claire’s reveal to Joe, in a cleverly crafted coded message delivered by Carrie (Sprague Grayden), was a high point for Claire’s return, which has been a bit of a mixed bag for the series. Her return felt a little unnecessary and the show had been struggling, but the final scenes of “The Reaping” featured one of its best moments, Mike’s murder of Lily. Mike has been one of the best parts of season two. Watching him practically collapse in on himself after his father’s brutal murder has lead to some of the season’s best material.
“Silence” is a very good follow up to “The Reaping”, though it’s a little slower and still presents some issues, mostly with Kingston Tanner (Tom Cavanaugh) and Claire. When Ryan tells her that she’s not thinking clearly it’s as if he’s speaking for the entire audience. Her hatred and desire to kill Joe is completely understandable but her decision to go to Carrie and abandon her protection agents doesn’t really do anything but prompt a deep eye roll. Most of this stems back to the fact that she wasn’t really needed back on the show in the first place. Zea is a fine actress and she was effective as Claire in the first season, but the character served her purpose and her death was much more meaningful to Ryan as a character than anything we’ve gotten since her return.
Her resurrection was a good shocker but it sets back the season, repeating the first season’s issues. Claire is not a fierce female lead, which the show so desperately needs, especially in light of Emma (Valorie Curry) turning into an insecure, jealous mess. The main issue with Claire’s survival is that it resets the show. With only two episodes left we cannot have the same season ending dynamic that we had before. There wasn’t anything wrong with that finale, in fact it was a very good episode, but we don’t need to see it again. Emma’s death at the hands of Claire was a great scene and it was the most understandable next step. The problem, though, is The Following just lost one of its most compelling characters. What is great about Claire’s character in “Silence”, however, is the decision to have her fall into Luke and Mark’s (Sam Underwood) hands. Luke and Mark, alongside Mike, have been this season’s best characters. How unexpected was it to see them standing opposite Claire at the end of the episode?
One of the greatest things about The Following is watching Joe manipulate and play with people. Watching him work Emma, telling her that she is the “woman behind the man”, and then seeing that look on his face- it’s a stellar moment. Orchestrating the church massacre and placing Emma in a situation where she goes head to head with Claire is another great Carroll moment. You have to wonder if that was Joe’s plan from the moment he found out about Claire. Joe is essentially a coward. Of course he would send Emma in his place to take care of his issue. Purefoy has always been one of the best things about the show and these are some of his best scenes yet as Joe.
“Silence” is a good episode that is an even better lead in to the season finale. It also has the benefit of a great cliffhanger. The second season of The Following hasn’t always been perfect but judging by “Silence”, its season finale should be an interesting conclusion.
“She’s not dead, she’s just resting.”
“What would you have done if it was Joe Carroll?”
“You’re better than me”
“Everything is so different now; I’m no longer devoted to the love I thought I had for Claire”
“I’m Joe Carroll and I shall be leading your service now”
Is no one else disturbed by the fact that Mike killed someone in cold blood, Ryan lied about it, and Max (Jessica Stroup) is still starry eyed about him?