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The Following, Ep. 2.02, “For Joe”: A certain helplessness

The Following, Ep. 2.02, “For Joe”: A certain helplessness

The Following S02E03 promo pic 4

The Following, Season 2, Episode 2
Written by Vincent Angell
Directed by Joshua Butler
Airs Mondays at 9pm (ET) on Fox

Here’s the thing- The Following is crazy. Like eye-rolling, “you have got to be kidding me, did that just happen?” crazy. But for all the craziness and terrible law enforcement techniques, The Following is really, really fun. Last week’s premiere, “Resurrection”, was a great reintroduction to the show and a way to meet the new characters, but far and away the best moment was Joe’s reappearance at the end of the episode. “For Joe”, the second episode, is even better.

“Resurrection” was slightly confusing, because there was so much ground to cover and so many people to introduce, but “For Joe” is more tightly constructed, exciting, and it manages to answer a few more questions, chief among them, where exactly Joe (James Purefoy) has been hiding out for the last year.  The writers make the smart choice to ease us into what he’s been up to. Seeing Joe, a man who describes himself as “inevitable”, bearded and hanging out with Judy (Carrie Preston), a prostitute and devoted follower, and her daughter Mandy is surprising only because he was such a force of nature last season.

Purefoy’s performance has always been delightfully indulgent- over-the-top and gleefully evil. The best scenes in “For Joe” are those that feature Joe and Mandy’s strange relationship, and his attack on one of Judy’s johns. “I barely know what to do with me”, he says, clearly scrambling and finally admitting his failures. It’s a great scene and Purefoy plays it perfectly; Joe’s blissful reaction to killing the john shows that he isn’t really all that anguished by having to commit murder. We get the sense that he’s been waiting for this moment for the last year, biding his time.

The Following S02E01 promo pic 2

Even though “For Joe” is only the second episode of the season, Ryan (Kevin Bacon) has already become a more intriguing character. During the first season it was often hard to connect to Ryan, but his already apparent obsession with finding answers is a good direction for the character. When Luke reminds Ryan that he’s “Mr. Death”, he has no choice but to face the fact that he couldn’t save Claire (Natalie Zea), he couldn’t stop Joe, he couldn’t stop the cult, and he couldn’t “save all the worlds’ victims”.

The only real issue in “For Joe” seems to be when it strays from Ryan’s obsession and into his rogue tracking of the twins. While it does lead to the museum scene and his first face to face with the twins, it still seems a little implausible, especially with his niece itching to call the cops at home. But The Following has always worked best when suspension of disbelief is invoked.

Only two episodes in, The Following‘s second season is unabashedly twisted, dark, and fun. “For Joe” is an awesome episode that while it stumbles briefly, rights itself quickly and is full of great moments and an ever-exciting performance from Purefoy. The episode’s biggest takeaway seems to be, what’s creepier- twins Luke and Mark (Sam Underwood) or Luke and Mark in those Joe Carroll masks?

Tressa Eckermann

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