The Following, Season 2, Episode 4
Written by Brett Mahoney
Directed by Marcos Siega
Airs Mondays at 9pm (ET) on FOX
“Scars make people more interesting”
Family seems to be the driving force of The Following this season. There’s Mark and Luke’s (Sam Underwood) unhealthy obsession with a proper family, Emma (Valorie Curry) has always desired a place where she belonged, and Lily (Connie Nielsen) has created a family for herself, all of whom seem as transfixed with Joe (James Purefoy) as she is.
The Following has been on a roll this season. It’s been quick, smart, dark, and witty. In a lot of ways (with all the followers split up, Ryan struggling with the loss of Claire, and Joe slowly coming out of hiding), this is a rewrite for the show. So far it’s been working exceptionally well. “Family Affair”, though, is a misstep. It seems like filler, just pushing characters where they need to be to move the story along. That is until the episodes final moments, when we get three great twists: Max (Jessica Stroup) is following Gisele (Camille De Pazzis), Joe and Lily come face to face, and perhaps most shockingly, Agent Mendez’s (Valerie Cruz) relationship with Jana (Leslie Bibb), one of Joe’s supporters.
One of The Following’s finest accomplishments has always been showing the inner workings of the cult and how the group members interact; there were times during the first season when that seemed like one of the only good things about the show. So far, this year is no different. Lily is quickly becoming one of The Following’s most compelling characters, mostly due to Nielsen’s ability as an actor and some really amazing writing. She’s a hard character to pin down and if she scares Emma, you know she’s truly dangerous and unpredictable. “Family Affair” slowly introduces us to Lily’s background, giving us two slightly different stories, and what’s the most striking about their scenes together is how similar she and Emma really are.
After “Trust Me”, one of the best episodes of The Following, “Family Affair” is disappointing. That’s not to say that there aren’t great moments. Purefoy’s “death is a precious gift” speech to Mandy is one of the night’s finest scenes and it’s been good seeing a different side of Mike (Shawn Ashmore). Losing Debra (Annie Parisse) has hardened him and made him numb; hopefully the writers will see the potential of Ashmore and use him more. Ryan and Max’s chase of Gisele is also a great scene.
Even with those good moments though, “Family Affair” just seems kind of dull. Sure it moves the story along, but it still somehow just sits there. It feels lifeless and slips into a few of the issues that dragged the show down in the past, chief among them the ridiculous ineptitude of the law enforcement officials. The series has so many great attributes that it’s a shame when they get overshadowed by these silly moments. The Following has been great this season; hopefully the show will be able to right itself after the disappointing “Family Affair”.