The Following, Season 2, Episode 7, “Sacrifice”
Written by Scott Reynolds
Directed by Adam Davidson
Airs Mondays at 9pm (ET) on FOX
Last week’s episode of The Following, “Fly Away”, was mixed, although it did end strong with Joe (James Purefoy) and Ryan (Kevin Bacon) catching a glimpse of each other for the first time this season, Luke’s (Sam Underwood) brutal beating at the hands of Mike (Shawn Ashmore), and Lily’s (Connie Nielsen) collapse.
While there are lots of great moments in “Sacrifice”, The Following still hasn’t quite recovered from its previous episode. For one thing, Joe seems off his game, an observation this reviewer made last week as well. First there was his drugging at the hands of Lily and now he walks himself, Emma (Valorie Curry), and Mandy (Tiffany Boone) into the intense, terrifying cult that presumably gets Emma killed at the end of this week’s episode. It’s understandable that Joe is a man without a lot of options left but he’s always been the smartest character on the show, so seeing him act rather irrationally is jarring.
All that being said, this new cult led by Micah (Jake Webber) and wife Julia (Jacinda Barrett) is unnerving. Joe’s character choices haven’t exactly made sense this season but watching him stumble and look for footing within this new group is very entertaining. Micah is also an intriguing new character, if only because he’s so different from Joe, although his introduction does highlight a major problem for this season.
There seems to be one too many things going on, and that’s only really been a problem the last few episodes. Joe hardly seems like himself, Lily’s spinning off in the background with no real connection to Joe anymore, and now there’s Micah. It’s obvious the writers are trying something new with this season, and it mostly works, but “Sacrifice” just seems a little disjointed. Hopefully connections between the characters, in particular Joe and Ryan, will resurface soon. All of the new characters are interesting but they don’t seem to have a place yet.
Even though the episode is far from perfect, there are still stand out moments. Max (Jessica Stroup) has become the show’s voice of reason for Ryan and it’s refreshing, because it leads to his best moment of the night. We’ve known all season that Ryan’s driving desire is to kill Joe but his confession that his new life is all for Joe, all to drive him crazy and make him angry, is an exceptional moment. Max brings this out in Ryan, which makes the fact that the writers keep putting her in the damsel in distress role all the more frustrating.
Ryan’s confession and the brutal murder of Mike’s father are the finest scenes of the night. After last week it was clear that Mike was slowly becoming one of the best things about The Following. His unhinged, albeit justified, beating of Luke last week and his watching his father die at the hands of Lily both take his character to a very interesting place.
“Sacrifice” has its issues, but ultimately it’s better than “Fly Away”. The Following’s second season has been great so far, and even better is the fact that they have set up each of the characters to go in different, intriguing directions in the coming weeks.