There's a sense of much greater urgency, from Ryan rushing about the city as he follows the clues... to Lily bringing her killer family together... to Joe returning from the grave. It makes it far easier to get sucked into the action and excitedly wonder what will happen, rather than guessing what meaningless side quest will take place next time.
And The Following Season 2 Episode 4 definitely left you wanting more by the end of the hour.
While Ryan will always be that brooding, self-loathing anti-hero obsessed with Joe Carroll, it was great to see him add in some humor and no holds barred passion for the case.
His antics are a real problem for the bumbling FBI (poor Mike has to be a part of the team pretty much one step behind), and it was fun seeing Ryan call out the guys tailing him or joking about his new phones. Even when interrogated, he had clever responses, even if he thinks he'll probably wind up dead.
At the same time, Ryan is proving that he is valuable (something the FBI director recognizes in not holding him) in his ability to track down the bad guys. Taking photos of the car rather than blindly shooting at it - or figuring out the location of the stabbing victim through lawyer’s credits cards - were smart for the character. Things aren’t just falling into his lap.
What’s more, if you’re on his radar, he’s not going to take it easy on you. It was a bit of surprise to see him throw French ninja chick Gisele around, even punching her in the nose. Clearly, nothing is going to stop him from getting what he wants.
Except, unfortunately, when a couple guys grab him because she pretends he’s going to hurt her with his gun. Where were those helpful people during the girl-on-girl fight?
And even with her escaping, the show pulled another quick one by revealing Ryan’s niece, Max, got on the train to continue pursuit followed by credits. I was captivated by everything going on and ready for a commercial break to see what was next; I couldn’t believe that was the end. I’m just worried that Ryan’s whole “everyone around me dies” is going to apply to Max. She might be walking right into the lion’s den.
And that den has gotten more dangerous with the return of Joe and his meeting up with Lily and her brood.
It’s a rather positive notion that the series isn’t wasting time in putting the two factions together so soon. There’s so many possibilities and personalities to clash that it makes you wonder what the new plan for these killers will be.
We have at least some sense of who Joe is, especially in seeing him not kill the woman who helped him along the way. She also happens to be connected to the stiff FBI boss always on Ryan’s case, so most likely she’ll wind back up in Joe’s crosshairs. But Joe didn’t need to kill her... yet.
As for Lily, she seems unpredictable, though we've yet to scratch the surface of her character. That said, she has an affinity for her “children” (and maybe something more with with Luke) and tying up loose ends with people that seemingly know nothing puts her on a different playing field.
What does she want from Joe? Does she want to be his lover? Team up? Learn from him? Kill him?
Lily gets to be seductive, mysterious and motherly all the same time and it’s frightening. This merging of families (Lily and Joe seem very much like a mother and father) looks to be an even bigger problem for Ryan down the line. But with any family, there’s always going to be some sibling rivalry and dissent. Guess we’ll see what this collection of crazies are capable of very soon.
Things may have gotten of to a slow start, but the hour soon founds its engrossing groove in moving things right along. I’m hoping that The Following Season 2 doesn’t slow down.
Should Joe trust Lily?
Sean McKenna is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow him on Twitter.