Do I detect a hint of The Following Season 1?
Don’t get me wrong, The Following Season 2 Episode 5 did have its moments, but some of the running around reminds me of the last time Ryan Hardy tried to find Joe Carroll’s mansion for killers.
Certainly, The Following Season 2 Episode 4 left things in a riveting spot as Max continued to pursue karate-action Gisele. So it was good to see Ryan and his niece capture her, especially with Ryan coming out of the shadows, gun trained, attitude on.
I do wonder how much of the “good cop, bad cop” routine was actually just that during her interrogation. Ryan seems obsessed with revenge and I would find it hard to believe that he doesn’t indeed want to put an ice pick in Joe’s brain.
Not to mention his anger busting through as he choked Gisele. I kind of expected him to use the knife on her and stab her in the leg or something, but I guess she got the message.
Still, it's obvious that Ryan is unhinged, just not completely. Yet.
Was I surprised that Gisele managed to escape? No, but I cringed at the sounds of bones cracking as she mangled her hand to get it through the cuff. I also laughed at how easily Max was knocked out. Guess that had to happen.
But sometimes the cat and mouse game can feel silly (even more so with the FBI, who seem so far behind. If it weren’t for Mike Weston, they’d be unnecessary to the show.)
It’s good to see Ryan take charge, but it can often feel like he’s running headlong into obvious danger. Sure, he managed to kill one of the new French guys who we just learned his name, but was Ryan’s only option to do it by playing dead?
And then Ryan was on the run from Luke and Gisele. While it was at least a bit more realistic, Ryan did actually mange to get hurt, I can’t help but wish he would realize perhaps a little backup would help. He’s not successfully taking out bad guys with ease. Give Mike a call, he’s not really doing much.
But amidst the back and forth hunting portion, the hour took an interesting turn with respect to Ryan’s character.
In many ways, Ryan was forced to become the bad guy. At least, in respect to the woman he blindfolded and shoved in a closet. It was weird on some level, too, especially because he breaks the rules all the time.
But here it was as if he had gone too far, and I think for a brief moment even Ryan questioned his actions despite the split second decision with Luke on his tail.
That said, could he have told the lady who he was? Did he have to pull out the blindfold and traumatize the woman for life?
Yet it was Ryan’s discovery after vengefully stabbing Gisele that Max was actually alive that was another moment where Ryan had a realization and reflection of the dark path he’s been walking close to. There is a possibility that darkness could consume him and its rather unsettling for him and for us to watch.
Will something like seeing Max alive change how he goes forward? He doesn’t have to become a goody goody - but perhaps he’ll be a little more calculated, a little less brash. And maybe not so quick to fall in line with the people he’s hunting.
The flip side of Ryan is clearly Joe, a man who had stopped killing but even with the prospect of being controlled (boy, does Lily already have him wrapped around her finger) the murder and death are too enticing for him to ignore. He wants to be consumed by it, even if it’s laid out for him. He still is a villainous killer, even behind that accent.
But he can’t really want it to be that simple, right? In a lot of ways, Ryan was a challenge for him and the conquest of writing that novel in addition to his murders pushed him forward. I can see him growing tired of those around him.
Still, I found Emma and Mark’s relationship intriguing. He clearly cares for her on some level, whether he can feel or not, but the added level of not being touched and his very childlike obedience look to be pieces for which Emma can mold. I wouldn’t be surprised if Mark turned on his mother with a little guidance from Emma.
After all, in a house full of crazies, can they really trust each other?
I did like some of the character focus of the hour, but there’s aspects of the running around... kill a few bad guys... recover... rinse... repeat that was evident.
Still, this a major step above the previous season, notably with the actors and characters involved. The psycho twins remain as creepy as ever, but they aren’t just two dimensional murderers, and the mother manipulator has a mystery about her that hopefully proves compelling as her layers are further explored. If anything, with the smaller group, things are more personal and that’s going to prove complicated for Ryan after killing those two “family” members.
I like where The Following Season 2 is headed, but I can't help but worry that it could all fall apart soon enough.
Was Ryan choking Gisele in the hotel room really an act?
Sean McKenna is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow him on Twitter.