Finding Joe Carroll’s teacher could have been a complete throwaway side quest, but The Following Season 2 is definitely adapting from The Following Season 1’s flaws and trying to make these minor killer characters pertinent in some way to the core characters or the larger story.
Dr. Strauss (Gregg Henry) added another piece to the Joe Carroll puzzle in The Following Season 2 Episode 8, even if his antics were brief.
He did manage to provide his own creep factor and just listening to him talk about using a sledgehammer to help remove the journalist’s feet was uncomfortable enough.
However, he was quickly dispatched as fast as Ryan managed to get himself captured. And instead of giving viewers a long dragged out torture sequence, the turned tables really illuminated how far Ryan and Mike are willing to go.
It is interesting to see that Mike’s tragedy (furthered enhanced by the dialogue-free cold open) parallel’s Ryan’s journey. Mike was much quicker to smash Strauss’ fingers than he might have been in the past. But at the same time, it’s good to see Ryan’s concern and Mike’s self-awareness from it all.
Mike really could descend down a very dark path, but at least he has Ryan and Max there by his side. At least they can be something of a team. But where Ryan is still obsessed with finding Joe, Max doesn’t have that revenge-fueled edge. She can help Mike even more so, and scenes where she’s just there for him, no over sharing, no over talking worked nicely.
I worry for Mike, and Shawn Ashmore is definitely playing his character’s anger, determination and vulnerability up when needed. Mike’s been sucked into this sick saga of psycho killers, and it makes me wonder if he’ll not only ever be okay again, but if he’ll be able to get out in one piece.
He’s definitely a character that’s been compelling for this series and I'm always interested to see what's in store for him.
But I love that the FBI keeps getting pushed to the background, while giving the core characters the spotlight. Even the FBI director was concerned about his own team handling someone like Lily or even Joe. Instead of trusting in them to get the job done (you know, because they’ve been spot on so far) he decided to give Ryan his own covert task force.
Not only does it give Ryan the power to find the killers, but he is the good guy we want to see do it anyway. He, Mike and Max are the ones we want at the forefront dealing with the situation, not a random task force always one step behind.
But the creepily compelling part of the hour revolved around the red obsessed cult of Corbin and its enthralling eccentric leader, Micah.
The Following Season 2 continues to excel in its broadening of the series with its introduction of various cults. First with Lily and the twins, and now with Micah.
Micah seems like such a goofy character prancing around talking about his religion and planets and killing to save souls. But behind it is a real menacing figure willing to dispatch his own members to serve his cause, no matter how narcissistic it is.
What’s more, it’s fun to see Joe manipulate things behind the scenes without it ever feeling too obvious. I’m not surprised Micah turned on his wife, but I think Joe might be underestimating the leader of this new cult.
I only hope Micah isn’t easily eliminated because he’s another positive addition to the show. It’s a fresh take on the crazies and makes the world that Ryan, Mike and Max have to face even more dangerous than facing off against one single enemy.
There's sometimes still a level of silliness attached to this drama and there's a feeling the episodes could just dive right into pure campiness. Yet, with a strong collection of villains and trying to further explore the characters involved, The Following Season 2 keeps moving along at an entertaining pace.
Do you think Mike and Max will be more than friends?
Sean McKenna is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow him on Twitter.