The introduction of the new cult and its eccentric leader, Micah, was an exciting turn of events that shifted The Following Season 2 and split apart the killer family that was Joe, Lily and their “children.”
The progression made sense and the possibilities of Joe having to figure out how to match and/or beat Micah, in addition to perhaps having to fend off Lily and Ryan, was an interesting prospect.
Yet, Micah was dispatched and Joe very easily took up the mantle like it was nothing. I know he’s a charismatic guy that people seem to just flock to... but were all the people in the cult really that accepting of a person who just showed up and then started leading them?
And, sure, the theatrical nature of Joe’s “religious” followers is over the top, but it almost feels too ridiculous now. But the real problem is one that befell Joe’s original cult: so many mindless random followers don’t provide stakes and are far less interesting to watch because we know they won’t last long.
Just ask Lance. Just ask Mallory, you know, Beth from The Walking Dead.
It’s certainly unsettling watching a collection of people pick out someone and then decide to repeatedly stab them. Maybe that’s the point, but it involves what feels like just over the top psychos, nothing more. No blood anointing is going to change that and I can’t see the show trying to flesh them out as real characters.
They make me miss the twins and Lily. Yes, they were killers themselves, crazy on their own level, but it was more than just on the surface. There was something intriguing about them and their reasons for what they did. You wanted to be able to get inside their mind - and they also seemed like worthy opponents for Ryan.
The people within the red-obsessed cult just aren’t standing out on their own, and frankly, watching Joe teach them his ways was kind of boring. It’s not like there are really dissenters anyway, and the ones that do? Well, they are just pushed to the side without any conflict at all. Poor kitty cat, though.
I just worry that Joe leading his new cult will fall into the same trap his last one did with Ryan hunting random followers that don’t really lead anywhere until the last episode. With his new people, it’s starting to feel like we’ve been there before.
At least Mandy switched it up a bit, questioning Joe. And I liked how Emma tried to throw her relationship with Joe around and show off an air of authority to Mandy, only to have it shoved right back at her. It was great to see her not just be the young innocent girl. You don’t know who you’re messing with, Emma.
Ryan’s ploy to lure Joe out of hiding was a good idea and I thought the continued concept of Joe’s first teacher was positive. There’s something creepy about seeing Joe be labeled a psychopath at such a young age, especially knowing what he becomes. But did his younger version have a dubbed voice? It sounded a lot like James Purefoy.
Although I really liked Dr. Strauss’ analysis of Ryan and his own obsession with Joe. We know Ryan’s the good guy, but there is something a bit odd in how Ryan almost copied certain things Joe did. Hopefully, though, Ryan never becomes another version of Joe.
But the final showdown with the random follower, as much as it revealed the type of new cult Joe is heading, it felt super contrived that Ryan and Mike just happened to find the exact location of the randomly selected killing. I kept thinking that there was no way that Ryan would end up running into them, but he did.
As for the big shocking reveal that Claire was alive? Nothing really happened with that until the very end of The Following Season 2 Episode 10 when she decided it was finally time to leave witness protection. How do we think that’s going to end?
Overall, even with some scary moments, this was a pretty bland hour that took the long way around to get Ryan an inch closer to finding Joe.
I wanted to be invested, but it felt like some of the flaws of The Following Season 1 were poking through, and it made me miss the freshness of the new characters such as Mark and Luke, and the smaller, personal touch they added to the conflict.
Should Emma be worried about Mandy?
Sean McKenna is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow him on Twitter.