After The Following Season 1 faltered its way to the final chapter, The Following Season 2 needed to step it up and breathe some fresh life into a series that didn't look like it had anywhere to go.
And it managed to accomplish this goal via the introduction of Mark, Luke and their mother, Lily. This new set of villains - in addition to Joe Carroll - sparked an entertaining and fast-paced battle with Ryan Hardy trying to stop them.
So could it hold strong to the finish or would it ultimately spiral out of control in ridiculous fashion like its predecessor? Let's rundown the latest TV Fanatic report card to see how The Following Season 2 fared...
Best Episode: I have to go with the premiere, The Following Season 2 Episode 1. My expectations going in were low, and yet right off the bat, actor Sam Underwood created a frightening pair of characters in the twins. Not only that, but Ryan was hunting for Joe on his own (without the incompetent FBI) and the reveal that Joe was truly alive and also a threat was a great way to re-instill confidence that the series could go forward.
Worst Episode: Unfortunately, there were plenty of options from the last batch of eight episodes. But it was The Following Season 2 Episode 14 that seemed to have fallen very far. Not only were kills like the televangelist overly graphic, but a character like his or even the whole religious storyline turned out to mean nothing in the long run. Even Claire acting stupid and running away for what was supposed to be a cool girl fight was uninteresting, with a death that was supposed to be impactful that really wasn't. The show had always had its taste for the ridiculous, but the hour and The Following Season 2 seemed to be completely jumping the tracks.
Best Character: This one goes to Mark and Luke (thankfully to actor Sam Underwood). Those two were beyond creepy and yet you couldn't look away from what they were doing. And I was pleased with their differences and attempts to make them more than just crazed serial killers. The twins were a huge and positive change for the series.
Worst Character: Gina Mendez. Who? Yeah, she was the FBI "head" that nagged Ryan Hardy constantly, was always one step behind and unfortunately didn't bring much to the table besides conveniently being the former love of the woman helping Joe Carroll. But after that plot discovery, she seemed to disappear because by then, her purpose had been served. Too bad she never had a chance to be much more.
Most shocking death: Look, The Following really likes its deaths and blood and twists. And while some were predictable and some clearly just for shock value, it was the death of Mike's father that was a heartbreaking surprise. Despite not getting to explore his character, the pure emotion of watching Mike watch his father be murdered was a major turn for Mike. It was a moment no one saw coming and a final scene that remained memorable to the very end.
Overall Grade: C
Hopes for The Following Season 3: This is a tough one because twice now, The Following has started off strong, then halfway through headed downwards like it didn't know quite what it wanted to do in between to getting to the finale. It really needs to find a way to maintain an entertaining and interesting story the whole way through.
As much as I like James Purefoy, and despite Joe not dying, I still hope Joe is done for the story. It's time to move on and sort of revamp everything, especially after Ryan's decision and pretty much new lease on life. I'm hoping the Max and Mike relationship is further explored, and whoever picked up Mark to be a brand new character worthy of becoming the next big bad.
Because this might be The Following's last chance. Three strikes and you're out.
Your turn, TV Fanatics! What did you think of The Following Season 2? Grade it now!
Sean McKenna is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow him on Twitter.