The Following: For Joe Review

Season Two's new direction seems promising. Can it entice new viewers while preserving what Followers already love?

Season Two of The Following so far has done something impressive: the new direction of the show has not only satisfied the cravings of faithful Season One viewers, but that same new direction—with the main points of Season One recapped in pre-episode teasers—has enticed new viewers who have been able to, ahem, follow along without missing a beat (not to mention, luckily, Season One is on Netflix, so catching up isn’t so hard). For those readers who throw caution to the wind and read recaps before watching their favorite shows, beware…spoilers lie ahead. Avert your eyes.

Season Two began with the confirmation of Joe Carroll (James Purefoy) having survived the lighthouse explosion. The second episode begins with Joe living in a trailer park in Arkansas, posing as a bearded country simpleton named Darryl. Joe has moved in with a redneck prostitute named Judy—Carrie Preston in a role not too far removed from her portrayal of Arlene in True Blood. It is later revealed that Judy was a Joe Carroll fanatic who wrote letters to him while he was in jail. Joe has struck up a friendship with Judy’s daughter Mandy (Tiffany Boone), who may or may not abet him in murder this episode.

Sam Underwood as twins Luke and Mark is especially fantastic, in dual roles both equally fit for straitjackets. Luke and Mark are again up to no good in “For Joe,” and their legacies as Patrick Bateman-esque murderers leaps forward this week. I truly believe Underwood’s performance, if the nuanced dual roles continue as on form as they have been, deserves some recognition. Also, Jessica Stroup’s Max is a welcomed addition to the show. Max’s attempting to ground her uncle, to teach him that there is a right and a wrong way to exact vengeance/justice, is refreshing, seeing as Ryan’s (Kevin Bacon) moral compass is frustratingly erratic.

In true The Following fashion, the police (aided by Shawn Ashmore’s Mike) are predictably terrible in “For Joe”, always a step behind the murderers. Taking into consideration the seemingly random acts of violence, though, their discombobulated approach to cop work thus far this season is excusable.

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Something that’s not excusable, or that certainly needs to be questioned, concerns Ryan. A main plot point of last season was Ryan’s pacemaker. I recall more than one episode where his pacemaker stopped him from chasing down a suspect. What about the episode where Ryan’s sister Jenny was captured—and where exactly is Jenny now, seeing as she survived?—and Ryan was tortured via interference with his pacemaker? The pacemaker was installed because of a stab wound, so regardless of how healthy or not Ryan is the pacemaker should always affect him…no? So far this season, Ryan has had more than one high intensity on-foot chase and the pacemaker has been noticeably absent. Also, towards the end of the episode when an attempted murder occurs, the FBI agents tasked with guarding the lone survivor of the Subway Murders, Lily (Connie Nielsen), allow Ryan to draw his gun and attempt to chase down the suspect. Why would they? The agents know who Ryan is. In Season Two, he’s a criminal justice professor…so why would FBI agents allow a college professor to draw his gun and chase down a suspect who has just stabbed someone? Seems strange.

Moving on, the suspense builds in “For Joe,” as the malicious trio of Carroll followers target Lily, who Ryan has taken a liking to—predictably so. However, in one scene at an art gala where Lily is dressed in red while others are dressed in black, I wonder if she’s not secretly a member of Carroll’s cult and has begun to seduce Ryan according to some plan. I am also still wary about Emma (Valorie Curry), who appears to be a loose end/live wire capable of going nuts at any given moment.

All in all, “For Joe” builds suspense for the current season, but as a devoted fan of the series, I find some of the questions that pop up in my head—such as the pacemaker, the whereabouts of Ryan’s sister, and the logic behind letting a college professor whip out his gun—too concerning to ignore. Yes, I’m invested in Season Two, but will it be worth it? It seems, for now, that I’ll be on the edge of my seat the entire time. I just worry that at the end of this season, I’ll have too many questions that need answering.

Den Of Geek Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars


2.5 out of 5