The Following: Sacrifice Review

The newest episode of The Following marks the first good episode of the second season, leaving us hopeful for the madness to come.

 “Sacrifice” is proof that The Following is worth sticking around for, at least for another few weeks.

Joe, Mandy, and Emma become part of a new cult, fronted partially by the fiery, domineering Julia (Jacinda Barrett, The Last Kiss) who promptly puts them in cuffs within the first thirty seconds of meeting them.

Agent Mendez admits to Ryan that she believes Joe is still alive, and this FBI alignment will indubitably send this season’s plot full-speed ahead. Mendez finally addresses that Ryan is facing federal charges, which is truly satisfying. She says that the only reason he’s not in jail is because the FBI director wants to “minimalize” fallout. It’s not perfect, but I’ll buy it.

Max tells Ryan that she’s been suspended for six months. She refuses help, asking him instead to stop obsessing over Joe, suggesting he “go back to teaching.”

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This is new to us, as it seemed that Ryan had just stopped showing up at school. Ryan explains that he “withdrew for the semester.” Ignoring that this is fairly ridiculous and should have been addressed earlier, it’s nice to see that the writers finally bring it up. Ryan admits that he can’t stop, that he needs to kill Joe to end it all. Ryan says he got healthy to track down Joe, and the reason he even started teaching was to anger him. “It’s all for him,” Ryan says.

Max attempts to intervene on a father abusing his son. It turns out to be a ruse, and Max is chloroformed on camera and abducted. The video message is sent to Ryan as Lily’s planned revenge after losing Luke, who she still thinks is dead.

Joe meets the true head of the cult, Micah (Jake Weber, Medium), a deranged madman parading around as a god. His appreciation of Joe—though he doesn’t trust him—comes off as that of a self-professed equal.

When Ryan finds out that Max has been taken, he snaps to attention, finally working with the FBI. Although he had planned to take himself off the case, Mike stays when Agent Mendez tells him that Max was taken.

Max wakes up in a torture chamber with a psychopath (think John Knowles’ The Collector) who collects the tattooed portions of his victims’ skin.

Ryan gleans from talking to a bedridden Luke that the abductor is a famed serial killer named The Huntsman who hunts his victims with a bow and arrow.

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In true The Following fashion, going on nearly no information, the FBI is able to find The Huntsman in less than ten onscreen seconds. If this killer is still wreaking havoc in the free world, how do they find him so quickly, and why hadn’t they yet? Is he really not worth chasing down and imprisoning? This was one of the few down moments in an otherwise enticing, more logical, episode this season.

James Purefoy’s acting chops are on full display as he’s the subject of a lie detector test administered by Julia. Purefoy and Barrett are electric on screen, their scenes together positively drip with malice.

Max is quick on her feet, challenging The Huntsman to chase her, knowing she can escape. Stroup makes the cast more intriguing as an officer of the law capable of getting herself out of jams, and someone Ryan can’t afford to lose.

Ryan kills again this week, and I still don’t understand the free reign he gets with murder. It’s a little baffling that he’s able to kill so many people without any repercussions. As hinted with Mendez early on, though, maybe they’re coming.

It appears that Valorie Curry’s Emma is sacrificed, seemingly in ritual, by the new cult. If it is indeed the end of Emma, it’s a shame to see her go. I’ve been a big fan of Curry since the beginning of the show. The manner in which she’s disposed—the scene shot quickly, with the camera mostly being off Curry—is really an injustice to such a well-acted, menacing character. Micah slits her wrists and she is assumed dead, leaving The Following with another Catch-22. If she’s dead, then a brilliant character is gone without a fitting farewell (Gisele’s death was more impactful). If she’s not dead, as Julia asserts, then Emma surviving this is unbelievable. We’ll see what happens.

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I’m not a huge fan of Micah’s seemingly aimless cult, but let’s see how it develops. I’m confused as to how so many people can be devoted to a cult that doesn’t really have a cause—but that could be coming.

Lily sends Ryan a video in which Mike’s Dad is murdered. In a moving bit of acting, Shawn Ashmore displays heartfelt emotion that proves that he’s quite a capable actor. For Season 1 and at the beginning of Season 2, Ashmore’s Mike was typically subdued, but in the last few weeks, it’s been startling to see him break out of his shell. I can only hope that with this plot twist, Mike strays even further from his comfort zone to exact revenge.

“Sacrifice” is a satisfying episode, really the first this season that doesn’t raise major questions. I’m once again excited about what’s going to happen next week, but who knows how long that will last.

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3.5 out of 5