This review contains spoilers.
2.13 The Reaping
Throughout the season, The Following has been building to something. Basically, they’ve been threatening a clash of cults. Joe’s cult versus Lily’s cult versus the FBI and Ryan’s little cult of followers (Max and Mike and sometimes Claire). It’s been teased, hinted at, and outright planned by certain parties on the show, but it has finally come to fruition, and it’s as bananas as you would expect from this particular show.
There’s been a relatively slow confluence of events to lead up to the big throw-down. Ryan followed the killers from the college and dropped his phone. Joe calls Lily, who traces the call and figures out where Korban is located. Lily hires a mercenary, who rents a car, which the FBI tracks. When they see the car go past the place where Ryan dumped his phone, they figure out where Korban is and boom, everyone is moving on the same place at once. Joe wants Ryan caught, not killed; Lily wants Joe caught, not killed; Mike wants everyone not Ryan killed.
There are a lot of things in motion here, and director Joshua Butler does a good job keeping it all moving swiftly while still making sure it all moves logically and makes sense. Everyone has a plan in motion. Lots of people are driving to locations with serious weapons at the ready. Ryan’s prowling around assaulting Korban security guards, though he gives himself over to Joe when he hears Joe on the walkie-talkie and decides to have a discussion with his old frenemy. Meanwhile, Lily’s got a van full of mercenaries while Joe has his killers planning some sort of big attack somewhere in New York State. It’s staged in such a way that all the plots overlap to a serious degree. Lily is there at Korban while her mercenaries are gunning down random Korban cultists who weren’t part of the main group. While the mercenaries are busy killing, Joe’s getting away and the FBI are approaching. There’s also Ryan, and once he busts out of the chair he’s tied to, just try to keep him away from a gunfight, effectively killing off the last of Joe’s security guards and the mercenaries.
It’s not exciting, but it’s really funny because they roll out of their SUVs and just start machine-gunning everyone in a red puffy coat and track shoes. It’s doubly funny when Ryan confronts the last mercenary, asking if there are any of his friends on the radio, finds his answer via hail of assault rifle bullets courtesy of Ryan Hardy (because it’d been a good five minutes since he shot three other guys). It’s one of the many legitimate funny moments that take place in this episode courtesy of Megan Martin’s script and Kevin Bacon’s way with a sarcastic quip.
Given that there’s a huge face-off between Joe and Ryan in which they discuss the nature of their weird quasi-relationship (and just how codependent they are), there’s a lot of comedy to be had. Joe is pompous and Ryan is snotty, and that’s the basis of their whole relationship. Still, in spite of Joe’s prattling and Ryan’s slashing commentary on Joe’s narcissism and neediness, it’s pretty clear that some of these comments are actually hitting home for Ryan. There is a degree of connection between them, and Joe’s crazy enough to own it while Ryan’s crazy enough to deny it
When Mike has his gun on Lily, forcing her to her knees while he ponders getting revenge on her, Max and Ryan show up to try and talk him out of it. One of the things Ryan says to Mike is, “That’s what I would do. Don’t be me. You’re better than that.” That’s an acknowledgement of Ryan’s sickness from the mouth of the man himself, even if he’s only able to admit it to try and stop Mike, who he has clearly grown to care about, from taking the first step down the road that ends with you becoming an alcoholic vigilante (and then just a regular vigilante in the second season). Of course, Mike chooses to be like Ryan—his hero in season one—and he does what Ryan would do by putting half a clip into Lily’s chest, ending at least that threat.
It’s a credit to The Following that they’re willing to kill off a major villain, even if it’s not Joe. There are still two episodes left, after all. The Following has never been afraid to kill off characters, from poor Mandy to Joe, Claire, and Ryan at the end of the first season. That’s a credit to the show. It’s not quite at Game Of Thrones level because Ryan survived his injuries, Joe faked his death, and Claire faked her death, but hey, they all could have died (except for maybe Kevin Bacon). And, perhaps at the end of this season, we’ll have more deaths coming. There are two episodes left, and there’s nothing more Ryan Hardy loves than to shoot people.
Read Ron’s review of the previous episode, Betrayal, here.
US Correspondent Ron Hogan is glad to see that the cult-on-cult violence was as awesome as expected. Could’ve used a little more machine gun fighting, but it was pretty good nonetheless. Find more by Ron daily at Shaktronics and PopFi.
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