As expected, the season 2 premiere of FOX’s The Following brought us unexpected twists, turns and so many new characters that I felt like I was watching a different show. First we have creepy twins, Mark and Luke, one of whom likes to play house with dead girls and can go from hot-headed to happy-go-lucky with the flip of a switch. Additionally, on Team Creepy, we have a French girl who dislikes speaking English and can miraculously tell the Biblically-named twins apart. We were also introduced to a new FBI agent, who happens to look just like our old FBI agent….I still don’t understand how no one noticed that Gina Mendez is a virtual doppelganger for Debra Parker?!
And as the sidekick in the “Ryan Hardy Taskforce”, we have Ryan’s niece, a tough, street-smart NYPD detective who doesn’t give Ryan a free pass (which is why I’m already a big fan of this relationship). Additionally, we have a whole new “Carroll cult” whose main goal is to lure the very-much-alive Joe (or should I say “Darryl”) out of hiding by killing in his name a la “the resurrection” and using Hardy as bait. I’m not sure of their motive but with creepy twins one and two at the helm and the newly published “The Havenport Tragedy” as their manual, I can’t even begin to imagine their endgame.
But even with the new characters, the new and improved Joe masks and the brutal subway massacre, my favorite scene of the night belonged to two familiar faces. This episode brought us numerous tension-filled interactions between Mike and Ryan, both in current time and flashback. But it was this particular interaction, which occurred after the discovery of the Claire-replica in the park, that hit me the hardest.
Hardy: I got nothing
Weston: You are so full of it. You act like you’re over it but you’re here because you care. You don’t know how not to care. So if you know something…
Hardy: Sorry Mike.
Weston: Why’d you request Carroll’s DNA records? Six months ago, you requested the full report.
Hardy: I wanted to see for myself
Weston: What, you weren’t convinced? His DNA matched his son’s DNA.
Hardy: I know where you’re going with this, Mike. Joe, is dead.
Weston: Yea, he is, Ryan. He’s dead…….I called. I reached out. What, you you couldn’t be bothered? Ryan, I needed to talk to you. All I could think about was that last day. How every second played out. If we had done one thing different, if we had changed one thing, maybe we would’ve, maybe we would’ve got to Debra one second sooner. If we had done one thing different. What? You’ve got nothing? So that’s how its gonna be?
Hardy: Take care of yourself, Mike.
Ugh, punch in the gut. But by this point, we knew that Ryan was pulling a Pinocchio, he knows Joe is alive and he’s most definitely not letting it go. As we saw in his “secret room” he’s got maps, webs, names and photos linking every possible lead to help him find Joe. Mike was right, Ryan doesn’t know how not to care, but as we’ve seen in the past, going it alone isn’t always the path to success. Yes, he has his niece, Max, to help him out, but even she is pushing him to loop in the FBI. Ultimately, I can’t help but feel that Ryan is leaving Mike & co. out of this to protect them (after all, Mike NEARLY died last season and we all watched as Parker took her last breath), but now with the body count rising, it’s only a matter of time before they’re on his heels.
While I love that this season started off by giving us the illusion of a healthy (he’s running!), well-adjusted (he’s teaching!) and sober (he’s going to AA!) Ryan, I also won’t be surprised when we see his foundation crumble. His faÃ§ade may be strong, but it’s clear that underneath, Ryan is just as troubled as he was before. If not more. And the flashback with Weston in the bar only confirms that notion.
Which leads me to one last point – Claire’s death. Yes, each and every death hits Ryan hard, but I feel like this is the death that really should’ve shattered him, just as Joe predicted. And while I suspected Claire would not be returning this season, I was disappointed with her send off. I mean, really?! She was a huge part of the first season so to simply see a few shots of her on a gurney felt like a lackluster goodbye. Claire was important to our story, but more than that, she was important to Ryan and her effect on him was undeniable. If we can’t see Claire, we should at least be able to feel the effects her death has had on those around her. Especially someone as broken and “death cursed” as Ryan.
The Following moves to its regular time slot Monday, Jan. 27 @ 9/8c.
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