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A Lust for Death, The Following “For Joe” 

Photo Credit: Michael Lavine/FOX
Photo Credit: Michael Lavine/FOX

It was only a matter of time before Joe’s blood-lust returned. At the end of last week’s episode, we saw him as full-bearded Darryl living in the outbacks, but after this week, it’s obvious that he’s not all that different from the clean cut Joe of season one.

Sure he’s living in a trailer, talking with a southern twang (or at least attempting to do so) and helping a teenage girl with her homework, but inside, he’s still ruthless, fearless and living to kill. And after witnessing the uproar surrounding the latest killings, it’s clear that he knows it too. However, it isn’t until the Rev catches on to Joe’s ruse that his urge to kill is given its time to shine.

Joe: “You have presented us a great conundrum, Reverend. As they say, you’ve forced my hand.”
Reverend: “Dear God, it’s really you”
Joe: “See, the trouble is I just don’t know what to do. I bet you’d know what to do with me. I’ve been stuck in the dystopian squalor for what, a year now. In fact, I’m rather off my game. Granted, it has been good to have the time to…to reflect, but what I’ve been doing is hiding my failures by wallowing in a pit of clinical depression. Best laid plans and all that….see, I failed. Yeah. I failed as a writer, I failed as a husband….and I failed as a father. These are not easy things for me to admit to you, Reverend. You said you’d…you would listen to me. You said you would help me….now is the time. Now is the time. Help me. What am I to do, Rev? Am I going to kill you or not?”

Joe has always been so deep and insightful and he even manages to make a threat such as this sound like prose. He’s clearly taken his “failures” to heart (which is something I have no doubt Ryan will prey on in the future, just as Joe will point out Ryan’s failure to save Claire) and regardless if you’re a killer or not, anyone can understand the toll that can take on a person. So yes, like the rest of us, Joe is human. But unlike most, these failures haven’t exactly forced him to re-evaluate himself or his life in the way he expected. If season one taught us anything, it’s that Joe is who he is and he is perfectly at peace with that. He has no problem admitting or facing his murderous tendencies and for that reason, Joe’s question was clearly more rhetorical than literal.

Reverend: “Human beings can rise above their instincts, Joe. The fact that you’re struggling with your choices is proof of your humanity, your goodness.”
Joe: “Except there is no struggle. It’s patience, rather. I’m rapidly running out of that.”
Reverend: “You may not be a religious man, but you’re an intelligent one. A philosophical one. Socrates tells us that we cannot be better than seeking to become better.”
Joe: “He also tells us that death may be the greatest of all human blessings. You see the trouble is, I thought I was going to be reborn, that I could start a new, the reality is that I am inevitable.”

You may be able to take the man away from the murder, but you can’t take the murder out of the man. Joe unceremoniously stabs the Reverend with a look that tells us that his taste for blood has returned and it’s only a matter of time before he’s back on the streets. But Joe isn’t the only one commanding killings and beholden to his blood-lust this year.

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Creepy Twin 1: Mark
Photo Credit: Michael Lavine/FOX
Creepy Twin 2: Luke
Photo Credit: Michael Lavine/FOX

Last week we watched as the creepy twins danced with a dead girl and this week, they took it one step further by playing house with a dead couple. Even going so far as to cook them a gourmet meal (which they obviously would not eat), give them silverware (which they obviously would not use) and pour them wine (that they obviously would not drink). But the visual recreation still wasn’t enough, they also formulated extremely disturbing conversation about their latest lady-friend, which in any other context (say a real family sitting down to dinner where everyone is alive) would actually seem normal. I honestly don’t know what to say about these two…they are obviously extremely brazen and enjoy toying with their subjects (as we witnessed when they willingly showed their faces and came within inches of Ryan at the fundraiser), which makes them both terrifying and formidable.

Sure, last year we saw a man go up in flames, a daughter brutally kill her mother and a woman get harpooned in a diner all at the behest of Joe, but this year, it’s the subtlety in these “staged murders” FOR Joe that has me more creeped out than ever. However, as with all the characters in this show, they also have their weak-spots. As Ryan pointed out and as we saw in Luke’s final “farewell” to the dead husband, their troubles are likely rooted in daddy issues and they are aiming to get Joe’s attention in order to get his approval.

Luke: “How’d it go at the crime scene? Did they find lots of prints and DNA?”
Ryan: “Does it matter, Luke? They won’t identify you because you don’t exist, do you? I saw what you did to that family. The gothic sea symbolism was a bit obvious, but it goes deeper than that.  You’re lonely. And you’re searching for an identity, am I warm? You think if you lure Joe out of hiding, he will magically become the father that you never had.”

I didn’t think I would see a killer creepier than Joe and his season one cult, but after this episode, these boys just may be at the top of my most-likely-to-give-me-nightmares list. And for a show in its sophomore year, a year when most shows suffer the aptly named “sophomore slump,” that’s a real accomplishment.

The Following airs Mondays at 9/8c on FOX.

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