WARNING: Spoilers for last night’s episode of The Following
This week was all about family. Both the kind you’re born in to by blood and the kind that you make by bond. The Following has always looked at families and family dynamics, from Joe and Claire and Joey to Ryan and his sister to Emma and her mother to even Parker and her estranged family. But this episode brought it closer to home than ever before.
Let’s start with Joe’s family. Thanks to Ryan’s fine investigative skills, we learned that Joe’s dad was a bit of a philanderer and Joe was apparently not his only legacy. Joe had a half brother, who had the same Y chromosome as Joe and therefore the same chromosome as Joey, making him a close enough DNA match that he could pass for Joe. And that’s what he did. Unwillingly. Apparently Roderick and co. tracked down half brother and killed him, then put his body in the boat house pre-explosion so everyone would assume Joe was dead and he could live in his little trailer town utopia with his adoring pen pal. And that’s how Joe escaped.
But once Joe escaped, he formed a family unit of his own. However, it was less his connection to them (since he was essentially about to kill them both) than Mandy’s connection to him that fascinated me. He’s the father she’s never had. We’ve always known Joe is charismatic and compelling, but it is like Mandy is completely under his spell. And he didn’t even mean to cast it. We’ve seen since the beginning of season two that Mandy and Joe have grown close and Mandy has repeatedly expressed how her life is so much better with Joe in it.
Last week, she even watched him kill the Reverend without so much as flinching. However, when it came time for Mandy to choose between her family built by blood or her family built by bond, she chose Joe by killing her own mother. Granted, Juliet was going to die either way after she attempted to shoot Joe. He nearly choked her right then and there, but for some reason Mandy couldn’t accept that and fought him to let her go. And he did. Which is why I was even more surprised when Juliet was tied up in the living room and it was Mandy, not Joe, who stabbed her. Again. And again. Mandy could’ve stabbed Joe and for a second, it looked like she was about to, but like the rest of us, she knew that would get her nowhere.
Apparently, life with her mama is miserable and she wants nothing more than to get out of her town. So between her admiration for Joe and the ticket he provided to get her out of dodge, she knew she only had one choice.
Mandy: “I’m sorry, mama. But I can’t let Joe go. Either way, I’m dead. Living here is death.”
That being said, watching her stab her mother again and again and again was nothing short of brutal. And extremely Joe-like. I don’t think Joe could be more proud even if she was his own flesh and blood.
Mandy: “Thanks for taking me, I won’t disappoint you.”
Joe: “I worry about disappointing you.”
Mandy: “You won’t, I never thought I’d leave this place, but now…and I can help you, I’m very resourceful.”
Joe: “Yes, you are.”
Mandy: “I believe in you, Joe.”
She is a “follower” in the truest sense of the word and now she’s hitting the road with him for what I can only imagine will be a blood-filled return to civilization.
But that wasn’t the only “family” connection to play a big role in this episode…and I kick myself because I should’ve seen this one coming, but like with all good Following plot twists, it caught me completely by surprise. Call me cynical or call me crazy, but something has always unsettled me about Lily. Her instant connection with Ryan, her interest to stay involved after surviving the subway massacre, her not-quite-identifiable accent….something just didn’t sit right. But being that we really haven’t had a chance to get to know her yet, I chalked it up to potential lack of character development or the fact that she just wasn’t that important to the story. Well, nothing could’ve been further from the truth.
Thanks once again to Ryan’s stellar detective skills, we realize that all her wooing Ryan and showering him with praise is more than just good-natured flirting. And once she senses that Ryan is on to her, it’s only a matter of seconds before she turns from prim and proper art dealer to evasive and experienced escape artist. With the help of a secret room, a wig and a taser, she manages to escape the art gallery and allude the FBI before jumping in a car with…wait for it…her son, also known as creepy twin #1! Such a brilliant twist! Up to this point, I have suspected Luke and Mark to be the masterminds behind this plot to reel in Joe, but it was Mommy Dearest pulling the strings all along. And after a brief slip up to Ryan regarding the train, he too realized that she was in league with the enemy.
Ryan: “Why go through so much trouble to get close to me?”
Lily: “You’re important to Joe, so you’re important to me. You were meant to be my gift to Joe, now I’ll have to show up empty-handed. Look, I enjoyed our time together, I really did. I see why Joe was so drawn to you. Goodbye, Ryan.”
I am so intrigued to see how this plays out. Once again, just as Ryan starts to open up to someone, the rug gets pulled out from under him. Between that and his self-proclaimed “death curse”, it’s no wonder he has such trust issues and fears getting close to anyone. But back to Lily. Her apparent reverence for Joe struck me as more than just that of a fascinated follower. It’s clear that the twins’ feelings for Joe are based on the book, but her connection seemed somehow deeper and more personal. Is it crazy to think that she and Joe were once lovers and he is actually the twins’ father? Â It sure would explain her intricate plot, as well as the twins cold detachment when it comes to murder. Again, this could be far fetched, but with The Following, I’ve learned to prepare every possibility even if I can never actually anticipate what’s coming.
The Following airs Mondays on FOX at 9/8c.
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