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Character Development: Mike Breaks Down after [SPOILER], The Following “Sacrifice” 

Photo Credit:  Jeff Neumann/FOX
Photo Credit: Jeff Neumann/FOX

There were so many scenes in this episode that had me transfixed, compelled and eager to discuss more. And then came the final scene and immediately, all the others felt less important. Watching Mike cry in Ryan’s lap on the stairs of the FBI building was the Mike moment I’ve been waiting for.

Mike started this season suspended from the FBI and since his return, we’ve watched him fight both against and alongside Ryan, but it’s all been business and I can’t help but feel we haven’t actually “seen” Mike. Until now.

Last week, we watched as Mike beat Luke to a bloody pulp and after the episode, someone asked me “what the heck is wrong with Mike?” And all I could think was, “it’s about time.” I wasn’t the least bit shocked or surprised that Mike is dealing with various issues, after all he’s been through, that’s completely normal.  Sure, Ryan faced a lot last season, but Mike was right by his side the entire time. He was there to see each and every dead body, to listen as Parker took her last breath, to identify Joe as dead only to find out he’d been tricked this whole time. It’s no wonder that Mike is a little off balance. He’s had a lot weighing on him and frankly, I’d be MORE concerned if he was able to just shake it all off. He may have been dealing with this all along, but as the audience, we have been kept mostly in the dark as to what he’s experienced this past year. Yes, Ryan took up running and quit drinking and started teaching, but what about Mike?

And that’s why I’m so glad we finally got to see the emotional side of Mike tonight. Not the stoic side or the business side, but the real side. He’s always had a big heart and I feel like that has been somewhat stifled this year. Of course, the tears would mean nothing without the earlier exchange between he and Ryan. After last week’s beat-down, Mike seems to think his return to duty was premature and so he decides to walk away.

Mike: I asked to go, I want to go.

Ryan: Why?

Mike: I lost control, I almost killed Luke.

Ryan: He was trying to kill you.

Mike: You weren’t there, Ryan. I did a lot more than that, I lost it. I thought I was ready for this. I thought coming back would somehow help me. A lot has happened in the past year. Havenport. Debra. And um, I’ve had some problem with my friends, with my family. I don’t respond to normal situations….appropriately. I can fake it most of the time but then…my dad won’t talk to me, he he doesn’t get it.

Ryan: Can you talk to somebody else?

Mike: I have. I’ve talked to therapists. I’ve talked to counselors. I need to go, Ryan. My flight’s in the morning. It’s for the best.

Photo Credit: Giovanni Rufino/FOX
Photo Credit: Giovanni Rufino/FOX

I honestly think this is most depth we’ve seen from Mike this season. It’s about time that they start peeling back his layers. Like I said before, I’m not surprised he found it difficult to return to “normal life” after all he’s been through, I would too. Mike has always appeared to be this pillar of strength and by-the-book morality. The voice of reason to Ryan’s wayward schemes. But he’s also human.

And watching his face as he witnessed his own father’s death was heartbreaking. With tears in his eyes, he couldn’t turn away and yet he was powerless to stop it. Even knowing that the video was made hours earlier, Mike still reached for his phone in an effort to warn his estranged dad.

This has been personal for Ryan since the beginning. His sister, his lover, his best friend and his niece have all suffered the consequences of his actions. But this death is Mike’s first real taste of evil crossing in to his private world. While he was understandably devastated at the loss of Parker last year, she was already involved in the Joe Carroll phenomenon. But with this action, Lily has intentionally taken things to a whole new level in order to exact revenge for what she believes is Luke’s death. And if Mike is already teetering on the edge, I wouldn’t be surprised if this is the final straw. Honestly, I’m a little worried for Mike. That being said, if anyone knows how he feels, its Ryan and I can only hope he’ll continue to step up and support Mike, while also preventing him from making the same mistakes that Ryan made on his own path to vengeance.

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

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