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Moment of Goodness

The Following Conversation: A Brutal Truth Leads to Release in “Forgive” 

What happens when you realize that you have become the person you hate? After a whole season of being compared to Joe, Ryan finally took off his blinders and accepted the truth in the season 2 finale. We’ve heard again and again how despite being adversaries, Ryan and Joe aren’t all that different. I’ve looked at this theme a few times in the past few months and every time, I find it compelling and definitely think it has validity. However, Ryan refused to do the same.


Photo Credit: Sarah Shatz/FOX
Photo Credit: Sarah Shatz/FOX


But when faced with another creepy twin dinner, Ryan could no longer deny that he and Joe may not be so different after all. I have to say that I love the symbolism of this scene; using twins, actually mirrors of one another, to help Ryan to see that he and Joe are in many ways mirrors of one another.

And that brings us to Joe. I absolutely loved the Ryan/Joe pair up from the moment they escaped the church until the very end. If the writers want to turn this in to a White Collar of sorts where the criminal helps the feds for season 3, I’m all in. Anything to see more of these two together. Watching Ryan help Joe escape the church and then watching Joe save Ryan before they pair up to save Claire was truly the highlight of the season for me.


Photo Credit: Sarah Shatz/FOX
Photo Credit: Sarah Shatz/FOX


Nevertheless, after all their heroics, they’re both forced to partake in the twins’ dinner party, which begins with Luke dumping a whole 5th of vodka down Ryan’s throat. Followed by the appetizer, during which they skewer Joe, forcing him to apologize for what he did to Lily. And finally, this brutal roast of Ryan for the main course.

Mark: We were so wrong about you, you’re suppose to be the good guy, the hero. But you can’t just go around playing vigilante. It’s against the law.
Luke: You had no right to kill our mother!
Joe: Exactly, do you have any idea how many people Ryan has killed? Far more than me and that’s just the simple truth.
Luke: Shut up.
Mark: Its the height of irony. You’ve become the man you hate, you’re no better than the killers you hunt.
Joe: Yes, he even has a cult of his own vigilante followers. That Mike Weston, he’s a violent little runt.
Luke: He’s got a good point, Ryan. Mike nearly killed me. Who’s fault is that? He was following your example. You corrupted him, Ryan.
Joe: He’s even infected that lovely niece of his, Max. Ruined her career. That’s for sure. {Luke gives him a dirty look} So sorry, won’t happen again.
Mark: You are suppose to be the good guy, Ryan.
Ryan: I’m not good. I know that.
Joe: Finally, he admits it
Mark: What happened to you?
Joe: He gave in to the most basic of human emotions, revenge. Just like you boys.
Mark: What?
Joe: I know your secret, yes Ryan, you remember? Should I tell them?
Luke: You finally have something interesting to add. Talk.
Joe: Well, when Ryan was 17 and his father was killed and Ryan, ever the detective, tracked down the perpetrator and murdered him. And he’s been seeking redemption ever since. Its probably why he’s so fixated on me.
Mark: Is that true?
Ryan: Yea, it is.
Mark: Tell me more. Why do you need redemption {holds gun to Claire’s head}
Ryan: I need to be forgiven. But you can’t be forgiven. Not for that. It’s always there, never goes away. Who will forgive me?!
Mark: God, god forgives.
Ryan: There is no God
Joe: You must forgive yourself.
Ryan: I am not the good guy.
Mark: But you try to be.
Ryan: And I failed!
Claire: Ryan.
Mark: You’re a remarkable man. We’re gonna let you live.
Luke: But you still have to be punished. So we’re gonna kill Max and Mike. And you’re going to have to suffer knowing that they all died because of you.
Mark: It’s fitting, isn’t it?

I absolutely love how revealing and emotional this scene is and how casually and innately Ryan and Joe adopt the good cop/bad cop role. Joe immediately takes to the role of good cop (ironically) and tries to sidle up to the twins, appealing to their similarities and bashing Ryan in an attempt to win them over and gain their trust.

I’m not entirely convinced Joe is doing this for evil, but rather because a win for him can also mean a win for Ryan. Right now the goal is to take down the twins and save Claire so they can escape murder manor. That being said, Joe is always looking out for Joe and as soon as he saw an opportunity to gain some leverage, he jumped. But it was Ryan who received the real beating during this meal and when his murderous past revealed by the very man he considers a killer, the truth of their similarities becomes undeniable.


Photo Credit: Sarah Shatz/FOX
Photo Credit: Sarah Shatz/FOX


Ryan has always been the one to throw himself on the sword. He has never pretended to be perfect and as Joe pointed out, he is constantly trying to redeem himself and that’s ultimately what drives him. But Ryan is finally forced to realize that even catching the illusive Joe Carroll does not clear him of his past discretion. So what now??

After Mike and Max bust in to help save the day, Ryan forgoes his chance to put a bullet in Joe’s head because he finally realizes that killing Joe will not absolve him. And it’s with this realization that he lets go. Or so it appears.

Fortunately for us, this wasn’t Ryan’s final interaction with Joe. When he faces Joe as he’s being led away in handcuffs, the conviction and confidence that Ryan presents makes him feel like a completely different person. Not like the martyr or the blindly-driven vigilante, but rather like the well-adjusted good guy he always wanted to be.

Joe: You should’ve killed me, Ryan.
Ryan: No, I’m good.
Joe: Choosing to save your own soul instead. Well, I hope it goes well.
Ryan: I’ll let you know
Joe: Really? Please visit me
Ryan: No, you won’t be seeing me anymore Joe, I won’t give you that. You’re going to die in prison and as you wither away in there, you’re going to be fading from my memory. Every day, a little bit more. Because I’ll be making new memories, a new life that doesn’t include you.
Joe: Well, good luck with that.

As much as I liked seeing Ryan grow and evolved, the next sequence made it clear that this can’t be the end for Ryan. He’s not the type of man who silently picks up take-out, sits alone at his counter and goes to bed early. His life has been consumed by chaos and mayhem and determination. This kind of normalcy is foreign to him.

I imagine its similar to how a veteran feels upon returning from war. After your days have been filled with bullets and bombings and constant fear of being attacked, how can you just return home to a regular life? Lucky for us, with a season 3 pick up already confirmed, we know there’s no way that Ryan’s life can be filled with egg rolls and lazy nights in….something big is sure to happen and with Mark’s mysterious chauffeur at the end and Ryan’s dreams of Luke, I can’t wait to see what the writers have in mind for the season 3.

The Following will return in 2015.

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