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Moment of Goodness

The Following Returns With “New Blood” 

A bloody wedding. Murderous marionettes. And a whole new cult of crazy followers who bring Ryan Hardy back from the brink of happiness. I wouldn’t expect any less from the return of The Following. After jumping forward a year, this jam-packed premiere gave us plenty of insight in to the personalities of our season 3 cast. Some split, some fake and some ever-morphing. Let’s take a look.

Photo Credit: Christopher Fragapane/FOX
Photo Credit: Christopher Fragapane/FOX

Let’s start with the most unbalanced (and possibly my favorite) of the bunch, Mark. Or should I say Luke? No, it’s definitely Mark. But it’s also Luke. Last year, Sam Underwood blew me away with his ability to play both Mark and Luke, two brothers who couldn’t be more different on the outside, but who were both driven by their love for their mother on the inside. If they hadn’t looked identical, it would’ve felt like we watching two separate actors. Nevertheless, last year he was one person playing two characters and now he’s one person playing one character playing two characters, which makes my head spin in the best of ways.

Photo Credit: Christopher Fragapane/FOX
Photo Credit: Christopher Fragapane/FOX

Mark faced serious trauma last year when both his mother and brother (the two focal points of his world) were killed and as a result, it seems that his already fragile brain handled the loss in the only way it knew how, by keeping Luke around. Sure, it’s not actually walking, talking, breathing Luke, but with the help of a fake body-double, a mirror-head and his new split personality, it’s like Luke hasn’t even left. Honestly, these characters have creeped me out but also compelled me from the beginning when they started having dinner parties with dead people, so I’m kind of fascinated by this new two-brothers-in-one twist. I mean, that conversation in the car where he switched from Mark to Luke to Mark, amazing. Terrifying, but also amazing.

Luke: Why you just sitting there? C’mon, get out of the car.
Mark: I don’t think I can do this Luke.
Luke: You have to, you have to kill her and finish what we started.
Mark: Will you come with me?
Luke: Of course, I’m always with you.

As always, Luke is the tough one, Mark is the weak one and like I said, now that Luke is in Mark’s head, they’re always together. I don’t know that I’d fear Mark as Mark or truly believe that he alone could mastermind a bloody uprising, but with Luke locked up there in his head, I have no doubt it’s possible.

But Luke isn’t the only one who has Mark’s back. So far, we’ve met three followers who appear to be doing his bidding (note that I say “appear,” more on that later). Like many of Joe’s former followers, Daisy and Kyle just seem to be kids who got caught up in this movement and are excited to be a part of something dark and twisted. I don’t expect them to become major players or see them take charge. However, when it comes to Andrew, he seems like the real deal and his twisted ability to play with people’s emotions will undoubtedly serve him well. Not only did he make a scene at the wedding, blaming Ryan for his “daughter’s” death in a way that felt genuine and real, he then played a similar card at the grief support group, which lead another grieving attendee to his death. Like Mike said, his grief felt real, making it was hard to see his true intentions. Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if he really did lose a daughter and is playing on those emotions…or maybe he’s just that good and he has me fooled too. Either way, we don’t know much about Andrew yet, besides the fact that he REALLY likes yogurt. And that he was the mysterious man who picked up Mark and dead-Luke at the end of last season, obviously making his ties to this conspiracy deeper than most, but I have no doubt that we’ll be learning a lot more about him in the near future.

Now let’s move from the bad guys to the good, starting with Mike. It was obvious at the end of last season that Mike’s need for revenge was changing him. This battle went from being professional to being personal as soon as Lily Gray killed his father (via Mark). In the season finale, he put three bullets in Lily’s chest, but in true Following fashion, killing her wasn’t enough. Mark was the one who did the deed and just because Lily is gone, doesn’t mean her legacy won’t continue, which is why Mike is now on the hunt for Mark. And not just on the hunt, but on the hunt Ryan Hardy-style.

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

Yep, that’s right, I totally see Mike turning in to Ryan. Ryan let the Joe Carroll chaos consume him. He lost friendships, relationships and ultimately himself. And I can’t help but feel Mike is headed down that same path. Like I said, we saw glimpses of it last season, but watching him walk out on Max after only a month (a month!!! We waited that long, if not longer, for them to get together in the first place!) proves that he has one focus and one focus only. Mark. Honestly, I can’t really blame him but it’s still hard to watch and I’m not quite ready for him to full spiral down the Ryan Hardy rabbit hole.

Last but not least, that brings me to Ryan. Sure, we’ve seen Ryan *this close* to getting away from this case many times by moving on from Joe, becoming a teacher, feigning normalcy and finding (what he thought) was true happiness. But this time, I think it was really real. For once, he wasn’t itching to jump back in. At the beginning when he was dancing at the wedding with his new lady love, Gwen (played by Zuleikha Robinson, formerly of Lost and Homeland) he seemed truly content. Not like he was just going through the motions, but like he was really there in the moment and enjoying it. Even the mention of Joe Carroll rolled off his shoulder like an old memory. But obviously that couldn’t last because if it did, we wouldn’t have a show.

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

It started when his toast incurred a bloody interruption by Andrew, who appeared as a waiter blaming Ryan for his daughter’s death at the Corbin compound. In true Ryan fashion, this pulled him back in and after identifying the daughter, he went to apologize to her family face to face. I really believe that if this visit had gone as planned, Ryan would’ve walked away. But again, that would make this all too simple and this show is nothing without its crazy twists. Then, after learning that the girl’s father was not actually the man at the wedding, Ryan is called to a crime scene where two dead bodies are strung up surrounded by the words “Ryan Hardy Lies” in blood. No matter how normal or adjusted you are, you can’t just walk away from that. So once again, Ryan is sucked back in to the madness. And for once, this doesn’t actually appear to be Joe’s doing. Or does it?

Well, it’s clearly too early to tell but from what we know, Joe is currently sitting on death row awaiting his fate. That being said, I wouldn’t put it past Joe to be able to manipulate such an elaborate scheme from behind bars. After all, it wouldn’t be the first time. And according to new followers Daisy and Kyle, Mark isn’t the true mastermind here, which suggests it could possibly be Joe. But I have to admit, I don’t think that’s the case. Joe is a pro when it comes to manipulative masterminding and this spree just doesn’t have the same panache as his other displays…plus, what would be his endgame? Ryan had the chance to shoot him last season and he chose not to. In my mind, that removes the fun for Joe. Truthfully, I’m hoping there’s another mastermind behind this, one that is obviously more closely linked to Lily’s faction, and that Ryan must turn to Joe for help in taking them down. After all, who can get in the mind of a murderous cult leader better than a murderous cult leader?

Be sure to catch The Following Mondays at 9/8c on Fox.

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