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The Following “Home” and “A Hostile Witness” 

Finally!! I never thought I’d say this, but Joe Carroll literally took the words right out of my mouth. Ryan, what took you so long?! Don’t get wrong, I get it, the build up was vital but I’m uber excited that Ryan has finally been to the edge, the brink, the place where his only option is to seek Joe’s help. But unfortunately, since that was only a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment of this two-hour episode, I’m going to hold my Ryan/Joe reunion thoughts until next week and instead take a step back to look at the disastrous final scenes that drove Ryan to this point.

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

Let me start by saying I like both Mike and Ryan. I really do. And I think for the most part, they are good agents. But those last few scenes had me screaming at my TV. Like Ryan said last week during Clarke’s eulogy, there is evil in this world and they can not falter in the face of it or let it affect them. Which is exactly what happened here.

First and foremost, Mike leaving Max alone with Strauss to go chase after Mark. No. No, no, no, no. You already “left her” once for Mark, a fact she has reminded you of twice this episode and the main reason that you two are not getting back together. And yet, when push comes to shove, you leave her again to literally chase after Mark. I get it. You don’t want to let the bad guy get away, but having your partner (and hopeful girlfriend’s) back is kinda important here, especially when you know Strauss has an ally running around the shipyard with him. Case in point, Max gets beaten over the head, the shoulders and repeatedly across the back with a two-by-four. And Ryan has no problem making it abundantly clear that Mike is to blame.

Ryan: You left her. You just left her.

Mike: When I saw Mark, I went after him.

Ryan: She needed you.

Mike: I didn’t know.

Ryan: You didn’t know what? That you were suppose to have her back?! What the hell were you thinking?!

Mike: I was thinking that I was going to kill the man that murdered my father until you got in to my head.

Ryan: It was the right thing to do!

Mike: The right thing to do?! What about this feels right, Ryan? Max in here. Mark and Strauss out there. That feels right to you?!

Ryan: We look out for our own, that is first and foremost!

Mike: Okay, go ahead, fine, blame me for Max. You know what, if it had been you when we were chasing Joe, you would’ve done the same damn thing.

Touché. I absolutely LOVE that Mike calls out Ryan here. I’ve been saying that I see Mike turning in to Ryan the last few weeks and if Mike himself can recognize the similarity, I think I’m clearly onto something. That being said, Ryan is both in no place to judge (since he would do the same) and also in the perfect place to call Mike out. He’s been where Mike is. Where the mission becomes personal and where revenge can consume you and change you as a person. We’ve seen it with Ryan before and even if it couldn’t apply this wisdom to himself in the past, hopefully the fact that he can recognize it with Mike will help him to internalize it moving forward.

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

But before we get to the future, let’s circle back around to this week because Ryan wasn’t exactly on point this episode either. When you have an unstable psychopath in front of you with only a mere railing between him and freedom, whhhhyyyyyy oh why do you lower your guard and put down your gun?! This is not, I repeat NOT, checkmate. Shouldn’t that be not only cop training 101, but also Following training 101?! After all, this is Mark Gray that you’re going after. What makes you think he is just going to sit there and let you take him in?! Clearly Ryan was so focused on saving Mike’s humanity that he forgot to consider Mark’s basic instincts for self-preservation.

Ryan: Mike, stop! Don’t do it.

Mike: You can’t talk me out of this Ryan, so walk away if you’ve got a problem.

Ryan: It won’t bring your father back, man. It won’t end your pain.

Mike: I don’t care.

Ryan: I do. And so does Max.

{Mike hesitates then steps towards Mark again}

Ryan: Hey, Mike! You’re a good man. DOn’t let him strip that from you.

Mike: I have to do this.

Ryan: No, you don’t! Pulling that trigger is easy. What I’m asking you to do is hard. It’s harder than anything you’ve ever done in your life.

Mike: He doesn’t deserve to live.

Ryan: But he does deserve to suffer. In an 8 foot cell, twenty-three hours a day, all alone, no friends, no visitors, no chance of ever setting foot outside that prison. You shoot him, his pain stops. Let him live and it never ends.

I loved that Mike hesitates for a second when Ryan mentions Max. Despite leaving her to pursue Mark, he still cares about her and it seems like she might be the one thing that could possibly save him from himself. That being said, the whole time Ryan and Mike are having a heart-to-heart, it’s clear that Mark is seeing the window to escape getting bigger and bigger. That railing is a mere few feet away and once killing is off the table, it’s a clear sprint to freedom.

Obviously I know Mark’s escape was necessary for the storyline, but I absolutely cannot blame Mike for blowing up at Ryan. Granted, I don’t think Mike should’ve killed Mark, but now he’s running (or limping thanks to the bullet in his leg) free and therefore able to kill more innocent people. Yes, I think he would be better off suffering in jail, but this is The Following. When does anything go so smoothly and according to plan?! And Ryan should know this. But I feel like the fact that Joe is safely locked up in prison has gone to Ryan’s head. He’s forgotten all the times Joe has escaped and all the havoc he has wreaked in the process. Sending someone so connected and twisted to prison and keeping them there isn’t that easy on this show. Followers live by their own set of rules and don’t bend to the law or lay down and give up when it comes to justice, just as Mark has shown us.

So in the end, Ryan & Co. are worse off than they started. Sure, Kyle may be dead, but now Daisy is pissed. Strauss is running free. Mark is still on the loose. And Max took a brutal beating and is lucky to still be alive. Obviously Ryan isn’t getting things done on his own, so who better to turn to than Joe, a man who knows Strauss and what it’s like to be his student better than anyone? You can bet Mike and Max aren’t going to be happy about this. Neither are Gina and the FBI. Heck, all in all, I bet Ryan isn’t even happy about it, but like his girlfriend said, he can’t give up, no matter how impossible it seems.

The Following returns to it’s regular time next Monday at 9/8c on Fox.

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