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A Tale Of Two Villains, The Following “Reunion” 

So I was planning to write this article all about my beloved Ryan-Joe bromance, because while there was only one scene between them, it was still EXQUISITE and exactly what I’d been waiting for. But then in true Following fashion, the show threw me a major villain curveball that I would be remiss to ignore. So rather than a full Joe Ryan recap, let’s take a look at the villains of old, the villains of new and the villains who Ryan may have to face next.

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

First off, Ryan and Joe. God, I love these two together. I don’t know what it is, but you put them in a room together and the dynamic is explosive. Like I said, the scene between them was short, but it was so strong that it hardly even mattered. It gave us more than most other characters could in ten scenes. Picking up where last week left off, Ryan went to visit Joe in prison because, as he said, it was “what he had to do” in order to put a stop to this Arthur Strauss killing spree. Ryan walked in and Joe, with a completely contented smile on his face, was the charming, charismatic Joe that we remember and approached Ryan with the same pseudo-friendship vibe that has been it’s trademark it from the beginning.

Joe: You’re looking very well, Ryan. The suit, the grooming and you’re back at the Bureau full time. And you haven’t fallen off of the wagon. Good for you. Yet there’s something else about you. There’s a lightness to you. Are you in love? Someone new?

Ryan: Enough.

Joe: You’ll share, eventually. What are you doing here, Ryan?

Ryan: This was a mistake, you can’t help me.

Joe: Oh please, spare me the theatrics, what’s in the folder?

Ryan: Arthur Strauss is missing.

Joe: Oh dear, oh dear, you are in such trouble

Ryan: He’s got no money, he’s got no ID, he can’t have traveled far. He was last seen in the vicinity of Redhook. Where do you think he’d go?

Joe: Why would I help you? What are you offering?

Ryan: What do you want?

Joe: Now I’ve made my peace with my predicament. But I’m concerned for you. Now I wonder if you are quite as prepared.

Ryan: For what?

Joe: Do I need to remind you, Ryan? When I die, you die.

Ryan: Don’t worry about me, Joe. I’ll be just fine once you’re gone.

Joe: So you say.

Ryan: What do you want?

Joe: I want us back

Ryan: Us? What us?

Joe: Well, you and me. Bantering, Laughing. Shedding a few tears. I’d like for you to come visit me every day until D-day. I think I deserve that much at least.

Ryan: You give me something on Strauss that pays off, I’ll come back

Joe: What did I do when all hope was lost? I reached out to the good doctor. My mentor and my ally. So I can only assume he might do the same thing. Now he touched many lives, I assume he would lean on a friend in the neighborhood in his hour of need. Tell me something, Ryan, your dreams, am I in them?

Yes! More bantering! More laughing! More shedding of tears! Okay, well, I don’t know about those last two, but the banter is more than enough for me. And I love that that’s the only things Joe wants. He could ask for anything at this point…well, maybe not anything, but he could aim higher…and yet, all he wants is visits with Ryan. That is his “death wish”.  I have no doubt he is doing this to taunt and torture Ryan a bit, but I also think that Joe truly feels the same pull and connection with Ryan that Ryan feels to him. However, I also think it’s interesting that while Joe revels in it, Ryan still repels in it. When I saw him being all cool and confident and doing the fake-out walkaway, I truly believed that he might have risen above his feelings towards Joe and been able to let go, which is why the sudden bathroom-stop after was such a great moment. He managed to keep it together and put on a good front when he was with Joe, but the second he was out of that room, everything came raging up (literally) and his true anxiety about the moment bubbled to the surface. That being said, as much as Ryan wants to deny it, Joe really does know him, which I think is a big part of why this affects him so much. I honestly can’t wait to see more of these two together as the season continues. Granted, I hope it’s more than we got this week, but at this point, I’ll take whatever I can get…especially with Joe’s execution date fast approaching.

So from our old villain to the new one. I have to admit, when I heard Michael Ealy was joining The Following, I was excited, because I like Michael Ealy. But I was also hesitant, because I wasn’t sure that he’s have the cold, calculating demeanor potentially needed for the role. He usually plays charming and charismatic and with his sparkling blue eyes, he plays it well. But I’m happy to say that I was wrong. He was cold, stone-faced and downright creepy. That first scene of Theo hunting the man in the basement gave me the chills more than once. He didn’t even have to do anything besides stand there and glint the knife and you knew what was coming. And yet, the more we learned, the more terrifying he became.

Everything he did was robot-like in it’s precision and even before meeting Strauss, he had his killer-methodology down to a science. Upon discovering his plan to frame the other chatroom creeper for his mass murder, Strauss even complemented his work and encouraged him to continue.

Strauss: This is genius. You figured out a way to kill people and no one even knows you exist. Have you done this before?

Theo: Yes, but this was my first mass murder.

Strauss: Impressive. You must never blame yourself for your need to kill. You were born that way, like a shark and like a shark, you must stay beneath the water.

Theo: Like I’ve done here already.

Strauss: Yes, exactly, but you could’ve left him in another location so you wouldn’t have to rush back here before the police….Is there a way you’d like to kill him? Your own signature?

Theo: I like the immediacy of a gun. But the sound a blade makes when it cuts in to the flesh is so delicious. And the intimacy of strangulation is such a rush. Why limit myself? I want to master them all.

So, yes, killers seem to be a dime a dozen on this show. But what I find so interesting is how different Theo is from Joe in one fundamental way. Rather than wanting to acquire a following and be praised and lauded for his mastery, he wants to stay in the shadows, to defer credit and to do this only for his own self-satisfaction. Yes, both killers, but the reason they kill and the way in which they do it make them like night and day.

That is also why I shouldn’t have been surprised when Theo took razor wire to Strauss neck when he exposed him, but I was! I was actually beyond surprised, I was downright flabbergasted. I mean, this man was like a father to Theo and the only thing we’ve seen from followers thus far is undying (or dying, depending on how you look at it) loyalty and obedience. So this brutal and very hands on killing totally threw me for a loop. That being said, Strauss did warn Theo not to let others draw him out of the “water” and in a twist of irony, that’s exactly what Strauss ended up doing Strauss. Thus, he had to go and Theo had no problem turning a friendly embrace in to a fatal strangulation.

Theo: I owe you, but what you forced me to do, you exposed me. I don’t owe you that. A father is suppose to sacrifice for his children. But you were willing to sacrifice us all to save yourself. [Final strangulation] A shark is suppose to stay beneath the water, isn’t that you said to me?

Such a chilling scene. And I love how Daisy just stood their completely shocked and at a loss for what to do. She couldn’t fight, she couldn’t argue but she was so stunned that she couldn’t run. That was pretty much how I felt too. I honestly thought for a second that she might be next, but she wasn’t the one who put Theo in danger, so she survived to see another day.

Like I said before, Theo was cold, calculated and showed little to no emotion the entire episode, so when he walked in to the house at the end, clearly suspicious and listening for sound, I just assumed he was listening for an intruder, thinking he may have been outed by Strauss’ assignment. There’s no way he can be a normal guy with kids and a wife, right?! Wrong! I mean, part of me sensed that they might throw this at us, but it still shocked me when it happened. The second those kids whipped around the corner, he was like a different person. He was bright and bubbly, his eyes were sparkling and he was full of charm and charisma. A total family man. He could be your neighbor. Your coworker. The cute guy at the coffee shop. Unlike Neil, who also appeared to be a semi-normal individual (but let’s admit, was always a little on the odd side), Theo’s facade is the epitome of misleading. Honestly, this twist both amazes and horrifies me. I hate to think that all the charming, normal-looking family guys out there might actually be crazy killers.

So, now that we know who this season’s Big Bad will be, I have two other potential villains that I have to mention. First off, Gwen. I do not trust that “Doc” one bit. She is asking WAY too many questions and being WAY too nosey. Sure, she may be doing it because she loves Ryan and wants to be involved in every aspect of his life, but I know this show well enough to know that she could easily have something far more sinister up her sleeve. Plus, Ryan doesn’t exactly have much luck with the ladies and with relationships in general, so I’m definitely suspicious. And the other one is Max’s boyfriend. I don’t necessarily see him as being a follower or “in” on the greater evil, but the fact that he knows Mike’s secret and Mike is his rival for Max’s affection definitely doesn’t instill a lot of confidence. Hopefully, he has enough decency not to take down Mike, knowing that it will also implicate Max and besmirch the integrity of the FBI, but jealousy is a strong emotion and that look on his face definitely didn’t give me much hope. Plus this is The Following, so why stop at one villain when you can have three?

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

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