You know that saying that not everything is always as it seems? Well,Â take that saying, multiple it times 100, flip it around a few times, add in a murder, an explosion and a dinner party and you have The Following. And yes, obviously, that’s what I love about this show. It keeps us on our toes. And in this week’s episode, an awesome scene showed us that sometimes badÂ is good and good is bad.
Of course, I’m talking about that awesome scene that jumped back and forth between Ryan and Theo. Theo was throwing a surprise party for his wife, while Ryan was supposed to be making a good impression on his girlfriend’s boss. Let’s start with Theo, who puts on a big surprise bash for his wife’s birthday, brings her flowers, entertains her guests, keeps his cool when her friend accuses him of cheating and makes her breakfast in the morning, just because. On the other hand, we have Ryan, who forgets about Gwen’s big dinner (despite being reminded the night before), shows up late, gets riled up and kicks out the guests and makes her breakfast the morning after only because he wants to get back in her good graces. I mean, let’s be honest here, ladies, which of these two men would you rather date? Obviously, we as viewers would say Ryan because we know the truth, but imagine you were a character on the show who really didn’t know any better. The crazy serial killer is clearly the better option. And that’s what’s so wild to me. This show can take Â the most evil and twisted person you can imagine and make him theÂ charismatic and charming guy-next-door. Granted, I know this is TV, but it could also be real life. I mean, who is to say that the nice guy who takes your order every morning atÂ Starbucks is really as nice and normal as he appears?!
But enough about that, back to the show. The juxtaposition between these two parties was so well done and so compelling to watch. You would have to be crazy not to extrapolate that Theo is clearly making an effort and thus must care (yes, yes, I know that part of it is for his own survival, but you have to admit, he went above and beyond just “surviving”), whereas Ryan can’t even be bothered to remember Gwen’s dinner, let alone behave civilly when he finally showed up and the topic of Joe came up at the dinner table.
Gwen’s boss’ wife: His execution is in a few days, isn’t it?
Ryan: Yeah, it can’t come soon enough as far as I’m concerned.
Gwen’s boss: I wonder what we get out of that.
Ryan: Excuse me?
Gwen’s boss: Killing him. It seems like it just perpetuates the cycle of violence that he celebrated.
Ryan: Joe Carroll has escaped federal lock up twice. I, for one, will sleep easier knowing that he’s dead.
Gwen’s boss: Just because something makes our lives easier, doesn’t make it right. As doctors, we do everything we can to preserve life, all life. You agree, don’t you?
Ryan: Cancer is a living organism, right? Do you hesitate when you kill it?
Gwen’s boss: It’s not the same.
Ryan: Joe Carroll is the worst form of cancer. He has spawned an army of killers, he has murdered dozens, some of them, my friends.
Gwen’s boss: So his death is about revenge?
Ryan: No, his death is about justice. If you can’t understand that, maybe you should get the hell out of my apartment.
Yep, real classy, Ryan, way to keep your cool. On the flip side, Theo totally kept his cool and was perfectly polite when his wife’sÂ friend tried to corner him to catch him in a lie. Yes, he may have killed them later, but at the party, he was classy and a gentleman.
And it’s not just in this scene, Theo also helps his wife carry groceries to the car, supports herÂ when she learns of her friend’s death and is incredibly understanding when she needs to spend time with her loved ones. So yes, the bad guy appears to be a saint, whereas the actual good guy appears to be a complete inconsiderate flake.
Which brings me to the next scene that I absolutely loved and had me utterly transfixed.When Theo got the notice on his phone that his wife’s driver’s license had been flagged, the look on his face and the way he totally crumpled in on himself was such an incredible display ofÂ absolute pain and devastation. I’ve watched this scene three times and I can honestly say Michael Ealy‘s facial expressions accurately convey every feeling, every emotion and every transition seamlessly. That being said, we’ve never seen him be anything but calm and collected and prepared to execute (no pun intended) his next move soÂ I honestly thought that this might be what breaks him. But clearly I was wrong. After letting those feelings consume him for about 30 seconds, heÂ cracked his knuckles (which felt like a flip of a internal switch) and instantly became the man he had to be.Â To steal a concept from The Vampire Diaries, he literally shut off his humanity. I don’t think that there is a better way to describe it. When you can’t or don’t want to deal with the feelings and the pain and facing the consequences of what you have done or must do, you just shut off your humanity and nothing bothers you anymore. You don’t feel and thus you aren’t ruled by your emotions, you just do what must be done.
And in this case, his wife was the thing that had to be done, if he intended to survive.Â Watching him first inject herÂ with a paralytic and then apologize to her as he prepared to end her life was downright chilling.
Cindy: Why are you doing this?
Theo: Because they found me, which means I can’t play house with you anymore. I just want you to know that I’m proud of this family. What I’ve built here with you and the kids, I wish it didn’t have to end. But don’t worry, baby, I will cherish the future we would’ve had and I’ll keep it with all the others I’ve collected. [Kisses her forehead]. You won’t feel what comes next. And that’s my gift to you.
All the others?! How many other lives has he had?! Obviously, we don’t know the answer to this, but does the fact that he’s left them mean he’s almost been caught before? And if so, why did whoever was hunting him give up on the search?! Are they dead too?! Honestly, I find this character so interesting. Dark and twisted and seriously messed up, but interesting. His emotions feel so genuine when he’s with his family and yet he can put an arm through a meat grinder without flinching. That being said, while I think survival is his number oneÂ priority, I can’t help but feel that he also had some fondness for his life and his family. Maybe he faked it for so long that he started to believe it himself. Either way, the conversation he had at the end with Ryan was a great way to bring it full circle.
Ryan: Theo, that’s what I’m suppose to call you, right?
Theo: I go by many names.
Ryan: You had a beautiful family, why couldn’t you just leave them?
Theo: Because I control their fate, not you.
Ryan: You don’t control anything now. I’ve got a picture of you and this one won’t self destruct.
Theo: How did you find me?
Ryan: You’re a smart guy, why don’t you figure it out?
Theo: I used the same code to hack in to Bob’s email that I did with the FBI. Sloppy. I was rushed. That won’t happen again.
Ryan: Doesn’t matter, I don’t care how many tricks you think you’ve got up your sleeve, I am going to end you.
Theo: Be careful, Agent Hardy. You don’t know me. You only know what I’ve shown you. That fact should keep you up at night. I am the man who will take your future, like I have hundreds before you, piece by piece.
So creepy! And yet so apropos. Ryan is all about revenge. And in this instance, Theo seems to be expressing a bit of revenge as well. Ryan found his wife and thus took the “future they could’ve had” and so now Theo is going to take Ryan’s future. All methodical and controlling, but also with the reminisce of past emotion.
And yes, now the bad guy is clearly bad and the good guy is clearly good. But who’s to say that Theo can’t or won’t start another life where he’ll be a loving husband and doting father? At this point, Ryan and teamÂ are the only thing stopping him andÂ the fact that Ryan is keeping him on his toes and forcing him to make sloppy mistakes is a good start. And yes, Theo claims it won’t happen again, but as we learned tonight, it only takes one slip up for it to all come crumbling down.
Be sure to catch The Following Mondays at 9/8c on FOX.
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