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Joe Meets His Maker, The Following “Evermore” 

Whoa! Did they seriously just do that?! Did they actually just kill Joe?! Normally, when a TV show kills a major character, I’m suspicious unless I see a body, but this time, there was no doubt. We literally watched as the poison pumped through Joe’s veins and he took his last breath. And even though the fact that he was on death row made it seem inevitable, I’m still kind of shocked that they actually went through with it! I mean, I know Joe isn’t the Big Bad this season but still, he is the crux of the killings and launching pad for this whole series. Before he left his world for good, he got Ryan to admit some pretty powerful things that will undoubtedly result in Joe’s presence to beat just as strong even though he no longer has a pulse.

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

Joe has always had a hold over Ryan. They’ve talked about it many times on the show and we’ve discussed it many times here on TV Goodness. But despite all of us knowing this and Ryan probably knowing it subconsciously, he has refused to admit it. Until now. Joe’s literal final dying wish was for Ryan to recognize and accept their bond.

Ryan: Okay, so help me see the truth, what am I denying?

Joe: You have always been my most devoted follower. No one else has ever felt as passionately about me as you.

Ryan: I was trying to stop you.

Joe: Trying to stop me? You became me.

Ryan: No, I’m not like you, Joe, I don’t have a need to kill.

Joe: I think your body count might say otherwise.

Ryan: If I didn’t pull that trigger, innocent people would’ve died. I saved lives.

Joe: No, this is just going nowhere.

{Joe starts to threaten to cut out Dana’s eye}

Ryan: Wait, wait, no! When I first came here to see you, you asked me if you were in my dreams. You were.

Joe: In what capacity?

Ryan: In my dreams, we’re friends. We drink together.

Joe: And?

Ryan: And you’re teaching me to kill.

Joe: I’m proud of you, Ryan. That could not have been easy to admit. What do you think your dreams are telling you?

Ryan: You just screwed with my head.

Joe: I think it’s telling you we are friends. Best of friends. You see me  for who I really am. Just like I see you for who you really are.

Ryan: You don’t know me.

Joe: Ryan, you know that’s a lie. I am the only one who knows the real you. Come, tell me, what are you so afraid of?

Ryan: That you’re right.

Joe: Of course I am. Tell me you didn’t enjoy murdering the man who killed your mom and Debra Parker’s killer.

Ryan: No.

Joe: Then what? Come on, Ryan? Tell the truth. What did you get out of pulling the trigger?

Ryan: Satisfaction. Power. And that’s what felt good.

Joe: Thank you, Ryan. That’s what I was looking for. Just a little bit of honesty. I can accept my fate because you have finally admitted that I’m right.

Watching Ryan change from absolute defiance to denial to shameful acceptance was downright chilling. You could actually see the color drain from his face as he faced the truth and admitted that he has in many ways become Joe. And seeing him pummel the inmate in the prison yard only affirmed it. Granted, it was initially a protective act, but even after Ryan knocked the inmate down and neutralized the threat, he couldn’t bring himself to stop beating him, blood spraying everywhere much as it has done with Joe’s killings. You could literally see Ryan “losing himself” and becoming what Joe sees in him — a man who feels both a sense of satisfaction and power from killing — and now that Ryan has acknowledged that, Joe can and will live on through him. Which was essentially Joe’s dying wish, according to their last conversation.

Ryan: Why? Why did today have to happen?

Joe: Because you are my real legacy, Ryan. And I needed you to know it. And now that you know, admitted that we are brothers, I can die knowing that I will live on through you.

Honestly, knowing Ryan and his demons, I don’t doubt that Joe is right. The scene at the bar was proof enough that Joe’s death was not the “cure” to Ryan’s disease as he so claimed last week, but instead, it only served to magnify it. I’ll admit, I’m excited to see how Joe lives through Ryan. Not because I want Ryan to suffer or become dark, but because this is something that the season, and in some way the series, has long alluded to. Ryan dreamed of Joe being his friend, his confidant, the one who believed in him and taught him how to kill. Joe, on the other hand, dreamed of Ryan rescuing him. Granted, Ryan couldn’t actually rescue him, but in keeping him alive within himself, Ryan is keeping him alive in a bigger sense of the word. Just as now Joe can actually be Ryan’s confidant and his subconscious, he can tell him he is right and he can rally him on, even when he’s doing things he shouldn’t be doing.

But back to Joe’s last day. Despite starting the day at odds and on opposite sides, I love that the series forced them together and to essentially fight side by side as one last hurrah. Once the inmates were let loose, thanks to Theo, the tables turned. I guess it’s true what they say, your enemy’s enemy is your friend, with the crazed inmates being the first enemy. So despite being prepared to walk Joe back to death row, Ryan can’t bear to watch him die at the hands of another inmate and chooses to save him yet again…even offering him a hand up in the end.

Of course, this leads ultimately to Joe’s execution, which was an incredibly hard moment to watch. Joe has always been confident and infallible to the point of being cocky; however, in his final moments, he was trembling and shaking as his eyes darted around wildly with the acceptance of what was to come. It was hard to watch but still felt extremely true to the situation. And yet, once he saw Ryan there in the galley, there was peace. That was all he wanted, to know that someone he cared about also cared about him. I’m not going to lie, there was a tear in my eye for a second there. Ryan showed and not out of hate or animosity or to watch Joe burn, but because he knew Joe wanted him there and because it meant something to him. And I’ll be honest, even though he was safe and sound in the galley, Ryan appeared to be suffering just as much as Joe. Despite being shocked and taunted and tortured, I believe that Ryan had a true change of heart towards Joe in that final day.

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

Seeing this man, who has fueled so much of his life and who he is just now recognizing as someone who truly understands him and sees him in ways he couldn’t even see himself, must be brutal. Particularly now that he knows what he knows, how does he go on? Does he accept that he is like Joe or does he try to keep denying it? Accepting it would likely bring to the surface just as many issues as denying it has in the past. So what’s the best solution here? Well, clearly I don’t actually know, but in Ryan’s psyche, looking to Joe for that answer is the most viable option. After all, whenever life has been difficult, he’s always turned towards Joe and buried himself in the case to cope so now that Joe has met his maker, the only way for Ryan to do that is to allow Joe to live on within himself. And knowing Joe, regardless if he’s got a heartbeat or if he’s just a hallucination, he will still be a force to be reckoned with.

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

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