Ryan And Mike Admit Their Faults, The Following “The Edge” and “A Simple Truth”
While this 2-hour penultimate episode was filled with lots of twists, torture, blood and betrayal, I can’t help but feel like this episode didn’t actually achieve anything until the final two scenes. Don’t get me wrong, bad guys were killed, moles were outed and plots were uncovered throughout, but with the clock ticking on this series, I can’t help but focus on our characters and their inner battles more than those they face on the streets.
First, Ryan finally came to grips with the scope of his problem and howÂ itÂ affects those around him. His focus on drinking and Joe took it’s toll on everyone and prohibited him from being the friend, family and colleague that he needed to be. I loved the scene at the AA meeting when he finally admitted this and halluci-Joe gave him a brief nod. It was almost like Joe, with all his taunting and torturing, was pushing him to this point. Pushing him to acknowledge what was right in front of him. I know this sounds a little far-fetched, but we have to admit that Joe knew Ryan better than Ryan knew himself in a lot of ways and both Joe and halluci-Joe pushed Ryan to the edge, which was ultimately what got him to this point. Sometimes you have to hit rock bottom and KNOW it’s rock bottom before you can begin to pull yourself back up. And in this case, Ryan hit rock bottom and then some.
Ryan: My name is Ryan and I’m an alcoholic. It’s been a while since my last meeting. I had over 18 months of sobriety but I started drinking again and I’ve hurt people that I love. I’ve driven them away because I didn’t think I deserved them. But I want to change. I need to change. And I want to be the man who deserves the woman in his life, who deserves his family and his friends. I want to be better. I will be better.
I may have been reading into this, but Joe’s nod here almost felt like a final goodbye. Like Ryan was finally letting go of Joe and his obsession and that Joe knew and accepted this because he knows it’s what’s best for hisÂ friend. Obviously the fact that RyanÂ is about to be a father likelyÂ also plays a big partÂ in this realization, but until he knew that he had a problem that needed to be fixed, he couldn’t see the value in this information. I know Ryan has been clean and sober before only to be pulled back in, but hopefully this new-found knowledge of the true demons he must face and the desireÂ to be better for his child will be enough to keep him on the right path.
Next, from Ryan to Mike, who between a kidnapping and a stabbing easily had the roughest week of anyone. And while IÂ hate myself for being mad at Mike while he’s laying in a pool of blood on the groundÂ of a parking garage, I have to ask: whyyy?!?! Why when a killer is on the loose, would you let your guard down?! I saw this coming a mile away and can’t help but be a little mad at Mike for not seeing it coming as well. But, that being said, this final scene was one of my favorite of the episode and I found the timing of this dual Mike/Mark downfall fascinating.
So, let’s start with the actual scene.Â As Mike and Max were flirting/walking to her car, I couldn’t help but feel something ominous looming; they were way too happy. And way too cute. Then he told her how he admired Ryan for inspiring passion and how she was the love of his life.
Mike: You know what I thought when I first saw you?
Max: That I was foxy?
Mike: Clearly. That Ryan was lucky to have someone that cared that much about him. That had his back no matter what. I guess I wanted to inspire that kind of passion.
Max: You did. You still do.
Mike: I never should’ve left you, Max. You’re the love of my life.
In a show like this, if that isn’t a dead giveaway something bad is about to happen, I don’t know what is. As soon as Max invited him over and he said he “had to go get his car,” I actually shouted at the TV. Why does he have to get his car?! Get in her car! She can drive you! But no, obviously that wouldn’t have served the plot. So as he bent down to give Max another kiss, Mark crept up behind him to deliver a few potentially deadly jabs. And in his final moments (maybe?), Mike pulled out his gun and shot Mark. So after a season and a half of ruthlessly and relentlessly hunting each other, both men got to deliver the fatal blows that they’ve been eagerly anticipating.
It’s no secret that both Mark and Mike have been hell-bent on taking one another down and exactingÂ revenge — Mike for his dad, Mark for his mom. Mike has literally lost himself and his life in this effort. He gave up his relationship with Max. He nearly got Max killed. And he risked his position at the FBI, as well as the trust of his colleagues and friends, in an effort to kill Mark. Likewise, MarkÂ has been single-mindedly focused on hunting down Mike, going so far as to exact multiple full massacres on innocent people just to torture and taunt Mike and break him down. In this episode, he even went against Theo (which as Daisy repeatedly reminded himÂ is a big no-no) in anÂ attempt to accomplish his own goal, which only served to get him shot.
Their need for vengeance and determination has more or less defined both of these men all season, so I find itÂ so so interesting thatÂ it’s not untilÂ Mike finally starts to let go that he ultimatelyÂ has the opportunityÂ to shoot and killÂ Mark. And because it’s in self defense, he can do so without repercussions. Granted, that is also becauseÂ he lets his guard down in the first place, which is why he gets stabbed. Again, while I don’t understand why he wasn’t on higher alert (he is an FBI agent after all), I do have to commend him for realizing all that he’s lost due to his laser-like focus on Mark, which ultimately led him to admitting his feelings to Max and telling her that he never should’ve left her. That being said, in a fascinating twist of irony, it was just this same vulnerability to Max that made him vulnerable to Mark. It was almost like a game of chicken. Whoever bailed on revenge-focus first was the one to lose. And I hate to say it, butÂ in this “game,” MikeÂ lost because Mark got the upper hand and attackedÂ Mike when he least expected.
Mark’s attack didn’t exactly go according to plan since he ended up with a bunch of bullets in the chest. And I have to say I love that MikeÂ ultimately killed Mark not out of revenge, but out of love. He did it to protect Max, which is something he failed to do before. He didn’t hunt down Mark or kill him in cold blood, so while he did ultimately achieve his “goal,” he was able to do so with a clean conscience and while putting Max first. AndÂ with only one more 2-hour episode left before The FollowingÂ says goodbye forever, I’m seriously hoping that Mike pulls through and gets the chance toÂ live hisÂ happily ever after.
Be sure to catch the series finale of The Following Monday at 8/7c on FOX.
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