The Following toyed with something interesting in “Reflection,” and then abandoned it. But for a minute there, the idea that Ryan and Joe might be on opposing trajectories — at least for now — was a good one. Joe rejects Lily’s offer of a torture chamber, complete with sacrificial lamb, while Ryan essentially goes on a killing spree. But in the end, Joe was Joe, and Ryan is, well, a mess. Hit the jump for why “Joe seems cool?”
As Joe settles in to the Gray household and with Lily’s “family,” the ideas from his old cult are already jarring with this new one. Joe is not who he was, in many ways, and seems suspicious and reticent about the followers Lily has collected for him. She has set everything out on a platter, quite literally in some cases, and yet, that makes him feel too managed. But Joe is always being managed and controlled by women — he likes them to support him and coddle him, but also then uses them as his victims. If you want to get all Freudian with it, he’s killing The Mother over and over again.
Emma knows something about that, quite literally, and Joe makes sure she’s happy because he knows that she will do anything he asks. He can trust her, but, as she questions at him, why then didn’t he make her a part of his resurrection plan? Is it because he knows, even as she accuses the Gray family of being crazy, that she’s pret-ty batshit herself?
Trying to make sense of The Following is a fool’s errand, but “Reflection” did attempt to introduce some emotional elements to a season that, so far, has been thin on everything but gore. The weird sexual tension between Lily and her sons continues to develop, as do each of their own individual relationships: Lily’s with Joe, Mark with Emma, and Luke with Gisele. (The Luke/Gisele connection was never as overt before as it was in this hour, though). First Joe was motivated by revenge against Ryan, now Ryan is seeking vengeance against Joe. In the next hour, it looks like Ryan is anticipating blowback from Luke and the Gray family. And on and on.
All that this provides are reasons for people to kill each other aside from Joe’s philosophy, which doesn’t even seem to be in play anymore. Instead, he’s turned into Dexter without a cause. The Following‘s worse sin (of many) this season is that it’s just plain boring. There’s not a reason to be invested in this cycle of death revenge — it’s just a blood vendetta about people there’s no reason to care about. Kevin Bacon does his darndest, bless him, to breathe any kind of life or empathy into the proceedings. But in the end it doesn’t add up to much.
Episode Rating: C-
Musings and Miscellanea:
— “Joe seems cool?” – Mark, the sweetheart psycho killer who can’t be touched.
— When Mark brought Emma into the studio and reclined on the couch, who else immediately thought, “paint me like one of your French girls!”
— Emma drawing Joe’s face onto Mark’s body was hilarious, especially since it didn’t match up in the least.
— “Don’t move or I’ll shoot you right in the leg.” The leg! Ryan, up your threats a little bit.
— Oh bloody sex stuff. Gross.
— Not sad to see Gisele go, to be honest. She was trés annoying.
— At first I thought Ryan faltering in the woods was because of his pacemaker. Remember that? Huge plot point from last year?
— Yes Max, definitely sit there and let Gisele come up with ideas on how to escape. Why not throw on some reality TV on max volume and make her crazy? And why answer the door to housekeeping? Why why why?
— Don’t get me started about Ryan’s actions with the poor woman he blindfolded. Though at least she didn’t accidentally get killed by Gisele and Luke. Enough innocents have died because of you, Ryan!
— Emma’s hair is back to normal, not sure how that happened unless the Gray’s had some dye lying around. Her piercings are gone, too, as is her tattoo sleeve (I knew it!)
— So the black Africans are the security? Problematic … (and then one gets killed off immediately. Doubly problematic).