One of the things that The Following has going for it is the way its concept allows for constant surprises. Not the slow-building kind, where the suspense is generated from when an attack will actually happen. In The Following, the question has always been about the “who.” Because Joe’s followers could be anyone … and the show does mean that literally … at any point it might be revealed that a character we thought was good is actually bad.
The Following didn’t exploit this potential as much as it could have last season. None of its main characters turned out to be working for Joe. Little Joey turned out just to be a regular old kid who spent all that time with Emma because she was the first older girl he’d ever met, not because she was secretly under his command. Last night, though, The Following finally remembered how convenient a device this could be and delivered a twist: The lone survivor of the subway stabbings, Lily, is actually a follower — a follower of this new cult, that is, not Joe’s musty old one. In fact, she’s maybe not a follower at all but the leader. She might be the new Joe. What do we really know about her anyway? That she’s celebrated for spouting rhetoric about death themes found in art and that she’s obsessed with Ryan Hardy? Sounds like The Following’s definition of a cult leader to me.
In another twist, Lily is the mother of the twins. Luke picks her up after she loses Hardy in Soho, just after he spotted her pretty much directly adjacent to him on the other side of the street. Did you notice how she had completely gotten away right before that and then she suddenly appeared again in his line of sight? She did that just to screw with him, right? Because she read on Wikipedia that he’s known for always being “this close” to catching the killer. Luke picks her up without Mark, who was busy flirting with Emma all episode. Needless to say, that whole story line is disturbing, both because Mark is a psychopath but also because Emma is Emma. I can only imagine how big her head is going to get now that Mark used telepathic twin speak to get his brother to kill Carlos instead of her. Do you like how ever since we found out Mark is the sensitive one his hair is looking more and more like Nicholas Hoult’s emo zombie in Warm Bodies?
Carlos gets stabbed. Mandy’s mom gets stabbed. The FBI agent who was protecting Lily gets stabbed. Mike’s reaction when he saw her body destroyed me, “Oh damn it.” As though he’d just missed an elevator going up on his way to see his accountant. Mike’s showing more and more attitude these days. It’s like he studied the country house chapters of Ryan’s book and is dressing up in an Emma costume the same way she dresses up in a whothehellknow’s costume. Maybe it’s because he’s no longer the head tech honcho at the FBI. I mean he is the new spokesman for Microsoft’s SkyDrive, but that only goes so far with the ladies. Being up to pull up some crime-scene footage on his laptop that he totally got for a discount as part of his spokesman fees looks way less impressive once you realize that his rivals back at the command center are able to, like, track Emma through the whole city using a deli camera, a USB cord, and an Altoid.
I’d like to say that Mark and Emma’s Dawson’s Creek redux was the creepiest courtship that happened this episode, but of course it wasn’t. Watching Joe and Mandy was way worse. I’m not sure that Mandy’s mom earned looking as shocked as she did after being told that her serial-killing boyfriend had murdered someone while she was off working the overnight shift. What I don’t blame her for is how surprised she was when she found out that Mandy had helped. We’re supposed to buy that Mandy was so easily able to become a murderer because she never met her father. But it’s not like she was deprived of a male presence. Her mom is a prostitute and their home is her place of business. I would think seeing all those dudes who came in to sleep with her mom would’ve made her more suspicious of strange men instead of less. I mean, I think it would’ve conjured up some complicated feelings toward her mom, too, but that doesn’t equal wanting to stab her so she can then run off with her sort of stepfather. Has Joe even whipped out any Poe quotes lately? Isn’t that what hooked his followers initially, his way with another author’s words?
Mandy says that she never thought she’d get out of that town but now that Joe, a wanted killer whose new identity will now even be suspected of two murders, she finally has a shot at a fresh start. Not to mention the fact that he’s a frustrated writer. That alone can be hell to live with.
I’m wondering if there’s anything to this news about Joe’s father having been a promiscuous cad in England. Perhaps instead of just one other kid who was killed in order to make the authorities think Joe was dead, there were several. Maybe Lily is related to Joe somehow. She could be his sister, which would make the twins his nephews and would pretty much sew up the whole nature-versus-nurture argument once and for all. Papers would be written that would eventually lead to a book, knocking Hardy’s book off the best-seller list. Considering by how thin a thread he is hanging, that’d probably be enough to turn him into a serial killer himself. After all, it’s taken less than that to bring it out in others. We’ll now never officially know why Carlos was involved with this crew, but I’m going to venture a guess that it had something to do with that French woman. Her main character trait so far has been “accent” and I’m pretty sure that’s her main asset to the group, too. She probably just goes around to bars saying stuff like “blueberry pancakes” to boys and before they know it, they’re living in a hotel room with sociopathic twins fighting over who gets control of the remote. Such unsatisfying fights, too, since if the new guys press too hard, really stand their ground, they’ll end up with a knife in the throat and I don’t care how good a Seinfeld rerun is on, no girl, French or otherwise, is worth that.