The Following: “Fly Away”
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The Following: “Fly Away”

I genuinely enjoyed a lot of things about that episode of The Following. But a lot of the things that I liked about that episode of The Following are, at the same time, things that should shock every American’s conscience. The amount of indiscriminate murder committed by not just Joe Carroll, but also Ryan and anyone else who has a weapon handy, is reaching truly ridiculous proportions. These aren’t grand-scheme serial murders that are all chapters in some godawful book Joe is writing. These are random, desperate kills, merely upping the body count and eliminating superfluous (and semi-important) characters simply because the show can.

Still, it’s hard not to enjoy all of the action. This episode was a ridiculous circus of carnage, with alliances falling apart, new ones being formed, and the FBI literally abandoning any hope of doing anything remotely competent this season. Everyone’s gone rogue! Everyone’s a renegade! Trust no one! Except for your friends! Your friends will always come through for you!

Yes, there’s a weird message of bonding and relying on the people you know best pervading through this episode. Ryan’s been working with his niece Max this year, and she’s fine and all but mostly good for standing there and getting reports from her uncle about what crazy scrape he just got into. When the time comes to pull the trigger, she’s nowhere. She doesn’t have the guts to just shoot people like crazy because she’s a normal human being who’s not dead inside. What is she even doing on this show?

The same could have been said for Mike once upon a time. He used to just want to be friends with Ryan and be a good detective, solving murders and nodding seriously as bad people were hauled off to jail where they belong. No longer. Mike is bearing his own psychic scars, and he’s got the violent mania to prove it, executing evil twin Luke cold-bloodedly and then punching his face roughly ten thousand times until it is a pulp that’s CRAZY bloody even for Fox at 10 p.m. Eastern. I mean, really.

What I’m saying is, Mike has returned to the fold, and now he and Ryan are going to make mayhem together, and the FBI is just gonna have to sit back and watch. God, but aren’t they useless this time around? They’re not even a vaguely moral organization, putting Mike in the field before his psych evaluation has even come in. The guy obviously has issues! He needs to be out in the field for our entertainment, yes, but otherwise, it would be bonkers to have a guy like that working a Joe Carroll related case. Thank God he’s in the sane hands of Ryan now. Nothing can go wrong with that.

Just as Mike returns to Ryan, Joe returns to Emma and (along with his adopted Bayou  child) dumps Lily and her convenient murder house. This is a storyline I saw coming, but later on in the season and (I expected) with a much crazier blowout. Instead, Joe just comes to his senses, realizes what a nut Lily is, and (after having sex with her and getting drugged by her) decides to call it a day.

Lily really is something, isn’t she? While Joe is moping around with Emma admitting that he’s a crappy writer and a crappy cult leader (more on that in a second), she’s planning to take Joe to Venezuela and have him happily murder for the rest of his life, I guess for her amusement. Have we really figured Lily out at all? She’s a collector of sick people, clearly, but the lengths she wants to go to recruit Joe are just absurd. He’s right to back away slowly and get the hell out of there.

Still, I’m not sure what I make of Joe’s whole crisis of faith in himself. Dude, you weren’t so bad a cult leader last year! Sure, you leaned too much on Roderick and you didn’t get to kill Ryan, but you sure recruited a lot of people through sheer force of personality, and while your book got bad reviews, it had its fans!

I just don’t know what to make of this idea that we should… feel for Joe. Just because he’s grown some self-awareness and seems so run of the mill compared to Lily, doesn’t mean he’s become a more compelling character. And yet I can’t help but admit that I actually look forward to Joe’s scenes more this season. He’s a little more fun, a little less serious, less of full of himself.  God, here I am praising The Following. Don’t worry, I still think it’s the worst. Both Joe and Ryan just gleefully stab inconsequential characters to death this week for no real reason. I mourn for everything about this show and this country. But I at least appreciate having fun while I do it.

#baconbits:

  • God am I glad Luke the evil twin is dead. That necrophilia bit at the beginning was a lot to take.
  • “Must be awful being the good guys. So many rules,” Lily quips during a standoff. Then she doesn’t kill her hostage. So… what was that about obeying rules, lady?
  • “I’m done with you, Lily! You and your international house of psychos!” “You don’t mean that.” Man, Lily can’t get the message. He’s just not that into you!
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