Plot: After getting shot and nearly losing his niece, Ryan Hardy (Kevin Bacon) is now convinced that he’s in over his head. He contacts Mike Weston (Shawn Ashmore) and asks for his assistance. Meanwhile, Lily Gray (Connie Nielsen) reveals her true plans to Joe and Luke (Sam Underwood) deals with his grief.
If there’s one thing that “Fly Away” proved last night, it’s that The Following is at its best when our heroes are allowed to go off the rails. Listening to the rules has never worked for these characters so it makes sense that they’d eventually want to try a new method. Granted it took us about a season and a half to get to this point, but at least we’re here right? “Fly Away” was all about renegade activity with Mike teaming up with Ryan and Max (Jessica Stroup) to actually get shit done. Using a giant block of wood, several stabbing techniques, and good old fashioned fisticuffs, our heroes almost accomplish their exact goals. Also, for the very first time ever, I actually cheered for Joe Carroll, which makes me uncomfortable in every sense of the word.
Let’s kick this off with Ryan’s plot that actually focuses a lot on Mike. After putting the lives of his niece and himself on the line, Ryan finally makes the smart decision of asking for help. He gives Mike a call and tells him to bring an entire army of agents. Mike however is convinced that the FBI is compromised so he comes alone, which would later be proven as an incredibly smart decision. Mike is now a bundle of untapped rage too since he has photographic evidence that Joe is still alive. Clearly he is unhappy that the man responsible for the death of Debra Parker (Annie Parisse), the much better FBI head from last season, is still alive so now all he wants is revenge. This sets into motion an exciting string of events that has Mike hitting Luke over the head with a beam of wood, Mike repeatedly punching Luke in the face, Mike shooting Luke several times in the chest, and then Mike punching Luke’s face into a bloody pulp. Can you tell that this guy has severe PTSD? Why does he still have a gun? Who cares, it was fun TV.
Now this may seem like Mike has gone completely insane, but in true fashion The Following never lets its heroes stray TOO far from the righteous path. This is exemplified perfectly in a standoff on a dam between Mike and Max, with Luke hostage, and Lily and Mark (Sam Underwood), with some random guy hostage. With their several years of experience in law enforcement, Mike and Max definitely had the upper hand. I firmly believe they could have finished our villains off for good right here. Yet, they can’t because an innocent man would die in the process, so predictably everyone escapes from the situation generally unscathed. It was a telling example of how the writers like to have The Following push the envelope with shocking murders and renegade heroes, but isn’t comfortable taking an extra step that has our heroes letting an innocent person die. Apparently implied necrophilia between Luke and a dead Giselle (Camille De Pazzis) is free game though. And at least Mike was able to take his revenge on Luke who, unless I’m mistaken, is dead five times over.
Joe (James Purefoy) was especially in top form last night. Not because he once again rallied a new group of followers, but because he was actually someone the viewer wanted to root for. I can’t imagine why I would ever want a ruthless serial killer/cult leader to succeed in his goals, but that’s the life The Following has made for us now. Right after Ryan calls Mike asking for help, we cut to Joe and Lily in bed following their expected romp in the sack. This is when Lily divulges her plan to take Joe to Venezuela where they have no extradition policies and he can live his life as a writer again. Joe, not unlike someone who just had an extremely regretful one night stand with someone who’s expecting just a bit too much from the relationship, reacts poorly to this news. He now sees that Lily is a psychotic woman who he must avoid. Great deduction Joe! You’re a regular Sherlock Holmes. His facial expressions and obvious discomfort at the situation were hilarious. Getting drugged with wine? Not so much.
Just like Ryan and Mike’s plot though, Joe’s doesn’t flow smoothly from start to finish. The potholes start popping up immediately after the Venezuela news when Emma (Valerie Curry) is trying to figure out where Joe is. This causes her to run into Mandy (Tiffany Boone) who drops the “Joe and Lily had sex” bomb with as much grace as a constipated mime. The combination of poor writing, poor delivery, and goofy facial expressions by Boone made me laugh uncontrollably. Seriously, this felt like something that belonged in a blooper reel. The crap continues with Emma (obviously) as Joe laments to her his failures as a writer. Remember when Joe was chock full of charisma last year? I miss that. This Mopey Joe was so out of left field that it was just annoying to watch. He apparently has some epic plan too that involves Emma, and Mandy is getting jealous that Emma’s getting all the love despite the two basically being the same character. Hooray?
It really sucks though that the episode ended in such a predictably obvious fashion. After Ryan goes in a rampage in Lily’s mansion that has him stabbing another no-name character, the FBI is alerted to the activity by that woman who Ryan put into danger last week. This leads to a chase scene involving Ryan trying to drive down a plane that would have been exciting if Joe actually was on it. This was a story trope that the writers have used so often before that a blind person could have known Joe wasn’t on the plane. When do those situations ever work out as planned? Also, the “revelation” that Jana (Leslie Bibb) tipped off Joe because Gina Mendez (Valerie Cruz) told her wasn’t exciting in the least. We all knew that was going to happen.
Despite the huge down turns, “Fly Away” was actually a fun episode to watch. It was action packed and it suitably ended the entire Lily/Joe story. This was an episode that would have been perfect as a mid-season finale, but unfortunately the show is picking up next week with a newly enraged Lily and a free Joe. I’ll admit though, making Lily the new enemy and having both Ryan and Joe in her sights is quite a change up. Does this mean that Ryan and Joe will team up to take her down? I actually want that to happen. I hope we can see more of Renegade Mike too considering that he supposedly lost his job at the FBI. Now all we need is for Max to go crazy and we can have three heroes causing absolute mayhem. Of course they would accomplish what the FBI has failed to do for over a season and a half because the FBI is now a useless plot device for turncoats to fester in.