Plot: Joe Carroll’s (James Purefoy) grand plan has begun. With a prominent cathedral rigged to explode, Ryan Hardy (Kevin Bacon) and Mike Weston (Shawn Ashmore) become the only ones who can save the day. At the same time, Claire Matthews (Natalie Zea) continues down her own path of vengeance.
After this long and ridiculous journey, The Following is finally on the cusp of its Season 2 finale. Who would’ve thought we’d reach a point where Joe is a religious cult leader and his motivation for killing is spiritually charged? There really have been a ton of ups and downs to reach this point too. In more than one instance, the show has gotten lost in obvious attempts to shock the viewer in place of an actually engaging story. Perhaps there’s really no better example of this than in “Silence,” Season 2’s penultimate episode. “Silence” really showcased what the show can do to be great again but was trapped in the confines of this absolutely abysmal story material.
As I’m sure you have realized by now, I haven’t been a fan of this whole “Joe is a religious leader” story as of late. It’s basically been an excuse to convey as much murder as humanly possible while also giving it a spin to rile up some viewers. Nothing upsets certain people more than having their religion lambasted right? Joe spends most of the episode forcing Pastor Kingston Tanner (Tom Cavanagh) to renounce his faith and save his son, but the surprising ease of this makes you wonder if Kingston was really that religious to begin with. Joe forcing Kingston to watch his son murder someone was intense, a great indicator of how disturbing Joe can really be when he’s focused on being a psychopath and not a caricature of religious fanatics. Kingston’s subsequent suicide about midway through fulfilled his main purpose of dying in a shocking manner.
In an extremely wise move though, the whole “holy war” story is put on hold once Kingston dies. It’s almost as if he’s the reason why we had to put up with this crap to begin with. “Silence” was at its absolute best when it stopped being about religious fantasies and focused more on intense action. Joe and Mike enter Joe’s cathedral alone and actually receive justification for that when all the entrances become wired with explosives. Having men inside is obviously a huge benefit for the FBI. While Ryan and Mike still squander any chance of saving Kingston, one of the reasons they were there to begin with, their actions proved essential in the effort to stop Joe.
Claire’s story was actually very exciting last night too. After getting pushed to the background repeatedly by Ryan in the name of safety, Claire decides to go solo after she sent Joe their secret message. In the beginning of the episode I legitimately felt Claire’s frustration with Ryan’s inaction. The man clearly loves her still but Claire came out of hiding solely to stop Joe. If anything, Ryan is the reason Claire felt the need to steal his guns and leave on her own. What really made her story awesome though was how it lead to the deaths of both Emma (Valerie Curry) and Robert (Shane McRae). Emma especially has become the most annoying character on this program. When you really think about it, she has literally done nothing of importance all season. She just followed Joe everywhere and complained about everything. Her removal from the show, especially by Claire’s hand, was everything I could have wanted.
Leave it up to The Following to completely squander a good thing though. Literally right after Claire kills Emma, Mark and Luke (Sam Underwood) show up and kidnap her. How did they know she was there exactly? That’s never said which is strange considering how adamant Joe and Claire were that only they would know the meaning behind their poem. Mark and Luke are obviously there to get revenge on Mike, Ryan, and Joe for their mother’s death. Their return to the forefront really ended the episode on a sour note for me. If anything, “Silence” proved that we don’t need them at all. What, is Joe rigging a cathedral to explode and a bunch of hostages just not enough? It honestly looks like this show is ready to make one overstuffed season finale.
Ryan and Mike’s story didn’t end any better either. The episode concludes with Joe holding a gun to Mike’s head, and the screen going to black once we hear a gunshot. Not only is this one of the most frustrating ways to end any type of episode, it’s also the ultimate culmination of a missed opportunity. Ryan and Mike getting into the cathedral was a big deal. It actually gave the FBI something to work with in terms of surveillance. Yet it never felt like they did enough. Ryan and Mike spent the majority of the episode watching Joe’s plan unfold right before their eyes. Do they find a way for the FBI to sneak in? Are they fully prepared for anything inside? Nope! For 55 minutes, they stood around and spoke to people through radios. I can understand Ryan’s hesitancy for action because of the hostages, but they should have done something. Of course everything falls apart in the last few minutes too which is what leads to Mike being held at gun point. Even though I doubt it will happen, I’ll be extremely upset if Mike bites the dust.
“Silence” was The Following’s penultimate episode of Season 2. It saw Joe putting his grand plan into motion while Claire went solo in her attempt to save the day. It really was equal parts exciting and absolutely frustrating. The story about Joe starting a holy war was by far the least interesting of the night, and the episode really improved once it focused more on Joe as a ruthless psychopath. Perhaps now that Kingston is dead we can focus on what actually matters: Joe as a serial killer who needs to be stopped. Claire’s continued existence was wonderfully justified last night too. Who would have thought she’d be the one to kill Emma? Yet, with Mark and Luke back in the fold, you can bet her troubles aren’t over. Next week is the season finale, and previews show Ryan’s life collapsing around him. Let’s hope we can end this season on a high note and move onto greener pastures.