The Following Season 2 Review “Family Affair”

The Following Season 2 Episode 4 Family Affair (11)

On the latest episode of “The Following,” the plot thickened ever-so-slightly more, as we learned there were more connections where Lily and the twins came from. In “Family Affair,” we met some more members of the extended family, as we learned a little bit more about the ones we already knew. Turns out Lily is quite the collector- and loaded to the hilt with cash and plenty of resources and connections to work in her favor, which will no doubt come in handy for Joe, now that he’s finally come in out of hiding.

Whereas the extended “family” of followers in the first season was more Manson family than the real deal, Lily’s collection was more of the “Island of Misfit Toys” variety, as she had adopted various cast-offs from any number of far flung locales. Like Giselle, Sami and Jamel were French-speaking, and there was also a young woman named Radmila, in addition to the twins and now, Emma, Joe and Mandy. Emma was understandably dubious of the clan, but nonetheless invited Joe to join them, as her desire to see him again after thinking him dead for so long outweighed her sense of caution.

We also met soccer mom-type Jana (Leslie Bibb, of “Talladega Nights”), who turned out to be part of…wait for it…none other than Agent Mendez’ family. Actually, that wasn’t entirely clear. It seemed like they were sisters, but the fact that joint custody was mentioned and there were kids involved made me wonder if maybe they weren’t actually a former couple who adopted. The only info I got on this aspect of the show was that Jana’s last name is listed as Murphy, which is obviously different from Mendez, but then, they may not have been married in the first place.

Also, Mendez is a Latin name and played by Latina actress Valerie Cruz, and Leslie Bibb is definitely not Latina (she’s about as Nordic as they come, lol), so I’m thinking the evidence for the latter is more prominent, so I’m going with former couple who adopted. Sure, it wouldn’t be the first time Hollywood has cast someone with one ethnic background as another, but Bibb is normally as blonde-haired and lily white as they come, so I’m going with lesbians. Whatever the case, she’s former FBI and knows exactly what case her sister/partner is working on, which I’m sure will come in handy eventually.

I like that they revealed both this and the fact that Lily was part of Joe’s followers early on. Not only does it address the fact that was largely ignored until the big reveals last season, but it shows us exactly who is working for Team Joe and allows us to know things that the other characters don’t, instead of letting us wonder who is part of Joe’s following and who isn’t. Besides, we played things that way last season, so why repeat yourself?

I like that this season is trying to take a different tack from the way things were done last season. It’s like the show-runners said: okay, we did it this way last time, so we can’t do it that way again, so let’s try it a different way altogether. That’s smart thinking, because otherwise you’re just repeating what you did before, and that can lead to resentment amongst fans, especially in a day and age in which viewership can sink like a stone overnight because of all the competition.

Not to mention, modern viewers habits are changing, i.e. binge-watching, entire seasons of shows being made available at one time on services like Netflix and so on; so, you’ve got to compete by being as innovative as possible, lest you lose viewers. “The Following” gets that and it’s been working overtime to avoid the typical pitfalls of a sophomore season. The road may have been a little bumpy overall early on, but the show has righted itself almost immediately as of late, with this and the last episode. We’ve got lots of new characters to puzzle out, with interesting connections to one another; new locales and settings; as well as more of a “lone wolf” aspect to Ryan’s character than ever before.

I also like the diverse and multi-lingual cast, and the wry sense of humor, such as when Mendez told Ryan: “Please know, I’m smiling on the inside” right before he was arrested. It can also be downright chilling at times, such as when Joe took Mandy aside to tell her the do’s and don’ts of killing people, or the creepy relationship between Lily and her “son” Mark. “We reveal our true selves when we’re in the throes of emotion, dear,” indeed. Yikes!

The point is, a lot of what went down in season one, we sort of took on faith as viewers the first time around. Because the show was entertaining, we were able to overlook its faults and forgive the plot holes. This time out, they had to be a little more careful in the set-up, not only because they didn’t want to repeat themselves, but because they clearly want to avoid the mistakes made the first time around. Letting us know there’s a method to the madness and an overarching plan to all this is a really good start.

What did you think of “The Following” this week? Did you like the new characters? Do you have a favorite yet? (I’m growing fond of Max, though I fear her future may not end well, given her involvement and relation to Ryan.) How creepy are those twins? Do you think Joe will be fished in by Lily and her “family” of followers? How about Emma? Will Joe and Lily hook up? How will Mark feel about that? What’s up with Jana and Mendez? Feel free to comment below and see you next time!