The Following Season 2 Review “Sacrifice”

The Following Season 2 Episode 7 Sacrifice (4)

Things took a decidedly surreal turn in the latest episode of “The Following,” appropriately-titled “Sacrifice.” To be honest, I’m not entirely sure I’m completely on board with it, but I’m willing to give the show the benefit of the doubt in the short-term, especially as I was a shade doubtful early on and the show proved that it knew what it was doing ultimately in the long run, so maybe the same will hold true for this plotline as well, as somewhat dubious as it was.

First things first, though. On the more predictable side, we had one of Ryan’s loved ones getting themselves into trouble, as I predicted would happen early on. Slightly less predictable was the fact that it was Lily behind it, who apparently has all sorts of friends in low places, meaning that Joe was clearly not her first rodeo. To that end, she contacted Kurt, aka the “Huntsman,” a serial killer of the “Most Dangerous Game”-type, which is to say for you non-English majors out there, a guy who gets off on hunting the wiliest of subjects: a human being.

With a helpful, if ick-inducing assist from his son (shades of a similar ongoing plotline on “Hannibal” last season), Kurt kidnapped Max, and it was over the river and through the woods to the backwater cabin they went, while his son went back to his clueless mother, all the better to nark out his father to Ryan and Mike when they cornered him in his room later on. Was it wrong that I laughed a little when they cut to him hog-tied on the ground? Ryan and Mike, getting it done, age be damned! Hey, the little a-hole deserved it, especially spouting all that terrible stuff about “whores that needed to be punished” or whatever. I hope that family has a good therapist on call.

To her credit, Max almost didn’t need saving, having gone through the serial killer silver linings playbook and basically challenging Kurt to hunt her. To his credit, he was smart enough to take a pass on that one, which was understandable after Max let him know about the various trained skills at her disposal. Too bad she got away anyway, forcing his hand. Things weren’t looking too good for her, but enter Ryan to save the day and take out Daddy Creeper.

All of this was moderately entertaining, and reasonably well-done, and though I wouldn’t have wanted them to drag things out, either; it was fairly easy to figure out how things were going to go with that particular plotline. So, all in all, a bit of a wash on the whole. I did like the little detail about how Kurt collected tattoos- complete with the patch of skin they were on from his previous victims. Now THAT was creepy. Unfortunately, the rest was a bit too mundane, as that particular strain of killer that hunts his prey like game has been done one too many times before.

On the other hand, the entire bit with the cult in the woods living in an expansive compound was completely nut-bar, to say the least. From the jump this plotline was bonkers, and it stayed that way for the rest of the show. The thing is, I can’t decide if it was nutty in a good way or a bad one. I mean, you had this whole Kubrickian wearing of masks and robes and all the primary colors everywhere and what have you, and that was pretty out there and admittedly attention-getting.

Meanwhile, you’ve also got Jake Weber, of “Medium” fame as the cult leader Micah- say it ain’t so, Joe! (See what I did there?) Micah had the whole harem-of-scantily-clad-women thing happening and the supportive sister-wife, Julia (Jacinda Barrett, who knows a thing about real-life cults after having been on MTV’s “The Real World”), so that was all pretty standard. I will say that Barrett was admittedly effective as the tough-but-cagey wife, who may have a secret plan of her own happening, given her endorsement of Joe when she clearly didn’t trust him as far as she could pummel him.

But I had a hard time buying Weber as someone with the ability to talk an entire camp of people into following him and his orders, to the point of having conformist-type proclamations barked at them all day and them being okay with all that. I mean, I get that there are real people with that ability, i.e. Manson and Jim Jones and “Heaven’s Gate” and so forth. Weber just doesn’t come off as one of them who could pull it off. It’s not that he’s a bad actor, just woefully miscast.

Now Joe himself (this show’s Joe, not the “Medium” one, obvi), aka James Purefoy, is nothing less than believable in this very same role, so I’m not saying it isn’t possible for someone to convincingly portray that sort of role, just that Weber maybe isn’t it. He comes off as a bit of a goofball, and not just because of the “Medium” thing. In fact, I remember an episode of that show where he was required to go creepy, and he pulled it off quite adeptly. Here, he seems either out of his depth or the character is just ill-conceived, possibly a little of both.

I’m going to give this Micah character, and by extension, Weber, the benefit of the doubt, given that “The Following” has proven itself time and again this season, and I want to trust their judgment now because of that. That, and there’s just enough interesting stuff in the new cult to counteract the ludicrous stuff, like whatever was going on with the whole Emma “sacrifice” thing, and people wanting to volunteer for it.

Not sure what that’s about, but we don’t have all of the information yet, so I’ll let it slide for now before I jump the gun and declare it a shark-jumping moment outright. I’m hoping that they’re going somewhere even more unexpected with all of this, and enough of it is intriguing for me to want to root for it to be the case, so, for now, we’ll call this episode a bit of a draw.

Fun fact: “Korban,” aka the name of the camp, means a “sacrificial offering” in Hebrew, and “Micah” means “Who is like God” and was likely inspired by the prophet of the same name, which is also a Judaic reference. I’m guessing this has something to do with the ethos of the camp, though how this show’s Micah seeks to interpret it is still very much up for grabs.

What did you think of “The Following” this week? Did it make you want to re-watch “Eyes Wide Shut” again? Or maybe “The Wicker Man”? (The original, not the completely mental Nicholas Cage-“Oh no, not the bees!”- one.) How about “Battle Royale”…I mean, “The Hunger Games”? The list goes on…your move, “The Following.” This had better be good.