The Following Season 2 Review “Unmasked”

The Following Season 2 Episode 9 Unmasked (4)

Alright, now we’re getting somewhere. You know, I’ve got to hand it to “The Following.” Every time there seems to be cause for concern, the show has an uncanny way of righting itself just before it’s too late. In “Unmasked,” the show took care of some business that needed to be taken care of, and then some. I mean, every time I think I’m out, they pull me back in. And I can’t imagine anyone saw that final twist coming…but more on that later.

First off: Ding dong, the ding dong’s dead! As mentioned in previous columns, I was decidedly not a fan of the Micah character, and it’s not because Jake Weber isn’t a solid, likeable actor. I liked him in “Medium,” liked him in the “Dawn of the Dead” remake. I just thought he was dreadfully miscast here. Micah just seemed like a total moron that you couldn’t imagine inspiring much worshipping, and that was a problem if you want us as viewers to believe it could happen in the first place.

On the plus side, Joe realized it in record time, and took care of business, but not before he took care of other business first. First, he had Micah test his wife’s loyalty, convincing Micah to give her a chance to prove herself, and knowing that she would fail miserably, which she did. Then, Joe killed her and took over in earnest.

Next up, he duped Micah into thinking that a message he recorded was going to be sent out over the airwaves by Carrie, the true crime writer- when it was actually his own message that would. (On the plus side, Weber’s lone shining moment came as a direct result of this plotline, when he couldn’t get the message Joe prepared for him right and kept flubbing his lines on camera.)

Finally, he took out Micah himself, and installed himself with little trouble in his place as the cult leader. Now- was their blind acceptance of him so quickly a bit of a plotting issue? Maybe so. But better Joe than Micah, so I’m gonna let that one slide. Hopefully, they will address this aspect in future episodes, perhaps with certain followers hesitant to let Joe take over so easily, and possibly paying a price for that. That’s a pretty easy one to fix, comparatively.

I also liked the quick, effective way they took care of the Mendez issue. That was cleared up beautifully. Ryan and company found out Mendez might be dirty, Ryan rattled her cage- she took the bait and they followed, courtesy of a bug Max planted on her. We discovered that Jana was a full-on nut-bar with a history of going mental, including doing so on Mendez while their kids were in the next room with friends.

Poor Mendez got stabbed in the stomach for her troubles, but Joe also lost a valuable resource when Jana shot herself afterwards when Ryan and Mike cornered her. No more FBI connection- that we know of, at least. All of that was well done, tightly edited and definitely intense. Unlike Weber, for some reason, I had no trouble buying actress Leslie Bibb as a psycho, and I mostly know her from comedies. (Then again, one of those comedies was “Miss Nobody,” in which she played a woman who killed her way to the top of her corporation, so there you go, little Mrs. “GCB.”)

Beyond that, the sequence at Carrie’s book signing was really intense, as well. In most of your typical slasher movies, like the ones “Scream”-scribe and show creator Kevin Williamson grew up on, the killer- or killers, as the case may be- tend to take out people one by one, usually getting them alone or vulnerable. It’s rare for one of those killers to just go ballistic on an entire crowd like Emma and her cohorts did here, which made this an original, awe-inducing scene. Those three laid into a lot of people in a short amount of time, and it was pretty horrific.

In fact, I’ve got to give credit where credit’s due in regards to that Lance character, played by David Call- he was creepier in a manner of minutes than Weber was in his entire few episode arc. When even Emma is skeeved out by you, that’s saying something. Alas, Lance bit the farm by the episode’s end, so that one will have to remain short but sweet.

But get this Call guy as a psycho in a movie/TV show stat- he’s got it down, for whatever that’s worth. I’m sure he’s a perfectly lovely human being off-screen, but here…creep city! He even made a tossed-off line: “Can I sit in the back?” super chill-inducing. Nicely done.

Then, just when it seemed it couldn’t get any better, they had to go and bring back Natalie Zea! Anyone who knows me, knows I loves me some Zea, and have for a long, long time. In fact, I was just reading somewhere how she can’t seem to catch a break in terms of characters being killed or written off shows, and then she goes and shows up here, saying how she doesn’t want to find Joe, she wants to kill him.

Man, I love her! And I kind of hope she succeeds this time around. Honestly, the last scene of the entire series should be her and Ryan just gut stomping Joe’s ass like those ladies did to Kurt Russell at the end of “Death Proof.” Freeze frame, and…end credits. Done and done. See ya, Joe, wouldn’t want to be ya.

Kudos, “The Following,” you’ve really outdone yourselves with this one. Hey, if Joe can cheat death, why not Claire? I’m so on board with this in every way. And with the idea of Joe sending out people Manson-style to do his bidding in the world at large. That’s a pretty solid idea, too. And you just know someone is going to go Judas on this would-be figurehead, and bring the whole thing crashing down with it, making Joe a martyr in the process. Or maybe not, given how unpredictable this show is sometimes, which is, of course, what I love about it. Consider this show to have been ably course-corrected, and then some.

What did you think of “The Following” this week? Did you also like the twists and turns in the plot? Glad to see Micah gone? Or Jana and Julia, for that matter? Or Claire back? Did you squee for Zea like I did? How about that book signing scene? Or the Jana showdown? Or the praising of Joe? What about Ryan and Carrie as a couple? Or Max and Mike, for that matter? Sound off below, and I’ll see you next time!