The Following Season 2 Review “Teacher’s Pet”

The Following Season 2 Episode 10 Teacher’s Pet (10)

On the latest episode of “The Following,” as Joe cemented his newly-minted status as the leader of the cult he essentially hijacked, it was time to send out a new team to wreak havoc, and play “Teacher’s Pet” and seek Joe’s approval. At the same time, we saw how being a cult leader of a religious sect maybe wasn’t as far off the mark as one might think. Though Joe’s past figurehead was Poe, long before that, he was a God-fearing Brit who was shipped off to the States after his parents died.

Enter teacher Strauss, who sought to shed the young Joe of his inhibitions and point the way to a new path. But that religious background certainly came in handy for his new gig, as he freely retrofitted Christian beliefs to fit his own. Hey, his initials are JC. Only this JC’s motto is “No redemption without blood.” So much for thou shall not kill.

On the new team were Patrick, ex-military; Matilda, who once stabbed her own brother; Lucas, a narcissistic former security guard; and Mallory, who was the late Lance’s girlfriend, Lance being the creeper who died in the last episode at the book store. Mallory was played by none other than Emily Kenney, aka Beth from “The Walking Dead.” I was a little nervous at first, thinking that her presence here might spell doom for her character there- which may well still be the case- but she didn’t last very long on the show, so maybe there’s hope yet.

Joe sent the new team out to pick several people to kill at random, leaving messages on each body or written in blood on the wall of Joe’s new motto. If this sounds sort of familiar, it’s because it was essentially Charles Manson’s MO. As with Manson, Joe’s team made one crucial mistake: one of them made it personal.

By targeting a former employer, Mallory set herself up to fail when Max identified Mallory as a follower because of the Lance connection, and figured out that she might have issues with said restaurant, as they had fired her. This proved true, and a shoot-out/knife battle ensued, with Mallory ending up on the losing end of it when she agreed to tell Ryan when the cult was and her cohort Patrick slit her throat, getting himself shot in the process. So, once again, only two made it back this time, but they were “anointed” by Joe as a reward, and in light of the limited success, Joe was able to secure even more followers to volunteer for the next round.

Not everyone was onboard with this new agenda, perhaps needless to say, with Mandy among them. Those people were put in the pit for their troubles, though who can blame them for being appalled when Joe choked a cat in front of them. And no, that was not a euphemism. Although I will say that it is true that, as horrible as it is what Joe is doing, it took his killing a cat to push some people over the line! Not that I wasn’t disgusted as well, but it came off like: well, killing people is pretty bad, but killing a defenseless animal…oh, the horror!

Hey, don’t beat yourself up; I was right there with you, as a fellow animal supporter. In fact, between that and Lizzie’s antics on “The Walking Dead,” it has not been a pleasant time for animal lovers in general on genre-themed TV. Watch your back, “Game of Thrones” wolves! (Do werewolves count?)

Beyond that, there was a great scene where Ryan answered a phone call meant for Jana, who also died last week, after goading Joe into calling by having Carrie announce that the FBI had captured Strauss and that he was fully cooperating. Though a half-truth, between that and the loss of Jana, his inside source at the FBI, Joe was not happy, though it didn’t stop him from threatening to reign down hell everywhere via his “Holy Army” and letting slip that he had something planned sooner than later, which is part of what got Mallory and Patrick busted. Oops!

That said, though I’m glad to see Claire back, I’m a little dubious about her insistence on returning to New York to help Ryan. I mean, what can she do, really? I get and fully understand that she wants Joe caught and preferably killed, and I applaud that part of it, but can she really help? It certainly isn’t going to do Ryan any favors now that he’s finally started to loosen up a little and let someone in with Carrie.

Granted, she’s a little shifty, but then so is Ryan, so they actually make sense, in a way. But revealing that Claire’s alive is bound to throw him off his game, I would think. Unless she really does have some valid information, but if that’s true, then why not tell Mike and have him pass the information along? That way she and her family stay “dead” and out of harm’s way. We’ll see, though. Until that information is revealed, I’m just glad to have Natalie Zea back, so I’ll take it.

This was a reasonably exciting episode. It wasn’t quite as jaw-dropping as last week, but it was better than the few episodes preceding it when Joe first got to the cult, so I’ll take it. The idea of whackos just randomly killing people without any real motive is a horrifying one, and the Manson inspiration is clever. (Lucas’ motive for picking one: “I like dogs.” Hey, at least someone likes animals!) Strauss likewise remains a fascinating character, and I hope we get more of his back-story with young Joe, as that was among the most compelling elements of the episode.

I also got a kick out of Emma this episode, between going toe-to-toe with Mandy and assessing the new team as, well, psychos. Pot, meet kettle. I feel like her relationship with Joe isn’t going to end well. But then again, I feel like Joe’s relationship with Mandy might not, either. Might she end up being his Judas?

Nice use of the Nirvana song at the end there, too. Not sure who that was doing it, but I liked it- very creepy. All in all, a good episode, with bonus points for the use of Kinney, however limited. Who knows? Maybe that was her singing. She’s been known to do that, you know.

What did you think of “The Following” this week? Did you buy the cult’s (mostly) wholesale acceptance of Joe? Did you buy that he locked the naysayers up or do you think he actually had them killed, too? Did Joe really need to strangle a kitty to get his point across? Couldn’t he have just choked a chicken? (Sorry- couldn’t resist.) Did you like seeing Kinney in a new role, “Dead” fans? What do you make of Claire’s decision?

Sound off below in the comment section and I’ll see you next time!