The latest episode of The Following: Reflections spends less time on shocking the viewer, which has been a sort of trademark beginning back in season one, and more time on setting up the newest players in this suspenseful thriller and focussing on the different layers of “crazy.” There is a thread of dark humor that runs through this particular episode only to be brought to a grinding halt by the end of the show.
There is a little confusion as to why this particular episode was titled reflections. Multiple viewings did little to explain the motive although, it could be seen as both opposing sides; Murphy versus Joe and his smaller army of devotees; indulging in certain actions that are intended to spring a trap on either of the two main protagonists. In other words each group are mirroring the other, or it could have a deeper meaning.
At the beginning of the show, Joe Carroll shaves off his “hillbilly” beard with a good old fashioned straight razor and as he sheds the excess hair to a backdrop of sophisticated music, he nicks himself drawing blood. A small thing, but, in this show it could be a portent of things to come.
This Following episode spends less time with Joe, although by the end, it is all about him and his new lady love Lily. In the interim the lone survivor of Joe’s previous cult is not fitting in too well with Lily’s familial group of misfits. Emma, who seems to have lost sight of what her place is as Joes neophyte, feels betrayed by Carroll’s living in Arkansas and neglecting to tell her he was alive.
Another thing The Following: Reflections does brilliantly is focus on the layers, or extremes, of crazy, aka madness, aka mental illness. The series has gone to great pains to show that all of Joe’s followers are off the scale when it comes to mental issues. Joe being the leader has his own set of complex reasons for doing what he does.
It is the other characters though that are catered to in this episode. One brilliant bit, is when the sociopathic Emma declares that Lily and her group are crazy. Going so far as to then ask the lead madman, Joe, if he is aware of that fact. Later Emma gets another chance to show her prejudicial feelings when the “nice” twin, either Mark or Luke – both played by Sam Underwood – shows Emma how he feels about her.
In a tender moment. Emma reaches out to reciprocate the twin’s soft facial touch. This results in Mark freaking right out as he has a mental condition (surprised?) that means he cannot stand someone touching him. Yet another layer of madness appears from the family of Lily.
So the main premise of this episode seems to be that even crazy people are prejudicial against other crazy people whom they consider have worse, or more, issues than they do. The other thing that Reflections indicates is that mentally ill people can be well educated, erudite, and multi-lingual. A seeming nod to Silence of the Lambs’ Hannibal Lector, meant to show that crazy and uneducated do not necessarily go hand-in-hand.
On the opposite side of this madness coin, you have Ryan Murphy who is suffering his own blend of crazy. He has stepped fully outside the legal system to find and kill Joe Carroll in an attempt at retribution for his self perceived past failures. His madness is contagious as he gets his niece Max more fully involved in his hunt for Carroll.
There were two special bits in the show that were noticeable enough to appear to have been purposefully set up by the show’s makers. Firstly, in the scene of the warehouse shootout. The final resting place of one half of Joe’s French “security” team lies lifeless under a rack of items. Just above his head, separated by a board are the capital letters B/S.
Second bit: earlier in the show when Ryan and Max capture the venomous French psycho Gisele, the murderous wench has just told Murphy to shoot her when a fist comes from the right to land a knockout punch on Gisele’s chin. As the camera pulls back, Max is shaking her hand saying, “That hurt, but she so deserved it.” This was done so well that it became another standout moment in the show. It did not quite match the “you know they’re all crazy, right?” Or the B/S moment, but it was a great moment for Max.
This episode of The Following: Reflections is perhaps the first that failed to deliver that “gasp” moment. The point where the show’s characters take a completely unexpected route that ends bloodily, messily or shockingly. In last weeks episode it was Mandy stabbing her mother. This week things did go in the direction they started out in. This lack of shock problem was alleviated by the focus on the many different layers of crazy that populate this tale of psychotic and murderous people.
By Michael Smith