Season 2 of The Following wrapped up tonight with an episode that offered a few interesting twists and a conclusion that felt almost too final. But not everything was completely wrapped up. And frankly, we wouldn't describe "Forgive" as a happy ending, but it was one of the more entertaining hours of the season.
Before we get into Season 2's finale, just a note that The Following has been renewed for Season 3. So you can rest assured that the series will be back next year.
Season 2 finale spoilers ahead!
Will Joe Carroll and Ryan Hardy be back? Sure looks like it. Rather than delivering another fake-out Joe Carroll death to keep us hanging between seasons, Season 2 ended with Joe Carroll being hauled back to prison, where he'll probably find a way to influence more people and build a new following. At least, we should assume as much, though the title of the series is "The Following," and not "Joe's Following," so it's entirely possible Season 3 will focus on another cult. And watching Ryan and Joe work together during tonight's finale, wouldn't it be interesting if the third season had Ryan seeking Joe's counsel while pursuing another serial killer? That's pure speculation, and we're thinking a bit ahead there. Let's talk about tonight's finale.
What was interesting about "Forgive" was seeing just how disposable most of Joe's followers are to him. Sure, he seemed sad enough and maybe a little bit betrayed when he realized Claire was responsible for Emma's death. But everyone else, he could take or leave. He wasn't alarmed when Ryan hit that one woman in the face, nor did he bat an eye at the prospect of leaving his followers in the church at the mercy of the FBI while he took off to rescue Claire. And then he shot his own rescuer in the face and chose to save Ryan. He had his own reasons for doing that, but the "old friend" remark suggests there's some appreciation for their history. At the very least, I think if Joe did eventually have to kill Ryan, he'd feel something about it, which is more than we can probably say about most of the followers who died serving him.
In terms of the body count during The Following's Season 2 finale, the followers really didn't come out on top. But Joe's never had any trouble rallying supporters when he needs them, so I doubt he's all that concerned.
Upon learning that Luke and Mark had Claire, Joe willingly allowed Mike and Ryan smuggle him out of the church and off to the house where Claire was being held. Luke and Mark had the upper hand at first, restraining the trio and putting them around a dinner table to subject them to a bit of group counseling. That involved Ryan admitting to avenging his father's death -- thanks to Joe for divulging that story -- and the reveal that Emma was dead. Joe's probably the only one who's mourning that loss.
Mike and Max came to the rescue right around the time Joe was cutting through his duct tape restraints. From there, it was a game of cat and mouse and whatever chases a cat. Another cat? Mark and Luke were running away at one point, while Joe grabbed Claire and took off. Ryan, Mike and Max pursued all of them. When all was said and done, Luke was dead, Claire refused to forgive Joe, and Ryan had the chance to take Joe out but decided not to. Mark dragged his brother's body off and was last seen boarding a pick-up truck driven by an unseen person.
The last we saw of Max and Mike, they were exchanging smoochies, which might be the closest thing this season had to a happy ending. Except I still don't trust Mike. Probably never will.
Seeing Joe and Ryan teamed up against a common enemy was a pretty great way to close out the season. The great thing about Joe Carroll is that, as despicable as he is, his charisma and charm makes him a likable character. So watching him drag Ryan's unconscious body from that car, or later egg that whole ridiculous dinner table scene on was pure entertainment. That Joe Carroll is the reason I'm glad Ryan didn't shoot him in the end.
Joe Carroll in prison is a happy ending for humanity, as he's a killing monster who really needs to stay behind bars, but seeing Ryan Hardy rejected by Claire, who just wants to "build a future" with her son and move on from this whole thing, and then watching him go home to his apartment by himself where he fell into a horrible Godfather-like nightmare involving Luke's dead body casts a cloud over this closing episode. He may have survived and beaten the bad guy, but Ryan's future's not looking so good right now. But the fact that Mark is still out there leaves a major loose end, and an opportunity for the delightfully creepy Sam Underwood to return.
Where will Season 3 pick up?