Review

Review

TV Recap: 'The Following' Episode 207 - 'Sacrifice'

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The Following Episode 207
“Sacrifice”
Written By: Scott Reynolds
Directed By: Adam Davidson
Original Airdate: 3 March 2014

In This Episode…

Joe, Emma, and Mandy drive out to a gate in the middle of nowhere to wait for Robert. He was a Roderick recruit, and he is part of another cult. Joe assumes they will be a vulnerable group, easily swayed, but he admits he is “winging it.” They are greeted by eager young Robert - and a handful of armed militia-types, led by a woman named Julia. She demands they humble themselves and drop to their knees, hands behind their backs. The go with it, are zip-tied, hooded, and tossed into vans. Once inside the compound, they are ordered to strip and shower, “divesting” themselves of their belongings and identities. Mandy is scared; Joe tells her to go along with it.

Joe and his girls are dressed in white robes and plain white masks. They are taken through the camp, where they see most members are dressed in red - no masks. Julia, dressed in black, tells them they wear the masks until they have earned their identity. She is married to Micah, the cult’s leader. Over the loudspeakers, the constant chant of “Corbin is love” plays. A couple men take Joe to meet with Micah, and Julia softens to the girls.

Micah is watching two girls pleasure each other (some sort of “study session,” no doubt) when Joe is brought to him. The girls are dismissed and Micah allows him to remove his mask, but not sit with him at his table. Micah gives him “mad props” for what Joe did with his cult, and wants to know how he was able to get them to kill for him. “I was always able to connect with people,” Joe offers. Micah wants to know why he should welcome him to his cult. He is not impressed with the $30k Joe brought with, so he says simply that he could be “helpful to the cause.” This is “the Micah show,” and Joe needs to be down with that. He kneels to prove his subservience. 

Next, Julia takes Joe to another room and straps him down in a chair. This is the Reckoning, which is basically a glorified lie detector. Joe is amused; he has beaten them in the past, but Julia seems to think that he won’t beat hers. In answer to her most pertinent questions, Joe admits he doesn’t believe he needs to reform, has killed in the last week - and gets a sexual thrill out of it, and his only motive to coming to Micah’s cult is to start anew. They are done, and Julia won’t reveal the results to Joe. She does tell Micah that he is all truth, which pleases Micah greatly. Of course, I am not convinced that she is being completely honest.

The parade of crazy takes Joe, Emma and Mandy to an outdoor amphitheater, where they are seated up front. Other cult members stream in, all in ceremonial robes and masks, carrying torches which they toss into a large bonfire. Micah steps up to the stage, in the fanciest ceremonial robe and mask, and tells his followers that “the blood of one washes the sins of many” and they will soon be “one step closer to going home.” The crowd cheers and they all beg to be chosen to “make the sacrifice.” But that’s not how it works, and Julia moves through the crowd with a divining rod, making a big, theatrical show of it guiding her. She lands on Emma, who is forcibly taken onto the stage and strapped to a tilting table, her mask removed. She is scared, and Joe is scared, yelling at Micah to leave her alone. Followers hold Joe in his seat. The table is laid flat, Micah puts on a skull mask and with a ceremonial blade, slices Emma’s wrists. She bleeds into a large copper pot, which then collects into a smaller bowl, which he raises up for the crowd. “Through her blood we are saved!” Emma’s eyes are locked on Joe as she slips into unconsciousness. For his part, Joe does look a little upset - as upset as a psychopath can look.

Back in their bunk, Joe paces anxiously, while Mandy is curled up in a scared little ball. Julia comes in and says the spirit spoke through her, it was a necessary introduction into our ways. She does assure him Emma is still alive. Joe thinks she is scared of him.

Things start out quiet for Ryan. The FBI brings him in for “questioning,” but Gina really wants him to join the task force. He refuses, even after she admits that she is starting to believe that Joe is still alive and there is someone inside the FBI helping him. Ryan can’t be sure that Gina isn’t the mole. When she doesn’t charge him with the federal crimes she keeps threatening him with, he walks. Mike meets up with him outside and he admits that he is going home. Ever since Havenport, he has had a hard time dealing with normal situations. His family is afraid of him and his dad won’t speak to him. Scores of shrinks have been unable to help, so he has decided to go home and completely take himself away from all this. Essentially, Mike is also divesting.

Max has been suspended from the force for at least six months, but she isn’t devastated about it, and she certainly doesn’t see her career as being over. She desperately wants Ryan to put his Joe Carroll obsession to rest, but he can’t. He has to be the one to kill him. He stopped drinking so he could be alert; he started teaching because it would irk Joe; his whole new life has been about Joe Carroll, and Ryan is okay with that. Max heads home. In her parking garage, she sees a father abusing his son and goes over to break them up. It is all a ruse: the boy has a video camera, and the father knocks her out, ties her up, and tosses her in the truck. “Did I do good?” the child asks. “You did great son.”

Ryan gets a video message from Lily. “You took from me; I take from you.” This is followed by the footage of Max being kidnapped. Ryan doesn’t try to go lone-wolf on this - he goes straight to the FBI. Mike heard about Max and postpones his trip home to help Ryan. They are having a hard time getting anything from the security footage they have, other than a blurry photo of the driver. Ryan needs to talk to Luke. The cops put Ryan in restraints so he can’t hurt Luke. Naturally, Luke doesn’t want to talk, but he is mildly interested when Ryan says it is not about his mom, and more interested when he shows him the picture. “You don’t want to find that guy. He’s bad news, too gory for mom’s taste.” For a necrophiliac murderer to say that, this dude must be bad. Lily wasn’t auditioning killers, just people - she just wants to be loved. But for Lily to seek out this guy, Luke realizes that Max has been kidnapped. This guy is “hot for mom, would do anything for her.” The FBI knows this guy. His name is Kurt, but you know him as the Huntsman.

The Huntsman is a serial killer who kidnaps hookers and tortures them before setting them free in the forest and hunting them down with a crossbow. His victims are always dead within 24 hours. Unfortunately, since this is a favor and not part of his usual M.O., Ryan worries that he won’t follow his usual pattern. With the info from Luke, it takes almost no time to find out who this Kurt guy is, and the FBI raid his home, scaring a woman who was just trying to bake cookies. The Huntsman is a family man, with a wife Shannon and a son Chris. Shannon insists that her husband is on a business trip, but her fear suggests that she has suspected he has had a double life for some time. Ryan realizes that the video of Max was shot from a very low angle - about child’s height, and he and Mike go have a little chat with Chris. It doesn’t take long for the psychopath-in-training to let his guard down, but he won’t spill about his dad. Mike clicks the lock on his bedroom door and Chris’ eyes get wide. Screams coming from his room bring the agents upstairs, but Mike and Ryan are already on the way out. Chris gave up the location of his dad’s secret cabin. Shannon finds him hog-tied, but otherwise unhurt.

While the FBI head out to the cabin, let’s check in with Max and Kurt. She is tied by the wrists and hanging from a hook. Kurt likes her tattoo and shows off some of his - and by “his tattoos,” I mean ink he cut from his victims and mounted like art. Max realizes what is going on, who Kurt is, and tries to use his own psychopathy against him by taunting him to let her go so he can hunt her. She would be a challenge. Kurt seems tempted, but ultimately turns her down. So Max swings up, gets him in a head lock between her legs, and uses the leverage to get off the hook and run like hell.

Out in the forest, she runs and runs, then finally takes shelter in a small ditch. Meanwhile, the FBI has arrived and the dogs have the scent. Ryan and Mike (they always have to be different) head off in another direction. Kurt spies Mike through the trees - but so does Max, and she calls to him. He helps her up and checks to make sure she is okay. They foolishly stand there for a good minute or so, as Kurt is lining up his shot. Ryan appears and drops Kurt before he can get a shot off.

Back at the FBI, Ryan gets another video message from Lily. This one was obviously shot several hours ago, because in it, she assumes that Max was killed - she didn’t know Ryan saved her. Luckily, Lily has a backup plan. “Another was involved,” she says as she adjusts the camera. Mike recognizes the living room. Before we even reveal he is calling in a SWAT team to his dad’s house. And Lily and Mark slit Mr. Weston’s throat right there on camera.

Dig It or Bury It?

That wasn’t quite the “game changer” the trailers made it out to be. It was a very good episode, but I didn’t find it to be a game changer. I love Micah’s cult, but I think I love it for the wrong reasons. I found the whole thing to be almost cartoonish, a huge, cheesy production. Middle school theater production meets Eyes Wide Shut meets the episode of The Simpsons where they all get sucked into the cult. It was a caricature of cults. Not saying that cults aren’t often absurd like that - Heaven’s Gate comes to mind - but it is hard to take theatrics like that seriously. Regardless, it was endlessly entertaining and I am certainly intrigued to see who will come out on top: Joe or Micah.

There is also an interesting shift here. We ostensibly have two factions now: Lily and Mark, and Joe, Emma and Mandy. Both want to kill Ryan Hardy, and both (likely) want to kill each other. Will we end up in a Mexican standoff by the season’s end? I have no idea what is going on with this new cult. Micah and Joe seem to be at the start of a game of Chicken. Who will blink first?

And finally, the Huntsman seemed like a waste of a good serial killer. Not that there was anything particularly unique about his method of killing, but I always appreciate a character who goes the Ed Gein route.

Prophecies?

Ryan needs a new tactic, so he searches out a former professor of Joe’s, Dr. Strauss. It appears that his academic mentor is also the man who taught him how to kill.

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