Why 'The Following' Season 2 finale was the best episode of the series

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the-following-season-2-finale-recap.jpg Someone needs to tell Ryan Hardy to stay away from takeout food after coming home from a big showdown against Joe Carroll on "The Following." 

You'd think Ryan would have learned his lesson after the Season 1 finale, when his takeout came with a side of getting-stabbed-by-your-crazy-neighbor, resulting in him thinking Claire was dead for a year. But nope ... Ryan got himself some takeout after the final showdown in "The Following" Season 2 finale on Monday (April 28), and viewers waited with bated breath to see what horrible side that takeout came with.

Lucky for Ryan, all it did was bring him some majorly creepy nightmares about Mark putting his dead brother Luke's body in Ryan's bed. Seriously, that nightmare was scary enough to give Ryan nightmares on top of nightmares. But that's all it was: A nightmare. He truly escaped the events of "Forgive" with no casualties ... well, except his relationship with Claire. She told Ryan that she was his past, and they both needed to move on with their lives.

And that sudden breakup was just one of the many ways that "The Following" Season 2 finale was completely backwards, upside down, twisted and just downright topsy-turvy. In other words, "The Following" Season 2 finale was the best episode of the series.

From the very beginning of the hour, "The Following" took every single thing fans have come to know, expect and love about the FOX serial killer thriller and turned it all on its head. Everything was flipped, inverted, and thoroughly fresh and exciting. Hearing Joe call Ryan "old friend" and helping him out of the crashed car, watching Ryan sling Joe's arm over his shoulders to sneak him out of the church, hearing them banter and trade sarcastic remarks and facial expressions, it feels right and confortable. And that's what's so disturbing and twisted. Their relationship has become so codependent that we aren't shocked to see them as friends or allies even though they've been sworn enemies for two full seasons. At the snap of a finger, they were able to put aside all their history and work together like there was no bad blood between them. And it worked.

But Ryan and Joe working together as allies to save Claire wasn't the only thing that was opposite. Ryan was also convinced that he's a bad guy, Luke and Mark were the big bad villains, Mike and Max were the heroes coming to save the day, vodka was literally being poured into Ryan's mouth, Joe apologized to Claire for everything he'd done to her and Joey, Ryan decided to arrest Joe instead of killing him, Claire told Ryan they can't be together, and Max and Mike kissed! Okay, well that last one wasn't opposite but it took them all season to finally hook up, so that payoff was well-deserved.

By the end of the hour, things were back to how they should be. Ryan was free of Joe after choosing to save his own soul instead of killing Joe out of revenge, Joe was headed back to prison for the rest of his life, Max and Mike were kissing (!), Claire was on her way back home to Joey. That only thing that was out of place? Mark was on the run with his brother Luke's corpse. He called a mysterious person to pick them up, and drove off into the night. Obviously, Mark is going to be a big factor in Season 3, since he's going to want revenge on Ryan, Mike and Joe for killing his whole family. But who was the person that picked him up?

And while we're on the topic of Season 3, here's what we absolutely have to see: The two dream teams back together again. Dream team #1: Joe and Ryan. Yes, Ryan isn't back with the force officially and yes, Joe is in prison. But what if the FBI is tasked with a case that needs the unique minds of Ryan and Joe to crack it, like Mark's revenge? Joe could try to earn some goodwill by lending his "talents" to the government, and he could be partnered up with Ryan. Hey, we would totally watch that.

Dream team #2: Mike and Max. We absolutely need to see this relationship develop and evolve now that they finally acted on their crazy sexual chemistry. And they work well together professionally, too. These two dream teams should be the focus of Season 3, please and thank you.

As for Season 2, bravo to the creative team behind "Forgive." Throwing caution to the wind and shaking up everything in the final hour of the season, only to have everything fall into place at the end, was risky but they pulled it off. This is one episode that's definitely worth rewatching during this long hiatus until Season 3 premieres next year.
Photo/Video credit: FOX