A series of attacks and murders in the name of Joe Carroll begin to occur in New York, leaving the world to wonder whether Joe's followers are reassembling and striking once again, but the truth is even more disturbing. There is a separate group trying to get Joe's attention and they may be even more dangerous than Joe himself.
As Ryan and Mike are eventually pulled back into the FBI, they discover that Joe Carroll is still alive and has actually been laying low in Arkansas in the home of a hooker named Judy (Carrie Preston, True Blood) and her young daughter Mandy (Tiffany Boone). However, Joe will not be found so easily. He reconnects with Emma Hill (Valorie Curry) and makes an enemy of one Lily Gray (Connie Nielsen), a billionaire psychopath with a cobbled-together family of murderous discards from around the globe, the least of which is a pair of insane twin boys named Mark and Luke (Sam Underwood, Dexter). So now we have two packs of maniacal killers on the loose, both sworn enemies of Ryan Hardy and Mike Weston, for one reason or another.
It's not long before Joe begins to unfold his true plan, to infiltrate a weak cult and become its glorious leader. He believes that religion (or its total destruction and undermining thereof) is his true calling and he, Emma and Mandy enter Korban, a cult run by Micah (Jake Weber, Medium) and his wife, Julia (Jacinda Barrett), but it isn't long before Joe is leading the charge and whipping up these weak minds into a bloody frenzy, hell-bent on "saving souls" through the spilling of blood. To make matter worse, he sets his sights on a TV evangelist named Kingston Tanner (Tom Cavanaugh), who has been calling him out on TV.
Hardy and Weston will have their hands full, hunting for the well-funded Lily Gray and trying to locate Joe Carroll before his cult unleashes their final grand gesture, all the while not knowing who to trust, aside from Max, as a mole has been discovered in the FBI. To complicate matters, investigative TV reporter and author Carrie Cooke (Sprague Grayden), with whom Hardy had a brief fling while he was drinking, has found herself once again entangled with Hardy, but also being used as a forced broadcasting device by Joe. What's worse, someone from Hardy's past re-enters his life unexpectedly and throws him (and the viewers) for a complete loop. Just another one of those "Oh my God!" moments, courtesy of The Following. The season finale has quite a few surprises as well and leaves us wondering what will happen next, although we do have a small bit of closure for certain parts of the story.
The Following: The Complete Second Season pulls out all the stops this season and really tries to mix things up with the religion aspect, but I will admit I was pretty turned off by this. Joe Carroll is a despicable character, but his war with Hardy is fun to watch. I just didn't like the religion-bashing at all. I will say that it is fun to watch the different cameos this season as we have Keith Carradine (Dexter), the previously mentioned Carrie Preston, Emily Kinney (The Walking Dead), Leslie Bibb (GCB) and more. The Blu-ray/DVD combo pack looks and sounds fantastic and is also chock full of special features, including mini-featurettes on almost every episode, unaired scenes, a gag reel, four featurettes covering things like the director Marcos Siega, the Joe Mask, Joe's cult and the special bond between Hardy and Weston. Finally, there's also a terrific Comic-Con panel with the cast and crew that was great fun to watch. It's clear this cast and crew enjoy making this show and it comes through in watching them interact.
I didn't think The Following: The Complete Second Season was nearly as strong and didn't pack quite the punch of Season One, but I still really liked it. I found that I enjoyed it much more binge-watching it, rather than watching it as it aired on TV, and although the anti-religion thing was a turn-off, I still like the show and I am excited to see where it goes next year. If you watched the First Season and haven't yet had a chance to check out The Following: The Complete Second Season, pick it up and buckle up for the ride.