The Following episode 7 review: Let Me Go
Just when things were looking up for The Following, it delivers a disappointing episode. Here's Ron's review of Let Me Go...
This review contains spoilers.
1.7 Let Me Go
Just when it looks like The Following is on an upswing, the show stumbles. Last week's episode was one of the better instalments since the beginning of the programme, with a lot of tension and some legitimately good work on the part of Kevin Bacon. This week's offering would have to be really good to avoid being a let-down, and while Let Me Go isn't an awful episode by The Following standards, it still ends up being something of a disappointment in the end.
Most of this season has been the Kevin Bacon show, and with good reason. He's been good in every episode, and he gets some decent action scene work in this week's episode, but the focus isn't on him as much as it is around him, because he's the focus of Joe Carroll's attention. James Purefoy is given a lot of screen time this episode, and while he's still not exactly the Manson-type charismatic guru that he's sold as being, he's able to acquit himself a little better with a fairly clever, intricate plot to extract himself from federal custody and make another escape.
To the show's credit, this escape is a pretty good step above The Following's standard level. While it's pretty obvious that Joe is going to get away from police custody somehow, having the show turn the convict into a shell game swapping between FBI van, the warden's trunk, and Olivia Three-Fingers' trunk worked out pretty well, thanks in no small part to the stylish way that it was filmed. Director Nick Gomez does a good job with these segments, and it's pretty clever to chop them up in contrasting match cuts with hands opening doors, trunks popping open, etc. It's not really suspenseful since everyone knows Carroll is sneaking away - FBI included - but it's executed very well.
However, the show's B plot, in which Emma and Joey wait at the cavernous garage of a menacing mechanic named Bo, doesn't really work. Sure, it's partially tied into the A plot thanks to the presence of the warden's kidnapped daughter, but aside from that it feels a little groundless. I guess in a sense it helps the idea that not all of the serial killing cronies are the same, with some having prominent roles and some having lesser parts in Joe's grand play, and it also shows that some of them have more honesty and redeeming qualities than others, but it's still an odd way to provide the audience with characters they can grasp onto. With the only familiar face being Emma, we're left with Charlie as the voice of honour and reason, and he's a voice we don't even know.
Seamus Kevin Fahey's script contains some weird beats (like a Beatles reference blatantly explained for the audience by a character) and a fairly flat character in the form of Bo (who is a two-note crazypants), but also some good moments as well. I actually liked the way they defined Charlie's code of ethics a little better in this episode. He's still capable of evil, but he's lawful evil not the chaotic evil of Bo or the neutral evil of Emma. These are still bad guys who have kidnapped a child, but there are shades of grey there even in their shades of grey, and they're the weaker points in Joe Carroll's otherwise cohesive group of followers.
That's the issue with any cult, let alone a cult as large as Joe's. There are two dozen people or more in Joe's cult at this point, between the ones that have died, the ones we have met, the ones that have been implied, and the ones we see at the end of this episode. Charles Manson had as many as one hundred followers at various points. How do you keep them all in control and keep them all working towards your goals? Especially when faced with a strong, fearless enemy in Ryan Hardy (chaotic good with a real mean streak)? It can't be much different from producing a television series in that respect.
Read Ron's review of the previous episode, The Fall, here.
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