This review contains spoilers.
The Following has a problem named Natalie Zea. Or rather, the writing staff has a problem writing for women. Despite the quality of the actress and her chemistry with Kevin Bacon, Claire makes the absolutely worst decisions possible pretty much every time she gets a chance to make a decision. This is not a problem unique to The Following, since The Walking Dead has had both Andrea and Lori screwing up left and right for the better part of three seasons (Andrea is particularly bad). If forced to categorize Claire on the Andrea Scale of Stupid, which I am inventing just for this paragraph, she’s definitely hovering close to Full Andrea, just with a better actress.
So much of the plot around her has focused on three things: her marriage to Joe, her relationship with Ryan, and being a mother to Joey. Getting married to Joe is forgivable, as she didn’t know he was a serial killer and any true crime show reveals that most people don’t know they’re with a serial killer until the cops kick in the door or he turns the knife on the wife. Ditto the relationship with Ryan, since she was single due to her husband being in jail. She couldn’t know he had a death curse where everyone dies when they become his friend. However, the fact that Claire keeps leaving the safety of FBI custody to put herself into the midst of Joe’s snake nest of serial killers because she wants to see her son does not make sense. Joe has your son, that much is true; but you’re a piece of leverage. With you, the FBI has something that Joe wants. You’re a living, breathing bargaining chip. When you give yourself over just to see your son, your odds of removing your son from a horrible environment go down a great deal.
To balance out Claire’s naïve, earnest desire to be with her son despite all logic, there’s Emma. From stealing Joey in The Following‘s first episode, she’s developed into quite the effective villain, even if she does depend a great deal on the Lori from season two Lady MacBeth manipulation act to keep her various fellows in line, but that kind of song and dance won’t work forever, and when the jig is up, it’s really up. Emma found that out the hard way this week. After betraying Jacob and Paul, abandoning them as she escaped justice and ignored their pleas for help (until Jacob contacted Roderick, who seems to be the guy who gets things done), she then tries to buddy back up to Jacob and it never really works.
It’s a clever attempt by writers Kevin Williamson and Shintaro Shimosawa to set up a comeuppance for one of the show’s more evil killers – even in a group of serial killers, Emma seems to be the one most likely to throw the group under the bus when it benefits her and her attempts to bed Joe – but the show seems to pull up short when it comes down to actually having Jacob do something about Emma aside from threatening her. Sure it was nice to see someone threatening Emma for a change, rather than Emma threatening other people, but I kind of wanted to see Jacob draw some blood. That’s still probably going to happen, as Emma is too evil and reckless to live, but the battle lines seem to be drawing themselves in the serial killer came. Joe and Emma on one side, Roderick and Jacob on the other.
It just seems hard for The Following to keep justifying these bad, nonsensical decisions by characters. I know that a certain amount of stupid is necessary to make television function, but Claire just takes the moron cake. I imagine that, before long, she’ll somehow escape from the Murder Mansion, only to volunteer to go back into the custody of a group of crazed killers to protect her son who is in the least amount of danger of anyone there because he’s the scion of the group leader.
Read Ron’s review of the previous episode, Love Hurts, here.
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