This review contains spoilers.
1.2 Chapter Two
Serial killers are fascinating. Their deeds are so notorious that each one, upon discovery, immediately kicks off a media firestorm and becomes an object of national attention. From Albert Fish to the Ted Bundy, serial killers are a big deal, and Joe Carroll is no exception. After all, he’s got a legion of followers, but in Carroll’s case, it started well before he was incarcerated.
After all, he’s an author and a college professor, and what two professions put you on a pedestal higher than that? Especially when speaking to young people in their formative years? Taking a page from Charles Manson’s playbook, the four followers of Joe Carroll we’ve met either last week or this week are impressionable youngsters like college-age Emma aka babysitter Denise (Valorie Curry), a couple of handsome fellows who seem to be in it mostly for the killing like Jacob and Paul (Nico Tortorella and Adan Canto), and a portly/dim-witted law enforcement type,Jordy (Steve Monroe).
It’s an interesting, modern update on the Manson Family, where (possible) sexual dysfunction, low self-esteem, and low intelligence all come together to create a core of a dysfunctional group of serial killers. Truthfully, the scenes between Curry, Tortorella, and Canto seem to work the best tonight. I’m not really invested in them, but the murdering pair of lovers and their third wheel (and I’m not really sure which male of the fake gay couple is the boyfriend and which is the third wheel) makes for some decent dramatic tension, if only because you’re not sure which way that particular worm is going to turn (or if it will even get a chance to turn).
As for Jordy, well… he’s both a weak link and a brilliant touch, at the same time. For the positive aspects of the character, he’s admittedly sloppy as a serial killer, leaving a ton of clues. He’s slow-witted, simply following Carroll’s commands without much contemplation of what it may mean to him, and he seems to be the one of the group that the others have the least regard for, yet he’s not so stupid as to not be afraid for his life. Then again, he also sneaks past cops, overpowers armed men, and drops down from the ceiling like a ninja despite being a portly ginger who should be pretty easy to spot in a crowd, so there’s also that.
The one thing you can say about the show is that it consistently looks great. From both a technical standpoint, with its editing tricks and shot composition and scene staging, to its set design. The set design on this show has been incredible, and the tableau they have been painting with crazy Poe-centric decorations, lots and lots of handwriting on the walls, and the occasional blood splatter (though there was much less gore this week than last). Some poor PA spent hours transcribing Poe passages on walls while painters carefully laid out giant illustrations and special effects crews set up a dozen latex Poe masks on various shelves. If nothing else, the show is really squeezing the Poe out of the story to maximum effect, and the show knows how to create moody environments for Kevin Bacon to get menaced into.
I had a great deal of trouble staying interested in The Following this week, and I’m not sure if it was just me or the show. The FBI agents are still mostly plot-delivery devices arranged artfully around Kevin Bacon, and the fact that they added a new agent, Debra Parker (Annie Parisse), and replaced Agent Mason from the first episode hasn’t made things any easier to pay attention to. Admittedly, they cleverly removed the character from the series by having her shipped back to Quantico for allowing Hardy to break Carroll’s fingers at the end of the first episode, but again they chase this with some very dumb words (courtesy of Kevin Williamson) that come out of her mouth blaming the Internet for serial killers.
However, I’m still on board with the show. It’s obviously still finding its feet at this point, and given the churn in actors from the first episode to the second, there’s going to be an adjustment period. I do like the character of Agent Parker better than Mason, I like the dynamic between the three serial killers, and I like the way Hardy throws a wrench into Carroll’s plans this week that makes the Professor of Murder nervous, but it was still a bit more rough this week than it was last.
Read Ron’s review of the previous episode, Pilot, here.
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