This review of The Following contains spoilers…
If you’re reading this, it’s safe to assume you’ve watched last week’s “Boxed In” and you know who died at the end of the episode. (You shouldn’t be reading this unless you’re up to date.) By now you know that Special Agent Jeffrey Clarke’s (Felix Solis) limbs were broken and he was bent into a tiny metal box manufactured by the terrifying Neil Perry (Glenn Fleshler). Even though it wasn’t shown onscreen, the image of Solis being folded up is nightmarish, and a redeeming factor for last week’s subpar episode.
That being said, Special Agent Clarke did admit—under torture—that there had been an FBI cover-up at the end of “Boxed In.” The intensity kicks up with “Exposed,” but it isn’t all that satisfying.
Ryan, Max, and Mike try to track down whoever made the box with a vengeance when they’re accosted by Agent Mendez (Valerie Cruz) about Clarke’s video confessional, saying that Ryan must speak to the press to address allegations. Mendez says, “Every major network picked up Clarke’s confession.” Does it seem likely that in 2015, a major network would air that type of video? Unlikely. It’s even more unlikely that Mendez would demand Ryan speak to the press. (With all of the current insanity surrounding law enforcement, the misuse of power specifically, have you ever seen a police officer hold a press conference to defend himself against the press? Me either.) Police simply don’t talk to the press about an ongoing investigation (though it isn’t clear if there is one on Clarke yet or not).
I can say with complete certainty that police definitely don’t publicize sketching of the suspects in the very murder case being discussed. That Kyle and Daisy (Hunter Parrish and Ruth Kearney) freak out about being identified (in sketches that look nothing like them) and that Ryan outs Mark Gray as the person behind Clarke’s murder mid-press conference are baffling.
Neil’s father walks out of the house in a dementia-daze, unbeknownst to his nurse. Once Neil brings his father back inside, he restrains the nurse and plans to kill her. It’s that simple with this guy.
One interesting thing about this episode is that Kyle and Daisy meet a lawyer-esque businesswoman who tells them “we’re on a tight schedule.” AKA, more people have to die, namely Max, who’s the subject of the folder they’re handed. As you probably assumed long ago, Mark Gray isn’t at the head of things. He’s just a large cog in the system.
Mark kidnaps two journalists and stabs one for seemingly no reason. We get that he’s psychotic, but Mark seems perfectly lucid while killing here. Unreliable characters are intriguing, but at some point, there has to be a line drawn, or the audience gets bored. There has to be some pattern to his fits, to his lucidity, to his violent outbursts, or else it feels like lazy writing. This murder should have been shocking; instead, it was predictable, albeit well-managed visually.
It’s revealed that Neil is a woodworker, who also makes intricate toy chests. Fleshler is at his best doing deadpan creepy; for me, this character keeps the show afloat when the plot is caroming all over the place.
Ryan, Mike, and Max arrive at Neil’s just as he and his father leave, but Ryan & Co. find them via a GPS tracker that Niel’s father wears. I almost shouted, “Nice police work!” in earnest, until Ryan chases a fleeing Niel and he shoots for the getaway car’s windows and not the tires—after taking precious seconds to line up directly behind the car before shooting, despite having a clear shot already. Good grief.
The car chase between Neil and Mike, Max, and Ryan is quite well-managed. The quick-cutting scenes are jarring and both Bacon and Fleshler are convincing. The outcome is unfortunate, and a character I’d grown to like is now gone from the show. Just like The Following to write off a character that works when so many that don’t still flounder on-air.
Agent Clarke’s ceremony is noticeably brief onscreen, although the characters speak about him as if his presence will loom large over the show. That’s a tall order where he’s been only one of more than a dozen deaths just three episodes into the season, and an even taller order when you consider that Agent Clarke has only appeared in eight of the thirty-six filmed and aired episodes, which equates to less than 22 percent of the total. And he was barely onscreen for some episodes. If his death is supposed to be earth-shattering, we don’t nearly know him well enough—or care enough—for his death to have an impact other than the shocking manner of it.
All in all, “Exposed,” is a relatively watchable episode, one that raises some new mystery, but doesn’t nearly keep us enthralled enough. There’s too much of The Following’s plot that makes me pause, too much that makes the average viewer stop and say: “Come on, that wouldn’t happen.” I keep finding myself wondering: At this point, why should viewers keep tuning in? What’s the draw of The Following in the third season, after everything we’ve seen and been through?
And when it’s difficult to answer such simple questions, you know there’s a problem.