With each passing week, I feel that The Following is squandering its potential. Though there are always some interesting twists, for the most part, every Monday night, I feel like I’ve gotten into a car whose driver doesn’t know where he’s going and refuses to stop for directions.
We see Luke develop his own hatred for Ryan when he tells Mark that Gisele has been killed, though the necrophilia angle is still unsettling. As always, Sam Underwood’s dual role work is great, transforming from Mark to Luke seamlessly.
Shawn Ashmore’s Mike hypothesizes that the FBI’s been infiltrated. Agent Gina Mendez (Valerie Cruz) puts the kibosh on that right away, telling Mike that he can be off the case if it’s too difficult on him. She also mentions that his “psych evals” are “still pending.” If his psychological evaluations are still pending, would he really be allowed to act as a consultant on the case that directly caused him to need the evaluation in the first place? I think not, but that’s just me.
The chemistry between Mike and Jessica Stroup’s Max is palpable, as Stroup is a lovely addition to the show. In a rare bright spot in Season 2, Mike really goes rogue this week. Ryan lets Mike join in on his and Max’s two-person wolfpack, and his transformation is just about the coolest thing this season (a testament to Ashmore’s underutilized skill). Mike and Max getting together would be satisfying in a season low on satisfaction.
“Fly Away” starts off so interesting, with Lily and Joe seeming to be at the beginning of a relationship. But they’re murderers who literally got their freak on in a pool of blood, so we know that isn’t going to last. We know that somehow Joe has to break away, but how? When Luke goes to kill Ryan, hoping to avenge Gisele, Luke is captured and Ryan attempts to trade Luke for Joe.
And there it is: the reason Joe needs to get away. The circumstances of how are intriguing, so I won’t go there. It’s a “how” that seems to be structuring the rest of the season. Come the trailer for next week, there’s an unfixable rift between Lily and Joe, that’s for sure.
The “how” of Luke being captured is where The Followingloses me this week. During “Fly Away,” Luke has his face smashed with a two-by-four, then his torso, he’s punched brutally in the face, shot twice at point blank range, and then Mike straddles him, unleashing a flurry of blood-soaked punches…and Luke is only “nearly killed.” Nearly!? Not only is Luke only “nearly” killed, but he barely loses consciousness. Hitting your head on an open cabinet coming up from a kneel hurts, so I could only imagine how it would feel having an FBI agent take that cabinet off the hinge and smash my face with it, then punch me, and then shoot me—twice.
The Following tries to be a chess game, where all characters are pieces and the plot acts as the players. However, when the writers include events that test the believability of the show, that chess game doesn’t work if it’s is also being played with the audience.
Presumably, Luke is only “nearly” dead because it’s convenient for the plot (Lily thinks he’s actually dead, and after that barrage of attacks he should be). Also, Ryan talks to Lily using Luke’s phone, while Mike traces the call in a matter of seconds. Do you guys remember Season 1, when it took like ten minutes to get a trace and even then, sometimes it wasn’t successful? Continuity is key, from season to season, in a high-intensity drama like this, and The Followingjust doesn’t have it. Then there’s the issue early on of Lily telling Joe that Gisele was “stabbed in the chest” when it’s pretty clear that she was stabbed in the stomach. That’s nitpicky, but comparatively—distance-wise—getting stabbed in the calf and getting stabbed in the hamstring are pretty different.
In “Fly Away,” Joe predicts his own impending death, and it feels that Lily is in line to become the new main villain. If that’s indeed what’s to happen, Lily isn’t nearly as intriguing as Joe. She’s twisted and evil—assembling a lethal, multi-ethnic family is uniquely crazy—but her motivation for “breaking bad” (she’s worth $1.4 billion, remember) is akin to a teen taking up smoking because it seemed cool.
Yes, The Following is entertaining…if you turn off your brain and are a brand new viewer this season. Maybe that’s what they’re going for, but as someone who liked Season 1, I’m certainly not in that category. I’m still hoping they pull it together though, but often find myself wondering why I’m still devoted.