If you’re curious why The Following decided to double up on episodes last night, airing “Home” and “A Hostile Witness” back-to-back, get in line.
If you think there’s no logical reason as to why this double feature was planned, as there’s still an episode next week, you’d be right even after watching the episodes. Logical or not, there were two hours of The Following last night. Here we go.
“Home” begins with Kyle and Daisy following a college student after watching him make out with his girlfriend. Seemingly, for no reason at all, when he’s alone, Kyle pushes the young man in front of a car, killing him. Subsequently, Kyle and Daisy mosey away while the driver of the truck sits still—not driving away, not getting out of the car—simply refusing to move. What person hits someone with a car, let alone hits and kills them, and lets the person who openly pushed the victim walk away? “For no reason at all” seems to be the theme of tonight.
On the subject of Daisy and Kyle watching Max’s every move via the cameras they installed in her apartment: their interest with Max feels forced and unwarranted (even with what we learn later on in the night). In fact, Kyle and Daisy, as characters, are beginning to feel forced. After finding out later who they work for, the mystery’s pay-off wasn’t worth the wait.
Every episode seems to be a tease for viewers to keep coming back. There’s always “after tomorrow” and “after tonight” talk, promising juicy future events to tune in for which, this season, haven’t been worth the watch. The Following’s writers should make “today” enjoyable before teasing “tomorrow’s” intrigue.
Ryan and Max head to Ohio, where Kyle and Daisy were traced to, without Mike because Mendez deems him a risk after he’s revealed to have failed some psychiatric evaluations. The speed with which Kyle and Daisy are found is suspicious, and typical of The Following; the agents have no idea where they are for weeks, and in a matter of on-screen seconds, Kyle and Daisy’s house is pinned. A house that, mind you, as Max says, “too perfect.” What do they do, or what did they do, for a living? Is keeping their professions from viewers really going to be worth it? It can’t be, but it doesn’t matter, because it’s never revealed.
A friend of Kyle and Daisy’s, who‘d been dog sitting for them, attempts to lure Kyle and Daisy home while Max and Ryan trace the phone call. In past seasons, they’ve tracked criminals in a matter of seconds, but here (in over a minute) they’re inexplicably unable to track Kyle and Daisy. Kyle tells Ryan he’s going to hit him “where [he] lives.” It’s a misguided, and failed, attempt at tension creation. If the NYPD fire department massacre that occurs is “where [Ryan] lives,” then I must’ve missed something; killing four NYPD firefighters so Max has to see the picture of her father—who died in September 11th—then that’s some odd type of plan.
Kyle and Daisy, shaken up, talk to the female mystery lawyer; she’s revealed in the next episode as a paralegal named Julianna (played by Anna Wood). Kyle demands money, passports, and changes of identities, now that they’re being chased, their true identities uncovered. Seeing as Kyle and Daisy seem to have no cover to speak of, how did it take so long to find them?
Max calls Mike after coming home from the fire department, upset and grieving over the firefighters’ deaths, and he comes to her apartment. Daisy gleefully watches on the security cameras. Mike tearfully admits he misses Max, and they start kissing. Soon enough, clothes are removed and Daisy and Kyle follow suit. Mike and Max getting back together is welcomed—Jessica Stroup and Shawn Ashmore have great chemistry—but having Kyle and Daisy go at it as well feels sensationalistic.
It’s incredibly hard to believe that, in this day and age—with cameras literally everywhere—that Mark has the freedom he does. When Kyle and Daisy want to leave, Mark says that, as long as they all stay inside, they won’t get caught. In a moment of true inconsistency, Mark has been on the lam for months, but Kyle and Daisy step outside their apartment and are spotted instantly.
A remorseful Max wakes up next to Mike in bed. Mark watches on the security camera, so he has a head start when Tom calls Max and lets her know they found Mark. Mark, as expected, gets away. When Tom enters Mark’s apartment, he finds Mark’s computer, where the screen is already set to Max’s bedroom. With one click of the button, it rewinds to exactly where Mike and Max were having sex. One click rewind to a crucial plot point? If only Netflix had that godly button.
While the dual personality Mark-Luke performance by Sam Underwood was cool at first, it’s staled. It feels as if the writers, or director, were tired of filming Underwood physically playing both Mark and Luke, and figured a psychotic break would be the most timely and efficient manner. Now, it just feels lazy.
Kyle and Daisy target the girlfriend of the college student they killed earlier, and trying to make her planned death look like a suicide. Mike and Ryan get there in time to stop them, while cops surround the building and campus. Somehow, Kyle jumps down a garbage chute after Ryan shoots him and limps to safety; after clubbing Mike, Daisy also got off the roof. Wasn’t the building supposedly surrounded by cops?
Paralegal Julianna meets Strauss in prison. It turns out Strauss is the mastermind behind all of this. What a letdown. Perhaps a more enjoyable way to watch The Following—considering the plot’s predictability—would be to make a drinking game out of it. Because, as is, there’s just no fun in watching.
“A Hostile Witness”
Strauss, the evil genius at the genesis of The Following, is in a Brooklyn prison and not a federal penitentiary. Sure, makes sense.
Mark, somehow, got to where the wounded Kyle and Daisy were, and snuck them away to a hotel, as they were being pursued by police. The implausibility of a few things are startling: that they even got away while Kyle was gushing blood without being stopped or caught by police, that Mark—the subject of a nationally publicized manhunt, his picture plastered everywhere—could even step outside without being caught, and, among other things, that they can get into a hotel room without being caught. Imagine trying to drag a bloody friend of yours into a hotel room without the desk clerk noticing. It seems as if The Following’s writers were simply hoping that viewers would forget the situation Kyle and Daisy were in at the end of “Home.” Or they’d prefer their viewers not ask these sorts of questions?
After revealing that they’ve faked the severity of Kyle’s injury—or simply duped Mark into helping them escape—Kyle and Daisy meet with Julianna, who loads them up with guns and ammunition. Mark finds out, and hunts Julianna down.
Michael Michele makes an appearance as Sheila, the prosecutor in the Strauss case. She’s too good for The Following, but she brings the show’s level up.
The Strauss case, as is to be expected, exposes Ryan’s shoddy police work. It’s interesting how, at the most opportune times, the writers choose when to point out and also when to ignore Ryan and his team’s terrible police work. However, it’s ridiculous that the defense is trying to rush the case, asking for an “immediate dismissal” if the called witness (a head scratcher of a character bring-back with Carrie Cooke, played by Sprague Grayden, who didn’t film any new scenes for the episode—they’re all flashback) isn’t found. High profile murder cases sometimes last years; that a judge would be put under pressure to dismiss a case the day it begins is insane.
Ryan, Mike, and Max chase down Daisy, Kyle, and presumably Carrie as they try to escape. Apparently they still feel, after all that’s happened, that they don’t need backup?
Ryan comes upon Daisy and a still-bleeding Kyle. Daisy gets away but Kyle can’t climb the fence. Presumably, you can guess what happens.
Ryan calls Sheila (Michael Michele) to tell her that Carrie has been murdered. He’s informed that the case has been dismissed and Strauss is free to go. There is no way that a case of this magnitude would be dismissed on the day it began, totally unbelievable.
Mendez, upon hearing about Strauss walking, calls Mike, Ryan, and Max into her office to show them the e-mail confession “written by Clarke” that was Ryan’s undoing in court. It seems to have been planted by Strauss’ people. Mendez says their system can’t be hacked, which made me actually laugh aloud. Does she not know how hapless the agents of The Following are?
Mark is still following Julianna. She becomes noticeably stressed as she sees that it’s Mark who had been tailing her. An apparently superhuman Mark pulls open the lawyer’s locked apartment building door. Just when I think it can’t get any more implausible, The Following manages to.
Daisy and Kyle are outed as students of Strauss. Julianna admits that Andrew targeted Mark to help exact Strauss’ revenge because he was “the perfect patsy.” When Mike, Max, and Ryan walk in on Julianna’s dead body, they instantly blame Strauss. Did they forget about Mark, the mass murderer Mike’s been chasing for a year?
Mike, Max, and Ryan accost Strauss and Daisy trying to escape. However, Mark has followed all of them, and plans to take everyone out. When Mark starts shooting, no one gets hit—of course. Mike and Max catch and arrest Strauss. Mike sees Mark and chases him down. An incognito Daisy sneaks up on Max and viciously beats her with a plank of wood. We’re told at the end of the episode that she’ll be fine, which seems unreasonable, given the severity of the clubs.
Mike chases Mark onto a boat and injures him. Mike is about to shoot Mark when Ryan stops him. Instead of simply having the smarts to not shoot, Mike stops pointing at Mark and looks away, and Mark jumps overboard. Of course this would happen, of course. Even though Mike shot Mark in the leg, and he jumped at least thirty feet into the water, they choose not to follow him.
At the end of the episode, Ryan decides that his only option is to go back to Joe to have him help the FBI catch Strauss. Joe’s presence, although it pains me to admit, is actually welcomed here. Maybe it’s because I’ve lost faith in the show, but Purefoy is so good as Joe, it’ll be nice to have some of The Following’s original dynamic back.
Overall, we make some progress with The Following, and lose a few characters in the process, yet it feels like we’re spinning in circles. In the span of a week, Strauss vaulted himself from forgotten character to overarching criminal mastermind. It’s too jarring a transition to enjoy, and Strauss hasn’t—for me—made a lasting impression onscreen as a character. That spinning in circles in confirmed with the reemergence of Joe Carroll, with Purefoy’s contribution seemingly set to increase exponentially.
Unfortunately, at this point—and noting that the show’s viewership is a fraction of what it once was—I’m not sure there’ll be anyone left to notice.