The Following has gone completely off the grid at this point in their first season and have passed into the desperate realms of absurdity. The episode entitled “Love Hurts” opens with a briefing from all of the three letter agencies coordinating with each other, trying to see just how many idiots have joined Joe Carroll and his band of whackos, ready to “write their own chapter” for the escaped serial killer. After head FBI honcho Special Agent Nick Donovan takes Agent Parker aside after the briefing, he discloses to her that they are moving the investigation to D.C. but that her people will still be roaming about in the Virginia area. What I do not understand is why they are excluding Hardy from these private proceedings. He appears to be the only person who knows what the hell is going on in this entire show. The ironic thing is that Bacon is barely in his own damn show!
What bothers me most about The Following is that it is just plain creepy and becoming a bit grotesque. And there is no real point to any of it and just feels like doing something for shock value. It leaves you scratching your head and wondering just how exactly this moves the narrative forward. Then you wonder if there actually is a narrative. I don’t care if you do not have a traditional three-act structure but give me something to work with.
The Following is obsessed with the past and I would say that the cumulative time total of all of the flashbacks in the first nine episodes total three episodes in and of themselves. So really we are on episode six with the other three episodes consisting flashbacks. Every time a new follower joins the fray as a major player the show cuts back to when the person met Joe in prison. I have watched enough of the show Lockup to know that they record all prison conversations, even of inmates incarcerated for even the smallest crimes. Are we really supposed to believe that people who just finished committing murders and telling a high-profile serial killer about them are not being closely monitored by the prison? I understand if it is an attorney coming to visit their whackadoo client; that’s privileged information. But serial killer groupies seeking advice on how to kill from Joe Carroll? This guy is not doing time; he is running a talk show.
Finally, Paul and Jacob have found refuge at the former’s parents’ country home. I am guessing it is their country home, but who knows. Jacob’s mother comes in to see her son whose picture has been on the news nonstop and is finding sanctuary at this house because their regular house is swarmed with news reporters and photographers. Paul is bleeding out on the couch in their den and wouldn’t you know it? Jacob’s mom has medical training! She tells Jacob that Paul is in sepsis, is losing blood and without antibiotics will die. After another batch of really bad flashbacks, Jacob takes Paul on his first kill at the behest of Emma. However when they get to the kill site, Paul realizes that Jacob has never killed anyone. Paul promises he will not tell Emma and that he will “owe him a favor.” I will just cut through the bull here and get to the part where the duo have to leave the house because Jacob’s dad is about to come home from work and will surely call the police. In a tragic and utterly predictable twist, one that Ray Charles could see, Jacob puts a pillow over Paul’s face and smothers the life out of him. On the plus side he was able to pay back that favor he owed him.
This week’s follower is by far the creepiest yet and comes in the form of Amanda. She is a sweetheart of a gal who shot her husband and his mistress (or something) and then buried them in a swamp in Florida. At their first activity of the day at the Carroll Compound, there is a nice meet and greet and like show and tell for kids. Amanda starts to nervously read her “chapter” out loud and yes it is ridiculous sounding. Joe is determined to find his wife Claire, who is in protective custody with the FBI and we all know what a bang up job they are doing. So the followers decide to start killing all of the Claire Matthews’ in the surrounding area. At a local diner two big gals sit down for a nice, hearty lunch when one gets up to hit the bathroom. Just then Amanda slinks into the booth and starts ranting to get a message to Agent Ryan Hardy. Confused, the woman nicely tells Amanda that she has the wrong table when her lunch mate returns from the ladies room. On the other side of the booth, Amanda is futzing around with some type of device and then literally harpoons the woman in her diner booth.
It was absolutely twisted to watch how deranged this woman Amanda is as she gets up and calmly says “don’t forget to tell him my message, it’s important!” And she just walks right out of the diner, scott free. No one does so much as tackle the woman who can’t weigh more than 100 pounds.Amanda also goes to a highrise apartment building where another Claire Matthews lives. Claire opens the door just because they answered “police” when she asked who it was and Amanda proceeds to barge in and throw this Claire Matthews off her balcony. The good news is that she lands next to a police car. So, close call on saving her at least, right? I really got the heebie-jeebies from this woman Amanda and I fear she may be in a future nightmare. At some kind of outdoor Mardi Gras-like function at night that I guess is a big thing down in Virginia, Hardy and Parker are trying to track down yet another Claire Matthews before Amanda can get to them. The 100 pound wonder cannot be stopped!
When a fellow partygoer tells the Black Claire Matthews to run for it, she does and gets to a police officer safely. Naturally, the follower Louise shoots the cop dead barely causing anyone to even stop dancing for beads. Hardy closes in on the smug Louise and has her in the crosshairs when she starts with the cult rhetoric that he won’t shoot etc. etc. until Ryan steps up and puts a bullet through her chest. The cliché of a chase at a work site with plastic paint curtains and all sorts of electric tools has been done to death and they take a page right out of Lethal Weapon 2 with a nail gun scene that is ridiculous.
Back at Chez Carroll, Roderick gives their leader an update of their space age technology wing of the mansion. These guys are basically running a small NASA sized operation, complete with satellite phones and tech that even the Feds do not seem to be using. I just do not get it; it is implausible and I need some kind of explanation of HOW. So Roderick is a Sheriff of a small town in Virginia and he is able to figure out where the Federal safe house of the real Claire Matthews is located. Easy as pie. Apparently all of the followers attended MIT. The program has become a total farce and wants you to believe that not even the elite Seal Team Six could find these morons.
In the final scene, Roderick and Emma continue to butt heads, competing for the ultimate loyalty of Joe.In the big reveal, Roderick presents an alive and well Kyle at the door fresh from his first kill of Jacob and he is out for Emma’s blood after leaving the pair in the lurch. A stiff breeze would blow this guy over yet for some reason we are supposed to be scared. If The Following were a potential date, I would have called it off after three dates giving the old “it’s not you, it’s me, but it really is you” bit weeks ago. Sadly the show trudges on. I give it one star because it is on television and at least that is an achievement; this show is not.