This review contains spoilers.
3.1 New Blood
No matter where you go in New York City, there’s some sort of dimly lit basement full of construction equipment. It seems like, as part of a power-saving measure, nobody ever has the lights on and they’re incapable of turning them on. This, ladies and gentlemen, is the world of The Following, America’s favorite dumb show about people getting shot, stabbed, strangled, and otherwise mutilated for entertainment purposes. Love it or hate it, and most people seem to hate it, this is a show that knows what it’s here for, and it doesn’t waste much time before jumping right into the kind of mayhem that we expect from Joe’s cult of crazies.
It’s a lovely wedding for Gina Mendez (Valerie Cruz) and her partner, capped off by a very sweet toast from one Ryan Hardy (the infamous Kevin Bacon). He’s got a lovely new girlfriend named Gwen (Zuleikha Robinson), Max (Jessica Stroup) has a functional relationship with her new man Tom (Gbenga Akinnagbe), and Mike (Shawn Ashmore) is… well, Mike is enjoying his work. Joe Carroll is on death row, Mark (Sam Underwood) has fled the country, and all appears to be well until a wedding guest walks up to Ryan and throws blood on his face in the middle of a toast.
As we find out, that grieving father isn’t really a grieving father, but a sociopath named Andrew (Michael Irby). It turns out, Mark is back and looking for revenge. Step one in that plan is to make sure everyone knows that Ryan Hardy is a liar. The blood splash is step one. Step two through the rest of the season is to brutally butcher random innocents and string them up in compromising positions. Like, say, reenacting Mike’s execution of Lily Gray, with the warning that you lie, people die.
At this stage of the show’s run, Marcos Siega knows what he’s going for, and he’s more able to do it now than he was in the first seasons. Maybe I’m just getting used to the house style The Following goes for, but it’s working for me. The tightly-shot fight scenes—it wouldn’t be The Following without a knife fight in the first episode—help to emphasise the physical conflict of two humans locked in a death struggle, and the show’s propensity for breaking out in violence at the drop of a hat for any reason remains a hallmark. The violence feels a little toned down thus far… if you can call stabbing a man in the throat and a woman in the heart in the first 15 minutes toned down. Not as graphic, but perhaps more powerful since we’re more seeing the end results via cleverly staged corpse puppetry. It’s an interesting tactic thus far in the season, and something to look out for further on when Mark’s not able to craft his corpse dioramas.
Another interesting development is seeing Kevin Bacon actually smile while on set. Ryan Hardy has love interests, but not someone serious enough to sleep over that isn’t also the wife of the guy who spent the bulk of the last two years trying to kill him. The way the characters have moved on, courtesy of the script from Alexi Hawley and Brett Mahoney, makes sense. Mike’s obsession with Mark makes sense, echoing Ryan’s obsession with Joe. Ryan’s ability to finally move on makes sense knowing his adversary is on his way to actual final death. And, of course, Mark’s deranged double persona makes as much sense as anything involving a crazy person would (thought I imagine Sam Underwood is glad to not have to do double wardrobe work anymore).
So this season looks like the supremely crazy Mark and his new group of followers (who have familiar beats to the first season’s group, minus the shower threesomes and with more threatened murder courtesy of Mark) versus Ryan and the FBI, with a little involvement from one Joe Carroll. Of course, whether or not that remains will be seen soon enough, but so far I like where things are headed. I look forward to the show doing something absolutely insane to completely redirect things in about three episodes.
Read Ron’s review of the season two finale, Forgive, here.
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