This review contains spoilers.
1.7 The Hunt
One of the best things about The Following is that it is set in a world with an infinite supply of serial killers. That’s also one of the worst things about The Following, as it lends itself to laziness. Whenever one of the killers we know is in trouble, well, we just have that person turn to someone in his network of murderer pals to help him solve his problem. When it’s someone like Arthur Strauss reaching out to one of his many students, it makes sense. We’ve seen Strauss at work training other killers, we know he’s got hundreds of students committing thousands of murders, and it makes sense that they’d be willing to stick their neck out to help the man who made their bloody dreams come true. That conceit strains a little bit when you’ve got someone like Michael Ealy’s character recruiting others.
Granted, Theo (I’m not sure we’ve actually heard his name in the show, but the IMDB mentions it, so we’ll go with it) is a brilliant computer hacker, so it’d be easy for him to figure out who has connections to Strauss or what serial killer is being moved around by the police. Indeed, he recovers Duncan (Tim Guinee) from the back of a cop car after remotely hacking into the car, redirecting it, and then killing the cops after disabling its electronic brains. However, it seems the more he tries to cover his tracks, the more at risk he puts himself and the more bodies pile up, and the closer the FBI seems to get.
No matter what you might say about the set-up of the episode, it’s pretty well directed by Sylvain White. The opening scene is capped off by a beautiful shot of the two killers walking away into the foggy night, back-lit by the lights of the police car with the two dead US Marshals in the background. It’s fun to see Theo at work, because it seems like the show is more willing to show blood when Theo is involved, as this week proves. There’s a pretty brutal scene in which Theo and Duncan slaughter a group of guys playing cards as they search for the guy who makes Theo’s fake passports, including a severed hand that would be welcome in pretty much every horror movie. It’s great, gushy stuff. The episode is also very tense, as the injured Max and Theo are trapped together in Theo’s place of work, a government security contractor, working against one another via various patsies and tricks. It works better than it has any right to.
That said, a lot of the stuff that isn’t related to Theo and Max doesn’t work quite as well, Ryan and Joe fever dream aside. Most of the cut-aways from Theo’s stuff aren’t all that interesting, as we’re basically watching the FBI chase its tail. The change in supervisors to one-eyed Nick Donovan (Mike Colter) and the threat he represents to Ryan doesn’t interest me a lot, as he works better from outside of the system. The Mike/Tom conflict is just obnoxious this week, though I don’t necessarily blame writer Liz Sczudlo for that. There are plenty of times to be mad about your girlfriend sleeping with another man/that other man letting her get beaten to a pulp with a board, but right before you’re about to raid a serial killer’s lair is not one of them. It just doesn’t seem like the time or place, and it took me out of the story as it’s something I didn’t want in the story to begin with.
The third season of The Following hasn’t been as good as the previous two seasons. For whatever reason, I think the lack of Joe, I’m not as interested as I used to be. It’s still very good television most of the time, but it’s less enthralling, and less noteworthy for its craziness now than it was in previous years. It’s like the show has deliberately toned down its cheesiness to try to be taken seriously, when that’s the wrong tack for a show like this to take.
More blood and craziness, please! If I wanted to watch a serious police drama with lots of personal life entanglements, I wouldn’t be watching The Following. I’m here to see James Purefoy smirk and Kevin Bacon quip and kill. The severed hand this episode was a good step in the right direction, now it’s time to keep moving that way and keep piling up bodies until The Following gets too crazy to ignore.
Read Ron’s review of the previous episode, Reunion, here.
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