The Following season 3 episode 8 review: Flesh And Blood

After a couple of middling episodes, Flesh And Blood feels like a return to grisly, gory form for The Following...

This review contains spoilers.

3.8 Flesh And Blood

Well, last week I asked the people from The Following for more blood and craziness. Little did I know I was going to get what I asked for and more. There’s nothing to be upset with about this week’s visit to the FBI and serial killer chess match, at least from the front of insane spectacle. If you’ve ever wanted to see someone dead on what looks like a toilet with his brain meat exposed to the world or if you’ve ever wanted to watch someone feed body parts into a meat grinder, this is definitely the show for you this week. It’s nice to see, as this is something The Following was always good at, and if Hannibal can show corpses being vivisected in an artistic way, then why can’t The Following show similar content in a very lurid way?

Perhaps more impressive than the special effects is the actual content of the episode, which is unnerving at multiple points. It’s a credit to The Following that it can make its weekly crawl through New York State’s never-ending collection of dank basements, secret cellars, and parking garages intense even after three seasons of it. I think part of is is that the show has a legitimate single antagonist, rather than a bunch of people it can throw at Kevin Bacon so Ryan Hardy can shoot them. The manhunt for Theo is fairly similar for the manhunt for Joe, albeit Theo doesn’t have a bunch of Followers, just a bunch of people so afraid of him they’re willing to die at the FBI’s hands rather than his more creative methods.

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After a couple of kind of blah episodes, this feels like a return to form for The Following, or at least an uptick in pleasant weirdness. Ryan and Joe have been having issues lately, both with one another and with having recurring dreams where one or the other shows up to do something out of character. That seems to be peaking this week, with Joe engaging in a lengthy escape fantasy capped off by Ryan coming to his rescue, and Ryan imagining Joe at multiple times during his search for Theo (and even calling Mike Joe during an argument with his girlfriend). It’s fairly obvious stuff, but it’s really well executed by director Marcos Siega, who seems to bring a spark of life to this week’s episode, as well as a little extra style in those well-executed fantasy scenes. I also appreciate that the scenes are merely fantasies, not reality.

The grounded FBI setting this week, courtesy of Mary Leah Sutton’s script, is a good decision. There’s not a lot of personal drama happening this week, aside from a fight between Ryan and Gwen. That’s right, no Max and Mike craziness, and only a little friction with the FBI on Ryan’s part. The focus on the parts of the show that still work, the chase and pursuit stuff, is nice to see after a couple of episodes with misplaced personal drama. I don’t care about Max’s relationships with anyone aside from Ryan and whatever serial killers she runs across, and while the thing with Mike was cute last season, I don’t want to see the two of them dance around that issue while Theo is out there chopping people up, committing double murders, trying to slaughter his family, and the like.

I’m sure being an FBI agent is a hard job, especially in the world of The Following, but there’s only one agent whose PTSD I care about, and that’s Ryan Hardy. And, of course, Joe Carroll. With every digression to Mike or Max, it feels like the show is trying to branch out from its lead, and that feels like a mistake. The show was sold on the presence of Kevin Bacon, so you’re kind of stuck using him as much as possible, even if he might want a break or need to go do some of whatever a producer does. Between Bacon and James Purefoy, the show has a lot of strengths—the supporting characters are also very well cast—and it seems silly not to make the most of them, considering the show’s declining broadcast ratings. It might boost a few of the DVR watchers to turn the show on live every now and then.

Read Ron’s review of the previous episode, The Hunt, here

US Correspondent Ron Hogan is very glad to see The Following get back into the business of weird craziness and awesome special effects. Any show that can show us a chopped out brain and ears on strings in the same 10 minutes is his kind of show. Find more by Ron daily at Shaktronics and PopFi.

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