This review contains spoilers.
3.8 Kill The Messenger
The Following has faced a bit of an uphill battle this season to catch viewer interest. I think one of the big problems, which I’ve discussed, is the lack of Joe versus Ryan. The first episode of the first season opened with those two squaring off, and that remains one of the most satisfying moments of the show’s first season. We immediately get a look into their budding relationship, and we immediately are forced to choose sides while still getting to enjoy Joe’s megalomania. The surprise of the random Followers, Roderick, Classic Poe, and all the rest of it just helped to add to the enjoyment of the ridiculous, brilliant, awesomely dumb show about murderers and FBI agents murdering one another.
There hasn’t been much of that this season, but it seems like the show is slowly coming back around to giving us what we wanted all along, which is Joe and Ryan together, either as a sort of Hannibal and Clarice or as antagonists. The recurring dream sequences have been one of the better parts of the season, either from Joe’s perspective or Ryan’s perspective, and it’s helped keep that weird relationship in focus even when Joe’s not on screen, or Ryan’s being fussy and not visiting his BFF (best felonious friend) in jail. The codependency isn’t a very novel element—after all, Hannibal and Clarice, or Hannibal and Will Graham—but it is a fun one.
Just watching Kevin Bacon and James Purefoy talking back and forth is a lot of fun, and the fact that Barry O’Brien’s script gives them some fun stuff to chew on helps quite a bit. But it also enlivened Theo’s conversation-by-proxy with Joe, as well. Purefoy is just great as the villain, and the flashbacks to Joe and Theo’s first meeting were entertaining because Joe got to talk about Poe again. It’s also nice to see Joe and Theo match wits, even if they both use vastly different methods to get the job done. Joe used his Followers, and Theo uses his laptop, but they both have essentially the same techniques to cause chaos and horror. It’s only natural that Joe should immediately identify Theo as his number one enemy for Ryan’s affection and respond accordingly, even if Joe can only kill Theo’s newest surrogate Gary (Evan Hall).
I like this idea. I like the idea of Joe somehow squaring off against Theo. Those two seem like natural enemies, particularly since they’re fighting over Ryan’s attention. Luke/Mark and Daisy feel like after-thoughts, even if they do take up a bit of the episode tonight alongside the usual Max/Mike business involving the stolen FBI evidence/sex tape recording device currently in the possession of Tom (or technically shattered in pieces in his backpack, after a pretty tense scene involving Max trying to trace it while Tom tries desperately to get back to the locker room to smash the thing before she realizes who has it). It sets up Tom as a mole within the FBI, which is another lead the FBI is going to have to chase that will keep them off balance, and it serves to add more personal fuel to the fire in that particular mediocre love triangle.
Not that the FBI needs to chase a fake lead at this point. After all, they’re struggling to play catch-up to Theo, despite his increasing amount of mistakes (or at least trusting in the wrong people to help him break Strauss’s code). Theo is a shark that’s been dragged up onto the beach, and he’s thrashing around and lashing out in desparation, trying to slip back into the cool dark water where he’s most comfortable, and where he’ll be better able to get his revenge on Ryan Hardy. Assuming, of course, he’s able to survive his increasing encounters with Joe Carroll, who appears to have some sort of plan to go out with a bang if nothing else.
Another pretty sharp, pretty good episode for The Following. The violence is sudden and sharp, and the final moments, where we focus on Joe turning a pair of sunglasses into a makeshift push knife, offers a hint at the ominous, bloody dealings yet to come. You know Joe’s going to use that knife on someone, and David Tuttman has really emphasized just how much Joe continues to enjoy killing by showing a tight close-up on James Purefoy’s face after breaking Theo’s patsy’s neck with an orgasmic smile on his face. I think, depending on Joe’s plan, we’ll all be pretty pleased with how things work out, especially if Joe goes on another rampage.
US Correspondent Ron Hogan is always glad to spend quality time with Joe, even if Ryan isn’t so keen on the idea anymore what with all the murdering and ruining of life. It makes for a much more interesting day. Find more by Ron daily at Shaktronics and PopFi.
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