The Following: Silence Review
As The Following heads towards its season finale, the show goes to hell. Quite literally.
“Silence” builds on the implausibility, disjointed plot, and low overall quality of The Following’s second season. The episode begins with Luke promising that his mother’s death with be avenged.
Ryan, Max, and Mike lie to FBI about how Lily died; Ryan tells Mike to go home, but Mike stands by his killing Lily. Ryan learns of Claire’s message recited on air by Carrie for Joe, and he becomes irate. In the last few episodes, Carrie has become even more unnecessary than when she was first included into the plot.
After Max, Mike, and Ryan digest Claire’s message, Claire and Ryan argue. Claire insists that she’s going insane being cooped up in Ryan’s apartment, but isn’t that her own doing? “I haven’t slept since I found out Joe is alive. I haven’t slept in the last year,” Claire says, insisting that she and Joey aren’t safe. It is absolutely beyond me why the writers are still harping on this. Claire thinking this is ludicrous. Joe didn’t know that Claire was alive until the last episode, not to mention that Claire spent a full year in Witness Protection without attack. Joe hasn’t even spoken of his son since Season 1, publicly or privately. At the end of this pointless scene, Claire and Ryan kiss. After everything that has happened in the series—including Claire lying to Ryan about being dead for an entire year—them kissing makes no sense. The writers seem to have no audience temperature and no command over the plot. Claire’s return was ill-advised and she was worth more to The Following, for the plot and characters, “dead.”
Joe, Emma, Robert and company arrive at a safe house. Claire’s message to Joe is revealed as something the two of them wrote together the weekend Joe proposed to her. Emma says to Joe, as they talk outside (with cars whizzing by in the background, no less), “If [Claire] is alive, who cares?” Exactly! Joe ordered a hit on her a season ago, thus closing the chapter on her, so what does it matter that she didn’t—as ridiculous as her surviving multiple stab wounds is—die? Joe responds, “If Claire is alive, then she’s come out of hiding for a very good reason.” I’d like to see that “good” reason.
Kingston Tanner’s security finds a phone left by Joe’s followers, a way for Joe to contact Tanner. Joe tells Kingston that, if he wants to see his son Preston again, he needs to follow orders. One of Joe’s followers lights herself on fire in front of Kingston Tanner’s house, and yet again, the FBI is slow to act. Thanks to the diversion, Kingston gets into the followers’ van to get to Joe.
Valorie Curry’s Emma has been a redeeming factor this season. Emma wants Joe to move on with her. Joe wants to stick to his plan because…well, it’s convenient to the plot. Joe’s mid-season attack on religion has been out of nowhere, covered by flashback scenes that establish his hatred of organized religion.
The followers, with Kingston Tanner, arrive at an NYC church. The FBI tracks Kingston while Mike and Ryan arrive in NYC. The armed followers and Joe interrupt a mass at gunpoint. When Ryan and Mike find that the church is locked, they inexplicably launch themselves up the building, entering via the roof.
When FBI agents transport Claire to safety, away from Ryan’s apartment, Claire lets off a smoke bomb and pepper sprays an agent to get away. Would we expect any less of the FBI?
Joe shows Kingston Preston’s murder soon after their church altar reunion. In the penultimate episode of the season, the fact that we’ve gotten this deep into religion is groan-inducing. “Where is your God, now? When you need him most!” Joe shouts in front of Kingston. It’s with this line that I realized that a once promising show has completely lost its way.
Joe’s followers film the ordeal, with the camera reading “Live Streaming.” Live streaming, with a low-quality, handheld camera hooked up to nothing? Live streaming to where and how? Even in the ludicrous world The Following operates on, Joe’s videos being released to the public—Carrie airing (or having the authority to) Joe’s videos included—is implausible. The scene serves as a way to show off Purefoy’s bemused, madman acting chops. Joe puts knives in front of Preston and Kingston at gunpoint. Kingston kills himself to save his son. Tom Cavanagh was solid, but Kingston Tanner was a completely pointless and sloppily rushed (by the writers) role.
Claire arrives alone at the house that she indicated in her message for Joe, with Robert and Emma watching. When Emma accosts Claire, Claire fires a warning shot that misses Emma by an inch. Claire is somehow now a professional marksman. Against Joe’s wishes, Emma wants to kill Claire instead of capture her and she kills Robert. Claire stabs Emma and throws her through the glass of a massive window, Emma landing with a thud on the ground below. In the world of The Following, Emma survives the 20-plus foot fall after being stabbed in the stomach, and Claire needs to stab the apparently superhuman Emma again. Having seen how ruthless a murderer Emma is, of course it’s believable that Claire—a former English professor—ends her wrath. It’s a shame that Curry’s Emma ends this way, laughably so.
Luke and Mark show up at the house where Claire and the newly dead Emma are, which is utterly absurd. The only people that know where to go were Joe and Claire. Joe and Claire wrote the passage together, while they were alone, the passage seemingly never published. That the twins know where to go, and only show up when Claire is alone, is preposterous. I nearly threw the remote across the room.
Back at the church, Ryan and Mike launch their counterattack. Mike is forced to reveal himself, and the episode ends with Joe counting down to a gunshot while pointed at Mike. At this point, I’ve completely lost faith in the show. Not only do I know that I won’t be satisfied—logically or as a devoted viewer—with the series finale next week, but I’m not even sure I’ll care.
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