There is a brief moment in “The Messenger” when I was convinced that Max and Mike were going to start making out at the same time that Joe and Emma were making out in their weird cult-town. It would have been amazing, if so. Like, I would have given this grade an A amazing. Not really for execution, but more for effort—the hackneyed efforts of pure desperation, and a total confusion as to why anyone, ever, would watch television.
Uh so! Tonight on The Following, another woman is near-fridged and Mike and Ryan flirt, once more, with the many definitions of being a “good” guy. Death is the cheapest commodity on The Following and tonight is no exception, because while Ryan and Mike are smashing the fingers of one murderer-surgeon, Other Creepy Cult Leader and Joe are exchanging notes on what makes murdering their hapless followers so great. It’s very strange, this latter plotline. It puts Joe in the position of saying a bunch of things about Other Guy that also clearly apply to him: “He’s a narcissist,” for example, and also, “But why do you want to kill people?”
For the first 20 minutes or so, “The Messenger” is mostly tolerable. (I was surprised.) The gang attends Mike’s dad’s funeral, which is appropriately sad, and Max and Mike start sharing longing glances, which can only mean one thing in the televisual universe. Over in Other Cult land, Joe, Emma, and Mandy are experiencing the novel disenfranchisement of being a different kind of batshit insane from the people they’re surrounded by. It’s sort of engaging, watching them all deal with things that are relatively nonviolent and sort of normal.
Then, around minute 30, The Following finds itself again. For some reason Other Cult Guy has a bunch of cultists locked in underground pens and occasionally he cuts them. .... Okay? I don’t know how to feel about that. The show doesn’t trouble us with it for too long, because then Joe gets the guy onto straight killing really fast. They poison the guy that was into Mandy (fridged!) and use it as a way to get the cult, more… culty?
Cults! Have you noticed the word “cults” loses all of its meaning really fast?
Some other stuff happens, I don’t know. It’s not very interesting. I think the show wants to put Max and Mike together, and when I say “I think,” I mean “it’s obvious.” That potential alone means that Max is less likely to be killed off at some point during this season, but it’s also a little depressing to think that the only reason a woman might survive this show is if she’s romantically attached to an unstable maniac. Also, she could do better.
The idea that women in The Following only exist to be killed or banged is brought to you by Dawson’s Creek creator Kevin Williamson, by the way! Thanks, Kevin!
There’s a bizarre, flashback-filled storyline with a tabloid reporter that ends inconclusively to round out the evening—a woman Ryan slept with 11 months ago used a bunch of his drunken ramblings for her book on Havenport, and then keeps coming back to say things like “still mad, huh?” (Spoiler alert: Ryan is still mad.) She follows a suspected accomplice to a murderer into a house, and then seems mildly surprised when he closes and locks the door behind her and starts attempting to kill her. To be fair, he was very well-dressed.
- The guy who plays the doctor is also on Scandal. That’s all I’ve got.
- Flashback storytelling, if there isn’t a good reason for it, is very sloppy storytelling. I’m not sure how much worse The Following could be, but okay.
- Kevin Bacon is more believable as a recovering alcoholic than he is in any other arena of this show.