The Following: “For Joe”
C

The Following: “For Joe”

Ohhhh boy. Can this entire season of The Following take place in the Arkansas bayou, please? Pretty please? Just so we can get a full season of James Purefoy attempting what can definitively be called the worst southern accent in the history of entertainment. The show tries to get away with it by having Joe’s ladyfriend (played by Carrie Preston, trashin’ up her True Blood vibe) critique him, but that line was obviously thrown in after writers realized that Purefoy sounded like a Speak-n-Spell reading Mark Twain underwater while attempting to blend in with the natives of Boone County.

I’m going to concentrate on Joe’s little Southern Gothic adventure because A: the rest of this episode was totally horrible and B: it was also totally boring. Joe’s storyline certainly falls into column A, but not so much column B. It’s hard to be bored when you’re doubled over laughing hysterically at everything you see.

So Joe did not die in the fire last year, as we know. He’s also not directing the actions of his cult, which lies dormant after his death (Emma still thinks he’s gone for good). The twins and the French lady are looking to draw their hero out of hiding, but they don’t know him personally. That makes them all the scarier, of course—highlighted by the comparatively dopey demeanor of his original cultists, including Carlos (J.D. Williams), who sure has survived a lot longer than I expected him to. Joe’s followers are lonely souls—tortured about their sexuality, laden with mommy issues, etc.—but these creepy twins and their French consort are a whole other level of creepy. Sure, Frenchy hasn’t really done anything yet, but you just know she’s gonna be the worst one.

Back to Joe. Since not burning up in the house, he’s been lying low with an admirer (Preston) who wrote him letters while he was in the slammer. Rather than join his murder cult, she seeks to repair his soul mostly through the love of the Lord. Whether Joe is ever actually into this is pretty questionable. He does seem to express some remorse about his life—he’s failed as a writer, a husband and a father, he says with some emotion, forgetting to add “cult leader” and “Ryan Hardy killer” to that list. Maybe he does want to turn over a new leaf, just by growing a big bushy beard, living with a prostitute and raising her confused daughter while pretending to be her brother, just back from the war.

Joe’s accent is so comically bad it’s amazing anyone believes him for a second. He should be telling the noble reverend (who happily sits and chats with Joe after sleeping with his supposed sister seconds earlier) that he got smashed in the mouth during the war, because I dunno how else you explain his busted speech patterns. Instead, everything goes more predictably. The rev figures out who Joe is, and gets hit in the head with a shovel and stabbed to death for his trouble. Joe tried to be normal, he tells him, but the reality is, “I am inevitable,” he growls before ecstatically enjoying his first kill in many months.

One whole episode of Joe being “normal!” That’s what we got before he started his season two spree. I have to applaud the show’s economy in moving this thing along. Why waste time not having Joe be part of the action? Just as we knew he didn’t die, we knew he’d kill again, so even if he has a nice adopted daughter now, get a knife in that sucker’s hands. Now, if we could just get him a laptop so he could get to work at the latest novel, that’d be peachy.

Elsewhere in Following-land, Ryan’s niece just figured out that it’s a bad idea to withhold evidence from the FBI. Some might call it a federal offense, even. Why it took her a goddamn year to get here is neither here nor there, folks. As long as she worthlessly protests about her uncle’s insane recklessness to him over the phone, she’s done her due diligence. Ryan refuses to involve the cops even when he traces the address of the subway serial killers. Who have struck again in a brownstone, murdering a husband and wife and arranging them in another sick tableau.

Finally, it all blows up in Ryan’s face, and Mike gets to sure be mad at him and yell at him, which is pretty much all the reprimand Ryan’s going to get, I bet, despite his willful defiance of the law at every turn. Don’t worry, nobody dies (probably) and Ryan gets closer to Connie Nielsen, who will be his love interest this season because Ryan can’t fall for someone if their life isn’t constantly in danger.

One major complaint about the gross killer twins. In this episode, they kill a lady (we’re subjected to some nasty violence as one of the twins hits her and shoves her face into a wall) and then murder her husband. In the episode’s creepiest scene, one dons a Joe mask and walks into the child’s bedroom, finger over his lips. Will The Following actually have the “guts” to kill a kid on network TV, I wondered? No, the kid survives unharmed, which almost offended me more. That this show thinks it has a line to obey means it doesn’t realize how exploitatively the violence already comes off.  I’m not impressed that it didn’t subject me to that further horror. I’m bored, I’m annoyed, and I’m offended. But those are my three most common feelings during a screening of The Following. 

#baconbits:

  • Ryan Binged some info on his Surface tablet! The best all-in-one computer for hunting presumed-dead serial killers!
  • “You don’t call me back, I storm your place. That’s how it works.” This family understands each other.
  • I am running out of Kevin Bacon movies to recommend, but look, Quicksilver isn’t so bad.

More TV Club