Oh, for so much of the running time, this seemed like a typical episode of The Following. The ridiculous, stupid decisions made by Ryan and company were surpassed only by the comic (if more creepy) ineptitude of Joe’s gang. But then, surprising things happened. Ryan and the FBI actually made some vaguely clever, rational moves! They got a little bit of stuff done! Sure, there are a few hiccups and someone got his eye gouged out (sorry, Lemond Bishop from The Good Wife, but it’s your fault for only being a recurring character), but this was the most successful FBI day ever.
I am very happy to report on Roderick’s death, although Joe does not get to “personally peel the skin from his body,” which is too bad, because it’s all he (and the audience of this sick show) deserved. Roderick’s mounting errors, which I have chronicled in depth over the weeks, included contracting much of his work out to crazy militiamen, kidnapping Mike and interrogating him face-to-face and then NOT KILLING HIM, and then making off with Joey when it seems like everything’s going to shit.
“I made an impulsive move earlier,” Roderick tells Ryan. “It’s a character defect. Gets me into trouble.” Once again, all the psychopaths of The Following seem to be aware of their problems, but they talk about them like they’re niggling pet peeves. Roderick doesn’t even get to play five minutes of cat-and-mouse while in sheriff mode, since Mike quickly IDs him and he gets nabbed (not before escaping and killing a couple of state troopers, though, because they have to pad these episodes somehow).
Here’s where I feared The Following was embracing its usual frustrating pattern: Ryan impulsively frees Roderick, dresses him in FBI gear and spirits him away in an effort to get to Joey, happily throwing his guns away and promising Roderick his freedom in exchange. What’s crazy is that THIS SEEMED IN LINE WITH RYAN’S CHARACTER. I could easily believe he’d do something this insane! Sure, when he was tossing his guns in the garbage, I was angrily writing “WTF” in my notes, but it’s not like he hasn’t behaved so rashly before.
But no, happily it’s all a trap. Mike’s in the trunk, and the rest of the feds are following behind, and Roderick gets jumped as soon as Joey is revealed. What doesn’t really follow is why Roderick even led Ryan to Joey—I guess Ryan had the ability to get him past police barriers, so that is something, but still, it all came together a little too easily. This is The Following, so some dark violence ensues to keep things interesting—and once again, I mean literally dark.
Joe dispatches Jacob and two other cult members to go take out Roderick and recover Joey; they succeed in shooting Roderick, and then we have to suffer through some unwatchably dark fighting, again, just to pad things out. Jacob makes it and even gets out with Joey but abandons him to the FBI. Perhaps because he knows it’s the right call, perhaps because it’s the only way for him to escape. If Jacob’s character had ever been particularly engaging, I’d care more. But he’s not, he’s just a mish-mash of flimsy concepts—daddy issues, closeted homosexuality, a lover’s tiff with Emma, visions of his dead boyfriend, etcetera. None of these things make any sense together, but since he’s the only serial killer you could possibly have any sympathy for, he gets a lot of stuff dumped on him.
Meanwhile, Joe is quickly losing his always-tenuous grip on the situation. As I’ve noted before, it’s hard to run such a complicated operation when so much is delegated to a psycho like Roderick, while Joe mostly concentrates on: standing in front of fires, drinking scotch, writing horrible fiction, and trying to get his ex-wife to love him again despite admitting that he has a monomaniacal desire to kill.
Even Joe has basically given up on his lady love. She’s understandably unhappy when Joey gets nabbed, even though he tries to calm her down with pearls of wisdom like “I’m handling it” and “Calm down, I’m having a really bad day.” Joe spends most of the episode telling everyone to calm down, as if he’s a kindergarten teacher dealing with a hangover-induced migraine.
Perhaps that’s why he’s even less clever than usual in his dealings with his ladies. Emma tries to relax him with some nice casual sex, which is a major misread of the situation, but what do you expect from a mixed-up kid like her? After calmly admitting that he “may have given you mixed signals about certain aspects of our relationship” (“It’s called sex, Joe,” Emma replies), he hits her to shut her up, which prompts a hurt Emma to cry out, “What is wrong with you?”
I don’t know, Emma. MAYBE IT’S THAT HE’S AN INSANE SERIAL KILLER WHOM YOU MET WHILE HE WAS IN PRISON. COULD IT BE THAT? I THINK THAT’S WHAT’S WRONG WITH HIM.
His awkward moment with Emma is nothing compared to Claire’s big gambit, though. She offers herself to him, to try and learn to love him, as long as he lets Joey go and saves him from a life of serial killing. Joe is messed-up enough to buy it, and so was I (again, that that was plausible really shows how much The Following has put me through the wringer).
But no, it’s all a ruse to give her an opportunity to stab him, and she goes for… his SIDE? Really, Claire? That’s the best you can pull off? You know he’s got a face and a heart and stuff, right? Surviving, a wounded Joe has her hauled away and treats his fresh stab wound like a golf injury, wincing as he calls Ryan to tell him that the story “has taken an unexpected term.” If I had a nickel for every time Joe has said that, by my rough estimate I’d be worth $20 billion right now.
“It’s a complete rewrite, but if we have to, we have to. It’s a nuisance, but there you go,” Joe babbles to Ryan, and I really hope Kevin Bacon actually had to be at the end of that call when they shot it, so the full impact of its stupidity could hit him in the face. I realize Mr. Bacon needs the money and is trying his best. But how can you hear a line like that and not want to start hysterically laughing?
Anyway, the news is, Claire has to die. Fine by me! With two episodes to go, I guess rescuing her is next week, and then taking Joe down will happen in the finale (or WILL it?). Either way, I’m already annoyed.
- I’ve always thought Kevin Bacon was the real standout of A Few Good Men. He’s the only pragmatist among those do-gooder clowns.
- Mike is really horrified at Roderick’s qualifications. “How does somebody like that become a sheriff in a town?” he asks in a line surely transcribed by a malfunctioning robot.
- Later, he complains about Roderick’s “fake home for his fake life as a sheriff.” Was Mike’s dad a fake sheriff who abandoned him or something?
- “I know you’re upset,” Claire tells Joe. “Yes, and I am processing those feelings through the therapy of words.” Agh blblblblblblbbl