The Following: “The End Is Near”
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The Following: “The End Is Near”

Oh God. Is anyone else bummed out this week? Just bummed out? I guess I have The Following senioritis, because I didn’t get the usual kick out of all the silly mayhem. I was just tired and depressed watching the increasingly bloated, sweaty Joe enact “the final chapter,” which, from what we’ve seen so far, seems a lot like the last 14 or so chapters of shit he’s piled on. I’m almost embarrassed that I thought there’d be something different in these final episodes. But no, Joe just sends a bunch of his guys to a high school gym to wail on people with axes. Sure, there’s a few more of them than usual, but apart from that, this is old, old news.

Maybe it’s just that the world feels like a pretty dark place right now, and The Following’s antics are even harder to tolerate. I understand that this is a serialized show, and it’s tough for Fox to mess with their schedule, and there’s nothing in this episode that specifically relates to the events in Boston. But still, this is a tough show to be putting on the air right now, especially an episode as violent as this one (the gore is really dialed up as high as it can go here).

Sigh. I guess I’ll just unpack this as best I can. Joe gets more material than Ryan this week, and I suppose his material is nominally “more interesting,” although that’s just because Ryan, et al., are really sleepwalking through all their investigations this episode. Joe, still nursing an OPEN, BLEEDING STAB WOUND, is understandably a little off this week. More than a little off. He’s swilling scotch and popping pain pills, sweating all over everyone and grunting and writing frantically (one imagines his prose is worse than ever).

It really feels like the last days of Elvis in Joe’s office; at the very least, his cult leadership should be coming apart at the scenes, but only Jacob seems to notice that anything’s really wrong. Everyone else is eager to enact the big plan, which has many moving parts. One guy hangs himself in the mansion. Everyone else leaves, goes to a local evacuation center, and tries to kill people. That’s it. Sure, there’s some nonsense about Poe’s Masque Of The Red Death, but we’re long beyond taking any of that seriously, right? Shawn Ashmore can barely keep a straight face as he discusses it with Bacon.

The whole attack at the evacuation center is essentially a distraction to get Joe out of the mansion with Claire undisturbed. Then for reasons that were entirely beyond me, they hang out for a while at some random house they break into, and Emma and Jacob have to tie up a poor couple and shoot a couple of poor neighborhood cops. A disturbing, unfortunate domestic tableau emerges, with Joe trying to feed everyone some pasta he makes and chat about married life.

It’s so hard to be invested in any of this. Joe and Claire can’t even stand each other, and he keeps promising to kill her, so what are the stakes of that relationship? The poor couple he tortures impress Joe with their devotion to each other, but these scenes really feel like padding, and they’re disturbing on top of it. Worst of all, Joe makes the completely implausible decision to cut Claire free so she can open a bottle of wine. This is a woman who created the STILL BLEEDING STAB WOUND in his side just a few days ago.

Unsurprisingly, Claire seizes the opportunity to whack Joe with a wine bottle, stab him over and over with a fork, and run away, because of course she’s going to do that! What’s the matter with you, Joe? Why do you need Claire to open your wine when you have Emma and Jacob literally waiting in the car? They are your personal brainwashed slaves! Jeez, I know you can barely think because of the gaping wound in your stomach, but have some common sense, you lady-killing, Poe-loving hack.

How does everything end? Well, miserably, of course. Joe spirits Claire off in a yacht for some reason. THE FINAL CHAPTER, I guess. Debra gets captured by cultists and buried alive, which is really horrible, and I hope she gets rescued (I assume she will). Ryan remains about one-and-a-half steps ahead, but he’s still struggling to contain all the chaos. And Emma finally puts poor Jacob out of his misery, just as he thinks he’s getting back in her romantic graces. “I don’t know how to love you both,” she says, which is a pretty terrible thing to hear as you die, especially since it’s about Joe Carroll, but I’m pretty sure Jacob deserves it. There was always an implication that he should be the cultist we identify with, but that was a pretty hard sell. Still. RIP, Jacob. Sorry you’ll miss the final episode.

Bacon bits:

  • Kevin Bacon is really fantastic in Super. That’s a good movie.
  • Joe watches Ryan’s sex tapes with Molly, but for the cheesy dialogue. “That booze is gonna kill you.” “Can’t kill me, I’m already dead.” He watches this over and over again which is fun for absolutely no one.
  • Joe really talks like a florid idiot this whole episode. “Claire was crafty with that bloody knife. But I remain undaunted!”
  • Or “we will only be requiring your hospitality until nightfall.” CAN HE NOT SAY ANYTHING NORMAL?
  • God, this episode was gross.

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