Ok, The Following. I’m down with you being generally creepy and gross—well, I’m not down with it, but I’m used to it at this point. I have confronted and accepted the fact that plot wise, not much is going to happen between now and the finale because the show simply can’t let Ryan and Joe’s cat-and-mouse game progress that much beforehand. But I am not okay with you being boring. This episode was super-boring. It started out kinda fun with Ryan making a ton of sarcastic quips to no one in particular. Then it turned into an extremely padded, extremely dull exercise in suspense that yielded nothing but yawns from the Sims couch.
We’ve just got two threads, cops and psychos, to follow now—since Joe and his acolytes are all together, we can’t skip between his creepo fans and Joe in prison, so things feel a lot more stagnant. On the cop side, the FBI is hanging its head in shame. “So it’s official. The bureau is freaking out,” Ryan sighs, before being lectured by Debra that yeah, a serial killer escaping from maximum security prison is kind of a big deal. The feds have brought in Lemond Bishop from The Good Wife (also known as Mike Colter) as Nick Donovan, a new boss for Ryan to chafe under.
The same dull drama plays out under the disapproving Nick. He identifies Ryan as the problem and wants him to be more of a consultant; what he doesn’t realize is that the very story structure he’s operating in is the problem, and the FBI will always be one step behind. We can get less meta about it, but Ryan isn’t really the problem; he’s just someone who generates little adventures for everyone to go on that usually get wrapped up within an episode. Without him around, this would be a lot of people staring at computers.
This time, Ryan sulks around and gets Mike to do something illegal on his computer, which gets Mike sent home. Ryan is kept around because every Joe acolyte that gets captured will only talk to Ryan. This time, it’s David from last week, who spouts off Ted Bundy lines and is generally creepy, even earning acidic praise from our booze-soaked, sarcastic hero. But it’s not like the FBI ever get anything useful from these garbage-brain psychos. They just leer at Ryan and ask questions like “DID YOU ENJOY THE PLOT TWIST?” and “EXCITED FOR THE NEXT CHAPTER?” before killing themselves in yucky ways (David eats some cyanide embedded in his thumb).
So Ryan is bumming around at headquarters doing not much of anything. Meanwhile, Mike is sent back to the motel and immediately realizes that he’s in deep trouble, and we’re subjected to five minutes of fake tension for a scenario we already know the ending of—he’s going to get kidnapped. He thinks it’s gonna be this one lady in the elevator, but it turns out Charlie and Louise are already in his room and quickly nab him.
Let’s shift over to Joe’s side of the story, which if I had to estimate is about 10,000 times stupider than everything I’ve written about so far. So, Joe’s living in this giant mansion with a ton of people, which you think might attract some attention, because you’d need to buy food and stuff for all of them, and it’s not some remote location; it’s in a town, and also there’s a national manhunt going on for Joe, and well…I could go on and on. “But no!” The Following shouts at me. “See, Joe can keep under the radar. Because one of his followers… IS THE SHERIFF.”
The much-mentioned Roderick, it turns out, runs things in this town and in doing so acts as some sort of cloaking device, even though sheriffs are usually elected officials with limited jurisdiction over a town or county and are easily overridden by state authorities, not to mention federal ones, and well, I don’t know what to say. I guess we’re just supposed to swallow this for the show’s premise to continue, so here I am, swallowing away. Roderick has not only cultivated Joe’s followers in this nice mansion, he’s added many more.
Joe seems unperturbed by this, at least on the outside. But if I’m a serial killer who runs a cult based on the mix of Edgar Allen Poe’s personality and my own, I don’t like what Roderick is up to. You want a murder society? Go get your own; don’t glom on to mine! Indeed, it’s quickly obvious that Roderick is unstable (even by this group’s standards) as he has very rough strangle-y sex with Louise and complains that things are different now that Joe’s around. I suppose that’ll get resolved at some point.
It’s also clear that Roderick is a total idiot, since his plan to find out where Claire is involves him kidnapping an FBI agent and asking him. He manages to get the one that actually knows (Mike), and they torture him in a lame, extended Fight Club scene where he basically just gets pounded on and finally knifed but gives up no information. Even if he did give it up, what is the plan here? With Mike missing, the FBI will be on high alert, and everyone pretty quickly figures out Mike is missing and adds a few new names to their acolyte watchlist (turns out Louise worked for Blackwater, for example). Mike sees Roderick’s face and identifies him, and then he escapes with Ryan’s help—idiots! Everyone on this show is an idiot!
Joe is worst of all, although he’s legitimately distracted. His son, weirdly, wants nothing to do with him, probably because he’s been informed his father was an evil man by his mother. Emma, unsurprisingly, wants everything to do with him, dabbing scotch from his face (cause that’s a thing people do) and convincing him into bed, even though Joe keeps insisting that he loves his wife (sigh). Joe signs off on the kidnap Mike plan and then stabs Charlie to death when it goes wrong, even though he should be stabbing himself and Roderick. Or just giving up on Claire! What’s the endgame there? Does he have some magic way to get her to love him back? Cause I don’t see it happening, honestly!
God, this show is dumb. But I can deal with dumb as long as it’s fun. But this was some truly silly wheel-spinning, and I predict it’s only going to get worse.
- First, from Joe, the line of the century: “I have the ability to be a rather fun and cool guy.” Okay, buddy. Just keep talking like that, and you’re set.
- “Nobody likes me.” “Well, you’re inconsistent and extreme. Nobody knows how to respond to you.” “I was joking.” Another classic Ryan/Mike exchange.
- David asks Ryan how he liked the “plot twist” of Joe escaping. “Bet you didn’t see that coming.” WE ALL SAW THAT COMING
- The Roderick flashbacks, by the way, were the weakest so far, with little explanation for what was going on and a strong whiff of Dexter rip-off.
- Bacon movie of the week? Christopher Guest’s cute Hollywood satire, The Big Picture. Kev’s the lead in that one!