It would be easy to write 1000 words on just how silly so many of The Following‘s plot mechanisms happen to be. Why is there not an EFFING MANHUNT for an ESCAPED SERIAL KILLER the minute Hardy learns what’s up with the transport switcheroo? Why would Olivia, an obviously smart if not ambition-blinded young woman aid the escape of SAID SERIAL KILLER, who we’ll remember preys EXCLUSIVELY ON WOMEN? WHY DID BONE, WHOSE NAME MIGHT ACTUALLY BE “BO” BUT “BONE” SOUNDS MORE MENACING, INSTALL HIS HOSTAGE CAGES SO CLOSE TO THE BATHROOM?! Like I said…easy.
But you come to realize, watching this show as we (me and DISH Hopper guy, and maybe my editor Shaunna) have this past month and change, that narrative dumbness can’t be considered one of The Following‘s flaws. I mean it IS a flaw — a big one, in fact. But it’s so big, so much at the core of what this show seems to be doing (and wants to be doing) that you have to look to it as more DNA than defect. No less than you can fault a scorpion for stinging the toad, you can’t snipe at a dumb TV show for being dumb.
…Of course you can’t tell a TV recap to not be petty and reductive, either. Because then what would we talk about? It was I think Ke$ha, or maybe Edgar Allen Poe, who said it best: “We r who we r.”
After ditching her shower sex partners/Follower colleagues Paul and Jacob post-farmhouse siege, Emma split with little Joey for some sort of gang safe house, one run by a dude named Bo. Proclaiming himself to be “not a part of Joe’s club,” as his neck tattoos bulge and contort, Bo seems like a guy you don’t want to mess with or annoy. Joey pays no attention to this and really riles Bo up when he finds a woman locked in a cage. “You’re not supposed to go back there!” screams Bo, who is so tired of jerks going into his room.
Back in the most minimum-security maximum-security prison ever designed, Joe has somehow finagled a meeting with the warden and other prison officials to secure a transfer to another facility. One where he won’t be so callously disrespected and abused by unstable alcoholics like Ryan Hardy. “Sounds cool!” the officials basically stamp on his papers, and send him on his merry way. Everyone deserves a second chance!
Hardy, like us, thinks the whole move is bulls**t — a cover, maybe, for the warden’s daughter’s disappearance from college (Joe’s former college) earlier that morning. And wouldn’t you know it? It IS. Using the power of video editing, the warden helps affect Joe’s escape with his lawyer Olivia.
SIDE: Wouldn’t it be sort of sweet and reassuring to start every episode in Claire’s house, Hardy showing up with a cup of tea for Claire as he says something cute, like “did I interrupt something?” Immediate smooching, ease of indie rock usage — just a pleasant way to kick off 42 minutes in which someone inevitably gets shivved and plot points are discussed as META-TEXTUALLY as possible.
Olivia seems surprisingly calm for someone driving with a man whose entire serial killer background revolves around attractive, defenseless women. #YOLO? (She’s dead three minutes later.) In the most fun scene of the episode, Hardy is forced to listen in as Joe murders his lawyer. “Tell him,” Joe asks Olivia to say to Hardy, “that Joe Carroll is killing me and it’s because of you. It’s all your fault.” The whole thing is made all the worse by Weston sitting there with that “everything cool, bro?” look splashed across his face, as though he can’t hear the woman dying on the phone just a few feet away from his ears. This show, man. With the murdering and everything.
It’s all preamble, of course, for Hardy and Joe’s big halfway-point-of-the-season confrontation. Joe has acquired two new Followers, David (nebbishy dude) and Louise (ice cold blonde), who get the upper hand on Hardy. But Joe doesn’t want his “protagonist” dead. Especially not in a parking garage. He spells things out: “I spent nine years in a jail cell concocting this story, Ryan. And there is so much more to come.”
As Joe gets away in his helicopter, Hardy vainly fires 5-6 shots after him. Oh Hardy — forever chasing a guy you won’t truly catch until the end of the series, which based on this morning’s early pickup for Season 2 may be some time from now. But Hardy’s not put out; he’s energized. “We’ll find [those Followers],” Hardy tells Parker and Weston, “and we’ll break them. We’ve got to start doing things a different way.” Which to comic book movie-trained ears everywhere, means — time to be BATMAN. Hardy questions the injured David…right in his leg wound. DIG, BABY, DIG. And you know what? He gets his answers.
Headlights illuminate a creepy, Dragon Tattoo Swedish rape mansion-style gate. And soon the mansion behind them, where a crowd has gathered for the arrival of this black SUV. Joe steps out. And we realize — it’s Follower HQ. Charles Xavier’s School for the Gifted, absent mutant powers and plus switchblades and dog-eared Poe paperbacks. Emma gives Joe a great big hug. So wonderful to see you!
And then the kicker: Joey. Who has never actually seen his father in person before. “You’re my dad.” he surmises. “Yeah, I’m your dad.” Niagara Falls. CREDITS.
[Image Credit: FOX]