We’ve come to the end of another season of FOX’s dismal “series killers are fun” series, The Following. Does anything meaningful happen?
Let’s bitch it out…
The Following became the television equivalent of an experiment for me in its second season. When the aggressively awful show was picked up for another year, I wondered if the writers and creator Kevin Williamson would acknowledge its faults and course correct. After all, the premise and the talent behind the series are sound (which made the first season such a baffling mess).
I offered some pretty bitchy quick take reviews of the first half of the season before bowing out, having very little new to offer on a weekly basis beyond exclamations of frustration and dismay (and a lot of expletives). I’ll concede that The Following isn’t as terrible as it was in S1, but it’s still endlessly repetitive and derivative. Despite the introduction of an entirely new murderous cult, everything has somehow remained status quo: women die first, all police are stupid/inept/Red Shirts except Ryan Hardy (Kevin Bacon) aka Jack Bauer-lite and Joe Carroll (James Purefoy) remains the least charismatic Poe (and now God!)-loving serial killer in history.
And now we’ve arrived at the season finale, a time when Joe and Ryan inevitably meet and try to kill each other. Claire (Natalie Zea) remains in the mix – as the victim, naturally. Oh yeah, and the wunder twins Mark and Luke (Sam Underwood) are still around to model a variety of unflattering hairstyles and murderous dinner etiquette. The big twist in the finale is that Ryan and Joe must work together to save Claire from the twins. It might be novel if it were at all believable (never this show’s strong suit); considering everything that Joe has done to Ryan, I highly doubt that Joe would even be conscious when Ryan arrives at Chateau insanity for a dinner of booze and Russian Roulette.
If we’re being honest, the interactions between Ryan and Joe remain one of the show’s highlights and you can almost see ‘Forgive’ as the episode that tests the waters to see how a Silence Of The Lambs style relationship between the two could work for S3. (Side Note: Never mind that both Hannibal and The Blacklist already fill this niche). Unfortunately the continued attempts to suggest that Ryan and Joe are the same (or is it mirror opposites? The show never seems to know) fails completely. As IGN suggests, the writers clearly think they’re exploring this idea in deep psychological ways, but it’s hilariously shallow and unearned, not to mention obvious (at one point Joe comes right out and says it!). I mean, seriously, what the hell was that bit about Ryan needing redemption because he tracked down and killed the man who murdered his dad?! Have we even heard of that before? And are we really meant to believe that that’s why Hardy has always been so obsessed with Joe? It comes out of nowhere and makes no sense, but apparently it’s meant to pay off Ryan’s decision not to kill Joe at the end of the episode.
Unfortunately after 30 episodes, I would have rather Ryan just killed Joe and ended the nightmare rather than keeping him alive for another year of Poe/Bible quotations, miraculous escapes and “everyone’s in the cult” antics that will inevitably occur when the show returns for S3.
- 90210 (Jessica Stroup) kills one of the twins – Luke – and Mike (Shawn Ashmore) rewards her with a kiss. “Finally!” she chirps, like they’ve just survived some kind of minor hardship and not 15 hours of godawful serial killings that have claimed the lives of hundreds of people. So cute!
- Because it would be terrible for Ryan Hardy to have any kind of happiness, as soon as the danger has passed Claire immediately kicks him to the curb. Women, amirite?
- I love how Mike casually asks Ryan why he didn’t kill Joe in front of a horde of policemen. Or how Claire can just walk away after killing Emma. Or, for that matter, how Ryan can since he has, in all likelihood, very well killed more people than Joe (as suggested at the dinner). Laws in The Following exist solely for Ryan Hardy to break…because he is a lone-wolf alpha ass-kicker and don’t you forget it!
- Finally, our “teaser” for next season shows Mark getting picked up by an unseen stranger in a white pick-up. This is…not very effective. It does nothing other than confirm that Mark got away (which we already knew) and that someone is helping him (which is unsurprising because every episode of The Following has suggested that EVERY character on this show is a secret member of a murder cult or a victim). Apparently there were three endings shot, which makes me wonder if the other two endings confirmed that the driver is someone we already know. Clearly we’re meant to speculate on this person’s identity; I choose instead to curl into the fetal position and black out.
- Joe (to Ryan): “You and I are cut from the same cloth. We’re basically the same person.” If you have to say it, it probably isn’t true…
- Ryan (when Mike asks why he didn’t kill Joe): “Because this needs to end, Mike.” Oh god, if only!
What’s your take on the finale: satisfying or stupid? Did you enjoy the Ryan Hardy / Joe Carroll team-up buddy comedy hour? Is there any room in the series for Claire moving forward? Do you want Mark to return next season? And who was in the truck (I had hoped Emma, even though that would have made no sense). Sound off below
The Following has now completed its second season. The show returns in early 2015.