The Following delves deeper into the history behind the Carroll Cult as well as the relationship between Carroll (James Purefoy) and Hardy (Kevin Bacon). But even with some interesting flashbacks, the main problem of the series remains: unlikable characters that we just don’t care about.
Let’s bitch it out.
The Following’s evident strengths since short three-episode debut is undoubtedly its two main leads – Kevin Bacon and James Purefoy. These two are seasoned actors who manage to make most of the dribble their forced to work with, transforming their one-dimensional characters into somewhat compelling people.
Case in point: the flashback sequences with Hardy and Carroll. The two engage in a wonderful back and forth that’s ripe with ambiguity and tension. When Hardy sits in the back of Carroll’s lecture, it’s unclear whether or not he thinks Carroll is a suspect. Later when the two meet in person Carroll starts to become a relatable character rather than a mere television abstraction – he’s personable, charming and easy-going, a stark contrast to the criminal mastermind that we’ve seen in the holding cell. Bacon flexes his acting chops as well as he very convincingly portrays Hardy warming up to Carroll organically, eventually dropping his initial apprehension. Although I have yet to be convinced of Carroll’s unnatural talent of “seducing” people into killing, these flashbacks at least give the suggestion that he’s able to be completely duplicitous. The seduction aspect isn’t as far fetched as the earlier episodes suggest.
The way Carroll ogles the crime photos that Hardy gives him, overjoyed that he’s been asked to consult with the FBI, is played so naturally, you almost forget that he was the killer behind it all. That’s a difficult task considering all we’ve ever seen of Carroll is the steely-eyed killer in a prison jumpsuit, so props to Purefoy indeed. I suppose it’s a good thing to be wanting more of these two, but unfortunately the show interrupts any potential built by Bacon and Purefoy by cutting back to the lacklustre lot that comprises the Carroll Cult.
And the flashbacks involving Carroll’s minions are almost the polar opposite in terms of success. They don’t offer anything interesting and fall right into the pit of predictableness. I knew from the moment we met Maggie (Virginia Kull) that she was part of the cult, primarily due to the clumsiness of her flashback. Further to that, why would she be so insistent on going back home if she knew she’d be in danger?
The problem with The Following is that it’s devoting equal time to the boring followers rather than focusing on its strength – the cat and mouse between Hardy and Carroll. Whenever we cut to the followers, it’s one plot hole after another. How stupid is Paul (Adan Canto) for going out to the convenience store and kidnapping poor Megan (Li Jun Yi)? Not only is his face plastered all over the security cameras but he also has the oncoming attention that a missing person will undoubtedly draw. Smart move. And for what? Some tacked on love-triangle/bisexuality storyline that no one is invested in? I stand by my initial assessment of the show: whenever it veers away from Bacon and Purefoy, everything else feels like mindless filler.
I’ve got one more painful episode of this bad boy to get through before I dump it from my review roster entirely. I can only hope that some of these minions start dying off so we can focus on the show’s limited strengths in its next offering.
- The Poe masks continue to be a point of ridicule.
- Jordy (Steve Monroe) starts to sing in an attempt to drown out Hardy’s questioning. Was anyone else kinda wishing he would belt out a rendition of Loggins’ Footloose?
- How hilarious was Jordy’s suicide? Something tells me that eating a bandage is hardly a real way to kill yourself. Maybe those with medical backgrounds can chime in, but something tells me that human reflexes wouldn’t allow you to choke yourself similar to how it would be difficult to drown yourself in a tub.
- Poor Forever-Mike-Anderson (Billy Brown). How little we knew you (Although I knew your days were numbered when you appeared only as a “guest star” in the episode’s opening credits). Why kill off all these FBI agents when we haven’t had proper time to care about them? On the upside, Brown is now free to find a show that might actually be worthy of his talents.
- Rick (Michael Drayer) springing back to life after being so clearly shot is preposterous. Just another sloppy way to allow Maggie to escape.
- The episode’s closing moments in which little Joey (Kyle Catlett) is learning to kill by suffocating a mouse or burning a bug had the potential of being incredibly creepy, unfortunately the acting is so universally wooden that it reads like a YouTube video performed by high school kids.
What did you think viewers? Are you enjoying The Following and are happy to stick with it until the bitter end? Do you think the focus will ever shift away from the cult giving us more Carroll time? Will Iceman (Shawn Ashmore) ever become Hardy’s best-ie? Sound off in our comments section below.
The Following airs at 9pm EST, Mondays on FOX.