Matt Smith reviews the third episode of the new US TV drama The Following…
So, in my last review I spoke about The Following and its similarities to Heroes. I also bought up the tense bits of the show, as well as the use of flashbacks. There was also that bit where I talked about Ryan Hardy’s (Kevin Bacon) drinking problem and Joe Carroll (James Purefoy) merely having a loving of Edgar Allan Poe as a bit of window dressing as opposed to being any sort of deep allegory.
Then there was that paragraph about TV advertisers and grisly business in the show whenever – hey, wait. Why am I taking a large proportion of my time telling you what I did last time? I don’t know why I’m boring you with such things, I guess it’s just because I’m typing this out while watching the first couple of minutes of The Following, in which they spend said disproportionate amount of time telling me what I already knew.
Now that’s not to say I assume everyone has read my previous ramblings about the show (in fact I think it’s only you who reads them), but you see my point. Anyway, this episode wasn’t at all like the second one except in the bits where it was, so let’s move on.
Whereas last week’s episode was about grisly goings on, this week it’s all about the characters bouncing off one another. Much less tense, but a lot more driven when it came to dialogue as we find out a little more about the why’s of everyone involved. What are the personal lives of the cult’s killers, led by Carroll? What do their loved ones think? But in a link to last week’s episode, once again the themes and ideas bought up aren’t really looked into too deeply.
Like Hardy’s drinking problem (‘yay!’ I thought ‘Kevin Bacon’s drinking again!’), the consequences of these theoretically harsh elements aren’t shown. Hardy’s behaviour isn’t affected in any way beyond what would happen if you got as little sleep as he does. The Edgar Allan Poe angle is still nothing more than a motif, still nothing more than window dressing to draw you in. Are the things you’re seeing mere fluff, pretending to be more than it actually is?
Looking back again to the critique of the second major plot, the trio of killers and their unwitting prisoner Joey, and I’ve been turned around. Instead of bringing the flow down, it’s now of equal importance to Hardy stopping Carroll. Being a third wheel is horrible at the best of times, let alone when you’re hiding out from the FBI with a kidnapped child. Cracks are starting to appear. Tension once again rears its blessed head.
The show’s certainly gotten better since finding its pace. It’s slowly crept up on me and hooked me in. It’s addictive, you’ve gotta give it that. The fact it seems to have things ready up its sleeve, and that it isn’t just making it up as it goes along, is what has me looking forward to next week.
But it’s the turn of the love interest to let the side down the most. In all fairness, Hardy and Claire Matthews (Natalie Zea) aren’t receiving near enough screen time, meaning Matthews’ potential broken down mother/divorced wife of serial killer/lover of main character is relegated to being a bit worried before Hardy goes away to do something else. Could more tension be created here? We’ve seen the loved ones of the cult members; why not show us more of Matthews?
Alas, we have but an hour (minus Kevin Bacon still selling mow-bull phones, which makes me wonder: who’s sending the text messages to the cult members in the show?) to see all the plots play out. And when the complaint is that the show isn’t long enough, I suppose that’s the best kind of complaint there is, right?