Matt Smith reviews the latest episode of The Following…
So, another week, another episode. It’s not getting old, but it feels kind of routine now (especially as I’ve noticed I begin most reviews of The Following with ‘So…’). I can’t remember my life before Kevin Bacon and James Purefoy were in it, butting heads as they tried to outdo one another.
Routine’s one of those tough things to look at, because you’re in there now. You just can’t stop. A routine’s like a habit, except it’s in the morning normally. On the surface, routine’s kind of like tradition in a way, except routine offers a little more comfort. Gathering outside the huge house of a woman who waves is tradition, drinking some tea in the morning is routine. I might be loading my argument, but one of those is obviously stranger than the others. I mean, tea is truly disgusting. It’s like someone shoved dirty leaves in that nice mug of water you were going to enjoy and told you to stick some dairy product in there for good measure.
Now the idea of routine is that you did it because there was a good reason. But really, stepping back for a moment, should you still be doing it?
It’s this question I had to ask as Ryan Hardy (Bacon) came up against yet another serial killer of the week. Hardy interviews Joe Carroll (Purefoy) about the whereabouts of Maggie (Virginia Kull), commenting on how Carroll’s obsession with Edgar Allan Poe isn’t exactly lending any quality to the ‘sequel’ Carroll’s creating to their intertwined pasts. Now, I don’t want to spoil it for the show’s writers here, but I wouldn’t have the main character commenting on how the writer-character’s plot twists have gotten a bit stale. That’s just begging for some smart aleck to come in and make some smarmy joke. So… did you notice they were eating pancakes on Pancake Day? Creepy… that’s also a tradition that needs getting rid of.
So, Bacon was on the pancakes (I’m not sure he was, I just really wanted to say something silly), but we also found out why he drinks. One of the things I’ve seen emerge slowly from the series is the back stories of characters, their pasts showing their why’s as well as the what’s, when’s and who’s. This is one element of the show I’ve come to love, as the show refuses to give you everything at once. Giving just enough to keep you going, the sometimes-cryptic delivery of each nugget of information is made that much more valuable.
It’s in this way one of the characters has grown as well. Mike Weston (Shawn Ashmore) is starting to form into something beyond the one dimension he was destined to be in the first three episodes. Perhaps a little friction in the future with Hardy? I don’t know, I just said the series doesn’t really give away clues, come on. Pay attention to the little things and enjoy the show.
It’s this leanness that came into play this week. Last week’s episode was top heavy, meaning the more emotional side suffered (as is its wont, I suppose) while the thrilling stabby shooty bits just kept going. But every time I’ve complained about some aspect of the show, it’s come back to fulfill my request of change, almost mockingly predicting what I have to say. My only complaint this week is that the serial killer can put on tape bloody quickly, while Weston takes an age to walk through the front door. Seriously. Watch it back and tell me I’m wrong and perhaps a bit picky. Every narrative got equal precedence, no plot letting the others down, while characters grew. Quality TV.
This week in particular was an exercise in the cross cutting nature of the show. Effectively cross cutting between multiple storylines (including flashbacks), just getting the audience to understand can sometimes be troublesome. So it was a pleasant experience to get a genuinely good set of narratives play out. And it all ended, satisfyingly and emotively, where it should have done and where it all started. In the home. Aw, I love getting all soppy and romantic about the serial killer of the week show.