Matt Smith reviews the latest episode of The Following…
So it’s four in the afternoon, and all I’ve done is sit around and watch TV all day. Well, that’s not exactly true. I was in bed for a good portion of the day, planning what I was going to watch on TV. And when it finally comes down to it, despite the wonderful places my TV has taken me (New York, Georgia, London… whichever McDonald’s it is where everyone has those emotional conversations) I’ve really just been sat around in the same place for hours on end, waiting for things to happen. Which sounds kind of boring when you think about it.
And so it’s on to Joe Carroll, the devious planner and leader of the bad guy cult in The Following. He’s been sat around, planning and waiting for things to happen too. And just like me he’s been seeing too much of Kevin Bacon to just sit around and do nothing. “I don’t care for your stopping my followers/mobile Internet connection”, the eyes seem to say. “If you don’t cease and desist with the constant trying to get together with my wife/use of the word ‘amazeballs’, I’m just going to change things up myself.”
This week’s episode, like so many before it, has taken my small quibbles with the show and changed things for the better. And this week it’s a change of setting for Joe Carroll. After the finger breaking Ryan Hardy did to him in the first episode, the courts have ruled that that was a very bad thing, and that it shouldn’t have been done and to rectify this they’re moving the serial killer to a new home and probably aren’t going to give Ryan Hardy a spare key.
That’s the main point of interest for this episode, but there’s also the fact that Joey, the small child Hardy’s been trying to save, has been introduced to a whole new batch of murderers under Carroll’s spell. They’re a whole new level of mixed up, which takes a lot of effort considering the last lot consisted of two gay men who were pretending to be gay but actually were and when people found out they were gay, pretended to be straight, and a woman who communicated through the medium of knife wounds. Both these stories have received a new dose of freshness, giving them something new.
Anyway, strange thoughts came along, both over me and Joey’s ‘caretaker’ Emma Hill (Valorie Curry). She seemed to wonder if it was a good thing taking Joey to visit all these horrible people, and I started thinking about whether Joey might’ve been better off with Emma. Strange, considering the show’s been mostly black and white in terms of where characters stand on the good and evil scale. But it’s great that now there’s more complexity, even if there is the pervading feeling that any new character will be murdered horribly in the next scene.
That’s one of the problems of a series that prides itself on bringing us serial killers of the week. Now someone has to die, but the tension that’s part of that scenario has changed to almost a mundane feeling of wondering what the point of any new characters are. They’re just there to move the plot along, get characters from point A to B until Kevin Bacon collapses from a dicky heart and Shawn Ashmore completes his trick of blending in with the background.
The show seems to revel in this fact, instead of bringing new challenges to the main characters (Hardy went from trying to find Joey, who was in the house, to now trying to find Joey, who is in a bigger house). I hope it’s not past its prime already, because there are still great things to be seen in this series.
Bacon and James Purefoy’s performances are consistently outstanding, the balance of character arcs and stories are, for the most part, well balanced considering their abundance. Technically the show’s up to standard, and the dialogue’s never off. The producers need to ensure they keep wholesale things fresh though, not just the dressings. Otherwise it’s just Kevin Bacon saying words on a screen, before the car drives around and James Purefoy does it again. Because even with the change of setting, if the actions remain the same the quality will dip. And surely Joe Carroll, the evil mastermind planning this ‘story’ for Ryan Hardy, couldn’t let his followers down like that?
I’m still looking forward to next week, which is the main thing. Hold on til then though. I’ve just got a DVD in the post. Something else I planned to watch.