Matt Smith reviews episode thirteen of The Following…
So, I’m not sure how you feel, but reading a review this late, just before another episode is shown (you may have already seen the next one depending on where you live) feels unusual. A late review is almost a definition of ‘behind the times’. But when you’re making it up as you go along like I am, things can get a bit stressful. Everything seems to move along without you at a pace, until eventually you just have a breakdown and start rambling about how you’re not quite keeping up. Ahem.
Another man who’s making it up as he goes along, Roderick is starting to lose it. There’s been friction in the FBI’s ranks, but the fractures most prevalent now are in Joe Carroll’s house of fun. The truth is coming out in so many ways, from so many different characters, that a roomful of liars can’t hope to survive.
And that’s the main theme of the show. Not truth, lies and the unveiling of truth. The fact that everyone bar the main characters seems to be near death most of the time. In some ways this is good, giving some real tension to the series as a whole. Agent Weston could die in any episode, and you just don’t know what’s going to happen. For others, they’re the veritable cookie cutter followers; the plain-clothes police officers that are so plain you know they won’t last five minutes. There’s a problem when you have the thought ‘Oh, they seem nice, they’ll probably be dead in five minutes.’
Any element that seems somehow deeper than the rest is only artificially so. Commentary is a lost dream. But the show moves at such a quick pace this episode that there’s no time to think about things anyway. Like why would Roderick think giant sunglasses and a hat in winter wouldn’t look suspicious? Or why anyone would greet said suspicious man, who’s been on the news shown as a killer, as a long lost friend and then be surprised when he pulls a gun on someone (choice quote: ‘Just keep calm, and call me Brian’).
In fact, everyone’s making it up as they go along. Joe Carroll spends most of the episode telling people to calm down. Carroll as a character isn’t about the murder, or the beauty of death. He’s about control. The prevailing thought I have is that he’s in control, even when he’s not. They’re all lost sheep without him, but how can he control them all? James Purefoy’s depiction in this respect is superb. You can see the cogs turning inside his head, as he quickly figures out which way he should play each social interaction. Should he intimidate Roderick? Should he preach eloquently about the plan, or should he reveal nothing at all?
But now you get the sense he’s lost it as well, that he’s not quite sure what to do anymore apart from write his book. He’s not the omniscient narrator he wants everyone to see him as. Carroll’s really an idiot, in front of his laptop, typing away with some terrible novel. He’s lost. Carroll looks at Hardy like a jealous boyfriend would, hating him but becoming obsessed with him because Hardy’s the only person he couldn’t control completely in the end. He’s trying so many things at once, trying to get Claire back, trying to control a house, get his son back. It’s all really too much for him, and I can’t wait to see the next instalment, when everything really explodes. Not that it’ll be a long wait, with things moving at such a pace.
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