Matt Smith reviews the season finale of The Following….
So, here we are. The end of The Following. Or is it? What will they go for? A new killer, Hardy becomes the bad guy, Carroll escapes? How are they going to extend things? And thus, like at the beginning of the series and like Joe Carroll, we the viewers embark on the journey to discover if the story ends well for Hardy, if Claire Matthews gets what she deserves, if the flies keep dropping and, ultimately, if it was all worth it.
Like Carroll, and like most good stories, the ending’s been written from the beginning. Clues given or information outright given out. And in that spirit I’ll state right away, even with my cynical, cliché spotting brain, that they actually did it. Sort of. The ending made sense, it was fitting without being obvious before it happened and, for those wondering, it does set up a new series. Mainly because the voiceover said there’d be a new series. Safe to say this review will have spoilers, so look away if you haven’t seen the finale. But then come back. You’re the only one reading these.
We’re greeted with Joe Carroll, still suffering somewhat due to, as he puts it, being stabbed ‘with both a knife… and a fork’. He looks a little like a writer who’s put in a hard stint of work on a project. Claire Matthews is trapped with him in a lighthouse, starting to get metaphysical about Carroll’s poor writing. I feared things were falling apart. Carroll at a lighthouse, succumbing to the slightly over wrought Poe motif (joined by that creepy as Hell Poe mask)? Characters talking about a predictable ending? It sounded like they were being too smart for their own good, about to trip over their fast moving feet.
But like all good endings, it stems from a classic narrative idea. This one is the ‘everything’s at stake’ ending. The classic series finale. And like a good joke, a good story’s all about the ending being fitting but surprising. Great stories, on the other hand, are perhaps a little out of reach for this series. Too many little niggling questions are raised throughout for me to completely enjoy it. The two central characters are fine, and compliment each other perfectly well. But everything outside of that, the commentary on torture, the sub plots, they aren’t handled with the delicacy needed to make this series truly great in the end.
Now, how do I say this without having to use the phrase ‘SPOILER’? Ah, yes, I’ll just assume you’ve all watched the episode. Anyway, Hardy’s neighbour isn’t seen after she’s promised Ryan Hardy’s life by Joe Carroll. The fact such a great potential sub plot is dropped makes things, in the end, very obvious, if fitting.
Torture has been another motif, if not theme, running throughout the series. But has it ever been truly commented on? I don’t believe it has, and for this reason it has unfortunately been dropped to the status of excitement injecting by the producers. In favour of actually saying something about whether it’s right to break the law in order to uphold it later on, the producers show Hardy effectively torture or at least break several rules, sometimes without consequence. It happens, the next plot point happens, and it’s completely forgotten until the next time Hardy needs some information.
Carroll, perhaps not as far from Hardy on the good/evil scale as first thought, has quickly become one of the most perversely entertaining characters in the show. Which I think is down to the fact that he’s so in control because he has no control over anything else in his life. Driven by murderous desire, his arrogance (as with most people) disguises a pathetic person with a need for control. Come this finale, we’ve been shown the physical manifestation of that, as he stumbles around with a knife wound, but a gun in hand.
Unfortunately, this knife wound, plus Hardy’s pacemaker and tied up hands make for the (apologies for this idiotic, Internet-troll speak) lamest final fight ever. If you don’t want to know the scores, look away now. Along with the predictable fire and even more predictable explosion, the ending’s very anti-climactic for the chief villain. He deserved more, but in the end it was the ending he wrote for himself (now who’s getting meta?) and he’s set everything up so far. Just have to hope it doesn’t become Saw: The TV Series.
But in the end, it’s all very much like it was explained at the beginning. Hardy’s been stabbed. Claire Matthews is in great danger, having been stabbed in the back (though this time literally). And a megalomaniacal villain cackles behind it all, with everything falling as they planned. When it comes down to it, I am looking forward to a second series. I just hope they don’t repeat the same story. It should change though. I mean, in one fell swoop they got rid of the main villain and writer, right?
Matt Smith – follow me on Twitter.