Matt Smith reviews episode 14 of The Following season 2…
With the finale of The Following coming up so soon, the themes inherently linked to religion are coming to the fore. It seems that in the latter half of the season, the producers decided to ramp up the religious overtones. They’ve started moving the characters and their respective arcs at a million miles an hour, leading to the now almost obligatory feeling you get at a season finale that things are moving in such a way that they can’t be stopped.
Everyone’s cards are on the table now as the truth comes out. Truth, death, fathers and sons and destiny all come together to create events that Joe Carroll hopes will propel him to immortality. After all, he does see himself as better than an invisible God, and would have an ego to match the great deity if God were human. With the signs, commands and his general sense of showmanship mixed with delusions of grandeur, Carroll has placed himself as the one in charge of your fate.
Fooling others, and himself, with the games he plays against Pastor Tanner, this week Carroll decides to end it all by taking a church full of bystanders hostage. As said before, he pushes others to kill, whether it’s in his name, to prove his point or purely for survival. One of the overriding motifs is the way Hardy and Claire Matthews are both pushed to murder by Carroll in their own ways. An oft-seen twist on the classic ‘doing bad to do good’. Carroll and his followers all take their respective positions and cues, just like the first season, and promise to do their best to prove themselves to Carroll.
The followers themselves all look like stereotypical bad guys. Perhaps like Carroll, we as an audience aren’t let in on any deep traits given to individuals. These are just props to be used by Carroll and the show to advance plots. A sometimes-faceless stream of bodies, shapes or forms to be thrown at Ryan Hardy, which he bats aside without too much thought of morals or consequence. Little details are given so that we can understand why they joined Carroll, but like the leader of this cult we only know enough to know why they’d be open to this idea and how Carroll will persuade them to do his bidding. We are not presented with human beings. These are snippets of back-story, ultimately unimportant and forgettable in the grand scheme of things.
This episode shows what can happen when one or more people push themselves to get what they want. Often, others are pushed aside and to their limits to achieve, with Carroll wanting immorality and Hardy wanting vengeance. While her death helped him maintain the anger he needed, now Hardy is perhaps given a further push by Claire Matthews’ want for violence upon Carroll. So much so that he leaves a door in his apartment open long enough for Claire to just happen to come across a stash of weapons, one of the many plot contrivances the show uses to move things forward in a frankly blasé way.
The gunshot at the end is also a little cliché, with a cut to black synchronised with the sound that is an obvious attempt to keep our excitement and tension levels up until the finale. But in the end, if The Following kept with the interesting plots and the neat way they’ve tied themes together and stopped letting cliché beats in on the fun, this show might be one of the best things on television. Hopefully that’s the way the finale goes and we can get a satisfying ending to a show that has been, mostly, great and entertaining.
Matt Smith – follow me on Twitter.