Matt Smith reviews the season finale of The Following…
Like any good book, The Following had to have a good finale up its sleeve. Without a good ending, any story will lose its audience and everything that came before will be for nought. It’s telling that, even with the speed bumps along the way, The Following still holds excitement and tension within. And, like the dialogue harking back to writers and writing, it’s full of twists and surprises.
With everything in place and prepared for the finale to give its audience a payoff worthy of what’s come in this season and the one before it, Joe Carroll and his followers have a churchful of kidnapped innocents. Ryan Hardy and Mike Weston are clo
sing in silently from the dark. But it’s not so simple. Claire Matthews has been taken by Mark and Luke, as revenge for the death of their mother. It’s all very complicated and all the sub plots have been bought into one main story. Because of the nature of all the sub plots, this finale gets given a lot of scope.
There’s also a strange kind of excitement that comes with the scenario of good working with bad. A changing of the norm, giving the audience something different. There’s a perverse joy from watching both Hardy being forced to work with his greatest enemy and from watching James Purefoy’s performance. With Joe Carroll by his own admission on the way out, both in the context of this season coming to an end and in his seeming willingness to die as dramatically as possible to ensure his own immortality, Purefoy plays him with an amusing freedom. Just like in the first season, he seems to find everything around him vaguely interesting but with his mind on other things to ensure his plan comes to fruition.
And just like the first season, there are revelations at the dinner table. With the link of cutlery, the motif of perverted family dinners and cold-blooded murder come together to create tension. Everyone sat at the table, seemingly on equal footing but all with their own backgrounds and agendas.
Like any good ending, it’s like The Following set all this up from the beginning. It’s a satisfying ending to the Hardy-Carroll story, but like Hardy says it has to have an end. If the tease at the end is the springboard to a third season and if the person involved in the tease turns out to be a new character, it’s almost as if the series has cheated its audience. What could’ve been a perfect ending is given too much, a half step too far forward. Overall the second season, especially the second half, has been equal parts tense and exciting. What happens next, if anything, is up to the producers.
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