Well whattya know, it only took seven episodes, but The Following is finally starting to live up to its potential. Its not there yet, but this is the closest its gotten so far, so lets celebrate that.
Perhaps the improvement was a result of our villain actually posing a real threat. Thanks to Ryan’s finger breaking interrogation method Carroll had substantial reason to request a transfer, and because Carroll is a serial killing mastermind he also arranged for his goons to kidnap the warden’s daughter and hold her hostage in order for Carroll’s lawyer (also helping him out of fear) to drive him out of the prison and straight into the loving arms of his massive cult family.
In the midst of this great escape Ryan and Carroll got the chance to square off without the shackles between them, but there still wasn’t much different about the exchange. Carroll talked a big game, and had the gun in Ryan’s face to back it up, but in the end, his story matters more to him than mere revenge. Could it be that this new “novel” isn’t about tearing Ryan down at all, but about building him up as the hero? Or does Carroll just appreciate that the pain of psychological torture is much more exquisite than death?
Either way, the point of this episode was to show just how large a scale the Carroll Cult operates on. This is no mere fanboy group of Poe obsessed killers out to torture the ones who wronged their fearless leader. This is an organized troupe, with a frat house and women in business suits who can cut a man so swiftly he doesn’t realize it until he’s bled out on the ground. And this is terrifying.
The most successful cults (and I am measuring success by the fact I have heard of them) had a large-scale plan that mediated their violence. Manson was out to start a race war that would leave white people wiped out and him alone to rule who was left, the people of Jonestown sought to live in a socialistic utopia, and numerous cults claim to prepare their followers for a post-apocalyptic afterlife. No, they’re not great bases for beliefs, but its better than seeking revenge for someone else. If The Following wants to fully live up to its potential (and so far this is the only episode that would suggest it does), they need to have a believable motive for the members of the Carroll Cult. At least as believable as thetans.
But so far, despite all the clues of the Carroll Cult being far reaching, the only motive we’ve been given is Carroll seeking revenge against the people who wronged him in the past, namely his wife and the detective who caught him. This week, Carroll enjoyed his clearest victory yet; escaping from prison and being reunited with his son. But, he also mentioned to Ryan that so far everything has gone according to plan. Yet, the past six episodes have suggested a well-thought out plan encountering an unwilling reality (i.e. Ryan finding the farmhouse, the not gay gay boys being left for dead, Claire getting free of her captor, etc.). Was Carroll merely putting on a brave face in order to intimidate his opponent or, have the last six episodes literally been nothing but set up for the actual action that will, presumably, be starting now? And, real question here, which makes you feel better about investing six hours of your life into it?
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