Question: What can someone unwilling to kill find in a sociopathic murder club? Answer: Super steamy threesome showers (with no actual nudity, of course). Where do I sign up?!?
What was being promoted as a compelling, edgy new drama has taken but four short episodes to devolve into tired clichés, gratuitous violence and some truly embarrassing dialogue. That isn’t fair. It hasn’t devolved into this mess, it pretty much cemented its disappointing legacy when the trailers ended and the actual show began.
The problem is that while undeveloped characters are acceptable in thirty seconds spots, when you’re expected to spend an hour a week with people, you expect them to be developed or at least likable. Between Ryan Hardy’s hostile attitude and past of self destructive, self involved decisions and the rest of the cast being serial killing whack jobs (until the season finale I am forced to believe that anyone not played by Kevin Bacon is in on the game), it leaves us with little to be invested in week after week. The most charming character is the evil mastermind and that’s mostly because of the accent (which seemed super British this week).
This is extra concerning considering that “Mad Love” was an episode designed to develop character. Really, what actually happened this week? We “learned” the members of the Carroll Cult are really messed up, people don’t appreciate when you kill their husbands, and it takes a special kind of crazy to join a murder club when you are personally unable to kill. Nothing groundbreaking and only mildly plot advancing.
No, this week was all about diving into the complex psyche of our (and Joe’s) hero. And guys, he’s a wounded little bird. We were introduced to his, previously unmentioned, sister and then quickly learned she is the only family Ryan has left because his family has worse luck than the Kennedys. Note to the writers, there are other things besides death that can leave emotional scars. The one two punch of Ryan’s deceased parents were eye roll worthy enough, but add to that a 9/11 reference and what was supposed to be touching came across as pandering; trying to force emotion, but only inciting derision.
The writers have done a decent (and that’s being kind) job of setting up a somewhat intriguing mystery. I am genuinely interested in finding out what Joe Carroll’s endgame is, but with each episode it grows increasingly clear that whatever the outcome, it probably won’t be satisfying, especially after sitting through 13 episodes. At this point it seems inevitable that some member of the FBI team (though now I’m leaning towards Mike) is a member of the cult, but the show will probably draw that revelation out and project the twist to the point that its just annoying when it finally reaches that climax.
I really have no idea how The Following will play out and there is every possibility that I am completely wrong and the coming episodes will be history making television, innovative and groundbreaking in every way. I honestly hope that it can at least move in that direction, but thanks to my vast TV watching experience and fancy, expensive degree I like to believe I can at least pick out the good from the bad, and after giving The Following a more than fair shot, I have to conclude that it falls into the latter category.