It’s not uncommon for new TV shows to start poorly and get better, but The Following started badly and is getting progressively worse, lurching from one episode to another with an ever more complicated plot (or at least, it’s trying to be complicated), that ultimately doesn’t make even a little bit of sense.
The one saving grace for this week’s episode, ‘The Fall’, is Kevin Bacon being a sarcastic ass even while being held captive by Jacob, Emma and Paul. It’s probably not really in keeping with Ryan Hardy’s character for him to be mocking them and acting like he doesn’t care, but he’s confident that their time is over because of the heavy police presence (along with the FBI and whoever else) outside the house.
But unfortunately for Ryan, he’s forgotten the one rule of The Following, which is that nothing is ever what it seems. However, unfortunately for The Following, the ‘surprises’ it keeps trying to throw into the mix are far too heavily sign-posted to actually work as surprises. So the female local police officer who got a speaking part last week and gets to spend some time with Mike? Yup, she’s on Joe’s side, and shoots Mike, allowing Emma and Joey to get away after she’s left Jacob and Paul to their own devices. Ryan’s confidence takes a dent when two more of Joe’s men appear from nowhere to start talking out FBI guys and rescue Jacob and Paul (although Ryan has given Paul a right good stabbing with a knife they carelessly left lying around after tying him up).
In the end, all Ryan’s managed to do is rescue the completely pointless Maggie, the girl Jacob kidnapped who has managed to be a part of three or four episodes but now that she’s safe will probably never be heard from again.
Another recurring problem for The Following is those pesky flashbacks, and this week we even get flashbacks within flashbacks (like Inception having dreams within dreams, only rubbish), as we see Debra (Annie Parisse, who was recently in the much better Person of Interest) having memories of her time visiting her parents at what seems to be some sort of weird cult community (but of course). Her younger self in the flashbacks then has flashbacks herself, as there was apparently a sexually abusive aspect to this cult that made her mother push her into the arms of a man). It’s completely irrelevant to the story, particularly as Debra has done almost nothing in her time on the show so far, and there’s no reason for anyone to care about her past.
Claire Matthews doesn’t have a great time in this episode either, as she’s being held by Charlie, her ‘follower’, who has been keeping an eye on her for Joe for the last two years, and has developed a crush on her (he later acts on this by kissing her, before bashing his head against a wall to punish himself. No, really). I have no idea what the point of all this is, as the FBI find and rescue Claire before he’s able to do anything other than be creepy, although he does manage to escape.
So what we’ve got is another episode of The Following that has plenty of ‘shocking’ (in other words, not shocking at all) revelations in it, and still doesn’t explain what Joe’s plan actually is. Having Emma run away somewhere with Joey is just a variation on a theme that’s been boring and tame throughout the show’s first six episodes, and it’s becoming ever more predictable too.
This is low-grade television, and it’s almost impossible to enjoy when it’s so clichéd, predictable and boring.