THE FOLLOWING Recap: “Chapter Two”

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the following kevin bacon

The Following drew big numbers in the ratings with its premiere last week, and delivered during its initial hour an incredible number of plot points and situations (and gruesome murders) to keep us interested.  While many (myself included) lamented the shoehorning of Poe with awkward expositions to explain the motivational canvas serial killer Joe Carroll (James Purefoy) was using to exact his evils, the actual idea of “the following” that he had amassed to do his bidding seemed worthy of further viewing.  This week the show pushed Poe to the background slightly (though his work was probably still too present) and focused more on the following itself, which presented a few surprises.  Hit the jump for what went right, and why I wish they would stop harping on Nevermore.

the following kevin bacon james purefoyI don’t think The Following is an exceptional series or even has the makings of one, but there is something undeniably absorbing about it.  Something in the equation of (Bacon + Purefoy) x frights = something worthwhile.  The best thing about The Following is the aspect of pod people, some of whom we got to know a little better this week, but also the idea of people that could pop up anywhere and at any time.  FBI specialist Debra Parker (a new character played by Annie Parisse, who I accidentally credited last week as the former wary female detective — she’s now the new wary female detective!) is in questionable status.  Was her act of handing over Poe’s complete works to Carroll an act of curiosity, or of solidarity?  Was it a sign that she was ready to be “activated” into his service?

I thought it was a neat trick that babysitter Denise/Emma (Valorie Curry) went largely ignored and unnoticed in the pilot, which is both her strength and her trigger.  She pulled off something big by kidnapping Joey, and had shown both her dedication and her wounded (and easily manipulated) personality by killing her mother, who had always openly dismissed her as a “plain Jane.”  Her eyes flashed too when confronted repeatedly by Paul/Billy (Adan Canto) for being “beneath” Jacob/Will (Nico Tortorella), something Emma’s mother had also said.  But it is exactly her unassuming looks that make her so able to blend in, and despite her mousey appearance, she is the bitch running the show.

the following chapter two kevin baconWhile there was some commentary last week about how the not-gay gay couple are being demonized, I have to say that there’s something ok in the subversion.  First of all, that the TV trope of the super-supportive gay neighbors was turned on its head, and also that they aren’t actually together.  Yet, that whole idea wasn’t totally dropped — Paul’s jealous behavior towards Emma and his obvious affection for Jacob (whether platonic or more — after all, I don’t have trouble believing he just doesn’t like or trust Emma) brings in another layer and interesting twist.  Might the followers start turning on each other because of personal drama?

Security guard killer Jordy is ridiculed by the others, as well as by Carroll for being “the village idiot” and “easily disposable.”  His ability to be manipulated may be something Hardy attempts to exploit, even though Carroll claims he doesn’t know anything.  He does know some of the identities of the other followers, I’m guessing, and can help Hardy in his pursuit of the one who attacked him in the house (“Rick”).  By the way, I know this is all part of the cliche, but why is Hardy ever going into houses alone?  Why is Claire not being watched by the FBI instead of the local police?  Why did not even one person on that crowded sidewalk attempt to apprehend the Rick after he set a guy on fire?  It just annoys me (although he did just set a guy on fire).

the following chapter james purefoy natalie zeaAnyway, in addition to some of the eye-roll-worthy cliches, the Poe stuff is just too much for me to handle.  Is “nevermore” the only thing anyone remembers from anything?  Was Emma’s mother buried in the wall because of the Cask of Amontillado, or because it was just a convenient place to store an inconvenient corpse? (and what of the smell??) The scribbling on the wall, the masks (which look like Tig from Sons of Anarchy, which made me laugh), the shrines — it’s all creepy, but something about it being shoved down our throats as “Poe! Poe! Nevermore! Annabelle Lee! Faux-intelligent commentary on the power of eyes in gothic romance!” is all hooey.  I would prefer it if more characters rolled their eyes at this and just made fun of Carroll and his pretensions.

Still, there’s something about The Following that keeps me interested.  Maybe it’s the mystery, or Kevin Bacon, or Carroll’s promise of more schemes and challenges to come, with Hardy needing to keep up with him (and in some cases surprise him, as he did with Jordy).  I guess they’ve hooked me like the novel they are pretending to write — I do want to see how it ends.

 

Episode Rating: B+

 

Musings and Miscellanea:

the following chapter two shawn ashmore– I actually don’t mind the love triangle of Hardy – Claire – Carroll.  Kevin Bacon makes it work!

– I like that Hardy isn’t issued a gun, it reminds me of the Rockford Files (where Rockford never took his along anywhere because he said he didn’t want to actually have to use it).  He gets one when he needs it, though!

– So do we think Debra is a follower or not?

– EyeRoll.gif at the comment about our “cyber generation” needing to feel alive (although maybe I proved that point by expressing myself in GIF form)

– Closing in the network of followers from just randos all over the nation to, in at least one case, a tight-knit group helps this not feel like procedural and makes it more engaging from several angles.

– Speaking of procedural, I love how quickly the sorority murders were just glossed over.  “Yeah he killed like 5 chicks and cut out their eyes, what else is new?”

– I kind of like the sociopath Paul.  His comments about the kid made me laugh because they were so absurd.  I think he’s much more cold-blooded than Jacob, but possibly less so than Emma.  It’s always the quiet ones!




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  • Frank

    I think the show is an illustration of everything network does wrong, and cable does right. If this show were on cable, it would really be able to flourish and go to places that Fox can only graze.

    The thing that really bothers me is that the show is so somber, there’s simply no room for fun. Maybe somber is the new fun. I felt the same way watching NBC’s Awake. The concept didn’t allow for any fun and ultimately suffered for it, because who wants to watch misery for hour after hour?

  • Megs

    I think the point of the Poe reference has been lost on many viewers and reviewers. I think that it is not only his works of literature that are significant here but also his life. His works are beautifully dark but unfortunately drawer on what he experienced in life. He was orphaned as a at the age of 2, disowned by his foster father (after ages of emotional abuse), was not informed about his foster mothers death and funeral (so essentially orphaned twice), the love of his life married a rich man, then his first wife died of TB, he was gravely under supported, had a drinking problem for which he lost many jobs (as well as losing his biological brother to alcohol) and upon his death (which occurred while he was wondering deliriously through a park- still rather a mystery) , his arch rival ( who hates him for writing a few bad critics about his work) found revenge in defacing his biography and obituary. To name a few…

    A few of these i can already see overlapping in the life of our main character, Ryan Hardy, He was gravely under-supported in capturing Dr. Joe Carroll and still so after his escape, he witness many losses of human life (some of which he developed special connections with), He became an alcoholic after everything he had seen and been through, and he has feelings for (called it love or lust if you will ) for a woman he should never be with and she is the ex wife of his rival in the case … who happens to be a serial killer. O and did i not mention he to ends up being a writer and publishing a book on a truly disturbed topic and person.

    I also believe that the classic, tortured literature brings a unique air of history and Literature the story that many a series these days lack. and although i myself enjoy the perks of series that take little effort in watching, this is a breath of fresh air.

    While the Poe reference may be a little in your face for some viewer, the significance can only become more clear as the show progresses. We are after all only on episode 2. I am really enjoying the series so far and hope that this might make the Poe references a little bit more manageable for you until then :)

    @ frank – As a woman who truly loves the somber and thrill of a dark twisted story, man up, the fun and excitement is in the chase, twists and the mystery of it all. Also people love other people s misery, called it a human predisposition, we are a curious by nature and as Allison said there is always a piece of us that wants to know what happens next. Besides there are many programs on the air that have more darkness than light and that have been around for years (Dexter , Criminal Minds in its 8th season, Csi …..and that’s the tip of the berg) So come over to the dark side a bit, i promise its more fun than you think ;*-)

  • Dave

    Do the writers on this site ever enjoy an assignment they are given?

  • LEM

    I already stopped watching this show.

  • Leigh

    I disagree about the cable comment. The problem with many cable programs is that they go way overboard. I don’t need to see the actual nudity and gore all of the time. Sometimes the restrictions of network tv helps to alleviate that desire to put it all in the face of the viewers. I find many cable shows to be so completely unrealistic because they are always going for the shock value. No thanks.

    My biggest issue with this episode is that Rick got out of the house without getting caught.

    When “Poe” set the guy on fire I think the crowd not reacting was very accurate. It seems we have become desensitized to violence and do not react as we should.

  • Rick

    I think that’s a pretty good review. I disagree with some of the commenters, that the show should be more light-hearted or whatever…We have enough of those shows already on TV. The plucky crew, with their gallows humor, come in and manage to defuse the killer(s) just in time to save the day…cut to commercial, recap episode over beer at the end. Rinse and repeat.

    I like that this show is dark, that the characters (not the beat cops, but the agents) are taking their job seriously, and that Kevin Bacon is being treated more like a nuisance then a golden boy.

    To the reviewer…I get the sense that they aren’t joking about all the Poe-overkill/Carroll-melarchy at this point because not more than a day or so ago, he was able to murder his remaining victim, cut out her eyes, probably rape her, then kidnap his own son from prison…

    I mean, I’m no hardened detective, but jokes would seem inappropriate only 12-14 hours after that.

  • REALLY?

    The ineptitude of the police on this show is infuriating.

  • Frank

    @ megs “man up?” heh, ok. We can both grow out our beards. But if you actually read my post – it’s fairly clear I like cable shows, and they have plenty of cathartic stuff. My point is, this show feels lukewarm (to me) in all directions and (to me) could be a result of the format. Could be wrong.

    @ Leigh, you’re totally right, cable shows often spin out of control too. Maybe it’s that the show feels so derivative to me. I’d rather watch Silence of the Lambs again. But I’m willing to give it another couple episodes for sure.

  • Frank

    @ megs “man up?” heh, ok. only after you shave your beard. If you actually read my post – it’s fairly clear I prefer cable shows, and they have plenty of cathartic stuff. My point is, this show feels lukewarm (to me) in all directions and (to me) could be a result of the format. Could be wrong though.

    @ Leigh, you’re totally right, cable shows often spin out of control too. Maybe it’s that the show feels so derivative to me. I’d rather watch Silence of the Lambs again. But I’m willing to give it another couple episodes for sure.

  • Frank

    @ megs “man up?” heh, ok. I’ll man up after you shave your beard. It’s fairly clear I prefer cable shows, and they have plenty of cathartic stuff. My point is, this show feels lukewarm (to me) in all directions and (to me) could be a result of the format. Could be wrong though.

    @ Leigh, you’re totally right, cable shows often spin out of control too. Maybe it’s that the show feels so derivative to me. I’d rather watch Silence of the Lambs again. But I’m willing to give it another couple episodes for sure.

  • Frank

    Mods, feel free to delete the duplicate post.

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  • Anonymous

    Shzzx. Mcd. Fr. C vmgav. Vf. (5!?;;

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