X-Men: Days of Future Past Written by Simon Kinberg Directed …
“Silence” is a very good follow up to “The Reaping”, though it’s a little slower and still presents some issues, mostly with Kingston Tanner (Tom Cavanaugh) and Claire. When Ryan tells her that she’s not thinking clearly it’s as if he’s speaking for the entire audience. Her hatred and desire to kill Joe is completely understandable but her decision to go to Carrie and abandon her protection agents doesn’t really do anything but prompt a deep eye roll. Most of this stems back to the fact that she wasn’t really needed back on the show in the first place. Zea is a fine actress and she was effective as Claire in the first season, but the character served her purpose and her death was much more meaningful to Ryan as a character than anything we’ve gotten since her return.
When The Following began its second season it seemed like it had fixed its previous issues. But those old problems eventually began to resurface and season two was faced with unnecessary plot twists, important characters with nothing to do, and countless storylines that didn’t seem to go anywhere.
“The Reaping” has one central issue and that’s Kingston Tanner (Tom Cavanagh). When he was introduced in “Betrayal” it was an interesting choice. On one hand, the idea of Joe (James Purefoy) fighting a religious war with a man who doesn’t exactly seem on the up and up and who represents what Joe viciously hates is fascinating. At the same time, it’s problematic that the writers have introduced a new character this late in the season. Two of the biggest issues with this season have been its multiple storylines and new characters who have hardly anything to do with the story as a whole. It’s been very messy and Kingston only makes this more obvious. As a character he’s not all that interesting; after all he’s no Mark and Luke (Sam Underwood). What he represents to Joe means so much more.
When The Following is good, it’s really good. At the beginning of its second season, it seemed like the show had finally found its footing. It had accepted the fact that it was kind of insane and unrealistic and had resigned itself to the fact that it could just be really dark, devilish, guilty pleasure fun. And then it happened; it slipped right back to season 1. The reveal that Claire (Natalie Zea) was still alive seemed like a false note and frankly, there hasn’t been enough Joe (James Purefoy) to hold the show together. The show’s other most compelling characters, like Mike (Shawn Ashmore) and Emma (Valorie Curry), just don’t have a lot to do. New characters like twins Luke and Mark (Sam Underwood) always impress but never really seem to have anywhere to go. Last week’s “Freedom” was an uneven mess with some truly great moments but “Betrayal” is a great improvement.
The beginning of The Following’s second season was ultimately a great improvement over the first season but over the last several episodes the show has fallen back into the issues that plagued the show the first time around. Freedom, like most of the later episodes of season 2 has its good moments, but it’s mostly a tedious affair.
The reveal that Claire (Natalie Zea) survived her stabbing changes everything for The Following. That moment at the end of “Unmasked” last week was a great surprise but more importantly, it challenges what we know about our characters.We’re suddenly aware of what Mike (Shawn Ashmore) is willing to do for his job, her survival will undoubtedly alter Joe’s (James Purefoy) “epic plan”, and how exactly it effects Ryan (Kevin Bacon) remains to be seen, though it can’t be good.
Still, we can’t really blame The Following for at least being what it is. It’s been a long road with many melodramatic detours to even get to this point. So, when we get an episode that deals with the show’s actual preoccupations—the cult itself and Ryan and Joe’s past/present/history—we have to be thankful. It’s not good, but it’s not like last week’s actively bad, and no character comes off like a complete dunce for the sake of tension in the episode (well, except Parker, but they’ve been dumbing her down for a while now).