If someone was to pick the perfect word to describe season 2 of The Following it would be exhausting. Exhausting on every level to be more precise.
“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.
The Following figured out the best thing going for the second season a couple weeks ago and has been playing it up ever since- Joe’s (James Purefoy) manipulation of Micah (Jake Weber) is perfection, easily distracting from some of the episodes’ issues. Joe has always been at his best as a character when he has a group to control and an audience to play to. His final moments in “Unmasked” highlight this point to a terrifying degree.
The Following has stumbled in the last few weeks, but the eighth episode, “The Messenger”, is great from beginning to end. Everything that works so well in The Following is found here- it’s quick and intriguing, a little campy and over the top, and features some great performances, primarily from Jake Webber and James Purefoy.
Last week’s episode of The Following, “Fly Away”, was mixed, although it did end strong with Joe (James Purefoy) and Ryan (Kevin Bacon) catching a glimpse of each other for the first time this season, Luke’s (Sam Underwood) brutal beating at the hands of Mike (Shawn Ashmore), and Lily’s (Connie Nielsen) collapse.
For the most part, the second season of The Following has been miles ahead of its first. Between Lily Grey’s (Connie Nielsen) psychotic family, Ryan’s (Kevin Bacon) dark but understandable obsession with killing Joe (James Purefoy), and Purefoy’s continuously enjoyable performance, The Following has been a lot of fun. However, “Fly Away”, the season’s sixth episode, is uneven.
The Following has been moving along wonderfully this season. It’s been dark, violent, and strangely funny. Luke and Mark (Sam Underwood) have seriously notched up the creepy factor and there have already been a few great twists. Plus now that Joe (James Purefoy) is back in fine form with a clean shave and new suit, we know things are only going to get better from here.
Family seems to be the driving force of The Following this season. There’s Mark and Luke’s (Sam Underwood) unhealthy obsession with a proper family, Emma (Valorie Curry) has always desired a place where she belonged, and Lily (Connie Neilson) has created a family for herself, all of whom seem as transfixed with Joe (James Purefoy) as she is.
The Following has been on a roll this season. It’s been quick, smart, dark, and witty. In a lot of ways (with all the followers split up, Ryan struggling with the loss of Claire, and Joe slowly coming out of hiding), this is a rewrite for the show. So far it’s been working exceptionally well. “Family Affair”, though, is a misstep. It seems like filler, just pushing characters where they need to be to move the story along. That is until the episodes final moments, when we get three great twists: Max (Jessica Stroup) is following Gisele (Camille De Pazzis), Joe and Lily come face to face, and perhaps most shockingly, Agent Mendez’s (Valerie Cruz) relationship with Jana (Leslie Bibb), one of Joe’s supporters.
“For Joe”, last week’s episode of The Following, kicked things into high gear for the show and “Trust Me” continues on that path. The episode answers some of the most important questions from last season, like how exactly Joe (James Purefoy) escaped the boathouse, even if Joe having a mysterious half-brother murdered for his DNA does seem a little too easy. Despite that one hiccup, “Trust Me” hits all the right notes. Like most episodes of The Following it moves very quickly, is vaguely disturbing, and has some brilliant, if slightly predictable, twists. From the beginning of the season Lily (Connie Neilson) has clearly been hiding something. Why Carroll’s followers chose her in the brutal subway attack was a major question, one that seemed difficult to answer. Learning that she is possibly the mother of the twins, Mark and Luke (Sam Underwood), and a cult member might not be a huge shock but it’s wonderfully played and it takes the show to an interesting place.
Here’s the thing- The Following is crazy. Like eye-rolling, “you have got to be kidding me, did that just happen?” crazy. But for all the craziness and terrible law enforcement techniques, The Following is really, really fun. Last week’s premiere, “Resurrection”, was a great reintroduction to the show and a way to meet the new characters, but far and away the best moment was Joe’s reappearance at the end of the episode. “For Joe”, the second episode, is even better.
The Following had an interesting first season. With an intriguing central premise and good actors at the helm (seriously- how deliciously fun was James Purefoy?), everything should have worked out perfectly. Instead the show stumbled while balancing a heavy dose of camp and sometimes unnecessary twists. After the first few episodes it slipped into procedure and had trouble finding its footing. At its best though, The Following season one was frequently compelling, shockingly violent, and even darkly fun.
The Following, Season 1, Episode 14: “The End is Near” Written by Adam Armus & Kay Foster Directed by Joshua Butler Airs Mondays at 9pm (ET) on FOX Death is the only thing that matters in the cult philosophy of Joe Carroll. In death there is life, love, and “everything,” according to his prayer chants. …
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).
So far, there are three major types of episodes in The Following: the big conflict episodes where the main characters face off, the psycho-of-the-week episodes to fill FOX’s “x-treme” body count quota, and the table setting episodes for those previous two types—by far the worst of them all.
The Following, Season 1, Episode 8: “Welcome Home” Written by Amanda Kate Shuman Directed by Joshua Butler Aired Mondays at 9pm (ET) on FOX Ryan: “Nobody likes me.” Mike: “Well, you’re inconsistent and extreme.” The Following takes the one baby-step forward and two giant leaps back approach this week, addressing many inconsistencies in the show, …
The Following, Season 1, Episode 7: “Let Me Go” Written by Seamus Kevin Fahey Directed by Nick Gomez Aired Mondays at 9pm (ET) on FOX So, let’s get this straight. Joe broke out of prison in the pilot episode, but then committed another murder to mess with Ryan and get caught again (which always did …
Early last month, in one of the more economically-depressed cities in my home state, a 19-year-old man confronted a teenager about a $20 debt supposedly owed by the younger teen’s father. The 19-year-old forced the teen to strip naked and then whipped him with a belt. We know this because one of the 19-year-old’s accomplices …
The Following, Season 1, Episode 6: “The Fall” Written by Shintaro Shimosawa Directed by Marcos Siega Airs Mondays at 9pm (ET) on FOX Is it horrible or amazing that the random joke made at the end of last week’s review, the one about the horny cop (with her wandering eyes) possibly being one of Joe’s …
The Following, Season 1, Episode 5: “The Siege” Written by Rebecca Dameron Directed by Phil Abraham Airs Mondays at 9pm (ET) on FOX Dammit, dammit, dammit for speaking too soon. Last week’s episode of The Following impressed by transforming its serial killers with mopey Dawson-faces into libidinous psychos worth fearing—but here the experiment ingloriously fades, …