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 followers, actually came true? It’s the nicest surprise of the night and there is something really energizing about knowing that even joke predictions can have merit in the world of The Following. At the same time, the excitement must die when, upon reflection, the whole reveal drudges up the most annoying dilemma when it comes to this show: anyone really can be a “Follower,” and, most of the time, is.
Are there seriously that many people out there willing to help an Edgar Allan Poe-obsessed serial killer that are clever enough to pull off these elaborate plans? It’s possible, maybe. It’s also where the fun lies, of course. But to never get any reason out of them besides “my mom was a slut” and wanting to “feel” their lives is preposterous in light of the enormity of this national conspiracy. Debra’s speech about cult behavior being a part of human nature is true, and there are plenty of lost souls in cults in the United States, but this is a TV show and to keep using generalizations to justify such extreme acts is shrug-worthy. You can’t take insane people’s ridiculous motives and make a good story out of it even though it might be technically accurate that we are a silly species.
The good part is, even if that’s really all we are left with, there is at least a more purposeful sense of “being lost” that has become a theme for the characters now. And what do you know, it happens most in an episode that also wants to be Lost! Debra’s flashbacks to visiting her family are straight out of the Lindelof-Cuse school of storytelling, the first time we get character filler that only loosely has to do with the case. Debra’s story is for now purely sad background; it makes her work personal for her, and explains some of the wistful tone in her voice that could have previously been read as being a Follower, which can at least now be put to rest. And that’s it.
But are these flashbacks helping the story as a whole? What ever happened to all of this being a giant mysterious plot by Joe to torture Ryan? Almost nothing has been made about his mystery “sequel” in four episodes, in favor of indulging him in his (and the writers’) stalling tactics. At this rate we’ll get Jacob and Paul flashbacks before we know anything about Joe’s plan. Picture it now: Jacob can’t kill because of his deep dark secret past… where his whole family was killed (hey, my last prediction sounded equally dumb and look what happened). The flashbacks’ construction has been a huge problem too. If it’s a “twist” that Debra’s family was in a cult, maybe don’t start off the first scene at a cult compound with her asking to see her parents.
At least the bulk of this episode, the hostage stand-off, does carry through the hour well, due to the increasingly playful work by Kevin Bacon. His condescending looks at the simpering psychopaths he’s dealing with are a vindication of what we all feel and he continues to be the only reason to look past the pedestrian. Although you never know- last week had knock-off Breaking Bad characters, this week had knock-off Lost flashbacks. Don’t get too comfortable, everybody. Game of Thrones could be next.