The Following, Ep. 1.09, “Love Hurts”: Of spear guns and self-plagiarism

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The Following, Season 1, Episode 9: “Love Hurts”
Written by Adam Armus & Kay Foster
Directed by Marcos Siega & Adam Davidson
Airs Mondays at 9pm (ET) on FOX

“Love Hurts” acts as a kind of sequel to The Following‘s most campy episode, “Mad Love,” the themes of both being revenge, self-sacrifice, being punished for love, and silly serial killin’ girls who be crazy. The first time around, it was the best recipe the show had cooked up, finally giving voice and movement to the show’s ridiculous conceits (fear the killer magnet!). This time around, though, by employing practically the same plot as its predecessor, we end up with shock value déjà vu. Worse still is the distinct feeling that the entire second half of this season is just going to repeat the first half, ever since the farmhouse climax-that-wasn’t.

For starters, sweet, spear gun-wielding Amanda is an exact replica (though much better acted by Marin Ireland) of our first femme psycho, Maggie. Because she has loved and lost, she is going to inflict pain on Ryan Hardy by killing innocent people in the tri-state area that he can run and save, sometimes. Worse than the show repeating itself is Kevin Williamson, who takes Amanda’s plan straight from Scream 2 (kind of like the series in general), with Amanda going after people of the “same name” as Claire, and going after them in a remarkably reminiscent manner. Stab-shoving girls out of windows and costume party terrorizing are common slasher tropes, I suppose, but taken together with the plan, the similar beats from the movies, and obsession with victims being on the phone right before they’re about to die, Williamson stalls a show that should have its own preoccupations by now.

Aside from the repeats, the episode fails because at least with Maggie, we got some needed background information on Ryan when she took his sister for her victim. Now we just get inconsequential kills and some hints that the real Claire probably feels guilty, even though she is absent. It still makes no sense how Joe and Claire ended up married, or even why Joe still loves her and wants to be a family, two things that this plot about cheating spouses should give the show many opportunities to discuss.

What they choose to flash back to instead is the sort of sordid history of Paul and Jacob. “Sort of” because it shows us nothing we didn’t already know or guess. Paul is dying and needs a hospital, while Jacob tries to prove to his mom he never killed anyone (because that makes such a big difference, considering his crimes and company). Paul eventually speaks up for him, confirming that which we already knew. Then we see them in the past, where Paul kills someone and Jacob watches, confirming again what we already knew. Then, Paul gets Jacob to kill him because he “owes him one” from not telling anyone about his secret–even though he did, to Emma, back in “Mad Love.” Nothing really makes sense here, but we somehow get to the moment this storyline has been leading to, which is Jacob killing Paul with, um, a pillow, in two seconds.

As with Louise’s random end (and any time any serial killer dies on The Following), there’s a sense of “OK, I guess that’s over.” Now Jacob’s back with Emma in the new headquarters, bringing us one step closer to the same climax from “The Siege” and “The Fall,” sure to take place there in the last two episodes, the only difference being Roderick as the new thorn in Emma’s side. Anyone willing to bet that, once again, Ryan takes out some of them, but the main players live to serial kill another day, and the cycle continues for Season 2? As long as there’s a magnet or a spear gun involved, I guess it won’t be a total loss.

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