Category Archives: the following
Most fiction (in any medium, be it books, television, or film) works on the premise of suspension of disbelief. The target, in this case, the viewer has to believe what they are seeing. It’s very important in science fiction and fantasy, because in stuff like Star Wars and Lord of the Rings, the boundaries of reality are being stretched. But in a way, it’s easier in those realms.
In something like “The Following,” which is essentially based in the ‘real’ world, albeit a larger than life version, it’s even more important. The viewer has to not just believe it can happen, but they have to believe it could really happen, if you get my understanding.
This episode, “The Poet’s Fire,” opens with a nutjob in an Edgar Allan Poe mask (after just two weeks, an already old and tired gimmick for this EAP fan) sets a man on fire on a crowded city street with witnesses with cellphones and security cameras overhead. Seriously, if such a thing happened in the ‘real’ world, the media would go batshit crazy. I know it, you know it, and quite honestly, showrunner Kevin Williamson should know it too. Here, no one but the Feds and the cops that seem to blink at all.
And that’s just the beginning. The rest of the episode is spent flashbacking and overexplaining motivations we have already guessed. And then there’s the obligatory serial killer follower of the week, whose plot twist I guessed from jump street. The blind followers are getting a bit too convenient as well. Perhaps it’s Williamson’s comment on reality television and sheeple. Or just lazy writing.
“The Following” has ceased to be clever, to be unique, and even – and I’m counting the cast members I like in this statement – be interesting.
Okay, the hype is over, for the moment at least, and now “The Following” has to sink or swim as a series as opposed to an event. I had expressed in my review of the pilot that I didn’t think it had the legs to be a series. I guess this is where we find out. It has the bad potential to become a freak of the week show like early “Smallville” or “X-Files,” and I hope that’s not where we’re headed.
In the pilot, or rather the setup, multi-flawed FBI agent Hardy (Kevin Bacon) is pulled out of retirement to deal with the escaped serial killer Carroll (James Purefoy) that he had put away. He’s recaptured, but it turns out he’s built a cult of serial killers through social media, and they’ll do whatever he wants. This cult has kidnapped Carroll’s son to lure Hardy into a game of cat and mouse with the baddies.
Again written by creator Kevin Williamson, the subtext is very literate, and I am enjoying the writing theme and the Poe obsession. But I’m a writer. I wonder if other folks are digging this particular vibe or not. It works this way – Carroll was a writer, his crimes made Hardy a writer, and now this whole crazy game is built on the idea of a new book – one written by the followers in which Hardy and Carroll are the protagonist and antagonist.
Bacon and Purefoy continue to dominate the small screen whenever they are on it. Waste of an amazing cast, as I said last time. I just wish that the two of them would give us something edgier than the Clarice/Hannibal and/or Batman/Joker dynamic. I want more Shawn Ashmore, Billy Brown, and especially Li Jun Li.
Much of the episode is taken up by the good guys playing catch up to Carroll’s cultish followers and their shenanigans. I smell the stink of “Alcatraz,” “Revolution,” and “Flash Forward” on this one, as if we’re being played with like a fish on a hook. All we want is the confrontation(s) between Bacon and Purefoy, and the boy found, but you know we’ll only get dribs and drabs, while each episode has its own little underling serial killer story. Just give us what we want.
I honestly don’t know if I’ll be around next time. I think I can see the future, and I’m not sure it has enough fuel to entice me further. We’ll see.