As The Following goes on, it proves itself to be a defier of expectations. After last week’s showing, what were we to conclude other than a healthy dose of Lipitor was in order after those giant grains of salt. I think it’s probably about time we let the expectations from the pilot go. This isn’t going to be a high-minded crime drama like The Killing, no matter how much that Marilyn Manson intro and shock ending made it seem to be. Instead, let’s think of it more like a roller coaster ride when you’re wearing sandals: you might lose one along the way, but damned if its not fun. The latest episode, “The Fall,” proves that line of thinking. It’s no more believable than last week’s episode, but on a pure level of fun it might be the season’s best showing yet.
Let’s cut out some length and keep things more concise. Here’s what we know. Hardy was taken hostage at Kidnapper Ranch. Emma drugged Joey, so he’s out of the picture until the very end. Meanwhile, Claire is being held by ex-military-also-hacker Charlie, who happens to be a four-time murderer himself. But don’t worry, he’s her
stalker follower, so she doesn’t need to worry.
As things heat up, Agents Weston and Parker arrive with the local PD. She calls the house and tries to make buddy-buddy with Emma, because don’t we all want to kill our mothers? And there’s some art that shows Emmy-babe may not be so proud of her offing as we might have thought. Debra, as we see through flashback, grew up on a Warren Jeffs-like commune, so, hey, maybe she really did want to kill her mom.
While all of this is happening, Hardy is at his comic best taunting an un-witted Paul and Jacob. It was a side of the character we’ve never seen and, damn, was it good to see surface. For the first time since the series started, we could laugh with Hardy as he convinced Jacob he’d go ninjutsu and break his back if he got too close. Eventually, he gets free, stabs Paul a few times, tells the kidnapped girl to run (who does so surprisingly well for having a festering stab wound) and finds Joey and Emma missing.
The final climactic moments of the show prove to be the most outlandish yet. The shadowy figure, Roderick, sends in the teamsters to bypass the SWAT force by taking two of them down and stealing their clothes. Weston and the local police-woman encounter Emma and Joey as they try to run and she promptly shoots Weston, informing Emma that Roderick sent her. The SWAT impersonators make it to the house and clear the way for Jacob and Paul to sneak out the back. Back at Charlie’s, the police also bust down the door and rescue Claire while he escapes out the back.
Also, Carroll says some stuff about part two of his book beginning.
All-in-all, this was a terrifically fun episode, but we did wind up back where we began. After the Herculean escape from the farm house, Joey is still missing, Paul, Jacob, and Emma are running loose, and Claire safe at home in her worry-sweater. Still, an awful lot happened, and huge, episode making swathes were unbelievable. Yet in watching it, it was easy to just let that slip away. The show came into its own and did so much right that the “wait, what?” moments fell the wayside of pulpy frenetic nature of it all.
Kevin Bacon shone this episode. He wasn’t dire or depressed, drunk, or self-loathing- much, anyways. Even after taking a tazer shock, he was up and at ‘em ready to do some stabbing of his own. It was delightful seeing him call out how strange the Kidnapper Crew has become. Seeing the three of them break down against the quickly closing-in walls was a cherry on top. Jacob wasn’t ready to kill before, but with Bacon in the room, he’s strangling poor Megan. Paul became so insecure that he starts asking Emma about their relationship in front of the hostages.
This business with Roderick is really seeming outlandish but, hey, if Weston calls it out (“who are these guys?!”) we probably don’t need to worry. They’ve got a plan and, let’s face it, we passed crazy episodes ago. When your “cult” looks at a house surrounded by SWAT and dozens of locally PD and says, “no problem,” you’re probably a little more than a cult. My money is on military infiltration. The Charlie situation is pointing that way and how else can you explain these things?
If there’s one thing we can say for sure, it’s this: Carroll is the luckiest serial killer ever. That so many people idolized him — why would some military-computer nut care about a Poe wanna-be? — and then seek him out, each with crazy skills uniquely suited to furthering his plans, is amazing. And how about Charlie. The guy can set a hidden network in the prison, breaking down federal-level law enforcement security protocols from his recliner and give Carroll un-fettered access to the internet, and he settles for following Claire around every day? And then what, playing World of Warcraft at night? Oh, Following, you slay me.
“The Fall” is a good example of outlandishness done right. I can’t shake the feeling that the writers might have gotten lucky on this one, however, because last week was unbelievable without all the cool. Things are going to an interesting place, that’s for sure, so here’s hoping it keeps doing what works: exploring characters, keeping the pace fast and situations tense, and letting Bacon stretch his theatrical wings. “The Fall” did another thing right this week. It left us raw. You almost wanted to feel bad for Paul at the end, didn’t you? Reach out a hand and comfort Emma? That rawness was a promise from the pilot they’re following up on.