The Following is best viewed in a communal setting, because its real value is providing viewers with plenty of snide remarks on the ineptitude of the FBI, and suggestions about if and how characters will be killed off. It’s nearly a game, to guess if someone will be bludgeoned, gutted or garroted to meet their end, and discerning whether new characters are friends or foes. The show plays its foreshadowing both ways: sometimes obvious situations remain obvious, or they are their exact opposite. Hit the jump for more.
Unlike last week’s episode, “Family Affair” was very dull affair. Leslie Bibb‘s new character Jana provided two of the better twists of the night, but otherwise, it was just an exercise in the typical idiocy and murder. Jana is one of Joe’s followers from before his “death,” and useful to Joe in helping him make his return. And in typical Following fashion, she also is ex-domestic partners with FBI agent Gina, proving the rule that every character on the show is either connected to Joe, or a murder victim, or both.
It was interesting though how Mandy represented the new type of follower since Joe’s disappearance: ones who don’t necessarily abide by his philosophy. Mandy has never read his book, but she has an instinct and desire to kill. Her dead-eyed approach to wondering if Joe would kill Jana now that her usefulness was over distressed him slightly. His new army can’t tell a “righteous kill” from mayhem, which is not what he is all about (if that distinction really matters).
While the FBI scrambles around and spends most of their time and resources following Ryan Hardy around, Lily’s clan are killing with quick precision. She has amassed a family around her surrogate twin sons (with whom she has a Norma/Norman Bates relationship with — another thing The Following has stolen from a better show), to support their inclinations, just as Joe did with his original following. But this family doesn’t seem to have rules or a philosophy in place. When even Emma thinks you’re crazy, it’s time to reevaluate.
Despite these decent plot ideas, the rest of “Family Affair” dragged. The Hardy family can’t keep up with Lily’s, and the FBI is as useless as ever. Gina pushes Ryan away, Ryan pushes Mike Weston away, and the world turns. No one believes Joe is alive, and since he obviously is, when they find out I’m sure it will be at a moment when Ryan (or someone) is in mortal danger, and their denial leads to another death. “This is on you!” Ryan will cry, tears cresting in his eyes. “I told you, he’s back!”
The fun thing about The Following is not taking the show even a quarter as seriously as it takes itself. When Max and Ryan pursued Gisele in the subway, who wasn’t already thinking of how Gisele could dispose of Max, because the show loves doing that. Off the platform in front of the train perhaps? Nothing so dramatic took place, but there were plenty of other opportunities — Gisele’s break-in, or Mandy creeping quietly behind Jana. The show is nothing if not predictable, to the point where even twists aren’t surprising (like Gina and Jana’s connection). Still, as pulp, it can be fun. When it tries to go deeper though, it doesn’t work.
Episode Rating: C
Musings and Miscellanea:
— This episode was way too talky; no one cares about Lily’s background or about Emma’s feelings. It would do the show good to expand on Gisele more than her just being a sulky French girl who refuses to speak English. The French speaking this season is like Edgar Alan Poe last year: useless and grating (and I love France and speak French but, enough is enough).
— Good to know Joe still remembers about Joey.
— Tonight’s poor police work was brought to you by Windows 8!
— The Luke versus Mark, plus sexual tension with “mama,” should make for some freaky episodes to come.
— Max is a good addition to Ryan’s team (he needs someone to believe him), even though she will probably not survive the season. Remember: Ryan Hardy kills by proxy!
— “Death is a precious gift” – Joe Carroll.