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RocketPress Media | April 19, 2014

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The Following: Let Me Go

The Following:  Let Me Go

The.Following.s1e7The Following:  You know what? It’s been seven episodes. Seven. And I still don’t believe that Joe Carroll actually has any sort of plan. Sure, he escaped. I’ll chalk that up as a victory. But he’s so smugly proclaiming that he has so much in store for our hero Ryan Hardy. Does he? Does he really? I’m skeptical. So much of what has happened has relied upon the bungled efforts of the FBI or the emotional flailings of his band of disciples. I’m finding it unbelievable that this serial killer could have accounted for all of these variables in his master plan. The pieces in his chess game do such unpredictable things. How could he have planned in advance that Charlie would show up at exactly the right time to stop the warden’s daughter from escaping the garage after Joey was negligently allowed by Emma to wander off to the cage she was kept in… twice… and set her free? He can’t plan this far out. I just don’t buy it. I want to. I’ve been desperately hoping for weeks now that Joe’s magical maniacal plan would reveal itself as a brilliant piece of work. But his announcement this week that this was the end of the first section of his “book” and he’s now starting the next makes me take stock of what the first part of the “book” was. By my estimation it was nonsense.

The fact that anyone can be revealed to be a disciple of Joe Carroll at any time puts too much power in the writer’s hands. I am 100% certain that Agent Parker or Weston (or both) will be revealed to be a follower by the end of the season. It’s stretching too much credibility that this many people can go unnoticed for so long as a cult setting up one of the greatest plans in history. Because I know that the writers have this little trick in their back pocket all the time, I’m ceasing to care about the potential for success for any given operation. As soon as Hardy gets close to making progress, another mole will be trotted out and I’m supposed to pretend that I’m super surprised and exhilarated by the twists of the show. But I’m not. I’m bored with them.

Now it’s true that lately I’ve been craving mystery and a puzzle-like structure in a TV show. I don’t mind when a show takes a long time to reveal its hole cards (poker metaphor). In fact, Netflix’s House of Cards has done a great job of keeping its main character’s true motivations a secret throughout most of the season. The difference is that House of Cards tells compelling stories in the meantime, and when the reveals are made, they are genuinely surprising and also seem plausible. The Following has been filling its time with bland action, poor dialogue, and unbelievable coincidences. Why did the SWAT team let Charlie go when he’d only run up the stairs like fifteen seconds prior? How did the FBI simply lose a helicopter off its radar? Why did no one physically monitor the prison van leaving the prison instead of relying solely on serveillance footage? These are legitiamte questions that have no real answers other than “it serves the continuation of the story.” They are making things complicated just for the sake of being complicated. They dangle the promise of surprises while telling bland stories. If you’re going to play a shell game, you have to mix up the shells in an entertaining way. You can’t just hide the ball under a shell and stand there for an hour only to reveal you’ve been cheating and the ball can simply disappear at any given time.

I feel like this show doesn’t respect me. It asks me to look the other way too many times. It wants me to believe the cult followers are so disorganized, yet they’re doing exactly what they’re supposed to. It wants me to accept that anyone can be a follower, yet I’m still supposed to be shocked when someone is revealed to be one. It wants me to respect the criminal genius of the villain, yet I’m not allowed to understand the purpose of his plan. It’s hollow. It’s meaningless. It doesn’t impress me or make me feel anything. Seven episodes. I should be hooked by now. I want to be. I want something smart and shocking to happen. But it won’t. It’s just going to keep stringing me along with implausibilities and deus ex machina solutions to complex conflicts. The name of this episode was “Let Me Go.” Aptly named. Let me go The Following. I can’t keep waiting around for you to prove you’re more than a hackneyed poorly planned thriller. Let me go.  –  CANCELED