The Following Season 1 Review “The Fall”

As television dramas are being constructed, there will eventually come a time where the show decides what aspect of television making it is going to hang its hat on. Many times, it boils down to asking what’s more important: character or plot. In recent history, it’s easy to see a string of high-quality dramas they have placed their bets on character and have reaped the rewards as a result. Staying true to characters allows the story to seem richer and more believable to the viewer. Even when the character pulls off something completely preposterous, as long as it is in within the scope of possible behaviors, then viewers can usually suspend their disbelief. Walter White robbing a train seems completely ludicrous, but his level of intellect and hubris make a train heist seem like something within the realm of things he would attempt.

Other shows, like The Following, place their bet on plot. The show believes (I guess correctly) people will turn out to watch serial killers in training hang out on a farm, and watch James Purefoy menacingly sit behind a table. The problem with operating from a plot-first mindset is that character continuity (the stock and trade of “smart” audiences) is tossed out the window in the name of moving plot forward. From the first five weeks alone, we’ve watched Ryan Hardy “go rogue”, Joey Matthews go from being a super genius back to a moron in the span of 30 minutes, and Claire Matthews get into the car with a man she did not know despite the fact the FBI had a legitimate lead on her son’s location. Without a doubt, that string continued tonight.

It’s become easy to see The Following has zero interest in making their characters seem intelligent. Apparently, only dumb actions can move the plot forward. Three killers who assimilated perfectly into a community for several years before revealing themselves to be Carroll disciples probably would have a bit more care in securing a captured FBI prisoner. A simple tying of the hands of Kevin Bacon (an unintended hilarious metaphor for the entire show) while leaving the knife on the table beside him is shortsighted at best. Perhaps not as shortsighted as being completely unprepared for any kind of police assault, but it’s definitely up there.

Further muddying the waters is the realization that anyone, at any time, could be a Carroll disciple. To this point, so many people have become embroiled in this cult/conspiracy I checked the visitor logs at the prison to make sure I hadn’t been there. The lady cop being revealed as the latest accomplice for Carroll doesn’t even move the needle. It’s safe to say we understand anyone can be a bad guy for the almighty Joe Carroll. If no one really cares, then why continue on this path? You’ve moved well beyond being clever. Now it’s just boring.

Some quick thoughts:

*I really do not care the least little bit about FBI Agent Parker and her awful past. Also, I have no idea why I would. What have they done to make her compelling?

*Kevin Bacon was really good in this episode. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate his hustle. He could have collected his paycheck and mailed in this drivel. Instead, he’s showing out. It’s a shame the show won’t receive Emmy consideration, because we should at least put his name in the running.

*Can Joe Carroll sit a different way at the table? Surely, he can mix in a lean back every once in a while.

*I’m glad Agent Westen asked the question that was on my mind: “Who are these people!?”

What did everyone else think of tonight’s episode?