Kevin Williamson has said his new FOX drama The Following is really two shows within one. You have the flashbacks that show Ryan Hardy’s (Kevin Bacon) hunt for Joe Carroll (James Purefoy) the first time; that’s the origin story. Then you have the present day search for Joey (Kyle Catlett) and additional cat-and-mouse, and that’s the sequel. But when I look at The Following, I see more layers than that. Hardy and Carroll’s twisted relationship is one show, certainly, but the dynamics between the “three psychos living in a house” are just as fascinating and therefore worthy of their own special show, implied threesome or not (after all, that threesome wasn't exactly sexy time but simply a show of unconditional love and support for a guy who was pretty devastated he couldn't be what he thought they wanted him to be). But time for that is coming to an end because The Following isn't f*cking around.
I honestly didn't expect Emma (Valorie Curry), Jacob (Nico Tortorella), and Paul's (Adan Canto) undoing to be little Joey, but it just goes to show you how much smarter and savvier kids today are, and how desperate and oddly trusting these three are. Paul's inclination to smack Joey around for using the phone may have been aggressive and barbaric, but Emma's need to coo and nurture is coming from a place of being in love with the kid's father. She doesn't want to look bad in Joey's eyes. You know, in case she's his new step-mom someday.
Okay, that line of reasoning may be a bit extreme, but it certainly seemed like she had weeks and months on end of a slow seeding that the stories he has heard about his dad-- about right and wrong, good and evil-- aren't true. But it goes back to what I said a few weeks ago, when the trio sent the video of them trying to teach Joey to be okay with killing an animal: she could fill his head with all the words she wants, the hole inside of him that would drive him to act the way they want him to simply isn't there.
Joey certainly has better instincts than a couple people in this show. The sweet old farm neighbors didn't think to lock their door, even though they were convinced they saw the boy from the news and his serial killer/cult member kidnapper. The small town cop's hands were shaking when he drew his gun, and little creaks in the old wood made him announce himself. There is no room in a show this smart for stupid characters like that, and I'm glad the show is ruthless with its treatment of them. But their presence here certainly allowed for a fascinating dichotomy with Hardy, who for the first time, looked completely healthy, alert, and like he was in top shape both physically and mentally. He emotionally matured enough to tell Claire (Natalie Zea) they had to have a conversation about their relationship; we didn't see him swig from his special "water" bottle once; and he managed to have the self-control not to just shoot wildly into the brush, ambushing Paul and Jacob as he saw them head back into the farmhouse (although he did waste precious time with that rube of a cop...). Maybe FBI work is like riding a bike, or maybe Parker (Annie Parisse) deputizing him gave him the confidence boost he needed, but this time it wasn't Carroll directly that seemed to give him energy and purpose. It was the pure adrenaline of the situation Carroll created.
What was most interesting to me about "The Siege" was not the man-hunt closing in on that farmhouse where you knew one chapter you had come to love was drawing to a close, but rather the whole new one opening with Roderick (Tom Lipinski) and Olivia (Renee Elise Goldsberry). First of all, Emma's actions in the first few episodes certainly made it seem like she believed she was second in command to Carroll himself, but tonight she deferred to and relied on instructions from someone else, someone clearly above her, and I can't wait to find out why. Not only who this guy is and why he's more trusted by Carroll, but also why Emma would be willing to take a backseat to someone she can't possibly have the level of feelings for the way she has with the others. And Roderick has now taken Claire in what I feel like has to become an easy swap-out kidnapping. Hardy has found Joey, but the job's not done; now they have to look for his mom...and you know, the rest of the followers.
But it was the use of Olivia as a mouthpiece in the media to deliver news to his little tribe and his ex-wife that may provide the most potential going forward. She clearly used Carroll in the origin story; she represented him just long enough to make a name for herself, gain notoriety, and drive up her rates, and then she decided she was done. And I'm willing to bet no one ever treated Carroll like that in the past; he has always been the manipulator, and here, he was a bit manipulated. But his plans for her were not to torture and chase the way he has with Hardy but instead to corrupt her, to use her to carry out parts of his plan without her knowing the whats, whys, hows, or how bad her involvement will make it for other people. He's ruining her reputation and her psyche in a completely psychological way. It's kind of nice to know Carroll isn't so narrowly focused on Hardy alone anymore.
Though, can we talk about how useless Hank (Josh Segarra) turned out to be? Snipping off two unnecessary fingers, even from a dominant hand, and then botching the getaway because he got trigger-happy? He was not worthy, something some may be thinking about Jacob. Personally, I do need more of Jacob's back story, please and thank you, because I just can't quite grasp what was so terrible about his life that he felt pretending to be a killer (and potentially having to become one) would be better than what he currently had going. Thankfully, I have a feeling we'll be getting much more of that next week when my favorite trio is faced with Hardy in their presence and will probably be a bit torn apart with their reaction to him. Paul may want to blow his brains out, but they are all under strict orders to keep him alive for Carroll. So when Mike (Shawn Ashmore) and the rest of the FBI finally roll up and turn the tables on them (because, come on, cliffhanger or not, that's where this is going), Jacob just has to be the first to crack, right?
The Following airs on FOX on Monday nights at 9 p.m.
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