Intent on reminding you that shocking violence is both shocking and violent, The Following brings to you “Fly Away,” its most recent and violently shocking episode. The frequent and leisurely way people get stabbed in The Following has finally convinced me that this is, in fact, not a Fox drama but another one of the network’s wonderful sitcoms. Surely, at some point, we will see Ryan Hardy call his old buddy Jake Peralta for some help trying to find Joe only moments before The Vulture swoops in and cracks the case, causing everyone to mourn their collective failure over at the bar where Nick Miller is trying to explain to Cece that a Manhattan is not a vodka-based cocktail.
Not only does Ryan keep killing people (what!? How is he just supposed to get away with this!? Being an ex-FBI agent doesn’t just give you immunity when it comes to murder, does it!?), but Weston goes off the rail and starts knifing, shooting and pounding people to near-death. Is it his frustration that there’s a mole in the agency? Is he last place in his fantasy basketball league and has no other way of venting? Who knows? My money – and I believe I have documented proof somewhere that I called this from day one of The Following – is that he, too, is a Follower and everything is an elaborate ruse to convince Ryan otherwise. Now, he’s got Hardy to confide in him as an ally, which is all part of Joe’s plan somehow. Anything is possible in The Following, and though the logistics of something like that are confounding even by the standards of this series, it would at least take Mr. Hardy into a deeper state of mental anguish to the point where he might just give up on life, bringing the series to an end. We can only hope.
In the meantime, more weird stuff is happening, like Evil Twin Who Gets Shot taking Gisele’s body and pretending that she’s not actually dead. Both Evil Twins have held their heads in their hands in these recent episodes, possibly aware that they are insane, but for some reason, this is a step too far for Evil Twin Who Doesn’t Get Shot. He tries to snap his brother out of it, acting shocked like a normal person despite his participation in similar depraved sequences earlier in the season. At least Lily’s reactions to events that affect her in this episode show that she’s way out there and not the put-together person she pretended to be weeks ago. Until The Following stops treating its psychopaths like non-psychopaths, I am going to point out these unnecessary and ineffective attempts at humanization. When you can’t find ways of making your antagonists morally interesting and deep, just let them be full-blown villains.
Ryan finally sees Joe in person again in “Fly Away,” and Joe continues to out-smart him at every turn, which isn’t exactly difficult these days. The two characters haven’t really changed much in two years, but The Following has been so persistent in convincing us that Ryan is the good guy who needs to take down Joe, the bad guy, that you almost – almost – think that you could have the capacity to care about that during the brief glance they share. Joe, though, is not going to let that happen, because more awful books need to be written about his life. Not that I’m complaining about it, but the whole Edgar Allan Poe angle of The Following is completely gone, which made the reference to Joe as someone interested in literature surprising because of how easily forgettable that shade to him was. That said, there’s no structural conceit to the murders this year other than donning Joe masks. Actually, the cult hasn’t been wreaking havoc on the public to the same degree as it did in its first season. Of course, the show wants us to think that the cult is all but decimated at this point; however, it has also shown us that Joe has inhuman powers of persuasion. So, maybe except the split with Lily’s group to give Joe the opportunity to build his own ranks back up again, opening the door for just that kind of havoc again. I’m still holding out for the Fox comedies crossover, though.
[Photo via David Giesbrecht/FOX]