FOX ordering a second season of The Following today made me, perhaps, a little more expectant for tonight’s episode “Let Me Go”. The Following is still on my watch-live list—commercials and all—but, I’ve become a little fed up with some of the plot conveniences that seem to be thrown in to move the story forward in Joe Carroll’s favor, logic be damned. Such as the fact that a local cop turned out to be a cult member in last week’s “The Fall”, but never warned Carroll’s minions that their location had been compromised, until they were surrounded by a S.W.A.T team and the FBI. Yes I get that interrupting that moment of elation where you think Joey has been saved with “OMG the cop is in on it! AND, IS WESTON DEAD?!” is the cornerstone of the show’s formula.
I came into The Following hoping for a psychologically complex thriller assembled with well-informed journeys into the sometimes scarily admirable machinations of a psychopath’s mind, and when I first saw it begin to drift away from anything remotely resembling that and towards simple shock and thrill TV, the equivalent of a popcorn movie, I was at first shocked; then, I began to recognize The Following’s true genius. Tonight’s “Let Me Go” was the perfect time for me to begin enjoying this show for what it is. Adrenal candy.
In “Let Me Go” the seemingly omniscient Joe Carroll escaped. If you guessed he had the Warden in his pocket, you’d be right. Yes, The Following still hasn’t gotten any better at legitimizing its more logic deprived twists, but the tension, the anticipation, just the pure energy of the production was fantastic and cinematic. Seething villains, breathless good guys that never give up, awesome set pieces, brilliant supporting performances … The Following isn’t good at logic, because it’s so damn good at pace. You shouldn’t have time to think about logic, that’s not the way this show designed to work. You don’t drive a minivan to get the sports car experience, and you don’t watch The Following for densely intellectual examination of a maniac. You watch it for the thrill.
One I let go of my expectation for logic, the real kick of The Following became clear. I understood why Kevin Bacon’s Ryan Hardy would randomly become disabled by his obviously inadequate-for-serial-killer-hinting pacemaker. Because tension, stress, surprise, the sense of no control, are all things that The Following is constantly throwing at you, so you need an easily digestible supply so your head isn’t caught trying to ‘work everything out’ while they are setting you up for the next one.
On that note, tonight’s “Let Me Go” completely addressed another of my concerns, and that is the scope of the overarching tale. I’ve had a little trouble with the kidnapping arc trailing out so long, but tonight’s ending was a real game changer. I really didn’t expect Carol to waltz into a Waco like compound, and now that we have seen some of the mass of his Following it’s intriguing to wonder if his reach might extend a bit further than he knows. Those questions alone provide varied and twisted potential arcs for future seasons. A+.