The Following: 106 “The Fall” Review
Reviewed by James Wynne
The title of this week’s instalment is oddly applicable to the series as a whole, as The Following pitches yet another ensemble of ridiculous scenarios that come together in a crescendo of farcical stupidity. First, let’s focus on the central elements of the plot, which involve Ryan’s capture and the developments of his predicament thereafter.
I find it hard to believe that three killers (well, two killers and a wannabe), who were able to deceive a person for years; kidnap a child; murder two officers of the law; all right under the FBI’s nose, would be so unsettled by Ryan’s antagonism and so afraid of what he could do that they’d fear to even approach him. Having Jacob squeal things like, ‘He’s looking at me funny’, whilst amusing, really do undermine the objective of having these characters pose a credible threat.
Also, the trio went to extensive measures to imprison Meghan Leeds (a defenceless, young girl), binding and gagging her to the extent that she was almost completely immobilised, yet didn’t see fit to do the same with Ryan. Instead, opting to tie only his hands and allowing him to voice his every provocation, whilst acknowledging that he is doing this in a deliberate attempt to get their backs up. Oh, and of course there’s the knife they so generously left lying well within his grasp, next to the extra rope they didn’t bother using to secure him to the chair – something that would have prevented his subsequent escape.
It’s absurd just how deliberately contrived this entire sequence of events is to permit Ryan’s escape. Not even a modicum of effort was made to have it appear otherwise. It’s unashamedly bad writing and it’s shocking that some of it even qualifies as being fit for production.
Anyhow, moving swiftly on…
I’ve been saying for a while now that The Following’s lackadaisical writing of the FBI has been its biggest and most frequent misstep. Well things go in to overdrive in “The Fall”, as the SWAT, FBT, HRT etc, are also interpreted as total incompetents. Having first allowed Emma and a small child to slip past their perimeter without opposition, barring a run-in with Mike Weston that results in him getting shot in the chest by the obviously untrustworthy cop (she had an opportune moment to kill him with a shot to the head, yet instead opts for the bullet-proofed chest area – is that borne out of the writer’s need to keep him alive, or is he also a cult member that still needs to maintain his cover?), they are then also given the slip by Jacob and Paul – the latter of whom is bleeding profusely from the gut as a result of Ryan’s violent escape.
First of all, where were the helicopters and spotlights illuminating the house; thus preventing any potential escapees from disappearing in to the night? Secondly, how short of staff are these various law enforcement agencies that their idea of a perimeter consists of a mere two men for every side of the house? Since when did SWAT shoot through a sole window as a means to subdue those inside the building? Where were the flash bangs, stun grenades or smoke bombs that are standard protocol when instigating a dangerous infiltration and detainment? How is it that two highly trained SWAT officers were crept up on and assassinated by two of Carroll’s amateur killers? As a matter of fact, where did these two suddenly come from? Oh, that’s right; they were plucked from the never ending supply of plot conveniences that are all too often The Following’s forte.
That’s the end of the questions, but not the problems. Despite stating beforehand that all roads leading to and from the farmhouse have been blocked off, Emma is able to escape in the dodgy, and now dead, copper’s wagon (quite why Ryan didn’t shoot the vehicles tyres when he had ample time to do so, I’ll never know), while Paul and Jacob brutally commandeer some random civilian’s wheels on a road at the farmhouse’s border. As if the episode was intent on pointing out its own plot hole; no sooner do we see all three fugitives escaping unhindered along the roads leading away from the farmhouse than we get the FBI once again assuring us that this shouldn’t be possible, as the roads *are* closed.
Now, what about Claire?
Well, as it turns out, her abduction served almost no purpose. That is, of course, apart from revealing that she has a dedicated follower of her own. Charlie is her captor and has spent the last two years noting her every action. He’s also every bit as stupid as his cohorts and Tom Lipinski is an excruciatingly poor actor.
He locks her in his underground base, which has all sorts of high-grade weapons strewn across the place, and then proceeds to allow her the freedom to explore whilst he takes a private call. Claire being Claire (the idiot that hopped willingly in to his car last week), takes the keys that he left in his removed jacket’s pocket, but doesn’t surmise that she might need one of those guns to assert her escape. And, as a result, is caught in true horror movie style – he’s behind you!
It’s not long before the FBI locates his hideout and so commences the most ridiculous moment of this entire farce. Upon them entering his high-tech den, he unsurprisingly makes a break for it, and is pursued all of two feet before one of the many present agents concludes: ‘He’s gone’, a mere two seconds after giving chase. Oh, well, out of sight, out of mind, I suppose.
As for Debra Parker’s sordid flashbacks, which actually included a flash within a flash (Flasheption?); it all came across a bit overwrought and disturbing for the sake of being so. Her parents, belonging to a cult of their own, attempted to gift her underage flower to an old man – and the writers expect us to find her attempts to make amends for seemingly shaming them by refusing to go along with it in the least bit believable. Instead, I found myself shaking my head in total disbelief that a situation as ludicrous as this was being treated with even a modicum of normality.
The Following has confirmed its unfortunate contention to nonsensical plots with this week’s episode, and any vague hopes I had of it recapturing the form of its first episode have long since been quashed. Its feigned sophistication is what really lets it down, as it only compounds the shoddy writing and prioritising of where it’s going, rather than how it gets there. Even Purefoy’s Joe Carroll is beginning to grate, as his slimy vocal tones and evil grin have become the only note he plays.
Where is the series going from here? Well, the imminent future looks like it will be treading an all too familiar path, as the reset button has been well and truly hit. Joey’s missing and his whereabouts is once again unknown. Everything is as it was. Expect once-a-week trips to Carroll’s interrogation room (where, it seems, nobody watches those cameras), and Edgar Allen Poe quotes galore – as well as the obligatory confirmation that he is being quoted.