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The Following: 109 “Love Hurts” Review

following-109

Reviewed by James Wynne.

How in the name of hell is Paul Torres still alive? Well, he isn’t anymore (congratulations Jacob – I hear the first time is always the best), but prior to Jacob suffocating him next to the log fire (I think Carroll would approve of the romanticism in that) he was still in fairly good shape considering he was stabbed in the gut with a rather large knife two episodes previously. It’s more than a little bit unlikely that he would still have been breathing after sustaining such a substantial injury, bearing in mind that quite a few days have passed since it happened, and he has had no proper medical treatment during all that time.

But despite my misgivings about the likelihood of Paul surviving for as long as he did, the scenes that took place in the Wells’ woodland residence weren’t all bad. Jayne Atkinson puts in a somewhat moving performance when confronted with her son for the first time since he’s become a Wanted man. The balance between her love for a son she daren’t believe capable of the heinous acts he’s been accused, and the obvious and reasonable doubt filtering through that, was about right.

Meanwhile, with Jacob things are starting to feel a little bit muddled. I’m still struggling to figure out what his motivation was for joining Carroll’s ranks. We see here that he has a mother doting enough to still offer her aid amidst homicidal accusations being levelled at him. And, let’s not forget that he takes refuge in what could only be a second household belonging to the Wells’ – so money is not a problem. He doesn’t even want to kill. Whereas he does take the plunge in doing so to Paul, that’s more an act of love than outright evil, so it remains that he is yet to kill anyone with the appropriate mindset for Carroll’s cult. It has been stated numerous times that those who have fallen prey to Carroll’s manipulative agenda are unstable. Jacob is not. There is no possible cause for his involvement. Is he supposed to be the moral centre at the hub of Carroll’s sadistic ring of psychopaths (a scenario that is wrought with problems, given that Jacob has still been privy to various murders despite not taking part in any)? Perhaps he’s intended as the crux of certain narrative developments towards the end of the series? Whatever the reason, Jacob’s unfathomable characterisation needs to be addressed.

As one would expect, “Love Hurts” focuses primarily on Carroll’s latest plans to locate Claire Matthews. This involves a recruit the viewers have yet to be acquainted with up until now, DeeDee (Amy Hargreaves). It’s a beautifully over the top performance with about as much depth as the series itself. Hargreaves simply chews the scenery and manages what James Purefoy as Joe Carroll can’t; she is actually rather intimidating. Her unhinged behaviour is a joy to watch, particularly as she accosts the bewildered friend of her first Claire Matthews victim in the café and nonchalantly informs the pair of them that she has a spear gun hidden under the table.

However, the writers of The Following appear to have quite a damning view of humanity. In my earlier review of “The Poet’s Fire”, I made mention of Rick Kester’s unhindered exit from the scene of his public murder and how I doubted the notion of not a single person making an effort to stop him. DeeDee’s brutal execution of Claire Matthews #1 doesn’t go unnoticed either, but besides the ludicrously casual nature in which she is able to depart, we see various others in the café desperately clamouring to get a look at the deceased and rather remarkably, one of them taking pictures of her on his phone. The callousness makes for a startling and disturbing image, sure, but it’s not really at all in tune with how most people would behave in those circumstances (or at least, I hope not). It reeks of expending realism in favour of theatrics and ruins what was otherwise a brilliant scene.

DeeDee’s quest to break Ryan takes her through a second Claire Matthews, but she hits a stumbling block with the third. First of all, with the FBI and Police having rescued two others in secret, how did DeeDee know which of them were still out in the open? Once the FBI locate the sole remaining Claire Matthews at a beach shindig, they promptly pursue in tandem. Of course, they do this with just Ryan, Debra and the pointless Nick Donovan (because why change tact now, right? It’s not like sending a mere two or three people in to similar situations has been unsuccessful every time previously), that is until DeeDee is confirmed at their whereabouts and backup is called in response – because leaving such things until the last minute is the Bureau’s modus operandi in The Following.

Final Questions…

- After seeing DeeDee chase Claire Matthews #3 in to a derelict building, why does Ryan decide that having a chinwag with Louise is a good idea? He shoots her in the end anyway, without her even doing what he said would prompt him to kill her. Why didn’t he just shoot her in the first place – be it to injure or kill? He would have had justifiable cause to do either, given that a civilian’s life was in serious danger while he was wasting time negotiating an unlikely surrender.

- How is it that Ryan was the only one able to find DeeDee and Louise within seconds of the latter firing off her gun, when Debra and Donovan had been close by only seconds beforehand? Also, how is it that he is physically able to give chase without his pacemaker wearing him down at all? As a matter of fact, when was the last time he appeared adversely affected by it? Why introduce it at all, if its effects are going to be ignored after just a handful of episodes?

- Do the writers of this programme even do the slightest amount of research? Nail Guns do not work as makeshift firearms.

“All kinds of nail guns can be dangerous, so safety precautions similar to those for a firearm are usually recommended for their use. For safety, nail guns are designed to be used with the muzzle touching the target. Unless specifically modified for the purpose, they are not effective as projectile weapons.”
– Wikipedia

This one was not modified, as it was retrieved at random, but at least it was used to threaten Claire Matthews #3’s life in the correct manner; pressed against the head.

So, another week and the same exasperating issue of lackadaisical writing persists throughout. The highlights are consistently few and far between and the entertainment factor of a series that continues to treat its audience like infants is hovering around nil.

Verdict: 5/10

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