“The Following” is back to weave another ridiculous narrative of red herrings, dei ex machina and nonsensical plot twists.
Ah, yes, The Following – It’s all the vileness of Law and Order: SVU, the gore and morality of American Horror Story and the silly twists of LOST, all set to a somehow-not-obscure goth-rock soundtrack. The show that relishes the fact that all their characters are immediately dispensable at any time, so the writers don’t use too much energy to flesh them out. The real fun of watching the show is gambling on the characters and trying to decide whether they’ll die horribly and needlessly, or just end up being a secret, evil, Cylon-grade traitor all along. Because of this, I really don’t remember any of the character’s names, save for the villain Joe Carroll, because they say his name so often in this show that it’s almost too frequent to make it a drinking game (note that I said almost). I digress, but that last point is worth noting, because I’m going to assign nicknames to all the characters… because I can. So, keep up.
A year has passed since the insane climax of last year’s blood cult orgy and the ridiculous cliffhanger stabbing (that inexplicably occurred within earshot of an armed security detail), and I’m pretty sure there was an explosion that was supposed to kill the story’s villain (but you KNOW it takes more than a serious wound, a collapsing building and a major explosion to take out James “Showed-His-Dong-on-HBO’s-Rome” Purefoy); however, nothing really seems to have happened during this year. As The Following returns to us, we’re reintroduced to a slightly-older but none-the-wiser Kevin “Footloose” Bacon as he soberly sulks through his shattered life, still privately investigating the remnants of Joe Carroll’s mopey-rich-sociopath club. However, prior to learning that former-agent Footloose hasn’t quite gotten over all the people that died on his watch, we learn some super-important things that have been developing over the past year (in no particular order, because “who cares?”):
For starters, Footloose hit the bottle pretty hard, but he’s clean now and in AA. We then introduce new characters – Keith “not the dead one” Carradine, who is Footloose’s sponsor, and Footloose’s niece, who fortunately happens to be a brunette-cop-lady and fills the space left by Annie “She-was-awesome-in-The-Pacific” Parisse after she was suffocated in a box at the end of last season. My money’s on the niece dying and Carradine being a secret cultist all along, because you DON’T WASTE A CARRADINE!
Also, Shawn “Iceman” Ashmore, is still around, on suspension, probably because he let Footloose plug a scumbag at the end of last season. There’s some SUPER weak story in here about Iceman trying to get Footloose to talk to him all emotional-like regarding their feelings about plugging the guy who is relatively-directly responsible for the death of aforementioned season-one-brunette cop. Drunkloose doesn’t go for talking, because clearly that’s his process, and Iceman gets all fratboy butt-hurt and passive-aggressive. Who cares, right?
Meanwhile, the short-hair awful-girl, from season one, played by Valerie “I-don’t-have-a-joke-because-I-don’t-know-who-you-are” Curry, is still alive — moping and looking for other followers, or something to give her screen time. I’m sure she’ll matter in later episodes, but she pretty much just plods through this one giving Footloose the stink-eye whenever he’s on TV and looking like the Coachella version of the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.
Oh, and Footloose’s girlfriend, played by Natalie “poorly-defined-wife-character-from-FX’s-Justified-also-let’s-never-forget-that-her-big-break-was-NBC’s-Passions” Zea, dies from her wounds inflicted in season one’s finale, and is gone before you’re even able to get through your first “why-am-I-still-watching-this” shot of bourbon (or maybe that’s just me doing that while I watch this show).
Enough backstory – At the eleven minute mark (again, not to say that all, or even ANY, of the above happens before the eleven minute mark, but I’m obliged to let you know that this is the point in the episode where shit goes, pardon the expression, “off the rails” – and you’ll get that in about three seconds, but I digress) shit really goes crazy as three dudes in James Purefoy masks stab up a subway traincar filled with a bunch of civilians who are as happy and quiet as they are socioeconomically and ethnically diverse (the only survivor is Connie “Remember-Me-From-Gladiator” Nielsen who is bound to end up a regular… and probably a cultist). After this kinda uncomfortable scene, that I’m still surprised aired on network TV, everyone starts freaking out again about that mass-murder cult that never got rounded up. And now we’re fully into season two.
Lord help us all.
There are also creepy twins, played not by twins (but Sam “Also-no-idea-who-you-are” Underwood), because that’s a great way to slow down production, wear out an actor and be gimmicky all at the same time. They make their introduction to the party by murdering a gorgeous co-ed and then spending the day dating her body… and that’s not rape-slang, they spend the day together- they dance with her, talk to her and do all sorts of weird crap, so you know they’re REAL serious about the crazy business. No big shocker, they’re revealed to be two-thirds of the subway killers, the third part of the trio being the newbie that doesn’t cover his tracks well enough… I don’t think I have to spell the rest of this out.
Despite the fact that we’re in season two, it’s pretty much the same thing. Footloose tracks the bad guys, the bad guys kill people for essentially NO reason (except, maybe, peer pressure?), then Footloose corners one, then there’s an altercation and then either someone ends up dead (be it a minor character or a minor villain) OR the perp gets away in some goofy way. Sadly, that last part was a most unsatisfactory version of the latter in the season two premiere, an episode that feels like it really wanted to be a two-hour television event but wasn’t. All we get from episode one’s end is a painfully lukewarm twist – holy shit, Joe Carroll is still alive… and has grown an AWESOME beard!
It’s going to be another season of high-production value, and senseless, outlandish, visceral bloodshed with “throw a dart at the board and hope it lands on blood-orgy” writing. I can’t wait to see all of it.