Warning: Spoiler Alert
The thought occurred to me while watching episodes four and five, of the third season of the FOX series “The Following,” that perhaps the series show-runners, consider their creation a very dark comedy, how else do they explain, the total ineptitude displayed by FBI Agent Ryan Hardy and his crew, consisting of his niece Max Hardy and Agent Mike Weston. During two straight hours of chasing down four psychopaths and a paralegal enabler, helping Dr. Arthur Strauss, they killed just one, allowed Strauss to get his trial dismissed, then missed numerous chances to capture Strauss, his student Daisy, as well as Mark Gray.
It appears that starting next week, the show’s going to radically alter it’s story-arc, finally introducing this campaign’s “Big Bad,” another student of Strauss, who also tutored serial-killer Joe Carroll. However, even infusing new blood into the series and the last-minute cameo of James Purefoy as Joe Carroll in hour two, isn’t enough to give this series back its credibility. The crew crossed the line in the second season and that hanging over their heads seems to stymie them at every turn. Right now the three agents, are covering up the unjustified shooting of Lily Gray last season by Weston, after one of her sons, slit his father’s throat on a cellphone video to Mike. Until that cloud lifts, they’ll remain ineffective, especially with the three beginning their suspensions in the next episode.
If you’re looking for a series that gives you about the same amount of deaths per-episode as your typical slasher-film, then the current version of the Following might qualify as the series for you. Once again deaths caused by damaged individuals, who take life so lightly was high in these two hours. If you want to view a parade of sick and twisted souls, who only feel alive, while killing others, again this fits the bill.
However, the brilliant game of cat and mouse played between Purefoy and series star Kevin Bacon in season one and at certain times in the second sign, are missing this time around. We’ve seen a disjointed effort of two insane men, one getting used without realizing and the Bureau failing to respond in time to any crisis. They’ve lost a colleague in Jeffrey Clarke in the second episode, two TV news-reporters last week and Hardy’s former girlfriend and key witness in the trial against Strauss, Carrie Cook in the first hour. When will the FBI actually do something right and how can the people of that universe, have any confidence in the Bureau?
These episodes don’t warrant a formal recap, so here’s a thumbnail-sketch of what went on, during 86-minutes of actual air-time, Mark Gray, Daisy and Kyle killed four firemen at the station that Max’s father and Ryan’s brother Raymond commanded before he died. Daisy and Kyle pushed a college student in front of a moving car, then tried to push his girlfriend off her dorm-room roof, to make it appear as a suicide. In one of the few good moves of the night for Hardy and company, they saved the girl, the daughter of the judge, whose trying the Arthur Strauss case the next day.
Strauss’ lawyer discredits Hardy so badly on the witness-stand, a previously slam-dunk case of guilty, now very much in doubt, leaning heavily on the testimony of TV magazine-show host Carrie Cook. Kyle and Carrie kidnap Cook, then roast her alive in their panel-van, the judge already dismissed the case, when Cook failed to appear by the deadline. Strauss, walks free and Ryan, Max and Weston get suspended the following morning.
They shoot Kyle to death, however Strauss and Daisy escape via helicopter. Weston’s about to shoot Mark Gray to death, when Ryan talks him out of it. He says if you kill him now his suffering ends, if he goes to prison he’ll suffer every day for the rest of his life. Weston puts the gun down and Gray jumps into the New York Harbor, and we will see him again. Max got beaten by Daisy with a plank, but she’ll be okay, we don’t know if her relationship with Tom’s okay after she had sex with Mike and Tom saw it on Daisy’s laptop. Ryan finally breaks down and visits Joe Carroll, who smiles and asks what took him so long?
There are scenes that Hardy and crew look so inept, I almost expect to hear the WAAH-WAAH of a trombone at the end of the scene, as if I were watching the Keystone Cops. This is certainly not the show that I enjoyed in the first campaign, or that came together in the latter half of season two. Strauss and his new student look intriguing, but the Bureau has yet to prove they’re up to the task at hand.
The Story Continues Next Monday Night, at 9:00 pm on FOX.