I started watching The Following in its first season primarily because of the Edgar Allan Poe angle. A brilliant psychopathic Poe -enthusiast writer who forms a cult of like minded killers? Sign me up. It was a pretty cool premise, though Poe purists no doubt bristled at the idea that Poe’s works could be the catalyst for psychotic crimes. (And yeah, definitely a stretch. I’m sure there aren’t people who dream about a dungeon with a pit and a sharpened pendulum custom made for their enemies. Definitely not.) Currently in its third season, The Following has pretty much gotten off the literary route and is now just about the psychopathic killers and the blood. Murder for the illiterate crowd.
And yet, I’m still watching. I don’t think it has much to do with the gripping plot or the new and interesting ways people are killed on the show. I mean, the plot gets more and more ridiculous with each episode and the FBI is so completely inept that I find myself wishing they were as competent as 24‘s CTU. And while the murderers are getting pretty creative, its become almost comical each time blood is spurted across a table.
And plot holes? Let’s hear it for never-plugged-in laptops that have endless battery life, FBI agents that consistently fail to call for backup, implausible situations where cops are “by themselves” investigating, and of course, my favorite, the old “we-never-recovered-a-body-so-the-vilian-might-still-be-out-there” ploy.
And still, I watch it.
Come to think of it, and with apologies to Kevin Bacon, I think my continued interest in the show just has to do with the main bad-guy, Joe Carroll. Joe Carroll, played magnificently by James Purefoy, is the original Edgar Allan Poe wannabe, the leader of the original cult in season one and the driving force behind the first two seasons. Plus, he has a British accent making him appear both smarter and more evil than anyone else in the cast. Even Carroll’s teacher, Doctor Strauss, seems more like a guy out of Dukes of Hazard than the brilliant psychopath he is supposed to portray. Unfortunately, Joe Carroll is spending season three on death row so his appearances are few and far between.
I’ve been obsessed with television shows before. I know what it’s like to binge watch three seasons until 4AM (both a mark of shame and a badge of honor). The Following is not one of those kinds of shows, but I am still drawn to the story and the characters, even though they have become more guilty pleasure than devotion to art.
Kind of like watching Dance Moms. Well, maybe a step above.
But don’t think of this as a complete Following bashing. Even though Joe has been marginalized, and there are no more literary allusions, and most of the smart characters have been killed off, and the main characters are becoming more whiny and irritating, there is still a glimmer of hope that is keeping me watching through this season (besides Joe Carroll still alive in jail):
Yes. The new guy. Ridiculously smart. Completely coldhearted. A definite step-up from the past villains that have tried to step into Joe Carroll’s place. With any luck he’ll survive the season and maybe, just maybe, turn The Following around.
Either way, for some reason, I’ll still be following.