As The Following Season 1 progresses, it's become more clear that this series is less of a crime drama or even a look at how the FBI would handle, seek out and dismantle a crazed cult.
It's not even really procedural despite the usual slew of "followers of the week" that instead serve the plot rather than become real characters.
Certainly, Roderick, Emma, Jacob and the leader himself, Joe, have been able to transcend that concept allowing them to be engaging because they get the chance to be explored and grow.
This episode further established that Roderick isn't just a "yes" man following Joe's every whim like a puppy dog. He even refused Joe multiple times before finally agreeing to help. It definitely makes me look forward to seeing some confrontation between the two because with them being strong alpha type characters, both can't survive.
If anything, Roderick is more than just a number-two guy to his boss, even if he carries out certain commands.
Jacob's first kill was enough to make him start seeing Paul despite the fact that his best friend was dead. And while it seemed initially like that death affected him to the point of not wanting to do it again, the reverse statement was the truth. In a rather graphic scene of blood splatter and knifing the Paul vision, Jacob came to the realization that he has a taste for killing now.
Emma really better watch her back. As much as she put on a convincing show for Jacob, I still didn't buy her story. These two are two very different characters, and Jacob has been put on a major path for revenge and darkness. Although, I do hope that the switch isn't so complete in that Jacob no longer becomes a real character but rather just a lethal killer unleashed. I really enjoy seeing the conflict and the depth of his person, especially in the presence of the cult around him.
Which ultimately brings you to Joe who is the puppet master, writing the sadistic story that stars his nemesis Ryan Hardy. He's still obsessed with getting his wife back and messing with Ryan, and while we did see him try and become something of a dad to Joey (with major manipulation moves), I want to see him do more than give evil grins, dole out orders or remind everyone that the next chapter of the story is about to begin.
I really think James Purefoy makes Joe a fantastically evil character, but I want that character to really get involved.
And yet, at the same time, seeing who Joe is as the villain, further extends the show more into the genre of a horror thriller.
You've got your good guys and bad guys, with a few bits of grey area in between, but it's that face-off that fuels the show. More so, it's the suspense and scares that help fill up the hour.
How creepy was it, having the masked bad guy tap on the window? How frightening was that Poe mask in the video, along with the website littered with screams, visuals, and blood?
On that front, the series does a pretty good job of making things engrossing, even if certain things might feel predictable.
I love that Ryan Hardy takes out the bad guys without real hesitation, although at this point we know he's going to. What is his body count at? He's starting to rival Jack Bauer.
More so, I appreciated the look into his past with regards to relationships and piling on the fact that he really has only loved Claire. Similarly, it gave us a chance to see a real friendship with Tyson, who I did fear would end up being a follower. Instead, he met a bullet while helping his friend.
But I had a feeling if any of the three would be hurt, it was going to be him. Plus, there was no way that they would all get away clean because then that would feel silly and not contribute to the scary factor that a world with followers means anyone can get hurt.
And as much as Ryan wants to quit, especially with his friends being the ones that meet their demise, he can't get out of the game. Joe won't let him, and Ryan himself is ultimately destined and driven to defeat the madman. These two are set on a course of good and evil that will play against each other until probably one is dead.
Claire continuously making the dumb decision to run off with the followers doesn't help matters, in addition to it driving me nuts. I know she wants her kid and thinks it's the only way... but c'mon, this show has Ryan, and even with all his bumps in the road, he's pretty good protector. And he loves her and that's going to keep him going even if he tries to fight those feelings.
I am curious as to how Molly, the girl from Ryan's past, will play into Joe's plan, but I hope that she doesn't become another throw away character in the end.
I still like The Following, and looking at it more as suspense mixed with scary can keep things engaging. Certainly "Guilt" had plenty of moments to do so, but I wonder how long all of that can succeed as a whole, especially if all the characters that do get the chance to grow and become developed get killed off.
It's even enjoyable watching Ryan try and take down Joe, as is exploring the eerie connections with Poe, but at some point the series is going to have to move away from the cat and mouse game and see what else the followers are going to do besides spend their time capturing Claire or having shootouts with Ryan.
Sean McKenna is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow him on Twitter.Tags: Reviews, The Following