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The Following Season Finale Review: Finishing the Story

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Going into the season finale of The Following, I had a lot of reservations.

The series off in a thrilling manner, pitting good vs. evil... revealing the scary possibility that followers were everywhere... showing us that Poe masks were crazy creepy... and teasing Joe Carroll's master plan, which involved his mass cult of killers and his nemesis Ryan Hardy; it was all a fantastic way to suck viewers in. And Kevin Bacon and James Purefoy have been outstanding.

But in the back half of episodes, the show began to tread water in this never-ending cycle of rescuing Joey... fighting random followers... and Ryan never being any step closer to catching or facing off with Joe.

Tracking Joe

Sure, Ryan Hardy remained a bad ass, but the elements that had accompanied the darkness of the episodes weren't as horrifying after awhile, even if they continued to be graphically violent.

At the same time, Joe's big plan turned out to be an obsession with Hardy and completing a novel that starred the flawed ex-FBI agent as the titular character. And Joe couldn't help but want to talk about this chapter, the next chapter, the ending, motifs and everything that really tried to spell out whatever was going on.

Heck, there was even a discussion about a fitting ending or a predictable one. Are the writers trying to constantly hint at the events on the show through literary terms?

The problem with "The Final Chapter" was that it found a way to conclude certain aspects - giving us some scary, riveting and edge of your seat moments - but it also made you scratch your head and wonder how it all came down to this ending in the first place.

Things got off to a running start from "The End is Near" and trying to rescue Debra in the coffin. So was it necessary to kill her off?

I know for Ryan and Mike it was another frustrating and sad moment of losing to Joe yet again. And, at the same time it was wild, but believable, to see Ryan straight up kill the one-eyed follower (speaking of one eye, whatever happened to the FBI boss after getting stabbed?) and storm off with a vengeance to face Joe, even if that's what he normally does.

Yet, when you think about it, we really only got one flashback of Debra's life as a cult member herself before simply becoming a sidekick to Ryan. Unfortunately, the lack of development for her (why must they kill of characters we have barely scratched the surface on?) made me forget her death when Ryan and Joe finally got to meet up with about 15 minutes left in the episode.

Sorry, Debra. RIP and all.

I was enthralled by the back and forth between the two characters, less because Joe was trying to write his final chapter, but more because there was a feeling that only one character could make it out alive. And I've been dying to see these two together without something in between.

I loved Ryan getting under Joe's skin by calling him "second rate" and a list of other disparaging comments. Not to mention, the great fight sequence, although I wish Ryan would stop running into really dark places without a flashlight or backup.

There was something rather chilling of watching Joe and Ryan duke it out as the flames erupted around them, keeping the characters more in the shadows than the light. More so, I really did feel that the lighthouse was a fitting place to end Joe's chapter or story.

Because he did die, right? He's not going to come back next season as some silly surprise. I mean, that house exploded.

Of course, the finale couldn't be without its last minute twist and it was a good one, even if it wasn't overly shocking. I had forgotten completely about Molly. It would certainly have been a bold and unpredictable move to actually kill Ryan, although it would probably also kill the show, but I knew his stabbing was a mere flesh wound. After all, Joe stuck around for a long time after getting stabbed with a knife and fork.

Now, will Claire actually die or make a miraculous recovery? I think it would be far more interesting to pull Ryan's love away from him right after he believed he had won. It would be far more tragic and propel him even deeper into a darkness that he might not be able to escape from. If anything, it just adds to the point that Ryan, despite everything, can't be victorious.

But even with the stabbing ending and the decent pieces throughout, it's hard to believe that a show about a group of followers ended up focusing on an obsessed Joe alone.

Not to mention his sadistic stabbing of some random character named Neil. I half thought maybe he was a new bad guy, but nope, just a dude for Joe to kill. C'mon, Joe, you used to be so composed.

Really, it was as if the followers dissipated into thin air. Yes, they are everywhere, but you can't use that as an excuse to not have them involved anymore. And, sure, Emma was around and it seems might be out for revenge next go around, but even she didn't have much to do except sport some new bangs.

While the ending found a way to be poetically simplistic in the final battle between Ryan and Joe, it's as if everything else along the way was a ridiculous detour. Did a lot of the middle events like dealing with Roderick, kidnapping Joey, the crazy Poe website or the militia have any real influence on the final outcome?

I guess at least Ryan Hardy was able to get his man in the end, even if I'm still frustrated by a lot of the things that went on throughout.

I have no idea what the show is going to do for season two, but hopefully it decides to spend some more time exploring other characters and not killing them off too soon, doesn't follow the same pattern except this time with Emma and also gives the show a purpose beyond some guy building a cult but really just wanting to write an amazing book.

I'm still willing to to see what the series tries next time, but if it doesn't give the story and characters some real meat and explore something different, The Following just might lose its own followers.

Review

Editor Rating: 3.0 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 3.4 / 5.0 (320 Votes)

Sean McKenna is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow him on Twitter.

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How can we hope to pull all the pieces back together and remember what's going on after waiting however long for Season 2? I couldn't believe it when I realized it was over (the episode). All thru the season I kept wanting to be scared. From the first I just couldn't get into Kevin Bacon. Maybe Daniel Craig would have made a difference.

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Really? This is how Joe dies? What a WUSS! I am sorry I watched the series. At least have him thrown off the lighthouse. He just allows Kevin Bacon's character to toss him into the fire- Is Kevin Bacon superman? Thought Joe would put up a better fight. What a disappointment to the series finale.

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Please let Joe be dead, I do not believe I can stand another season of him. He was a great nemesis but ready for a new bad guy or gal. Claire hopefully is dead as there can be no love story in this type of show. But Ryan will carry on after treatment in a hospital for both his stabbing and mental breakdown after all he is the star.

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It would have been so much better (and in homage to Poe) to end this like a Greek tragedy: Joe really dies in the fire. Emma, upon learning of Joe's death, kills herself. Molly succeeds in killing both Ryan and Claire, making this both end of season and (mercifully, for the viewers) end of series.

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Reviewers just a complete moron, its actually worrying! You SERIOUSLY believe Joe's master plan was to write a book??????? HE WASNT 100% PROVEN TO BE DEAD!!!!! Why do you think they bothered to mention DNA, Dental Records etc???? ITS......A.....RUSE you think this show A. can survive on/would be stupid enough to make the ENTIRE NEXT SEASON about Ryan vs EMMA!?!!?!?! good god some people SMFH just watch the first episode of Season 2 where everything I said turns out to be true (since I actually have a brain and common sense) and then you can apologize for your SCARY DUMB conclusion.

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WHAT second season?? Didn't I read that Kevin Bacon only signed on to this show because it was to be concluded in a single season?

Watchestoomuch

Two more thoughts: 1. The best line in the episode was when Joe said to Ryan (I'm paraphrasing from memory): "I've been stabbed with a knife and a fork; I don't think I'm up for another struggle." 2. Joe is going to find a new literary hero in season 2 to "keep things interesting." We're already Poe'd out. I suspect it will be the Marquis de Sade.

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I'm upset that its so predictable.... that's my problem. Random thoughts: 1. Why kill off Deb. With her upbringing, she was perfect for Ryan. She had good insight on how cults operate.
2. Why kill off Roderick. His background story would've been a good topic.
3. There were too many oversights as far as to how these followers infiltrate people lives etc. A few weeks back when that black FBI guy got stabbed right in the office....... that ain't happening folks.
4.We need to know how these people get brainwashed by Joe.
5.Ryan has a pacemaker..... he'd be dead by now 10 times over.
6. Shows like this need people you can trust 100%. Other than Mike, I don't trust anyone.
7. I'm sorry, but Emma is a bitch and a horrible actress.
8. Joe would've died of blood loss or infection in real life if stabbed.
9. Cell reception can suck in a shopping mall... can't be much better burried underground.
10. If felt great when Ryan & Mike be the shit out of that guy. In real life.... he would've passed out or at least had a headache.
11. Clair spends how many weeks desperately trying to get her son back, yet she goes to see Ryan for a quicky before seaking out Joey... no woman I know would do that.
12. I'm not convinced Joe is dead. If he's not, he better be terribly disfigured, because no one can survive that heat without some damage.
13. If Joe is alive....... the writers better have a plausible story as to how.

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In my view of the first season, it was all over the place but still stuck together. Usually I see shows about a killer on the loose and someone in particular is trying to catch him. This went from one man, to a team, to an entire cult. I do not believe Joe's motives for all this were to start a cult but to write his book. He used everybody just for a book and was inspired by the dark writer himself, Edgar Allen Poe. Joe is insane yet strategic. I honestly do not know what to make of it. He had a well thought out plan (on paper) that referenced from Poe's writing. Very strategic and interesting. I felt that there was too much focus on Joey, Clair's son. Yes, that was the primary focus but after a while, it started getting old and I wanted to see more, which I did...eventually. I feel that came too late into the show when Joey was free and Clair was kidnapped. What I really enjoyed throughout the season were the constant flashbacks. It put the entire story together of why people are the way they are. At first, I found Agent Parker annoying until I saw her past. It was interesting and made me have a little more respect for her character, especially when she died. As for Ryan Hardy, I saw much psychological change in him from the very beginning to the end. One by one, they people close to him were seriously wounded or dying off. He went from by the book and strategy to torture and extreme interrogation. Although he did not die (or did he?) as predicted in Joe Carroll's book, his mind of going over the edge fit the book. Even though died, he still was deeply scared in Ryan's mind. What I thought was going to be a cliche ending was shocking in a way. I knew there were some Joe's followers that were still alive. Obviously, the audience cannot just forget about them. But I forgot of what happened to Hardy's ex in the previous episodes and how Joe promised her she would kill him. The ending left me thinking "Did she kill Ryan or did she kill Clair thereby killing Ryan on the inside?". There was that one follower in the previous episode that told Ryan that Clair had to die "so that you [Ryan] could be reborn." Does that mean that there will be a season 2? I honestly do not know. In my opinion, I really hope it does not continue into a season 2 for a few reasons. 1) This ended well. Not necessarily with a bang, but ended fairly well 2) Most shows in this generation start off great but deteriorate after the 2nd or 3rd season and I really do not want that to happen to 'The Following' 3) I am one of those movie/series fans that enjoy being left questioning in the end. I want to know what happened after while at the same time, I do not. Overall in my opinion (sorry if you disagree but suck it up), I give 'The Following' 4 stars with an 87%.

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Anytime an FBI agent or a police officer pulled his gun you knew he/she was about to be attacked. Weak.

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