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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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For a prime time show with an actor like Kevin Bacon. This has to be the worst script ever !!!. Fbi agents costantly do dumb stuff. Massive fugitive searches without helicopters and a handful of untrained agents. Totally disgusting.Really miss 24.Won't be watching next season. To the writers , do your research and create a more realistic script. Ughhh

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I am sorry but I see Molly coming right after the explosions and Emma is not caught yet too. But as much as I enjoyed James Purefoy acting, I hated it when the EVIL guy of the season comes back again next season. The Walking Dead is doing that too ! Dexter is good in this department, we get a different Villain of the season every year and we know it would be different and it would be great! The show ironically could be summed up by what Ryan Hardy said to Joe at the end - second rate, just fell short and all those comments. I think it is confirmed there will be a season 2. I hope the Kevin Williamson and the writers reads on the fans comment and really improved the second season so as not to waste Kevin Bacon !

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This show was just terrible. I watched the finale just out of morbid curiosity. But I had given up on the show a while back. Boy did I regret wasting my time on such an idiotic show.

Soapjunk

OMG! I was hoping, praying wishing that my screen would go black and their would be no molly, no stabbing claire ( Please let her live!) I was really really shocked. Stared at the screen for another minute and was like 'did that just happend?' I Can't wait for season 2 And im really interested what they will do. Also, I don't think Joe is death. It just can't be

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I didn't forget about the girl next door (and she was a good twist on what that phrase is supposed to mean). I just can't believe that the fbi didn't insist on greater security for Hardy and Claire because they would be great focus of whatever revenge from followers. I think Joe had his son kidnapped because he hoped that the story would go in a different direction. He hoped to reconcile with Claire and ride off into some mysterious murderous sunset with them. But he did say that the story had changed. And what father wouldn't want to be with his only child. It was a fine finale and given all the literary parallels, I don't think that it could have gone much differently.

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As a kevin bacon fan i hung in there for all 13 episodes. Why did these actors sign up for this project? Please don't suggest a second season! This was not good television.

Tvgarth

The Following was creepy enough to pique my interest, and "scary-horror" is not that easy to do on television. But in the end, it totally lost its focus and I found the finale rather unsatisfying in many ways. OK, so Joe's dead..or at least we think he is dead but I could come up with a hundred ways he could have escaped and left the tell-tale signs of his demise, so we shall see. But now Ryan's dead or injured, along with Clair and agent Parker did not live to see another day (or show)...though her death scene was well-lit, airless and creepy to be sure. What's to come? For the life of me, I cannot imagine but there's still that deep yearning to be scared and watch something that truly creeps me out. Like our reviewer, I'm in for season two but only so long as they get a firm grip on what they're doing and stop with the implausible and "out of tune." Here's to better writing for what was a GREAT cast of characters.

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When the characters are interesting and intelligent as FBI agents are supposed to be, a well-written script with good actors is enjoyable. So far, the Following has been a major disappointment and last night was the final "nail in the coffin" to play on words for me - again!! How dumb can an FBI agent really be when he knows the cult members are still out there and are more than willing to follow through with their "chapters" of Joe's novel or story. How can the writers portray the FBI in a more negative way when it comes to common sense and the supposed understanding of how devoted Joe's cult members really are to him or his memory? C'mon, not having a guard or leaving the door unlocked and exposing himself and Claire to danger or death? I guess the door is now open for "Winona" to return to Justified as a regular if season 2 is not picked up.

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Disappointing to say the least. Has the FBI ever heard of helicopters to get to Debra? Half the season they spent looking for Claire's son the other trying to find her and they aren't even united in the finale? Characters like Jacob Debra and Roderrick had huge impacts in the show and they had such pointless meaningless deaths. Hardy didn't know Jacob was dead so wouldn't he be worried that both he and Emma could still be trying to kill him or Claire after they find out Joe is dead? I mean he left his door unlocked...

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This series just really ran out of gas at the end, and the reason is that the writing just failed. There is a BIG difference between a very well-written show (i.e., Breaking Bad), and a show like The Following, that is just so full of holes and inconsistencies that it completely distracts you from getting into the story or the characters. The whole thing with Parker being buried alive was just silly. Not only did they kill off one of the most interesting characters, but that whole sequence just made no sense, considering that her being buried along with Joe's book was critical to Joes' "master plan". I mean, HOW did they know they would be able to catch her so they could bury her there with the book? They captured her almost by accident at that shelter, there’s no way they could have counted on that. And yet it was a huge part of their plan.? Just silly and bad, bad writing. That is just one of dozens of examples of that sort of thing. In the end, it was just a WEAK story. I won’t bother tuning in next season.

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