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.


Editor Rating: 3.0 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 3.4 / 5.0 (321 Votes)

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


I'm a fan of Kevin Bacon, but I can't watch this show. I tried it twice and it's just too graphic. You can convey horror, etc. without showing it. They lost me early on.


Please cancel this show so that the time slot can open up for something better and the terrific actors can get on to projects that are worth their talent. This is a great ensemble cast, unfortunately, those wonderful people are walking on ice as thin as a pencil underneath because of the writing.


If Claire (Natalie Zea) is truly dead, let's hope she kept up her options for staying on Justified. She's too good an actress to be stuck in this show with such horrible writing.
This show is campy, predictable, moronic and unbelievable most of the time.
Remember the shows from Hitchcock and others of his era? These were highly educated people writing suspense that was chilling, terrifying and completely believable.
The 'big picture' part of this show has merit but it got crapped on in the details.


oops. Got the names messed up. Joe, not Ryan. (it's morning give me a break) but I still think everyone is too critical even after reading other comments. I LIKED the show!!


I think Seans comments were too critical. Its just season 1 for goodness sake. Give the writers a chance!! It wasnt a one time season show, so no need to "wrap" everything up neat and tidy. Agreed with some tho.. too bad about Parker.. Claire would have been w/Joey...Ryan HAS to still be alive due to falsification of records..Emma is almost as demented as Ryan so there are all kinds of possibilities for season 2..true watchers will wait and see. No climax if you werent left hanging....

@ Patti

when Breaking Bad and Dexter had there first season, it was great. But this show really sucks from day one. If you watch one season of this show and it hasn't got good then, most likely it will not get better. I say move on to something better. I know I will.


Great actors need great writing.
This how has the worst group of writers in the industry.
I think that writers for movies and television shows; just like doctors, plumbers, electricians, CPA's and other professions should have a competency test!
The scene where Debra is talking on the phone to Ryan and Mike. She's portraying someone that's getting sleepy while she's running out of air.
This is not how it works folks. Someone that puts a hose from a running car will fall asleep.
Someone locked in a coffin underground will react the SAME WAY as someone that has a plastic bag on top of their head. They are suffocating and gasping for breath. Forensics have shown that people buried alive try to claw their way out of coffins or confined spaces. IT IS A VIOLENT, HORRIBLE way to die. I give the cast of this show an A+ for a commendable job. I give the writers an F-!


It did seem like an inconsistent move to go to Ryan's grungy ,single guy's apartment . Claire would want to see her child. And,yeah ,Joe being able to get out of that inferno in one piece ,one again taxes incredulity! But,if he did not,there is no show. The cult without Joe would be like cutting the head off a snake! It is his charisma that drew people in,not his vision. I think every member of Joe's cult wants to sleep with him! And the final ambush stabbing? I wondered why they didn't just have her in a 'Scream ' mask ,or ,sorry ,an Edgar Allan Poe mask. Very formula. Writing as bad as Joe's is supposed to be,so, perhaps appropo .


Seemed pretty clear the stabbed guy was the body and he needed him for that, his wife even asked why he wouldn't let the guy go.


stupid ending for a good show,knowing how long that joe had clare watched ther was no reason for ryan to go back to his aprtment. not to mention the main motive for clare was the protection of joey, she would not have waited to see him. this show should be overlooked for an emmy just for this last episode.


I doubt Joe is really dead. Random stabbing victim dude was the dead body stand in and followers were responsible for falsely verifying the DNA. James Purefoy will be back (I hope!).

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