The Following "The Fall" Review: Chances Are, You're Also a Cult Member

By Nick Campbell

Feb 26, 2013

The Following S01E06: "The Fall"

Remember when we all talked about deus ex machina? I'm pretty sure this is what Horace was talking about.

In any other procedural where the police aren't mindless sacks meant to be stabbed and shot, a surrounded house, by every conceivable agency, is a prelude to a shoot-out. Did you hear the list of forces descending on the property? I'm pretty sure Ryan was just making up acronyms after a while. They had the perimeter sealed, they'd identified the access points, (which, I assume, were also the exits), and even had an airship there or on the way (unless that shot of the helicopter was simply artistic). And yet.

This was something we always knew the show was capable of, the hopeless situation that gets flipped because no one was keeping track of Carroll's visitors and internet time and he racked up many dozens of followers. They could show up at any time with any set of skills because, as Parker was quick to point out with a line that seemed to have more tags on it than Lord of the Rings had endings, belonging is a "primal need," so literally everyone you can think of might be in on the plan.

So we're clear, we're not talking about Officer Marsden, who we all basically knew from the first time she batted her doe eyes at Weston that she was in with Carroll. I'm a little surprised that she wasn't more involved with thwarting the police's plan to storm the farmhouse. She was generally a bystander until they found Emma. Then she found her switch. In fact, what information we might take from the entire altercation between Marsden, Emma, and Weston is that she shot him not in the face or the leg or the arm, but square in the bullet proof vest. To be sure, a Carroll minion shooting Westen does not absolve him from being Ryan's "follower."

That Charlie introduced the term "follower" to specifically mean someone who keeps tabs on an important party to the overall "scheme" is an interesting turn. It at least demonstrates that there's some sort of organization to this madness, that it's not just a bunch of deranged kids marching into the world with kitchen knives and a brief overview of Poe. From what we've seen of Jordy, the threesome, and Hank the Cleaner who pretty much failed his first job, the infrastructure for masking all the calls and emails seemed a little out of reach. But learning that maybe not every one of the hundreds under Carroll's employ behaves like a murderous outcast from the Creek with absolutely no power within the superstructure might be the most promising thing about The Following to date.

Although let's face it, Charlie isn't exactly a genius either. I understand the temptation to make a "follower" fall in love with his target (so many terrifying movies are about just that thing), but... I kind of wish Charlie hadn't. A fond affection, sure. A bond that remains secret even to Carroll? Yeah. But the horror-movie-esque crescendo soundtrack to when Charlie stabbed Claire with a kiss was just goofy. I hadn't thought about Disturbing Behavior in a long time, but the "impure thoughts" schtick coupled with the flagellation by head trauma just reminded me of when one of the brainwashed kids in the movie bashed her head into a mirror, chanting "Bad. Wrong." It's theoretically disturbing but, in practice, pretty silly.

Maybe part of the reason I feel that way is that I have zero empathy for Claire. It's troubling, since the show has worked really hard to make the audience feel something for her. This is a woman who suffered a husband who turned out to be a serial killer and tried to kill her, a woman left behind by Hardy so he could continue his quest toward noble martyrdom, a woman who had her son kidnapped by the thousands-strong cult that worships that same murderous husband, and she's still so very stupid. And so very dull. And not at all as intoxicating as Carroll. Yet the show is basically begging us to believe. Claire is kind of like Jennifer Aniston in that way. The media and the industry for decades have been trying to tell me she's either the worst or the best when, in all reality, she's really just fine, and the constant demand that I fall one way or the other makes me reject her entirely.

Anyway, the "followers" and Roderick—a deity-like fixer who's named after a character with only the faintest grip on reality and who's basically handicapped by his own neuroses (?)—offered a sliver of hope that the shitshow that's been The Following's first six episodes might just be the first dirty layer of an onion. But, at the same time, I can't escape that feeling of deus ex machina, where several tactical divisions were thwarted by a few men who, to the best of our knowledge, escaped unscathed. Did Carroll also turn some Navy SEALs?

This is the trouble I'm having with the series. At once I can see where this is headed, where, yes, we've been witness to a mess but it was supposed to be that way. We were bearing witness to pawns, the simpleton drones who were the catalyst for the drama but certainly not in charge of anything. Howver, the show hasn't provided me with enough evidence that I can trust it to not constantly bring up any of Carroll's millions of cult members to thwart Ryan's "gotchas." It's one thing to maintain a universe of suspicion by feeding paranoia. It's another to present a hopeless situation and undermine it with some unreasonable, made-up bull crap.



NOTES


– One thing I really do like about The Following is that Ryan isn't trigger-shy. He will shoot some folks for looking at all suspicious. What he doesn't seem to be great at is stabbing people. Three times to the gut and Paul still makes it through the night? How to shiv a dude must not have been part of FBI training.

– I really don't like that my spellcheck knows that I got "Aniston" wrong the first time.

– Lesson of the night: Kids, always be suspicious of milk. Get your calcium from leafy greens, instead! Spinach and kale = less opportunity to be roofied.

– I really hope Meghan comes back to help out in some way. Otherwise, that whole storyline was kind of silly and a bit anticlimactic. Although I did appreciate Ryan's advice to "keep running." Like you should've done the first time.

– Did anyone care more about Parker after her flashback? I was trying to think of a show that used flashback as much as The Following does but maybe more effectively. The only example that comes to mind is Lost, where half an episode would be dedicated to getting to know the backstory of one character. But on Lost, because the stories of the past and present tied in so well together, the flashbacks felt less herky-jerky (a technical term) and more integrated. One story enlightened the other. The flashbacks on The Following tend to be single-minded, in purely giving exposition that's loosely tied into the show. Basically, I'm saying that The Following is a fighting chicken away from becoming Family Guy. And that maybe we should be getting backstory that's more compelling than a case-of-the-week on SVU.

– Seriously, how can these agents/police constantly let people get away? Charlie and Claire were in the basement of somewhere and they were just like, "Whoops. They got away." THEY CAN ONLY GO UP.

– I shudder to think of what Charlie has in his "personal stash" of Claire materials.

– If I ever need a pacemaker, I hope I get the kind Ryan has. I don't think my actual heart could take the punishment his has received. I mean, electro-shock, magnets, the pressure of constantly being a weak allusion to "The Tell-Tale Heart." It's a lot to bear.


What'd you think of "The Fall"?

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  • badpony11 Mar 05, 2013

    I can't believe this mess of a show got a season 2 renewal. I don't think I can even continue hate-watching anymore it's so dumb.

  • WinchesterX5 Mar 03, 2013

    11 cult members ... that's all we've been made aware of, I don't think that even comes close to "everybody's a follower".
    There's also a lot of complaints about how stupid it was for Ryan not to shoot out the tires.. the man collapsed and couldn't shoot. Not something he could control or make a decision about, how is that stupid?
    I had several problems with this episode, but a lot of complaints I see are about things that are perfectly reasonable, especially within the shows canon.

  • bleumystique Mar 03, 2013

    Hahahhaha! Hahahahahaaahhaaa! Okay, I'll admit that I enjoyed this review infinitely more than the episode! I mean The Following has potential. But I'm starting to learn this season in television more than ever, that I'm starting to get tired of being that viewer who falls in love with the potential. The one who rewrites stuff in a more compelling way in my mind while I'm watching. The viewer who watches just to laugh at just how ridiculous some things are. Or to indulge in the cheap thrills.
    -Everyone is all looking over their shoulder because the idea that everyday people can be all cult-like and what not. I get that. But what has me looking over my shoulder, is the fact that law enforcement comes across so weak and incompetent. Like every week Ryan is held captive, the crap is beat out of him, he's stabbed, he's shot at, and that damn pacemaker. Oh.My Gosh. That pacemaker...no piece of technology in the history of mankind has survived so much crap! But, what I like about watching The Following is, it's kinda like going to a cheesy suspense thriller. You suspend belief...like the fact that it took Ashmore's character three hours to get to the scene.......again. While all hell broke loose inside....again. Or the fact that the only way out of that bunker Claire was being held captive in was up. UP! Or the fact that Ryan stabbed pretty boy a kazillion times and he still didn't die. One must overlook all of that and go with it, and just enjoy the action for what it is. Insanity. Entertaining insanity. Bisexual/Gay Threesomes. That one loser guy being the one who hasn't killed anyone. Unethical lawyers in fear of their lives. Unintelligent and therefore unsympathetic victims and hostages. Joe Carroll having more reach then...hell, I don't even know. Dude has people everywhere. Incompetent law enforcement. Oh The Following.

  • danharr Mar 02, 2013

    It's a great episode if you don't think too hard and the same can be said about the show. This one had a lot of action which at least was something.

  • geoffmaze Mar 01, 2013

    On the plus side, Hardy trying to drive a wedge between the two guys was hilarious. "Wait, YOU'RE sleeping with Emma"? "Aren't you guys gay"? The way he said it was great. Other than that, there were once again more holes in the story than a piece of swiss cheese. How many times are the Cops going to screw up surrounding a house? How all the Cultists escaped (much less Claire and the new guy from the basement) is a mystery to me. That they also continue to bring in new cultists seems lazy to me, and it's mind boggling how much free access to information a serial killer had/has in prison.

    Frankly I think Caroll should have escaped and be manning this operation from a bunker somewhere, it'd make it a lot more believeable as to how he's spreading his message and controlling the troops.

    Using his lawyer and the way that's being portrayed is laughable. Guess I'll stick around a bit longer to see where this goes but it seems like a runaway train that's going to have a hard time getting back on track.

  • shootingstar609 Feb 28, 2013

    I felt like this was the best episode so far, aside from the Pilot. I really liked all of the smart ass talk from Ryan in the beginning but only because I know it really bugged Paul and Jacob! Also, I'm starting to think that Emma and Joe are the only real members of the cult and they are just stringing everyone else along and disposing of them when they are no longer useful. But, it was pretty cold how Emma straight up ditched Paul and Jacob and then hung up on Jacob when he called her for help. I almost feel bad for those guys.
    I don't like that this show has finally pulled the "everyone is a cult member" card. I knew it was coming, but I didn't think it would be this soon. This was a pretty good episode until the "every good guy gets shot and every bad guy escapes" thing happened.
    I did like the back story of Agent Parker. It didn't make me like her any more or less but it does explain a few things about her. Like how she got interested in cults in the first place. I guessed she'd been around one, but it was nice to get confirmation of that.

  • Big_Pecks Feb 28, 2013

    I thought this show was finally getting decent until this episode. EVERYBODY is a cult member! Everyone! They're all players in this shark-jumping game.

  • Bicketybam Feb 28, 2013

    How inept are the FBI in this show? Also would SWAT just spray a house with bullets or use a surgical strike even if they know only bad guys are left in there?

    Also I loved how Ryan was quick to shoot Officer Marsden when trying to stop Emma take Joey, but didn't even think about putting two bullets into the front and back tires in an attempt to hamper their get away....

  • 000- Feb 28, 2013

    Im done with this show

  • lince001 Feb 27, 2013

    Batllestar Gallactica all over again. Everyone a Cylon, I mean, a follower, only he/she does not know it yet. I guess the only way to stop the master plan before the whole world will be taken over is to arrange Carroll a little deadly accident at the prison. Provided it is still possible to find a non-member able to do the "job".

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