Tuesday, February 5, 2013

THE FOLLOWING: “The Poet's Fire” S1E3 (review)

By Steve Ahlquist
The ease with which FBI Agent Parker (Annie Parisse), who took command of the Joe Carroll Cult task force last episode and Ryan Hardy (Kevin Bacon), star of the show and chief protagonist of the series talk about "mind control" puts this series squarely into the dark fantasy genre. Comparing Carroll (James Purefoy)'s ability to influence people to David Koresh and Charles Manson, Hardy muses that Carroll was an excellent, inspiring teacher, even as the flashbacks only tepidly convey this.

Natalie Zea, Kevin Williamson, Kevin Bacon, James Purefoy, The Following

Last episode ended with Rick Kester (Michael Drayer), a man in a Poe mask, lighting a victim on fire on a busy city street. Rick, who remained masked, his face unseen for all of last episode, was a mystery, but if you were hoping for a big reveal as to Rick's ultimate identity, like maybe he was someone already in the cast, then prepare to be disappointed. The character is introduced and dispatched with a couple of bullets by episode's end.

More interesting in Rick's wife Maggie (Virginia Kull), who escapes at the end, and is revealed to be a follower after she dispatches series regular Agent Reilly (Billy Brown), who admittedly hasn't had a lot to do in the series but look tough.

Natalie Zea, Kevin Williamson, Kevin Bacon, James Purefoy, The Following

Still, the speed at which the story is moving along is pretty amazing. Deaths on both sides of the battle are starting to pile up, and it is hard to know what Joe Carroll's ultimate plan is, though there are hints of it by the episode's end when Carroll's ex-wife, Natalie Matthews (Natalie Zea) gets an email containing a video of her son, Joey (Kyle Catlett) being taught to kill insects and small animals by the trio of serial killers who have kidnapped him. 

Natalie Zea, Kevin Williamson, Kevin Bacon, James Purefoy, The Following

That's pretty dark stuff.

Some of the most interesting stuff in the episode concerns Emma, Jacob and Paul, the Followers who kidnapped Joey. As we now know, Emma (Valorie Curry) and Jacob (Nico Tortorella) are a couple, but Jacob and Paul (Adan Canto) were pretending to be a gay couple for three years in preparation for Carroll's plan.

Natalie Zea, Kevin Williamson, Kevin Bacon, James Purefoy, The Following

Turns out that Jacob and Paul weren't just pretending to be gay. They are keeping their relationship secret for now, but this seems to bother Paul, who is becoming jealous of Jacob and Emma's relationship. Like any true serial killer, Paul seems to hate women, and has probably been repressing his homosexuality all his life. Unable to take it, Paul leaves the house in a huff and kidnaps Megan (Li Jun Li), a cute Asian woman who trusted the wrong guy, and ended up bound and gagged in the basement of the hideout.

Natalie Zea, Kevin Williamson, Kevin Bacon, James Purefoy, The Following

The situation at the Follower hideout is becoming increasingly unstable, and it's becoming impossible to predict the way this is going to unfold.

Meanwhile Jordy (Steve Monroe), the disorganized Carroll fan who Hardy took down last episode, after being tricked into giving up some evidence to Agent Parker, redeems himself through suicide. He swallows bandages until he chokes to death. It's too bad, because his earlier interrogations by Hardy and Agent Parker were pretty funny as he broke into singing the theme song from The Greatest American Hero TV series when he wanted to avoid questioning.

Natalie Zea, Kevin Williamson, Kevin Bacon, James Purefoy, The Following

Another good episode, though the cheap dream sequence with Carroll appearing in the bed of his ex-wife and choking her was rather hokey and uninspired.

Natalie Zea, Kevin Williamson, Kevin Bacon, James Purefoy, The Following

I like the pace of the series and the turnover of the cast makes for exciting, unpredictable storytelling.



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