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It is time for FOX’s The Following to start giving some explanations. After last week’s episode that was tense but further strained the suspension of disbelief, this week’s “The Fall” has put the show at the breaking point of believability. The slow reveal of Carroll’s ultimate plans is fine but there needs to be some heavy discovery on just how far spread and deep his “cult” is.
“The Fall” was mostly an ok episode. It picked up with Ryan’s capture from last week’s episode. He was smug and cocky the entire episode and for good reason as he easily sewed dissension and pushed buttons between Emma, Paul, and Jacob. Emma threw the threat of killing Megan in hopes of dragging the hostage situation out to buy time, which it did but it never really seemed like anyone was in true danger for most of the episode.
Claire was taken to Charlie’s (sorry I thought he was Roderick last week) warehouse hideout and revealed that he was Claire’s “follower." This is potentially an interesting twist that Carroll isn’t the only one with followers, or at least other people are being followed at the behest of Carroll. There were some flashbacks involving Charlie that revealed barely anything and despite her escape attempt she also never felt in danger and seemed to have control of the situation (especially after it was revealed Charlie fell in love with Claire). The FBI finally did some actual timely work and found Charlie’s warehouse but in the raid let Charlie slip away.
Debra’s character was also given some backstory via flashback as it was revealed that she grew up in a cult. Her mother forced her to have relations with the cult leader when Debra was a young teenager even after Claire ran out of his room crying. It was later revealed that she still has the necklace from her time in the cult despite leaving many years ago. These flashbacks seemed to suggest that the lure of a cult is strong and can brainwash you no matter what happens, which is true, but information that was completely unneeded as it is basically common knowledge. In her flashbacks there really wasn’t anything that the cult leader, or even the cult members themselves, did to show how the cult was formed and what made everyone follow him in the first place.
All of this was meant to help lend credence to why people are following Carroll in the first place and how intense cults are. Unfortunately it did no such thing. During the climax of the episode more of Carroll’s cult helped Emma and Joey escape and Jacob and Paul escape in two separate groups. Not only were there two unnamed henchman who helped take out SWAT members but the policewoman who had been helping Mike also was revealed to be a cult member and shot Mike to allow Emma and Joey to escape. Ryan’s heart was giving out on him due to a tazer to the chest so all he could do was shoot the policewoman as Emma got away.
More shockingly - and ridiculously - were the two FBI members that stormed the house once Ryan freed himself and stabbed Paul in the stomach as Megan got away. Just as the FBI shoots up the place and enters the farmhouse two FBI members shoot the other two and tell Jacob and Paul that Roderick sent them. What?! How is Carroll’s cult so extensive? How has he been able to maintain this level of control and find so many recruits from behind bars without anyone noticing? The only answer offered was from Debra saying that people want to belong as she was describing the cult mentality, which isn’t nearly enough.
Jacob and Paul should have been killed or at least detained. Emma and Joey’s escape being aided by the policewoman is groan worthy but acceptable, however Jacob and Paul escaping because two FBI agents shooting their own to allow them to escape is not. Charlie’s escape from his warehouse is also an iffy but since the FBI has been nearly completely inept perhaps this can be explained away as well. After Claire’s idiotic decision last week to hop into Charlie’s car perhaps it shouldn’t surprise when something completely inexplicably happens but without any answers to how Carroll recruited so many followers and why they all joined The Following is entering into the realm of laughable camp.
And who is this Roderick? The fact he has yet to be formally introduced is just another trick The Following is trying to use to make the show seem smarter than it actually is. The inclusion of Roderick is meant to give Carroll’s cult layers, depth, and an organized structure but all it does is confound and annoy the viewer because he seems to be in charge (although Emma seemed to be in charge until last week’s episode) but his role has never been officially announced.
The Following is strictly meant to be a thriller apparently, instead of a smart drama about a serial killer’s master plan. Instead of revealing new layers each week’s episode focuses on the cheaper roller coaster tension and M. Night Shyamalan-ian twists that don’t make much sense in the context of what has been shown on screen. The Following must figure out what it wants to be soon before it alienates its audience any further and they lose interest.