‘The Following’: Sophomore Slump or Just Sophomoric?

Unlike some, I was never let down by “The Following” last season. To the contrary, as the run went on and stuttered to a climax, James Purefoy’s Joe Carroll became manic (scenery chewing is, I believe the good old showbiz term), the show became mesmerizing. The writers earned my respect by being gutsy enough to off some first-tier and high-second tier characters, and to get blood on the good guys’ hands. 

So even when Carroll disappeared from the last episode of the fall in a predictable confusion of fire, noise and pain, I was looking forward to this season. Yep, Joe Carroll had survived – duh! – but in Season 1 the writers had shown a resourcefulness that seemed to match his.

But … a body-swap with his brother? Oy! And Kevin Bacon’s Ryan Hardy, going all rogue in the time-honored way good-cops-go-outside-the-law-to-see-justice-done Truthfully, nothing clever or smart has happened yet this season. 

And in the absence of story line, the creepy/sadism factor has been turned up to 11. It seems like the bodies are piling up faster and the manner of death is becoming more macabre. The pace is now so quick that it feels like the producers are trying to fit everything in before the audience loses patience. 

On the bright side, I like Hardy’s niece Max (Jessica Stroup), if only because she can’t be his love interest (On the other hand, as the only person he seems to care about this season, you know she’s toast.) Valorie Curry as Emma now being the lost little girl abandoned by Joe is a neat twist, and pitting her against The Swiss Family Incest – featuring the Necrophilia Twins and Mummy Dearest – is entertaining in the way the Wehrmacht vs. the Red Army was entertaining. But now that the newbie clan has now shown its hand and, once you get over the initial shock of Mummy’s proposition to Carroll, well, meh. 

I could be wrong. I’ve scrupulously avoided reading anyone else’s “Following” reviews, so maybe others see it differently. But to me, the show’s running desperately short of ideas while heaping up the corpses. The result is … sophomoric.