Monday, February 4, 2013

The Following 1.3: Bug in the Sun

In case it's not yet clear, The Following has something in common with Criminal Minds - serial killers and a BAU (FBI Behavioral Analysis Unit).   Except, whereas Criminal Minds has a serial killer in just about every episode, The Following has most of them acting in sociopathic syncopated concert every night.  The Following is the BAU on speed.

Tonight's episode 1.3 had at least four psychos and plots in various tandem, with Ryan and the BAU a crucial step or more behind in every instance.   Even when the killer in the hospital divulges a crucial bit of information under Debra's astute badgering, the information is too late to save Agent Reilly, who is stabbed in the neck and killed - by Maggie the victim he was protecting.  She, too, is part of the following, and escapes Ryan - who does at least manage to get her psycho husband.

This BAU's victories, at present in this series, are so small as to make them the least successful police unit we've ever seen on television.  The reversals encountered by Jack Bauer and his CTU seem, if not small in comparison, certainly a little less frequent.   In just an hour, we had not only the above tonight, but a man set on fire by the psycho in a Poe mask (who turns out be Rick, Maggie's husband, this time), a dean or some academic official stabbed in the neck and killed because he didn't give Joe the mastermind tenure (The Following is no friend to the academic world), and a woman beaten unconscious and kidnapped.

All of this is possible because Joe has his diabolical following in simultaneous and sequential operation.   And there may be some hierarchy that we're just beginning to glimpse.  Joe's at the top, calling the shots, of course, but he's in prison and presumably could not have sent the text message that signaled it was time for Reilly to die.  So, who did?  Likely Rick, but who knows.

As I said last week and will probably keep saying, everyone is suspect.  Tonight it was one of the victims.   I'm still thinking someone in the FBI, maybe even the BAU, may also be under Joe's control. Given the kind of mind games Joe exults in, he might very well have an agent in the BAU who is now helping Ryan, only to turn against him at a crucial time.

The only people who couldn't possibly be under Joe's control are we the viewers, right?  Near the end of the episode, the pyschos holding Joey send Claire and Ryan a video in which Joey's being schooled in the ways of death - being encouraged to enjoy the suffocation of a mouse and the burning of a bug in the sun under a magnifying glass. That bug is our usual television sensibility. The Following is not only Criminal Minds on speed but Dexter turned on his head.   Not for the weak of stomach, but television like you've never seen it before.

See also The Following Begins ... The Following 1.2: Joe, Poe, and the Plan


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