Every The Following episode begins with the ominous voice of television doom reminding us that “viewer discretion is advised.” This designation stems from the use of suggestive language (apparently there are quite a few inappropriate innuendos in Poe’s catalog of work), language itself (is this a warning about some questionable dialogue?), sexual situations (like Ryan Hardy and Claire Matthews “getting to know each other” flashbacks?), and violence (The Following’s incessant and overused calling card). Considering the recent narrative events and a growing “elephant in the room” of an otherwise watchable and intriguing, if not captivating, suspense filled drama series, I would formally like to add a fifth category for viewer discretion: “unwatchable scenes involving the nanny and the two gay guys.”
In this week’s episode entitled “Mad Love” (an actual winning title for the events that transpired), the situation on the Emma/Jacob/Paul farm is in shambles. Last week Paul, in an uninspired, unmotivated, and unrealistic fit of jealous rage, took a little trip to a local convenience store and abducted an easily seduced store clerk (“When do you get off work?”). He then brilliantly decides to bring her to the farmhouse basement to prove to Emma and Jacob just how serious about this situation he is! Joey, still blissfully chilling with his toys, must not find out about the tied up young girl in the cellar or he will start to suspect something is amiss (and he is already beginning to), so the unwitting store clerk named Meghan Leeds must be killed. Paul, to prove this most unnecessary point, thinks that Jacob should be the one to do it. Apparently, unlike Paul and Emma who came into the land of Joe Carroll because of a mutual interest in the killing arts, Jacob fabricated his murderous backstory to the little legion of doom and has yet to do the deed. Emma does not know this, but Paul does (listen – three years imbedded as boyfriends will give you the opportunity to share) and wants to get back at Jacob (this is all so silly) for having a romantic thing with Emma (“he was my man!”). Emma is none too pleased with Jacob’s deceit (his killing history is so essential to her feelings for him) and agrees with Paul that Jacob should be the one to eliminate Meghan the unwitting store clerk.
Quick side note: If this above paragraph all seems a whole lot of terrible storytelling, you would be correct. It is all the worse when the plot points are played out on screen with dialogue. These are some of the worst dramatic scenes I have ever seen on television.
In a narrative strand consistent with the awfulness of the world of Emma/Paul/Jacob, but disparate from any realistic scenario, Emma and Paul decide to leave Jacob alone in the basement for many hours to kill Meghan the unwitting store clerk. Mtusc rocks a plea bargain with sympathetic Jacob to let her go with some bloody cuts (to sell the tale) and she will never mention this little day and night at the farmhouse to anyone, ever. Jacob not only obliges to her grovel, but he refrains from creating a bloody trail. Mtusc, in a move that everyone saw coming, decides to run to the barn on the property instead of running away from the property. Team Paul and Emma (bonding over their killing past now that they both know Jacob is a truth fabricator) easily track her down and, to motivate their shameful mutual boy toy, tie her up again so that Jacob will be forced to make another attempt (mind you, it seems like they have forgotten the “Joey might find out” angle).
In the worst scene of a series of worst scenes, the muddy pursuit (how and why remains a mystery) of Mtusc warrants a clean in the shower. Emma is the first to hit the bathroom and happily invites Paul to join her and then (who didn’t see this coming?) make out (is this one of the sexual situations I was advised about?). Jacob finds a returned Mtusc in the basement and then heads to up to the bathroom to atone for his lack of courage. Emma lets him know that “we’re not going to give up on you” (comforting) and then Jacob decides to join the shower, but with his clothes on (BTW – where is Joey in all this? Asleep? Still playing with his toys?).
Thankfully, The Following is not called “Two fake gay guys, a nanny, and Joey” and has another world outside of the remote rural farmhouse of awfulness. Ryan Hardy’s bad day (week or life really) continues when he receives a phone call from Jenny (phone number 8675309), his loyal sister and restauranteur, who has been abducted herself by Maggie, the vindictive Carroll follower whose now dead (via Hardy’s bullet) husband and love of life Rick set the world ablaze last week. Maggie decides to go a little off the Carroll script (Yes! I hope this trend continues) and ultimatums Hardy that unless he shows up in Brooklyn alone at Jenny’s restaurant without any FBI backup, Jenny Jenny (who can I turn to?) is going to be her next victim. Hardy obliges the deal, but not before Mike Weston (both the viewer and Hardy learn his name for the first time, apparently the time had come) forces himself into relevance in both Hardy and the show’s life. Weston or Mike (I couldn’t tell what he wanted us to call him) will drive Hardy to Brooklyn and then wait (patiently I might add) by a door left ajar to come and save the day if need be (Hardy’s instructions to Weston were actually to save his sister at all costs and forget about him).
At the Brooklyn upscale eatery, Hardy willingly accepts the blindfold challenge laid out by Maggie (never a good idea), is knocked out, and then tied up to a table of danger. Maggie has purchased a series of magnets that will effectively tamper with Ryan’s pacemaker and cause cardiac arrest. Maggie wants Jenny to watch her brother and only family she has left die (we learn in a Claire Matthews/Ryan Hardy “getting to know you” flashback conversation that was playfully ironic that the older Hardy brother died in 9/11 – of course). Weston or Mike (great to have you onboard!) storms in just in time, kills Maggie (it was time), and saves Ryan from his death. The catch in all of this is that Maggie and the horrible farmhouse trio had been in phone contact on a secure line that the FBI group can now track down (and do!) to a remote location in upstate New York. This means that, as previewed in “next week on The Following,” Hardy, Weston, and the good guy team are going to attempt to rescue Joey from the most awful characters in modern television history! One silver lining of the Emma/Jacob/Paul catastrophe is in the fact that on The Following character kill-offs are commonplace, so maybe we will soon be out of the crosshairs of this unwatchable threesome. My hope is that next week brings such a conclusion.
What do you all think? Are you on Team Jacob or Team Paul? Will Meghan the unwitting store clerk survive the FBI raid? Is Jenny Hardy an incredible cook?
David Bloom can be reached on twitter at @davidbloom7. His other pop culture writing can be found on Bishop and Company (bishopandcomp.com).