Things I like...
- The Poe mask from the past two episodes is genuinely creepy. I'm not sure if they actually exist, but if I saw people wearing them I'd immediately be suspicious of their intentions (which also suggests I would probably not let anyone wearing one get close enough to me to light me on fire, but that's neither here nor there right now).
- Kevin Bacon's performance. He's not given much to work with, but he's doing what he can. Of course, the emotion of "brooding" can only go so far, so let's hope he's fleshed out a little more (sadly, I'm afraid they might do it in a weird, completely unbelievable way, but we'll get to that in the "theories" section).
- Call me crazy, but I also enjoy Natalie Zea, who plays Claire Matthews. She too is not given much other than despondent ex-wife who wants to see her kid back, but her moments with Bacon add a little depth of compassion to this show.
- I enjoy that the investigators, up to this point, have absolutely no idea what's going on. Yes, Hardy caught Carroll before, and so I guess we can consider him an expert, but 3 episodes in, and he's pretty much been only able to figure things out, either as they're happening or after they've happened. Which is a good thing! It's refreshing to see a show that doesn't have an investigator make ridiculous leaps of logic that help him/her catch the perp. Now, obviously there's still plenty of time for The Following to muck this up, but so far, it's nice to see the "plan" play out in real time and have the investigators simply react.
Things I don't like...
- The "cult" of serial killers is an easy crutch for the writers to lean on whenever they back themselves into a hole (which is often). Yet again they did it with the wife of the pyro guy actually being in the cult. Yes, it was a twist, and we demand twists in our entertainment, but the show is going to this well early and often and establishing a pattern that the audience is going to get tired of. Seriously, right now, I simply assume everyone is part of the cult, except for Hardy, and even he has secrets.
- The "cult" core of the fake/not-entirely-fake gay couple and psychopath girl Emma (and it's saying something to be labeled a "psychopath" when you're already in a murder cult) is just completely all over the place, both acting-wise, and intent-wise. Emma's decision to slash the maybe-gay guy's arm as he's trying to make peace makes no sense whatsoever. And the fact that she complains after he storms away in the car (with her look of surprise) is just the icing on the cake, that the character's actions are just used to advance the story and nothing was thought out in this show. Case in point, when we have a little bit of sympathy developed for the guy with tangled emotions leave after being sliced on the arm, and we start feeling something for him, he goes and violently kidnaps a woman, to destroy everything that was developed for him.
- Joe Carroll (James Purefoy) seems like a decent actor and intriguing character, but having him in the prison only forces the writers to concoct increasingly dumber scenarios to get him screen time. Honestly, it appears the FBI have set up shot at the prison and are running the investigation from there, and also brought the cop serial killer there to keep him under observation. I don't know what the regulations are of running an FBI investigation are, but this seems slightly unusual.
- The stupid pacemaker Hardy has - enough. It's only going to cause viewers to question what happened about it when we see Hardy doing strenuous activity. It's one of the stupider plot devices that has so far gone nowhere (can't wait until Carroll hacks it though).
- This show is grim! It's easy to understand why Mandy Patinkin left Criminal Minds. These shows about serial killers offer lots of gore and depravity to the audience, without offering much hope. It seems they're created and then written to one up themselves. But what's the point exactly? I have no problem with people being interested in serial killers and enjoying scares and gore, but at the end of the day don't we want to see them get their comeuppance? And yes, I understand it's series and there's a 99% chance we will see it, but how much dark muck do we have to wade through to get there? It's getting tougher and tougher.
- That young FBI guy Mike Weston is in the murder cult. They've been setting it up for awhile now. He's definitely interested in the whole case, and in the most recent episode he was left with the injured FBI agent who then wound up dead. The clues are there! (Also, from a writing standpoint, giving him sympathetic, even mildly humorous dialog will only make the twist that he's a bad guy even more shocking - and they've done that in spades with him).
- The main FBI woman, Debra Parker, is not in the murder cult. I know they cast suspicion on her when she gave Carroll the book, but I believe that was a red herring. Otherwise, the theatrics of getting the cop serial killer to talk would be just that: theatrics for the audience, and I'm hoping the writers didn't succumb to that.
- Hardy and Carroll were romantically involved at one point. It could kind of explain my annoyance of Hardy being in the locale of the crime scene when he originally caught Carroll, and this most recent episode certainly alludes to it with their "date." Because there's definitely something more going on between the two of them.
Please feel free to disagree with me, agree with me, or call me an idiot in the comments.