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CMI On TV – ‘The Following’: More Joe Carroll (bell)!

A good villain gets better.

If “The Following” were a Blue Oyster Cult song, I’d be demanding more cow bell in the form of Joe Carroll (James Purefoy). As the evil genius at the center of the show simultaneously comes closer to his goal – some yet un-divulged horror for Ryan Hardy (Kevin Bacon) – and closer to being caught, the more unhinged and entertaining he becomes, and the better the show gets.

After some stumbling over several episodes, “The Following” has really hit its stride as it rushes toward the end of the season. The activation of more of the legions of Carroll’s followers helps. Particularly effective were last night’s brazen killing of a TV reporter on-air and the terrifying scene where a slew of them mingle in the supposedly secure school with locals who are seeking refuge from, well, them.

Purefoy’s Joe Carroll was always well-done. His academic coolness and elegant cruelty were compelling. But now he’s wounded – stabbed and “betrayed” by ex-wife/captive Claire (Natalie Zea), drinking hard and increasingly manic as setbacks pile up. But he’s still capable of cold, urbane wit. Last night, after the home invasion of a seemingly random couple, he makes them and Claire a gourmet dinner as they sit tied at the table. “Phil,” Carroll offers the husband, who’s hands are bound behind him, “Parmesan?”

Interesting that the burden of alcoholism seems to have shifted from Ryan to Joe, as though it’s an unintended consequence of the Joe’s plot. 

PS: I really hope Maggie’s car upholstery was Scotch-guarded.