REVIEW: The Following’s “The Curse” (1×12), by Anne W. Brennan

or, In which Joe has a Very Bad Day, Part I

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The easy conclusion is that the titular “Curse” is Ryan Hardy’s: everyone who comes in contact with him, starting with his father when he was seventeen, dies.  Death is everywhere, and it is, as Joe tells him later in the episode, what drives him, just as death drives Joe, but of course, for very different reasons.  “It is through death we both live,” Joe tells Ryan, but, simplistically, one is driven to save lives from death, the other to create death by snuffing out lives.  They are two sides of the same coin, and perhaps, subconsciously, Joe has twigged to this, explaining his obsession with Ryan and his need, his craving, to finish his book.  And like a true bad author, Joe doesn’t really lose his cool until Claire badmouths his first book.  An hilarious moment of truth in a house full of lies and secrets.

 

Joe’s book isn’t going so well, though, is it?  Within his prison cell, when no one knew his secrets, Joe had complete control and could plot out his book exactly as he thinks it should go.  But in the “real world,” one in which things do not always go according to Joe’s plan, things begin to unravel, Joe himself begins to unravel, and he must consider rewrites on the fly.  Any “decent” writer would know to expect that – that’s the challenge and joy of writing.  But for Joe, who is obsessive, compulsive, and a control freak, he can’t handle deviation.  And that, perhaps, is the true curse.  In a houseful of disaffected, loner, psychotic killers, Joe is learning, much to his shattering disbelief, that he can’t control everything and, like starving rats trapped in a cage, his followers will turn on each other and on him.  Roderick is getting twitchier by the hour, Emma is developing a greater attachment to Joe through sex (I’d say an unhealthy attachment, but that’s just redundant in this house), and Jacob … Jacob looks to still be a wild card, but he’s keeping it under wraps.  It’s obvious he misses his family, and I can only conclude that his involvement with Joe and his followers was an attempt to rebel against Daddy.  Jacob, “the golden boy from the golden family,” who, rather than just telling Dad, “I don’t want to go to med school,” figures Joe Carroll is a better option.  Considering how long it took Jacob to actually kill, and it was a mercy killing at that, I’m not convinced that he has what it takes to be a “true” follower.

 

Everyone is cursed in this show, from Weston, who got the living shit beat out of him, to Joe, to Claire, to Paul, to little Joey, to, of course, Ryan.  Whether they are cursed by circumstance, bad luck or their own choices, the Followers, and those who chase them, seem cursed to always take one step forward, two steps back.

 

But most intriguing?  Ryan didn’t share the real truth of the death of his father’s killer.  Ryan himself killed the junkie, feeding him drugs until he overdosed.  Oh, how Joe would have loved that piece of information, and Ryan smartly keeps it to himself.  For he has to wonder … does this make him like Joe?  While it may have seemed an act of justice, and eye for an eye, a life for a life, does that killing act of a seventeen year old boy make him as cruel, as thoughtless as Joe?  For now, I’m going to hold Ryan’s hand and say, “No.”  Ryan, at least, didn’t peel off the junkie’s eyelids.