The Following – Season 3 Episode 1 – New Blood – Review

Kevin Williamson created show The Following is back for its third season, and there are a collection of interesting new characters as well as familiar faces to join the mix in what seems will be an action packed season.

Episode Synopsis: We begin a year after the events of last season, and Joe Carroll (James Purefoy) is on death row – a month from execution.

Ryan Hardy (Kevin Bacon) has a new girlfriend named Gwen (Zuleikha Robinson), but he is still mentally recovering from previous events. After being blamed for the death of one of Joe’s followers in the opening scene from her apparent father, Ryan is clearly shaken. The trail of destruction left from the first two seasons has definitely left its mark.

Mark (Sam Underwood) is back with the absence of his twin brother Luke and mother Lily Gray. He is more psychotic than ever as a direct result of the deaths of his family members. With a new set of followers helping Mark, things begin to take a familiar turn, affecting Ryan Hardy in particular.

This is an interesting start to the season, with the main themes focusing significantly on the consequences of the characters’ actions. Ryan seems to show genuine remorse for all of the victims in the hunt for Joe, and is not the only character who has been affected by past events.

Ryan’s niece, Max Hardy (Jessica Stroup) is back for this season, and has been impacted by F.B.I agent Mike Weston’s (Shawn Ashmore) previous departure and reappearance. Due to their romance last season, this will make for interesting viewing as the season progresses.

The new followers, Kyle (Hunter Parrish), Daisy (Ruth Kearney) and Andrew (Michael Irby) carry the sensibilities of previous followers, and spare none of the gory murders reminiscent of the first seasons. Therefore, I would not recommend watching if you are squeamish.

This episode was without Joe Carroll; however, it is shaping up to be another good season which I recommend tuning in for. Joe will most definitely play a significant part in this season with his looming execution providing an effective ticking clock to proceedings.

By Robert Spence

Advertisements

X-Men: Days of Future Past Review

X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014) directed by Bryan Singer and written by Simon Kinberg. Starring  Hugh Jackman, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Halle Berry, Anna Paquin, Ellen Page, Nicholas Hoult, Shawn Ashmore, Peter Dinklage, Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart.

Synopsis: The story begins in a dystopian future where mutants are fighting antagonistic robots called Sentinels. Their main purpose is to destroy mutants and human beings who possess the genes to carry on the mutant race. A small band of mutants including Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page) and Bobby Drake/Iceman (Shawn Ashmore) fight the Sentinels. This is when we see their true destructive abilities. After successfully eluding the Sentinels, they converse with Storm (Halle Berry), Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), Professor Xavier (Patrick Stewart), and Magneto (Ian McKellen). They decide that in order to prevent the eradication of mutants and to prevent this dystopian world, they send Wolverine’s consciousness back to 1973. This is to prevent Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) murdering Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage), the creator of the Sentinels as her DNA is used to give them their abilities. Wolverine will seek help from the likes of the younger Professor Xavier (James McAvoy) and Magneto (Michael Fassbender) to assist him.

I was quite impressed with this instalment of the X-Men franchise. After watching X-Men: The Last Stand (2006), I was quite disappointed with the way the trilogy ended. However, after watching X-Men: First Class (2011) and the latest Wolverine (2013) movie, I feel the franchise has been invigorated. There are a number of reasons as to why I found this latest instalment enjoyable.

Firstly, there is a lot of humour in this movie. One great character for comic relief is Peter Maximoff/Quicksilver (Evan Peters). The way he uses his superhuman speed is very comedic, and compliments the story well. The majority of this occurs when they try and break Magneto out of prison. Wolverine also has numerous funny one liners as usual which introduces some comedic elements to the story. He was always my favourite character growing up, and Hugh Jackman seems to play this character effortlessly.

Peter Dinklage plays antagonist Bolivar Trask well, and is the paradox of his Tyrion Lannister character in Game of Thrones (2011). This really secures him in the top flight of television and movies.

With regards to the story, Mystique has been made the main focus. She is of extreme importance due to her genes holding the key to forming the deadly Sentinels, and is also the object of Professor Xavier’s/Magneto’s affections. This was also part of the last instalment’s story.

This movie ticks all the boxes for me because it not only has a good storyline, but also involves all of the integral X-Men characters without feeling too crammed. I felt that with X-Men: The Last Stand, there was so much going on which was detrimental to the storyline. However, this does not happen with this movie. This also appeals with its nostalgic elements because we gain insight into Professor Xavier’s mutant academy, and see all of the initial characters from the original movies. This really brought that element of catharsis which I felt the series needed. I urge anyone to check this movie out as you will not be disappointed.

The Following – Season 2 Episode 15 – Finale – Forgiven – Review

SPOILER ALERT

Episode Synopsis: The episode begins just before the ending of last episode. There was a gun shot at the conclusion, and the outcome was unknown until this week. It is revealed that Joe shoots and kills Kingston Tanner’s son Preston.

The twins now have Claire in their possession with Emma dead, and they give Ryan an ultimatum – bring Joe to them alive in exchange for Claire. Ryan tells Joe about this, and Joe agrees to participate. This results in Ryan sneaking Joe out of the church posing as a wounded civilian.

As Ryan drives Joe to the rendezvous point, the car is suddenly attacked by one of Joe’s followers. The car is overturned and an injured Joe escapes from the car. Joe shoots his follower and pulls Ryan from the car, thus continuing their journey to get Claire.

Now working as a team, Joe and Ryan arrive at the house and enter. In the house they will face the ultimate test for survival and we will learn some things we never knew before about Ryan.

This episode begins with a very quick tempo, and this effectively propels the story. By adding this ticking clock (by the twins giving Ryan the ultimatum), an element of danger is instantly added to the proceedings. There is not many moments for rest throughout this episode, so be prepared for some non-stop action.

It was really refreshing to see Joe and Ryan working as a team, and instilling an element of trust in each other. Throughout the show they are constant enemies; therefore, it is good to see them working towards the same cause – to save Claire.

Like the finale of the first season, there is some twists and turns in this episode. There is also one of the tensest moments of the show when Ryan goes back to his apartment (with the ending of last season still fresh in mind). The viewer is constantly questioning whether something else will happen. I won’t spoil that for you.

Ultimately, this episode is all about redemption. We learn more about Ryan’s past which explains why he is the way he is, and we also witness Joe seek forgiveness for what he has done to Claire and his son.

The writing is great in this episode, and there is some very witty dialogue – the twins and Joe get the majority of the funny lines.

I thoroughly recommend this episode as a nice way to close the season, and with undoubted scope for a lot to happen next season.

 

By Robert Spence

The Following – Season 2 – Episode 14 – Silence – Review

Episode Synopsis: As the episode begins, Ryan, his niece Max (Jessica Stroup) and Mike are being interviewed about what happened to Lilly. They cover up the real truth of what happened despite the fact it was Mike who murdered her.

Meanwhile, Claire has used journalist Carrie to read out a poem on air to let Joe know she is still alive. Claire then takes it upon herself to seek out Joe in a place only he will know. As this is happening, Joe arranges for Emma (Valorie Curry) and an accomplice to see if Claire is in the location he thinks she is. He discusses that it would be good leverage to have his ex-wife in his possession.

As the episode progresses, Joe breaks into a church and holds everybody hostage. He has kidnapped Kingston Tanner and his son Preston, and is streaming this encounter live on the internet to make a statement. He reveals to Kingston the video of his son stabbing a woman with the hope of showing that his God is not real. Little does Joe know that Ryan and Mike have tracked Tanner down, and they are in the church watching the events unfold.

This episode focuses on the notion of what happens after we die. Although previous episodes have focused on similar themes like religion, this goes one step further. There is a scene where Emma talks about what happens after death. When asked what she thinks death is, she answers, “silence. No more talking, running, fighting or killing. It all just stops, and there is only silence.” Joe also touches on this when he makes his proclamations about God not existing. They are clearly saying that they know there is nothing for them after death, but finally the opportunity to be at peace.

As previously discussed, this season has focused very much on religion, and Joe using this as a platform to carry out his killings. There is some twists in this episode like usual, and this has nicely prepared us for the remainder of the season.

By Robert Spence

The Following – Season 2 Episode 13 – The Reaping – Review

This episode was directed by Joshua Butler, and starring Kevin Bacon, James Purefoy and Shawn Ashmore.

Episode Synopsis: Joe has captured Kingston Tanner’s son Preston (Carter Jenkins), and forces him to make some hard decisions. However, unbeknownst to him Ryan has infiltrated Joe’s camp and hides among his followers.

The episode begins with Ryan infiltrating Joe’s camp, and disguising himself as one of Joe’s cult followers. As Joe parades Preston in front of all the followers, Ryan shoots at Joe causing everybody to flee. After finally catching Ryan, the pair face off once again.

As this is happening, the FBI are still hunting for Joe and Lilly Gray. Despite protests from twins Luke and Mark (Sam Underwood), Lilly is adamant she wants to find Joe.

As all of this is happening, Claire Matthews suggests luring Joe out live on television which results in some interesting circumstances.

As always, Joe and Ryan’s encounters make the best television. As they are constantly hunting/eluding each other, it always makes for good entertainment when they do meet up. During this encounter, we learn more about their similarities, and how they “need each other.” I find Ryan and Joe’s scenes the most interesting because Joe genuinely does like Ryan, and sees him as the closest person to him; like a “friend” as he states. They also have great onscreen chemistry, and really bounce off of each other. What also interests me is that Joe cannot find it in himself to be able to physically harm Ryan in any way – thus showing that they ultimately do need each other. Ryan knows nothing more than to hunt Joe and vice versa.

There is a continuation of the religious theme from last episode, as Joe has made it a priority to parade Preston publically. He clearly wants to send Tanner a message.

Like every episode, this was entertaining and definitely worth a watch. Multiple stories are effortlessly interweaved with each other in this episode resulting in some very interesting viewing.

By Robert Spence

The Following – Season 2 Episode 12 – Betrayal – Review

The Following (2013) created by Kevin Williamson, starring Kevin Bacon, James Purefoy and Shawn Ashmore.To firstly give a run-down of the basic premise of the show, Joe Carroll (Purefoy) is a charismatic serial killer who has a large network of followers willing to do anything for him. Ryan Hardy (Bacon) is the FBI agent who is obsessed with catching him.

Episode Synopsis: Ryan comes to terms with the fact Claire Matthews is still alive. Meanwhile, Joe gets Carrie to broadcast another message to the world. This episode is directed by Marcos Siega, and written by

The episode starts with an emotional Ryan talking to Claire (played by Natalie Zea, Ryan’s love interest and Joe’s ex-wife) after just finding out the news of her survival. Ryan and the viewer thought she had died at the beginning of last season after being stabbed by one of Joe’s followers. Ryan is clearly in shock at this revelation. Claire states her reasons for going into witness protection (due to her wanting to secure the safety of her and her son). Mike Weston (Ashmore) a fellow cop and friend who knew about this all along but kept it from Ryan for his and her safety.

After Mandy’s (played by Tiffany Boone) escape from Joe and his followers in the previous episode, she meets up with Lilly Gray (played by Connie Nielsen) thinking she will be safe. Lilly is another serial killer who helped Joe towards the beginning of this season. Joe escaped from her because of differing ideologies. As Lilly and Joe are on bad terms, she is desperate to know the whereabouts of him. She will not accept no as an answer from Mandy who knows exactly where Joe is.

Joe also gets his followers to reach out to Carrie Cooke (played by Sprague Grayden) who is a journalist currently romantically involved with Ryan. They threaten her to broadcast an important message to the world from him.

I will not give away what happens next, but this was one of the better episodes I have seen.

I must start off by saying that this is one of the best shows on television. Every episode is tense, gripping and filled with twists and turns. Kevin Williamson has crafted a high concept show that has managed to deliver every week since its initial airing last year.

Kevin Bacon and James Purefoy effectively play the story’s protagonist/antagonists. Purefoy projects this charming persona onto Joe which makes him likeable despite the fact he is a serial killer. It makes you understand why he has such a big network of followers. Ryan Hardy is equally as likeable, and Bacon plays the obsessed cop well. Both actors have a lot of chemistry despite the fact they never have much screen time together.

Religion is a prevalent theme in this episode, and Joe is now discussing this topic quite often.  He discusses religion only being good for power and heavily critiques it due to his atheistic nature. He mentions false prophets who have used their faiths for ulterior motives like a certain pastor in this episode, Kingston Tanner (played by Tom Cavanagh). It is alluded that Tanner may be Joe’s next target.

This episode has got me really excited for the next installment, and I highly recommend this show to anyone.

 

By Robert Spence