With two words, The Following's newest good-guy character, Max Hardy (Jessica Stroup), became the voice of anyone watching this consistently moronic serial killer/cult procedural: "Dammit, Ryan!"
There's no better mantra for enduring any given hour of The Following, an already lunk-headed show whose creator/head writer/primary offender Kevin Williamson topped himself last night, in season two's second episode, "For Joe." Usually limiting one-time FBI Agent Ryan Hardy's (Kevin Bacon) stupidity to one major screw-up per episode, Williamson gave TV's Worst Investigator a BOGO deal of embarrassing blunders in "For Joke." Both of which happen during the same sequence, and somehow make seeing the unbelievably-still-alive, and currently hiding out in Arkansas, Joe Carroll (James Purefoy) pretending to be a bearded redneck with a fake name less unintentionally hilarious.
Even the most masochistic hate-watchers may have thrown in the blood-soaked towel at this point.
Luke (Sam Underwood), one of this season's new big-bads, and a pretty-boy preppy who makes those rich-kid killers from The Purge seem like Mini Patrick Bateman's by comparison, gives Ryan a call at his apartment, most likely knowing that the "retired" FBI guy's home phone has tracking capabilities. "They want me," he says. Not to mention, "they," like all of The Following's villains, know an awful lot about Ryan, as in Joe Carroll's arch-nemesis will always take such obvious bait. Anything else would be good, intelligent storytelling and not happen on The Following. Because, "Dammit, Ryan!"
Max, being the only known member of the Hardy with half a functioning brain, says she's going to call the police. Ryan, of course, tells her not to—he wants to "check it out" first. If they call the police, he reasons, "they'll show up with sirens blazing" and the bad guys will scram, or, "worse than that, someone's gonna get hurt." And then he's off. Blunder No. 1, folks.
At the place where Luke called from, Ryan keeps Max on his mobile phone's line, heads to the roof, finds the traceable cell on the ground, and sees someone wearing one of those overused (in, keep in mind, only two episodes so far) Joe Carroll masks staring up at him before heading into the building across the way. The perfect reason, naturally, for Ryan to tell Max to call the police and send them to said building. When, yes, they should have been called and sent their in the first goddamn place. Blunder No. 2, fellow unfortunate members of the Keep Helping Kevin Bacon Cash Those Fat Fox Paychecks club.
And one more time: "Dammit, Ryan!"
Alternative episode title: "For Fuck's Sake."