Fellow Liberal Dead-heads, this is Ryne from The Moon is a Dead World. I’ve signed on to do a sort of recap/review of each week’s horror hits, so welcome to DEADtime TV. A new addition to the DEADtime TV compilation this week: The Following season two, featuring a review from Kevin Lovell of Screen-Connections!
The Following: “Resurrection” – Sunday, January 19, 10 PM
After many months of anticipation, The Following has finally returned with its second season premiereand while I know some are less than impressed with this series and bad mouth it, I for one couldn’t be loving it more and the second season premiere was a perfect reminder of just why this is already one of my favorite currently airing shows.
Season one introduced us to Ryan Hardy (Kevin Bacon), a retired FBI agent and alcoholic who is forced back into the mix when the notorious killer Joe Carroll (James Purefoy) escapes from prison. Hardy soon comes to discover that Carroll’s escape was merely an effort to finish what he wasn’t able to prior to being caught by Hardy, then allows himself to be taken back into custody. We soon discover that Carroll has an entire cult dedicated to him and his ways, and this following of fellow murderers begin to initiate a game with the FBI that Hardy is right at the center of. Throughout the course of the first season we are introduced to a number of characters, though a significant number of them are no longer with us as we breach into this highly anticipated sophomore season.
The first season ended with Joe Carroll having supposedly perished in a fire and Hardy along with his love interest, who is also Carroll’s ex-wife, Claire (Natalie Zea) beginning a night of some much earned peace after finally having this whole ordeal behind them. Little do they realize that one of Carroll’s followers is awaiting them and while catching them off guard stabs Hardy, and as Claire comes out of the bathroom to inquire about the racket, is stabbed in the back, not leaving things looking good for Hardy and Claire.
Season two picks up at the exact moment where season one ended, where Claire is spun around and again stabbed in the chest. Hardy manages to kill the cult member and call in the event. They are rushed to a hospital where Hardy survives but Claire is not so fortunate and passes. At this point we skip ahead some time later and we find that some cult followers are beginning to make themselves seen again wearing eerily well made masks to represent the face of the late Carroll apparently in tribute.
The premiere episode of The Following’s sophomore season immediately kicks things off into high gear just as we’ve come to expect from this fast paced show created by Kevin Williamson (writer of Scream 1,2,4) and it certainly had me highly anticipating more. Many questions are brought into the fold, such as is Carroll really dead, how are these remaining cult members operating, and will Hardy rejoin forces with the FBI in order to help or begin his own vigilant style quest to finish this how he personally deems fit? Some of these questions are answered in the first episode of the season; others will merely be hinted at or even resolved while forming into new questions for the viewer.
The Following continues to be one of my favorite shows currently airing on TV and the second season premiere gives me high hopes that this show has not lost any of its zing and will really bring a lot to the table during the duration of its fifteen-episode second season. Kevin Bacon continues to be phenomenal and really gives off a sort of Jack Bauer vibe (which I know is just what Williamson intended). The premiere episode of season two is intense and brings some of the sadistic bloodshed to the table as well. There is one full on slaughter scene that is pretty gnarly and should leave fans smiling.
The second season of The Following will air Monday’s at 9/8c on FOX, following Almost Human so make sure you tune into both, as they are both quite fantastic shows. -Kevin
Bitten: “Prodigal” – Monday, January 20, 10 PM
Bitten has brought the viewer into a world of werewolves that are governed by a set of rules; one of them is to remain out of sight of humans, and another is to refrain from killing them (for the most part). And according to the two episodes that have aired, there are mutts that sometimes don’t abide by the werewolf rules at all.
The show has skirted around exactly what mutts are, how they’re different from werewolves, and why our protagonist Elena is part of a pack that upholds the werewolf rules. “Prodigal” makes attempts at those answers by slowing the plot down; the premiere episode was about a mutt killing a human around Stonehaven (where Elena’s pack gathers), and this episode has pretty much that exact premise as well.
This time, though, Bitten introduces us to some of the friends that Elena hangs around with when she returns to Stonehaven. There’s Clay (Greyston Holt), the hunky but sort of psychotic werewolf Elena used to date – and she might still have feelings for him. Jeremy (Greg Bryk) is the alpha male of the group, leading the pack in the search for the mutt. There’s a few others that get some mention as well, but other than the two mentioned above, the rest seem to be filler characters at least for now.
Elena seems to be the most important part of the Stonehaven pack, for reasons Bitten is not ready to reveal yet. Towards the end of “Prodigal,” Elena brings up a point to Jeremy about her presence: that they really don’t need her to catch a mutt, even though he really wants her to help out. It highlights the problem with Bitten thus far: why is Elena so important, besides the fact that she’s one of the only women to survive a werewolf bite?
There’s a lot of posturing in this episode, with talks about finding the mutt after he kills two more people but not much action. “Prodigal” is, for the most part, a meet-and-greet with the rest of the pack, but it’s also a fairly boring episode with rushed characterization all around. Elena espouses on a story about having to kill some bad werewolf hunter a year ago; packmate Peter (Joel Keller) tells us about accidentally killing a human and being saved, the reasons why he’s so faithful to Jeremy. Neither story work very well because they feel rushed – Elena’s in particular is tacked on with such disinterest when it could have probably worked as a stand-alone episode about her past.
Bitten hasn’t done much to hook me yet; the whole business about the mutt seems too dragged out, especially when there’s a six-to-one ratio of werewolves to mutts. These first episodes just make me want to get to the hinted plot line about serial killers even more. I don’t need to see anymore ripped shirtless dudes fighting each other, or Clay and Elena staring angry-dreamily into each’s eyes. We get it already. There’s chemistry there and it will be showing up later. But get to the meat of the story.
American Horror Story: Coven: “Go to Hell” – Wednesday, January 22, 10 PM
Though American Horror Story: Coven has been spiraling out of control for some time now, unwinding like one of those mechanical kid’s toys and walking itself towards a steep precipice, “Go to Hell” marks a turn for the better, despite cramming all of its climactic moments into one hour of television. If you’ve been following along up until now, it’s been pretty clear that Coven really has too much going on and not enough time to fully explore all of its themes; but this episode sure as hell wants to try.
One of the major elements of “Go to Hell” is attempting to deal with all of the secondary characters that it has tried to develop; since there are so many quasi-important people in the coven, the show has alternated between each of them. To be fair, it’s never been particularly good at its fringe characters, so any attempt to conclude their storylines is going to be fraught with feelings of unfinished business.
That’s true of both Madame LaLaurie and Marie Laveau; their connections to each other last even after death, because Papa Legba brings them to their own personal hells. It seems LaLaurie changed not at all throughout Coven despite the show’s numerous attempts to show us that she had; and Laveau, who was supposed to be such a strong and fearsome witch, fizzles out with little to show for it.
But there are definitely some strong scenes within “Go to Hell,” and I have to give the episode kudos for some of its more stylish scenes. The opening silent film detailing the Seven Wonders is fantastic, as is the morbid vision Cordelia has of a future where Fiona has killed off all of the witches.
The most successful aspect of the episode, though, deals with Cordelia. She has been an integral part of bringing the cast of witches together, yet she’s been cowed throughout the show by Fiona. But when she figures out her gift of sight has been with her all along, ironically thanks to Fiona, she regains a sense of confidence and strength she hasn’t had in the show.
There’s a moment where all of the witches confront the Axeman after he admits he killed Fiona; it’s a unifying scene directly after Madison and Misty get into a slap fight. Here, it seems, is the direction Coven is supposed to take: in Fiona’s absence, the Supreme who is supposed to hold the coven together, finally the witches can work as a team. And yet isn’t that the whole point of having a Supreme? Maybe there’s no need for a head witch anymore. Maybe they all can be just as powerful as each other.
I’m not sure if that’s what Coven‘s ultimate outcome will be, but it would match with the overall theme of the show: working together, black or white, old or young. Yet Coven is never adept at defining itself with motifs; we’ll see where the final episode takes us.
Helix: “Single Strand” – Friday, January 24, 10 PM
After last week’s reveal that Sarah’s serum for calculating infection doesn’t work, Helix left us wondering if the rest of the base would figure out that no one is safe, that no one can really be sure they’re not infected until they begin to manifest the symptoms. The comm link went down thanks to Ballaseros’ bomb, so Arctic Biosystems is now cut off from contact with both Level R (the infected containment area) and any help they could call in.
That means that the show has become even more claustrophobic now that it’s impossible for Dr. Alan Farragut and his CHC crew to leave. They’re stuck in a large, unsecure base with vectors (read: infected people who have lost control of their senses) running around and lots of potentially infected people who are very angry at being locked away. So “Single Strand” turns to the one thing that might be scarier than infected people with black saliva: humans who would rather attempt to kill the whole base than be locked away fighting for food and water.
The episode sees some of the infected people on Level R turning off the oxygen scrubbers that filter the air; if they remain off, everyone will have about six hours before they die of suffocation. No concern of Alan’s though; he wants to help his brother Peter, who is dying from the infection. He administers a large dose of an experimental antiviral against the warnings of a scientist at the base, and for a moment Peter makes a turnaround. So Alan gets to ask some questions, although not the ones that would really be most helpful to everyone attempting to isolate the disease.
He makes amends with Peter, bringing up the harshness of their father and how Alan left Peter when he needed him. The segment highlights the problems with Helix‘s characters; all of this stuff about Alan’s dad have been throwaway lines like, “He was an alcoholic,” and, “He was a really bad person.” Technically, there’s no better way for Helix to deal with Alan’s past, because a flashback would take the viewer out of the paranoia of the base. Still, it doesn’t work to characterize someone with just hearsay alone, and this moment before Peter’s death comes off mediocre at best.
The same is true with Sarah, who we learn has a tumor because she happens to help an infected oncologist. She’s taking Gabapentin and she’s got tremors and weakness, so obviously she must have a tumor, the oncologist says, although in this base it’s really impossible to tell who is sick with infection and who just has cancer. Note, too, that Sarah, the really smart young doctor, fails to recognize repeatedly that this oncologist might be infected even though her test says she isn’t. I’m no pathologist, but I would guess the reddened corners of the eyes signal a serious infection.
Helix is still pretty damn entertaining, though, especially when it gets into its scientific mumbo-jumbo about splicing human and animal genes to make a single-strand DNA sequence that the computer has never seen before. All of this is done by Doreen after she’s urged on by Balleseros, although later it begs the question why Balleseros would even tell Doreen about gene splicing in the first place if he was just going to tell her after she found out the truth.
No matter – there’s a lot of interesting stuff happening at once in Helix, and despite my worries that it would run out of steam after the first couple of episodes, the show seems to have enough content – different infections, finding cures, getting help, perhaps some genetic mutation after infection that can’t be stopped – that I’m not really concerned about where the show takes us next. It’s a surprisingly agile show even when it’s not firing on all cylinders, especially with the characters, so for now I’m a Helix vector.
Catch us next week with another edition of DEADtime TV, with coverage of The Following, AHS: Coven, Helix, and Bitten.