Inept heroism vs. omni-competent villainy

In response to Laziest Writing: Walking Dead vs. The Following:

I’ve watched The Following for much the same reason: Kevin Bacon, with a side order of Natalie Zea.  Actually, when I first heard the show described, I thought it was a documentary about the Liberals for Chris Dorner fan club, but was pleasantly surprised to find it was a horror-cop drama… at least, until it went completely off the rails, which arguably happened before the episode you described, but holy cow did you ever nail it.

The laziness of this show’s writing – as also evidenced by its high-school crush on Edgar Allen Poe, the most sadly predictable muse for a serial-killer cult that lazy TV writers could come up with – reminds me of the way Hannibal Lecter descended from fascinating force of caged evil to superhuman teleporting slasher in the “Silence of the Lambs” sequels.  Inept heroes and omni-competent villains make for unsatisfying shake-and-bake drama.  

The notion of The Following was creepy until the size of the cult achieved ridiculous proportions, and began including people who would need to pass all sorts of background checks and psych evaluations to get their jobs.  It seemed faintly plausible that such a cult might exist among disaffected nobodies, although the writers haven’t done a terribly good job of selling the Following’s hypnotic attraction, beyond explaining that everybody wants to belong to something, and apparently the James Purefoy character is a veritable pied piper of psychotics.  (That part’s been working better as Purefoy warms up to the role.)  The idea that an academic could blend art and industrial psychology into a brew that drives marginal people over the edge and forges them into a mindlessly loyal army of serial killers has a nice Lovecraftian touch to it, although at this point the writers would have to introduce actual supernatural elements to retain a shred of plausibility, as in Clive Barker’s underrated “Lord of Illusions.”  (Check out the movie if you’ve never seen it.  I strongly suspect the writers of “The Following” have.)

I’ll stick with “The Following” a while longer just because Kevin Bacon would be interesting in a show about a guy who memorizes phone books, but I’m starting to wish Tim Olyphant and Nick Searcy would follow Natalie Zea over from “Justified” and finish the Followers off in an apocalyptic shootout:

CHIEF DEPUTY U.S. MARSHAL ART MULLEN: Damn, Raylan, I don’t think I’ve ever seen you reload before.

DEPUTY U.S. MARSHAL RAYLAN GIVENS: Well, there was a lot of them, Art.  And I had to shoot that fat Follower twice.  Hell, I was thinking about borrowing Constable Bob’s machine gun for a while there.

CONSTABLE BOB: Hey!  You promised you wouldn’t tell anyone about that!  Okay, you can borrow it, but you gotta buy your own ammo.  I’m tapped after picking up that latest “Call of Duty” game down at the Best Buy.

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