Monday, April 15, 2013

'The Following' Thoughts & Theories: "Havenport" Review...

If you've been following (heh) my weekly "psychology of FOX's The Following" reviews, then you should remember from a few weeks ago that I mused that Carroll (James Purefoy) couldn't be behind the whole deprivation bunker because that was not how he enticed his "friends." I considered then that it was actually Roderick (Warren Kole), breaking off and recruiting for Carroll in a way that he deemed easiest, though not necessarily "best." I feel like if Carroll was the kind of guy who would break his followers down first, treating them like caged animals, he would have been the kind of guy to take Roderick-- or should we now be calling him Tim?-- down with him years ago when he was convicted of two murders his protege had actually committed. Similarly, tonight in "Havenport," Carroll could have thrown Roderick to the wolves of the FBI-- yelling back that "we don't have a problem; you have a problem." But he didn't. He only turned on him after Roderick proved he would betray first, lest he be betrayed. Roderick was the only one made, after all, and he was endangering everyone in the compound by running from the Sheriff's station directly there, even if his intentions were good: to warn them and put into motion the escape plan. But Carroll wanted to keep his family together, and his family really does extend beyond Claire (Natalie Zea) and Joey (Kyle Catlett). He's a magnificent narcissist who feeds on the love and devotion of others-- so much so that even during his "no good, very bad day" here, he didn't run; he didn't leave everyone behind to get found at the compound as he escaped to freedom. Like true submissives, they have all the power in the relationship because he needs them more than they need him.

Neither is Roderick, or Tim, though. He ran to Carroll to warn him, rather than just escaping into the woods on his own. It still baffled me that he wasn't more selfish-- that the majority of these followers haven't been selfish. They have truly given themselves and their lives over to Carroll and put him and the "cause" first above even self-preservation, which is a basic human instinct. I have to admit there's something remarkable in caring that much about something. Sure, what they care about seems skewed but the fact that they are so passionate at all is somewhat admirable. It's too easy to just go through the motions in life these days, distracted by petty, materialistic things, caught up in B.S. that doesn't matter. These people are all standing for something, and even if it turns out to be their downfall in the end, they should go out feeling fulfilled.

But maybe not quite Roderick. As much as he has put Carroll and his plan first for years now, he has done so somewhat bitterly. He needed Carroll-- to teach him, to guide him, to cover for him-- but that was in the beginning. When he rose to power in the ranks while Carroll was in prison, he got a taste of something better, and now it appears he has been going through the motions. Freaking out that Carroll was enacting a plan without him-- that he was going to be sacrificed-- was the greatest marker of just how far removed he is from Carroll's plan. "True" followers, so to speak, wouldn't worry about such things; they would blindly trust that Carroll was doing what needed to be done-- and if they had to sacrifice to make it all work out in the end, that was just the way things went. Roderick's scrambling, his fear at the possibilities and his potential lack of control, was his greatest exhibition of humanity to date. Unfortunately, it was too late to justify saving him from either side: he had already failed Carroll too many times, and he had killed too many and abused even more (and law enforcement officials) to boot.

Roderick coming around to the fact that Carroll had used him was fascinating because everyone assumes those in cults have been brainwashed. Even in this case, the deprivation bunker implied as much. But people who have been truly brainwashed need to be de-programmed. They don't come to such revelations randomly and on their own. Roderick went into his "work" with Carroll of his own free will, and he allowed himself to be manipulated and used by Carroll-- at times probably unaware it was even happening, equally narcissistically assuming he had the upper hand because he was "out" and running things day-to-day. The anger at the far-too-late realization that he was wrong and that he had ruined his life and everything was going to crash in on him was a gut-punch to everyone, probably even Carroll, who really had never been talked back to by one of his followers like this. Carroll managed to keep an even eerier calm during the confrontation, but I'm sure his mind and heart were racing, probably excited by all the adrenaline. This was the inciting incident his story needed to pick up steam, after all!

What kicked things up a notch was Hardy's (Kevin Bacon) offer that any follower could turn his or herself in and receive immunity for crimes committed if giving up the whereabouts of the compound and Carroll, too. It never should have been an issue that Carroll would fear because everyone was so devoted to him-- only now Roderick was having deep second thoughts. Suddenly the second in command was the wild card, and he absconded with Joey to prove it. 

Sidebar: I still hope that Claire going to Carroll for help when Roderick took off with Joey is a foreshadowing of Hardy needing Carroll's help with something down the line. 

It also should have never been an issue because they should all be smarter than to assume such a deal was possible at all-- after everything. A lot of people think cult members aren't smart-- that they are able to get brainwashed because they are too simple or too trusting. But I think it's more the opposite: they allow themselves-- they give the,selves over because it's easier. They can shut off parts of themselves-- the parts that worry over the unknown, the mundane-- and give into a deep belief, a higher power, that it will all work out because someone is looking out for them, someone has a plan. That's what faith is whether who you follow is a cult leader or a religion's God. Roderick was smart enough to know he needed assurances to keep him alive, to keep him bargaining for real. Hence taking Joey. He momentarily angered Carroll, but really he ended up buying Carroll time. Because the FBI's focus was split again: now they needed to find Joey separately and distinctly from where they would find Carroll. And the clock was ticking because he could be hurt, without food or water, or even buried alive somewhere. And that's going to take priority personally for Hardy who doesn't want to be responsible for killing the love of his life's kid, but also professionally because a sweet little face like Joey's on the news makes everyone pay more attention to your protocol.

Now, we recently learned that Hardy had killed before, too-- and not just a line-of-duty shooting. He stood over the junkie that killed his dad and forced the guy to overdose. He was just a kid, but the darkness spread in him. We knew that, but no one on the show did-- especially not Roderick. So while Roderick thought he was getting the deal of the century when Hardy sprung him, ensuring that if he got Joey back safely, he'd be let out of town-- even convincing Hardy to toss his gun and his phone before they left to get the kid-- I was highly suspicious. There was nothing to stop Hardy from just putting a bullet in Roderick just past the roadblocks, claiming he shot the guy making his escape. Of course, I can't always get what I want, and this time, it turned out the FBI was in on Hardy's plan, having "drunk the Ryan Hardy juice" and Roderick ended up shot in the house where Joey was being kept, in front of the kid who will now probably grow up to be a self-mutilator because of all of the bad images he just can't get out of his head. But anyway, I digress. It's great that this show didn't lead us down a repetitive rabbit hole of trying to find Joey again, since the first half of the season was all about that. It's far less great that Roderick won't be around for the rest of the ride. I had come to really like him, though Carroll having to clean up his mess(es) should be fun foibles still.
It took until more than mid-way through the season for the series to overtly touch on those daddy issues, but once it did-- with subtle discussion dancing around Jacob's (Nico Tortorella) dad and then Hardy's experiences-- I found myself waiting for the two of them to come together over their issues. In most shows, they'd bond, half-tipsy, over beers at some bar. On this one, it was a momentary recollection in the dark, guns pointed at each other. They couldn't even see each others' faces, but we could, and after all Jacob had seen and heard with Carroll turning on Roderick, a simple he "doesn't care if you live or die" was enough to crack the surface and cause a second thought. Carroll was standing in as Jacob's dad this whole time, which will be even creepier once he learns Emma (Valorie Curry) has been sleeping with Carroll, and even the possibility of not making him proud now carries so much more weight than not wanting to receive disappointing looks or being cast out of the house. 

So while emotions overtook Jacob again, he didn't rationalize that Carroll certainly should care what happens to him now-- because he failed to bring his son back. Yes, he tried, but trying without results gets old, and even the utmost patient (which Carroll is not) man will snap eventually. Besides, a full-grown, sniveling man-child is a piss-poor replacement for little Joey. Instead, he simply resigned himself to his fate. I would argue that he's been on a silent suicide mission ever since losing Paul-- that hardening, turning darker, making threats, posturing, whatever you want to call it (and I have) was just a coping mechanism to cover his true plan. Losing faith in the cause was just another step. And this is the first time he really saw his way out. He's not going to actively bring it on or speed up the process, like a suicide-by-cop scenario, but he's going to quietly lie down and accept it. Because there's nothing left in the world for him now.

Speaking of Joey, Hardy showed great restraint in not telling him they had already had this conversation about being one of the good guys. I'm sure his exhaustion just made him more mild-mannered. But when he came around that tree and saw Joey alone staring up at him, I wonder if he had a little flash of insta-dad panic. Because you just know he's not going to turn Joey over to the system while they try to bring his mother home!

And honestly, he might have to be perma-dad because if and when he catches Carroll, he's going to jail, and Claire, by all accounts, should be killed imminently. I couldn't stop shaking my head at Claire telling Carroll she wanted to "make a deal" that she'd stay if he let Joey go. It's not like she had any leverage to actually make that deal worthwhile. She had to stay; she had no choice; she had no way out. Her attempt was admirable, but Caroll being conned by a kiss? Oh come on, he's supposed to be so much smarter than that! She, on the other hand, was just desperate enough to think stabbing him would work because as I mentioned weeks ago, she wasn't thinking a few steps ahead, so she wasn't planning for the dozens of followers in the house who would want to hurt her for hurting their leader.
Carroll has to make good on his plan to kill Claire now that he promised it to Hardy, swilling his and slurring his alcohol even though he was bleeding profusely. Gotta love the guy's moxie! It's like introducing a gun in the first act of a play. You better pull the trigger by the end. In this particular episode's case, though, that gun analogy was represented with the deal Hardy fake-offered followers during his press conference, perfectly setting up the chance for one of them to waltz right into the station, pretend to turn herself in, and stab poor Mike Colter in the head. He was still screaming in pain when the episode ended, so a little part of me cynically thinks it was a set up to deflect suspicion off him when he's later revealed to be a follower in the final episodes, but regardless, it's just more unnecessary blood on Hardy's hands and a way to rack the body count up even further this close to the end of the season. 

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