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TV That Matters: The Following, Community

By Matt Ern Columnist

The Following- "The Siege"

Grade: B+

There was a lot of this week’s episode that I didn’t hate, but there’s still so much going on in this show that just doesn’t make sense. The more we learn about the expansive size of Joe’s network of followers, the more improbable the show becomes. His cult is growing larger every week, and everyone is so unquestionably loyal that they would commit suicide rather than disappoint him. His charismatic personality and ability to inspire as a professor are the only reasons given to explain this unwavering loyalty.

Two new followers are in play this week. They’re called into action to move the three other members and the kidnapped boy to a safer location. It’s a good move because Ryan finally figures out the location of the farmhouse, tying those two plots together. But these series of events have made me think about what Joe’s endgame could be involving the kidnapped boy. It doesn’t seem like he wants anything from little Joey, the kidnapping mostly serves to unnerve his mother and Ryan. It seems odd to me that a cult leader would have his army of serial killers do nothing other than watch over his son, but whatever.

The new followers are also involved in strong-arming Joe’s attorney into delivering messages for him, implicating her in his web of storytelling. They accomplish this by cutting off two of her fingers to instill obedience. Now, no serial killing cult has ever mutilated me so that I would deliver coded messages for them, but I would probably just go to the police and not further the ambitions of a clearly insane person.

But if you’re willing to suspend your disbelief about, say, everything that’s going on in this episode, then it’s kind of exciting. Ryan finally makes it into the kidnappers’ house but gets caught at the very end. Along the way some more innocent bystanders get killed because this is the “The Following” and every episode apparently has a gruesome murder quota. “The Siege” continues a trend of improvement from the previous week, but the show’s premise is so outrageous to me that I don’t think I’ll ever be able to really enjoy it.

 

Community- "Paranormal Parantage"

Grade: A-

Thankfully there was a (somewhat) return to form this week. The show still isn’t the same, but at the very least this was a funny episode, which I couldn’t really say about “History 101.” There are hints of the old-Community vibe going on here, but sadly not enough. I’m still a little disappointed with this season, but no one can deny that this was a hilarious episode of television, which at some level is all we can ask for.

While it was funny, the stuff that didn’t work was that they seemed to be relying a little heavily on Abed’s meta commentary, and the horror movie tropes were a little heavy handed for “Community” (although Annie whining that she hates reference humor was great). Each character has become more of a one-note character as well, or maybe more accurately, they’ve reverted to their season one selves and lost two years of development.  Britta mostly just spouts lines about psychology and Troy is mostly portrayed as a clueless innocent. Certainly these are aspects of the characters that existed in the Harmon-era of the show, but they’ve been exaggerated this season.

As always for a “Community” Halloween special, the costumes were top notch, especially Britta’s. Troy’s discovery of Pierce’s sex dungeon was a great gag and Donald Glover really nails his lines throughout the whole episode. The emotional payoffs between Britta and Troy, and Pierce and Gilbert were sweet.  It was great to see Giancarlo Esposito return too, Esposito’s presence is always welcome on any show as far as I’m concerned.

“Paranormal Parentage” doesn’t really rank among the show’s best, but it’s definitely good, maybe on par with a middle-to-low-range Harmon-era episode. It still makes “Community” a show worth watching, and if the writers work out a few more kinks this 2.0 version might turn into something great in its own right.version might turn into something great in its own right.

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