<p>Kevin Bacon becomes the new pitchman for Budweiser Invisible Lager.</p>

Kevin Bacon becomes the new pitchman for Budweiser Invisible Lager.

Credit: FOX

Recap: 'The Following' - 'Guilt'

Joe keeps looking for Claire, while Emma and Jacob reunite
Oh, "The Following." Why are you so dark and whiny?
 
After last week's review, it's hard to find more to critique about "The Following" when the show seems hell-bent on delivering more of the same. But I did find "Guilt" interesting for two different reasons: One, it's rather predictable, which gives us some insight into what the writers of "The Following" are hoping to achieve, and two, it aggressively enters the dream-like state that had been hinted at in the first few weeks, giving Jacob some intense hallucinations.
 
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<p>Kevin Bacon of &quot;The Following&quot;</p>

Kevin Bacon of "The Following"

Credit: FOX

Recap: 'The Following' - 'Love Hurts'

Joe responds to Ryan's concealing of Claire with more violence against women
A crazy woman writing her own chapter of Joe Carroll's murderous story, several senseless murders, and one love affair gone horribly awry: Just another Monday night with "The Following." As this show goes on I'm increasingly convinced that that 16-episode season is just way too long for a show that is running on some of the same plot devices in order to maintain suspense. 
 
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<p>Monday's &quot;The Following&quot;</p>

Monday's "The Following"

Credit: FOX

Recap: 'The Following' - 'Welcome Home'

Ryan bumps heads with a new authority figure and Carroll enjoys freedom
For the past several episodes, "The Following" has skirted the obvious fact that there's something sexual about Joe Carroll's murdering pattern. Whether or not he's sexually assaulting anyone (and we have not seen him do that), he specifically targets women -- young women. Almost all of the bodies so far have been women, and the men have been largely incidental manslaughters, killings on the way in or out of killing someone else.
 
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Justin Timberlake and Kenan Thompson on 'Saturday Night Live'

Justin Timberlake and Kenan Thompson on 'Saturday Night Live'

Credit: NBC

Recap: 'Saturday Night Live' – Justin Timberlake

How will the show welcome Timberlake into the Five-Timers Club?

It’s time for Justin Timberlake to enter a special place in the “Saturday Night Live” pantheon tonight, as tonight’s hosting gig allows him membership in the Five-Timers Club. Given a certain photo that a certain member of that club tweeted this week, let’s just assume that there will be many existing members of this exclusive organization on hand tonight to mark the event. (Then again, maybe that picture simply depicts a table read for “The Ghosts Of ‘N Sync Past”.)

 
There are two likely scenarios tonight. One is that we’ll get a great episode that will ultimately rank high in the season-long rankings. Timberlake always brings his A-game to the show, and the writers/performers in return respond to the level that he brings. The other scenario, which is semi-unlikely but absolutely possible, is that the show will pull several muscles while patting itself on the back, relying on pure nostalgia to simply coast through an episode based on recognition of past achievements rather than offering up anything new, fresh, or interesting. A simply mediocre or instantly forgettable episode doesn’t seem in the cards. And hey, if for some reason the writers couldn’t come up with enough good ideas for this show, Timberlake can simply play the full version of his single “Suit & Tie”, which clocks in at roughly 23 minutes.
 
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<p>Monday's &quot;The Following&quot;</p>

Monday's "The Following"

Credit: FOX

Recap: 'The Following' - 'Let Me Go'

Carroll tries to get a new home, while Emma and Joey make creepy new friends
So, Joe Carroll is really good at the game he's playing.
 
I am not typically hung up on issues of plausibility in television, but this seems to me to be a particularly convoluted episode of "The Following" -- if also one that became again truly scary, from time to time. Joe's reach, and the power of his cult, apparently knows no bounds. In "Let Me Go" they manage to coerce the prison warden of a maximum security prison into releasing Joe, who shifts from uniformed prisoner to suited murderer in the span of a few moments. He makes short work of his lawyer Olivia, killing her in her own car after she transports him to safety, before running into a mall, rendezvousing with two of his compatriots, and escaping off the roof in a helicopter.
 
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Kevin Hart and Jason Sudeikis on "Saturday Night Live"

Kevin Hart and Jason Sudeikis on "Saturday Night Live"

Credit: NBC

Recap: 'Saturday Night Live' – Kevin Hart and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

The comedy veteran hosts the show for the first time.

After a two-week hiatus following its strongest episode of the season, “Saturday Night Live” is back with host Kevin Hart. I’ve seen Hart in "Undeclared" as well as in supporting roles in several films, but won’t pretend to be anything remotely related to an expert on his stand-up career. So I’m coming into tonight’s episode with a relatively blank slate. Anything is possible when it comes to this installment, so far as I’m concerned. And that’s a good thing, so near as I can tell. Sometimes the hype can be too much (as will undoubtedly be the case when Justin Timberlake hosts next week), and sometimes negative preconceptions can cripple an episode before it even starts (paging Justin Bieber, who lived down to that hype). 

Tonight? I’m ready to roll with whatever the show has ready to offer. Along for the ride is musical guests Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, who will obviously be playing deep cuts from their album “The Heist” and in no way will play “Thrift Store” in either slot. Nope. No way, no how. Oh, who are we kidding? They will probably play it twice, and it will be f#$^ing awesome both times. In five years (or, more likely, five weeks), we’ll look back and wonder why we suddenly all lost our minds and agreed to like this song. But for now, let’s just accept the fact that if we see a broken keyboard, we’re probably going to buy that broken keyboard.
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<p>Natalie Zea on Monday's &quot;The Following&quot;</p>

Natalie Zea on Monday's "The Following"

Credit: FOX

Recap: 'The Following' - 'The Fall'

Ryan is really interested in the Threesome, while Claire finds a fan
Last week's cliffhanger starts this week's "The Following," in which Ryan unwittingly makes himself the centerpiece of a hostage situation. It's a tense episode that demonstrates a bit of a tonal shift for the show—one that moves a little bit away from Ryan's internal dramas and instead focuses on him as a hero. That's great, because it lets some of the other characters' narratives take up space for a change. Here's the good, bad, and meh:
 
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<p>James Purefoy of &quot;The Following&quot;</p>

James Purefoy of "The Following"

Credit: Nicole Rivelli/FOX

Recap: 'The Following' - 'The Siege'

Carroll sends a Poe-based message through his old lawyer
The Following is exhaustingly dark, is it not?
 
This week’s episode “Siege” goes in a lot of directions. A few of those angles stick. Others don’t have the emotional impact that you might expect from so much blood and gore. By far the most powerful moment is at the very end, and the story is a little muddled getting all the way there.
 
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Christoph Waltz and Fred Armisen on "Saturday Night Live"

Christoph Waltz and Fred Armisen on "Saturday Night Live"

Credit: NBC

Recap: 'Saturday Night Live' – Christoph Waltz and Alabama Shakes

How will the "Django Unchained" star fare in Studio 8H?

Let’s face it, “Saturday Night Live” fans: 2013 hasn’t been kind to the show. We’ve had three not-really-that-good-at-all shows thus far, with the pieces never really coming together to produce a solid, nevermind stand-out, episode. Will Christoph Waltz be the unlikely savior? I say “unlikely” not because he isn’t talented, but because I’m sure there are a lot of people tuning in tonight. Those reading this recap will probably know of his recent roles in “Inglorious Basterds” and “Django Unchained”, but the average viewer more familiar with the oeuvre of last week’s host Justin Bieber? Hard to say.

 
Then again, the idea of choosing a host based on skill rather than fame is one I applaud. In every major role in an American film (yes, even including “The Green Hornet”), Waltz has brought a comedic edge to his intense performances. For him to end up a great host wouldn’t surprise me in the least, just as it wouldn’t surprise me to see musical guests Alabama Shakes tear the roof off of Studio 8H when they perform tonight. The law of averages states we’re in for a good show tonight. Then again, maybe “SNL” will just troll me and have Waltz play a character named “Ryan” in the latest installment of “The Californians”.
 
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<p>Kevin Bacon on &nbsp;Monday's &quot;The Following&quot;</p>

Kevin Bacon on  Monday's "The Following"

Credit: FOX

Recap: 'The Following' - 'Mad Love'

Jacob admits a secret, while the cult strikes close to Ryan
"Mad Love" doesn’t advance any plotlines significantly, which feels a little frustrating after three episodes that are essentially action-packed. Instead we are immersed into backstory for most of the episode, and though we do learn some interesting information about Ryan’s family--and his fraught relationship with Claire--overall the episode feels stagnant, with none of the pulp and gore that drove last week’s "Poet’s Fire." That’s fine, and it’s somewhat interesting in terms of building character, but this is not going to be anyone’s favorite episode of the show. The wacky stuff gets pushed to the outskirts, to the murder-cult house with little Joey, while Ryan’s storyline takes on pretty normal dramatic strokes. The tonal shift is frankly kind of confusing after three episodes of crazy.
 
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