Why are trained protection details on TV so useless?

THE FOLLOWING: Ryan (Kevin Bacon, L), Max (Jessica Stroup, C) and Lisa Campbell (guest star Diane Neal, R) discuss a plan of action in the special two-hour "Dead or Alive/The Reckoning" Series Finale episode of THE FOLLOWING airing Monday, May 18 (8:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2015 Fox Broadcasting Co. CR: Giovanni Rufino/FOX

Call them bodyguards, security teams or protection detail; these well-trained TV law enforcement agents are the modern equivalent of the Star Trek red shirt. Put them in harm’s way and harm is going to come to them and then to the person they were sworn to protect.

Look at the season finale of The Following….or any episode of The Following, really. (SPOILER ALERT)

Gina, her beloved and their two sweet kids are tucked away in the world’s most glorious safe house with a view of open land in every direction. Two trusted, and presumably well-trained, FBI agents are monitoring the house from the safety of their SUV.

“Time to do a sweep,” says one, clearly bored and not expecting trouble. He walks out of view, into a forest and falls for the old crunching footsteps on the hill. He wanders past a tree that is big enough to conceal a human and Theo takes him out. He takes out the other guard and, later on, the lone cop patrolling alone by simply walking up to the window and shooting. Seconds later, he and his partner have invaded what should be the Fort Knox of safe houses. Sorry, not today.

I adore The Following, so I’m pointing these flaws out with great love and respect. Plus, they aren’t the only show with inept security teams. On Stalker, a protector who is expecting trouble still opens the door when he sees a uniform through the peephole. The man is turned away so he can’t see the face and he doesn’t ask for ID. It’s a guy in a windbreaker, must be one of ours. Nope.

First lesson in bodyguard school; the bad guy can easily impersonate an officer simply by stealing the jacket from the other officer he just murdered. Repeat after me, clothes don’t always make the man.

Ryan Hardy easily figured out that the two FBI guys at the house were phony; so it can be done.

I appreciate the fact that a bodyguard’s mantra is that he’ll lay down his life to protect the target but isn’t it better if everyone makes it out alive?

Instead of calling these guys protectors, they ought to call them the “early warning system” because that’s pretty much all they’re good for. Their sudden disappearance from their post alerts the protected that trouble is on the way, giving them a chance to panic and run. Sometimes it helps. The selfless acts of her caught-off-guard guards saved Gwen on The Following but more often than not, these red shirts of modern television are just there to delay the inevitable.

Note to TV scriptwriters; you’re caught between a rock and a hard place. You can’t send the secondary character off unguarded; that would be silly, but you need to ratchet up the tension by tossing said character into the arms of the villain. I get it. But could you at least try to make it look like the protection detail has had some training? Maybe give us a moment where it looks like the bad guy isn’t going to get through? If not, don’t try to hide your plan behind a suit and tie or FBI windbreaker. Just hand out red shirts to everyone on the detail and let the bodies fall where they may.

Redshirts

THE FOLLOWING: Ryan (Kevin Bacon, L), Max (Jessica Stroup, C) and Lisa Campbell (guest star Diane Neal, R) discuss a plan of action in the special two-hour “Dead or Alive/The Reckoning” Series Finale episode of THE FOLLOWING airing Monday, May 18 (8:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2015 Fox Broadcasting Co. CR: Giovanni Rufino/FOX

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