The Following Season 1

Starring Kevin Bacon and created by horror screenwriter legend Kevin Williamson I watched the opening episode of The Following’s first season when it aired this time last year and immediately knew I’d found something great. It was intense, suspenseful and episodes had a cinematic feel to them. I reviewed the early part of the series here and continued to watch the series, hoping that its impressive start would continue.

The series builds around Detective Ryan Hardy (Kevin Bacon) and his relationship with the serial killer Joe Carroll (James Purefoy); on his original rampage Carroll attacked Hardy but was captured and sent to prison, whilst Ryan tried to piece his life together. It all came crashing down however when Joe Carroll escaped from prison. Even though he was recaptured quickly, his escape prompted a plan to be set in motion, featuring Joe’s ‘followers’ a group of people who band together because of their obsession with Carroll. It’s intriguing stuff, not to mention creepy and it’s interesting that as well as focusing on Ryan, the show focuses on his followers as well. With the use of flashbacks the show pieces together the period of Carroll’s initial killings to the present day. In the short time he is free, Joe manages to set in motion his plan of making a ‘sequel’ to his story, placing Ryan Hardy in the centre. Carroll obsesses over Hardy because of the fact he was the one that caught him and also because after the case was solved he had an affair with Carroll’s wife Claire Matthews (Natalie Zea).

The main cast bounce off each other brilliantly –Kevin Bacon and James Purefoy have excellent chemistry; you can feel the mutual hatred under the surface and their scenes on screen are electric. Hardy feels like he has the weight of the world on his shoulders, blaming himself for so much and Bacon plays the flawed hero so well. I do love Kevin Bacon as an actor so I’m so happy he’s found a role and a television show that displays his acting abilities. James Purefoy clearly relishes the role of Joe Carroll; he oozes charisma, charm, sophistication – everything you’d expect in a crazed psychotic serial killer. The other supporting cast members include Shawn Ashmore as Agent Mike Weston who helps lead the investigation into Carroll, along with Agent Debra Parker played by Annie Parisse are great support to Hardy and due to Williamson’s knack of killing off his cast of characters with a blink of an eye, their roles are never safe.

The other interesting trio of characters are the initial three main followers of Joe Carroll – Paul, Jacob and Emma (played by Adan Canto, Nico Tortorella and Valerie Curry). Even though the three of them are only together for a few episodes, they make for an intriguing grouping, developing into a power play/love triangle as it turns out Paul and Jacob pretending to be gay developed into something more, whilst Jacob and Emma were actually a couple. The dissent and panic that erupts between the three is brilliant to see unfold.

Other aspects help to make this show fly as well the score is brilliant, helping to build the atmosphere, particularly the end of the episode songs. The show also consistently looks visually great, the constant night time scenes help create the atmospheric tension. Williamson and his team of writers come up with some great twists and turns, helping to keep the show fresh and exciting.

The Following’s second season starts later this month, and I’m more than intrigued to how the show will pick up and continue. The ending saw Joe Carroll supposedly dying in an explosion whilst Ryan and Claire celebrate together. That is soon cut short when one of Joe’s crazed followers, planted as Ryan’s neighbour attacks him and Claire, leaving the series on a cliff-hanger. We know that Ryan is alive, but there are still several strands that are left unsolved; what happened to Claire? Is Joe Carroll really dead? The answers will be found in the season 2 premiere of The Following – I can’t wait!

 

Hardy: The second you get within two feet of me, I’m gonna snap your neck and crack your spine.

Paul: And I’ll shoot you dead.

Hardy: And his spine will be cracked.

Paul: And you’ll be dead.

Hardy: And his spine will be cracked.

(The Following, 1.6 ‘The Fall’)

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The Following

This past July at San Diego Comic Con The Following was unveiled at its introductory panel with actor Kevin Bacon as the lead and scare extraordinaire writer Kevin Williamson (Scream franchise) as executive producer and creator, it seemed like a recipe for success. As soon as I saw the promo for this, I was hooked and couldn’t wait until the show started. It looks interesting, fresh, scary and action-packed. Finally, January rolled round and as I settled down to watch the first episode one thing was going through my head as the episode went on – “Oh my God, this is amazingly awesome – I think I’ve just found my favourite new TV show.”

Now, four episodes in to the series, I still have some of that feeling left. The Following really is a fresh TV show, filled with violence, intrigue and suspense with every episode feeling quite cinematic in scale. It has intelligent writing and an interesting premise as a sophisticated, creepy serial killer leads his cult of ‘followers’ to enact their own murders. James Purefoy plays serial killer Joe Carroll and is fantastic in the role – sadistic, manipulative yet charming and suave. The first episode sees Carroll escape (quite calmly) from prison and from there the action doesn’t stop as the bodies mount up; more blood is spilled and the violence and twists and turns of the series lets you know that you are dealing with writers that are not afraid of killing their characters and to make bold moves. The scare factor is also visible in the first episode, with moments that make you jump and also the idea of the unknown as the writers leave you guessing.

As Ryan Harding, Bacon is cast a slightly stereotypical detective who’s had a hard life – attacked by Carroll he almost died and has since been trying to piece his life together. He is private, untrusting and carries a lot of baggage with him, never letting anyone in. He reminds you of a puppy that never got anyone to play with. The first episode also brings Maggie Grace in as a guest star playing Sarah Fuller a survivor of Carroll and his last victim. It’s a good ploy to bring in someone like Grace in a guest starring role and then kill her off at the end of the episode, again reiterating the fact the writers do not want their audience to be comfortable and that everyone is expendable.

The following episodes move the story along; it’s interesting that apart from Kevin Bacon they seem to give the ‘followers’ more screen time and more character development – the love triangle between Emma, Jacob and Paul is interesting, but creepy. The detectives that work with Ryan Hardy are also starting to take on their own characters, particularly Shawn Ashmore’s character Mike Weston – Ashmore brings a likeability factor which allows the audience to root for his character.

I still think this show has potential, but only time and more importantly rating figures will tell about how long this show will be around for after its initial first season 14-episode run. Until we know more, I say long live Kevin Bacon on a television screen!

Joe: You know the human eye is connected by seven different muscles. I removed each one individually. Do you know how hard that is to do?

Joe: I will be your friend Ryan. Even though you slept with my wife.

Ryan: If this book ends with anything other than your death, you better plan on a re-write.