‘The Following’s’ cast Shawn Ashmore, Jeananne Goossen, Kevin Bacon, James Purefoy, Natalie Zea and Kyle Cattlet.
Gritty doesn’t really describe the nature of “The Following”. It’s a psychological thriller and it’s very violent. But it’s about a serial killer, well, a network of serial killers, and there’s no way to make this new Fox program anything but violent and gory. It’s also a game of cat and mouse, where a brilliant, but murderous former Literature professor plays the antagonist to a damaged former FBI agent.
The professor, Joe Carroll (James Purefoy), has been serving time in prison and is awaiting his execution for having killed 14 of his female students. He’s fond of the great Romance authors, but his true love is the works of Edgar Allan Poe – his favorite being “The Raven”. He told his students that Poe knew what death was about, a work of art and that art is beauty. Eyes, he says, are the essence of one’s identity and that there is nothing more beautiful, according to his interpretation of Poe, than to watch a beautiful woman die.
FBI Agent Ryan Hardy (Kevin Bacon) spent 18 months tracking Carroll down, and captured him while he was in the middle of killing two more women. Carroll stabbed Hardy, resulting in Hardy living with a pacemaker, and Hardy shot and wounded Carroll. One of the women survived, was a witness against Carroll and went on to become a doctor.
Carroll escaped from prison, killing five guards in the process. While in prison, he became the mentor, a teacher again, to a group of accomplices. Through his blogs and websites, he developed a network of trained killers who respond to his every command. The following has spent years of their lives honing their craft and doing Carroll’s bidding. A text message from Carroll ,”Do it now”, was all it took for a young woman to take off her clothes, revealing the words of Poe written all over her body, and stab herself in the eye, right in middle of the police command center.
The prison guard, Jordi Raines, who helped Carroll escape, has been practicing his killings and is ready to move up to human victims. The neighbors of the lone Carroll survivor, Sarah Fuller, are not what they appear to be. They help their leader by killing the police officers who were guarding her and then abducting her to deliver her to Carroll. Hardy, on his own, figures out where she is by the picture from Carroll’s book cover – a lighthouse. He arrives too late to save Sarah, but backup arrives and Carroll surrenders.
Carroll wants things from Hardy. He would like Hardy to write a sequel to the book the agent wrote about his work on the serial killer’s case. Carroll also wants Hardy to experience the pain that lovers in the classic romantic novels do. You see, Hardy and Carroll’s ex-wife, Claire Matthews, were lovers, and Carroll thinks that their story would be perfect for the sequel. To ensure that Hardy goes along with the plan, Carroll had placed a nanny in his ex-wife’s house and she has now taken their son, Joey.
The two main characters are flawed men. One is a demented and evil murderer, a genius who can control the minds of his followers to carry on his unfinished work. The other is broken, psychologically and physically, by everything that he went through during the 10-year-old investigation. They understand each other, though, a phenomenon that often occurs between an investigator and a criminal. What will be the problems for Hardy now is that he’s not in charge, anymore – Carroll is. The cult members, or “friends” as Carroll refers to them as, are unknowns. They’re everywhere, in all walks of life and are both men and women. They’re a heightened version of the type of people who write to and even marry imprisoned killers. They think they’re doing something beautiful, in the name of art and romance.
I won’t gloss over how dark this program is, but, if you can get beyond that, there’s some promise to “The Following”. It’s not like anything else on television and I think it might be worth taking a look at. Fox will be airing the premiere again this Friday night. The network announced that there would be 14 episodes, in a row, no breaks, no hiatus. And, of course, in case I wasn’t clear, there’s Kevin Bacon.
This blog from The Farm is a year old now. Thank you to Mel the Hound for all the work you’ve put into this, and a big thanks to all of you, who stuck around with us to read and comment. 🙂