“The Following”- Kevin Bacon makes his TV debut! And there’s a serial killer cult!

the following

I was delighted when I first saw advertisements for FOX’s new crime thriller “the Following;” first because (as bizarre a thing as it is to admit) I love dark shows about crime and criminal investigation, specifically serial killers (i.e. Criminal Minds).  Second, Kevin Bacon (so much love for Kevin; Footloose, Footloose, Footloose, Footloose!). Kevin Bacon as a retired FBI agent with a drinking problem determined to see an insane killer brought to justice? I was already on board.

But I had my apprehensions (I mean, it’s a FOX series where Kevin Bacon plays a retired FBI agent with a drinking problem determined to see an insane killer brought to justice…) and the first forty-five minutes of the pilot did little to quel my concerns.

I would like to take a moment to  restate a point I am adamant about which is that I believe it’s nearly impossible to judge a show based on the pilot. Most of the episode is devoted to awkward set ups and explanations and usually the writers and actors don’t have a handle on the characters enough to bring them to their full potential.

But the pilot of the Following was particularly weak. I couldn’t help but feel I had seen all of this before; a killer escapes from prison and the only person who can find him is the man who captured him the first time. This is Bacon, who wakes up from an alcohol induced slumber to the news report and a phone call begging him to return to duty.

The majority of the episode proceeded as such and while I was already determined to see the show through to episode three I was not exactly looking forward to it.

Suddenly a naked woman stabs herself in the eye with an icepick and they realize the killer, Joe Carrol (James Purefoy), has a cult following. Even after he’s recaptured his devotees continue to carry out his mission of mass murder; each crime eerily inspired by the works of Edgar Allen Poe.

When Carrol’s son is kidnapped for him by the nanny (who had been living with his (ex)wife for two years) I was once again intrigued.

Despite the occasional weak dialogue (big broadcasting companies seem to prefer cutting back on the writing budget in favor of big name actors and special effects…) each episode has delivered a unique twist and at least one “edge of your seat,” holding your breath moments.

The violence in the show is surprisingly well done. Most of the murders are gruesome without being over the top, while at the same time being unusually tasteful. But the most intriguing aspect is the “creepy” factor the show is able to create.

My prime example is the ending of episode 7, “Let Me Go”. Carrol is reunited with his son and for the first time the audience gets a glimpse of his army of average-looking followers. The cinematography and editing all contribute but the song choice is truly what brings brilliance to this scene.

All in all, if dark and disturbing are your thing, “the Following” is worth checking out.

This is the song used in the scene I was talking about (also used on the History Channel’s “Vikings”)

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