HOLLYWOOD—Rarely does a new series instantly hook me, but the promos for FOX’s new thriller “The Following” had invaded the television waves so much I couldn’t miss it and am I glad I didn’t. This is that classic tale of cat and mouse, where you know to a degree how it will end, yet the suspense factor is so enthralling you can’t turn your eyes away from the screen.
The series follows former FBI agent Ryan Hardy (Kevin Bacon) who is forced to retire from his post after being critically injured by serial killer Joe Carroll (James Purefoy). Upon first glimpse of the two in the same room I got the eerie feeling that I was watching “The Silence of the Lambs,” but as the conversation unfolded, it was evident this was far from it. Purefoy displays a classic tale of a man with so much knowledge, an English professor of literature who goes mad and literally has everyone on edge as no one quite knows what he has planned. He infuses pure evil into a character that has no remorse for human life; not even children.
Bacon is also a revelation as the flawed hero. He caught the bad guy once, but will he be able to capture him again before he attempts to dispose of his only surviving victim Dr. Sarah Fuller (Maggie Grace). As a viewer, you can easily predict what will happen to Fuller, but the writing on the series places so much emphasis on the protagonists you care for these characters. I particularly love the flashback sequences that occurred in the first episode to give the audience a deeper insight into our main characters, their struggles as well as the events that have led up to the current chaos unfolding.
The series opens with Carroll escaping from prison, leaving a bloody rampage behind him which draws Hardy out of hiding to speak. The current FBI agents on the case are not the smart cookies they’d like us to believe they are except for rookie agent Mike Weston (Shawn Ashmore). That’s the one fault that I have with the series is some of the characters come across so one dimensional you can care less about them, but I have a feeling that will change as the series progresses. Hardy is quite familiar with Carroll's tactics and has some theories as to what he is planning; he knows that Sarah is not in safe keeping and that is only further reiterated when a mysterious woman tragically kills herself, but not before revealing some eye-popping quotes from Edgar Ellen Poe.
Hence the title of the series “The Following” that places Carroll as the mastermind, of an allegiance of recruits that are willing to carry out his every single demand. You never quite know who can be trusted and that is where the series will become quite interesting. These “characters” that you think you know, characters that you are invested in, could all be apart of Carroll’s master plan as he attempts to mentally torture the mind of Hardy. The chemistry between Bacon, Purefoy and Natalie Zea as Claire Matthews is exceptional. I knew there was a reason Carroll was so envious of Hardy, and it’s because Hardy and Matthews had a fling that infuriated Carroll. The pilot touched on the idea that Claire’s son could be Hardy’s, but no confirmation is given so in due time I’m sure it’ll be revealed.
Bacon and Purefoy are indeed the stars of this psychological thriller and they go toe-to-toe in the final moments of the first episode that can only give the viewer and idea of where things will go as Claire’s son goes missing thanks to Carroll who begs to be taken into custody. Purefoy is indeed frightening as a psychopath with a purpose; one not fully known at the moment. Bacon on the other hand, does well balancing the good guy, bad guy act; he has skeletons in his closet, some which we know about, others likely to be revealed in future episodes. All I can say is “The Following” is indeed a twisted thriller that has captivated my attention with one watch and I can’t wait to see what horrors await the audience. “The Following” airs Mondays at 9 p.m. on FOX.
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