The Following, a review
Pilot and Episode 2
The Following just aired last week, on the 22nd of January and I almost missed it. I had been looking forward to it ever since I saw the trailer and, on the day, I completely forgot about it. Lucky me, I caught it by chance.
Ryan Hardy is an ex FBI agent in the dumps. Hardy (Kevin Bacon) is the hero who caught the serial killer Joe Carroll (James Purefoy).
Carrol had been a professor in college and had become completely obsessed with Poe's work. Inspired by him and some of his tale, he decided to make his own mark in history by becoming an artist. Of course, he did not think of simply taking a pottery class, killing young women and removing their eyes seemed far more interesting to him.
Only Ryan Hardy suspected him and decided to follow him and one of his students to whom Hardy had noticed Carroll paid special attention. It was like this that he caught Carroll in the act, saving the girl, but since they had to double the drama, Carroll manages to stab him in the heart, which is why Hardy has to have a pacemaker fitted.
This makes him unable to complete his job, which is why he leaves the FBI on disability. This and that he had an affair with Carroll ex-wife (which is frown upon, apparently)
During the pilot of the show, Carroll escapes from prison. The FBI, in its immense wisdom, decide to do the unexpected, they call Hardy back since he is the one who knows the man the best and even wrote a book about him. Hardy, being in the dumps and trying to pass vodka for bottled water, accepts grudgingly. Personally, if I was Hardy and really did not want to go back, I would simply send the man a copy of my book.
Ryan Hardy obviously did not share my thinking and accepted anyway, embarking in a confrontation with Carroll, a competition almost. It is through his pursuit that they discover Carroll had wisely used the social networks (prisoners in death row should not have internet access even in the library) to find himself some friends, some smarter than others but all equally deranged and they follow him.
I have to say that the pilot, although enjoyable, left me a bit worried. The trailer had looked amazing and this was great, but not quite as good as promised. Not disappointing enough not to give it another chance though, so I had to wait for a week.
And I missed it, but this time, because I thought I had set the series to record and, well, I had not. You have to thank the Internet Gods for catch up TV. The funny thing about catch up TV is that, not only to you have to catch up on the show you missed, but also on the commercials!
I must say that the second episode made up for any slowness in the pilot. My doubts have now gone, possibly forever and I cannot wait for the next one.
In the pilot there is an establishment of power. Carroll is in control and Ryan Hardy is the hero who shall win against all odds. Well, not ALL odds, we have all watched TV long enough to know how the whole thing should end.
In the second episode they start to explore in more depth Carroll's followers and start with the nanny. He had smartly placed one of his followers as his son's nanny so she could take him away when he put his plan in action.
Through a number of flashback, which is how they tell the background story, we discover a girl psychologically mistreated by her overconfident mother. After meeting Carroll both free and in prison, she finds a new self, even getting a boyfriend who Carroll set her up with (serial killer AND match maker!). She introduces her boyfriend to her mother. As a horrible mother, the woman does not disappoint and belittles her daughter in front of her new man, which does not seem to amuse the poor girl so she stabs her in the back. Not even a tiny bit unexpected.
I have to say that is not even the more interesting part, the part that has really caught my attention is the small tensions and relationships between these followers and how they interact and the ongoing confrontation between Carroll and Hardy.
I was so glad to see Kevin Bacon on TV! I have always liked him and not only because of Footloose! I love him doing the Footloose dance with Eric McCormack in Will And Grace.
The truth is, Bacon has only done a couple of really big movies, the main one being Mystic River and, although he was great on it, his performance was shadowed by Sean Penn's and Tim Robin's and not necessarily because they are better actors, I think it had more to do with the script.
This could be a career maker for him and for Purefoy who we all remember seeing but not many people would know his name. I have to say I recently read an interview with him where he criticized English cinema and TV which annoyed me a bit from somebody who I only remember from playing some prince in A Knight's Tale.
This said, the man has done a lot of very creepy research for his character that would scare me. There is that much serial killer talk that one can listen to. My own limit is: none. One has to admire that kind of dedication.
The Bad, The Good and The Ugly
The Bad: The cliché tricks to keep you hooked, especially at the end of the episodes. And the fact that Hardy beats himself up so much it makes me feel of Frodo and annoys me a bit. He redeems himself by surprising Carroll at the end of both episodes.
The Good: The characters, the good ones and the bad ones and the way they interact and the fact that you do not know where it is all going.
The Ugly: The Edgar Alan Poe masks... honestly...
OVERALL: 7 out of 10 (for now)