An intriguing set of promos that I saw mostly during football games led me to try this new Fox Drama series. While I have been burned in the past with partial seasons (Drive) or one season only series (Alcatraz), I decided to give The Following a try.
The show is centered on former FBI agent Ryan Hardy, who is called in to consult on the escape of serial killer Joe Carroll, whom he helped catch originally. Since Hardy knows him better than anyone else, they need his help to find Carroll.
Carroll is obsessed with Edgar Allan Poe, and believes that the death of a beautiful woman is the purest form of art. He removes the eyes of his victims, as they are the window to a person’s soul.
Through a series of clues, Hardy and the FBI begin to believe that Carroll was contacting people via the internet to build a group of followers to carry out his wishes. As further proof, a woman waiting to be questioned at the police station (the naked woman with the words written all over her body seen in the promos) stabs herself in the eye with an ice pick. She appears to be the first of Carroll’s followers.
Soon after, it is discovered that a jail guard, Jordy Raines, helped Carroll escape. He is an apprentice of sorts to Carroll, even having practiced on dogs in his house.
Hardy meets with Carroll’s ex wife, who shows him a letter she received from Carroll a week before he escaped. It alludes to an affair between Claire and Hardy, which their conversation confirms happened.
This affair is one of several possible reasons we have discovered for Hardy’s dismissal from the FBI. Another allusion is made to him acting crazy and being an alcoholic. He also has a pacemaker due to a stab wound suffered in his confrontation with Carroll the night he was originally arrested.
Claire mentions to Hardy about how Carroll needs to finish the story. Hardy knows that this means Carroll is going after Sarah, his only surviving victim. Sarah is seemingly safe with the police detail, and her two male neighbors a phone call away.
When Hardy and the FBI agents get to Sarah’s house, they find that Sarah is missing, as well as one of the police officers that were outside her bedroom door. The other cop is dead in her bed.
Hardy and Agent Mason find a hole in Sarah’s closet, and a blood trail that leads into her neighbors’ house. Her neighbors are nowhere to be found. The blood trail goes into the garage, where the second officer is found dead on a chair. The word “nevermore” is painted in blood on the garage wall.
Hardy figures that the two neighbors were actually planted there by Carroll to watch Sarah, and are actually followers of Carroll. These two neighbors show up on the visitors’ log at the prison.
Hardy sees in a photo of the two men that they have visited The Lighthouse Bed and Breakfast. The Lighthouse is the name of Poe’s unfinished last novel. Hardy heads over to the Bed and Breakfast, which turns out to be a burned out old building.
Hardy finds Carroll there, and Carroll hits him with a shovel, and beats him badly. Carroll reveals that he has killed Sarah and finally got the ending right. Hardy goes to choke Carroll, but Carroll surrenders as the other FBI agents arrive.
Hardy speaks to Carroll back at the jail, and Carroll explains to him that Sarah was a necessary tool to bring the flawed hero (Hardy) into his new story. He has a group of followers that can be working at all times. Jordy Raines is shown using his standing as a police officer to gain access to a girl’s home. It is presumed that he is going to kill her.
Carroll wants to speak to his ex wife, but Hardy tells him there is no way she will speak to him. While this is going on, it cuts back to Claire’s house, and her looking for her son Joey. Joey and the babysitter are gone. The episode ends with the babysitter and Joey getting into the car of Sarah’s two neighbors, making it quite clear that they are all involved, and using Joey as bait to draw out Claire.
So overall, this was a very eventful first episode of The Following. What seemed to be a long-term storyline was resolved in the very first episode, with the “followers” being the actual big story. Fox has promised 14 new episodes in 14 straight weeks. If they all air, it’s going to be a very interesting three and a half months.