If The Following teaches us anything, it's that getting rid of a serial killer is one thing, but when you're dealing with a whole bunch across the country? That's a whole new problem.
Kevin Bacon's new series on Fox follows the story of Ryan Hardy, a retired FBI agent who is brought back into action when Joe Carroll (James Purefoy), the infamous serial killer who he helped put behind bars, breaks out of prison. The cops follow his bloody trail of victims throughout Virginia as they piece together how the man escaped and who his next victim will be. Through a series of flashbacks, we learn about Hardy's work on the earlier case, his relationship with Carroll's ex-wife (Natalie Zea) and why the past has come back to haunt him.
From the first half of the pilot, The Following seems to be a typical crime procedural thriller. Carroll, a former English professor, is obsessed with Edgar Allen Poe. Hardy is (was) obsessed with catching Carroll. Claire (the ex-wife) makes things complicated. And what will happen to Sarah Fuller (Maggie Grace), who was Carroll's attempted final victim? Then things get creepy. Actually, the entire episode was nice and creepy, with plenty of jumping-in-your-seats moment to keep you entertained. It turns out that Carroll has been busy during his time behind bars, where he has managed to brainwash an unknown (but probably huge) number of people across the country into committing his serial murders. And guess what? They're all around you.
While the references to Poe and high brow literature (when's the last time you watched a TV show that mentioned Thoreau and American Romanticism?) seemed a little cheesy, the story goes beyond the predictable serial killer chase formula and into something more gripping and surreal. I'm definitely looking forward to seeing how Carroll's evil plan plays out, how far his followers (see what I did there?) will go for him and how Bacon will catch up to them. Although, I do wish they had picked another literary figure other than Poe. Can you imagine a serial killer obsessed with Faulkner? I'd totally watch that show, too.
The Following was written and produced by Kevin Williamson and will air on FOX during their 2012-2013 season.