Will You Be Following Fox's Scary New Drama?

following s1ep1 blogWarning: If you’re the sort of person to faint when you nick yourself shaving, you may be six degrees of squicked* out by Fox’s new serial killer thriller The Following.

It’s hella bloody. It’s scary. And there are a bunch of pointy things thrust into soft body parts – and not in the fun way. But the show is pretty great, so it’s worth it. Even the gouged-out eyeballs. (And there are a lot of gouged-out eyeballs.) Enough set-up: Let’s review the series’ pilot, and then we want to know what you think.

RELATED | What’s New on TV? Your Guide to The Following, Cult, The Americans and 15 Other Shows

OUT AND PROUD | At Virginia Central Penitentiary, a man dressed as a guard finishes up his shift and leaves for the night. But the shifty-eyed way he goes about the whole process – as well as the five dead prison staff members he leaves in his wake – clue us in that something’s not quite right. As we’ll later learn, the man is death-row inmate Joe Carroll, an Edgar Allen Poe-obsessed literature professor and failed author-turned-serial killer who stabbed 14 women to death years ago. He’s scheduled to be executed soon, and he’s apparently not down with that plan. As the prison sends up an alarm, Carroll rides away.

BACK IN ACTION | The next morning, we meet former FBI agent Ryan Hardy, who – based on the way he sucks down a bottle of water and generally grimaces at the mere state of being awake, not to mention the glass empties in the garbage can — seems to have gotten hot and heavy with some liquor the night before. We’ll later find out this is normal for him. But what’s not normal: The TV reports notifying him of Carroll’s escape. A phone call from Ryan’s former employer leads to him grudgingly donning a suit, filling a water bottle with vodka (planning ahead!) and heading to Virginia to consult the Bureau’s investigation.

Among Carroll’s effects at the prison, Ryan finds a small library that includes works by Poe – “Still the romantic,” he notes – and a copy of Ryan’s own book,  The Poetry of a Killer, about his role in bringing Carroll to justice. A note inside reads: “Dear Ryan, I enjoyed your book. Have you ever considered a sequel? Best, Joe.” Ryan’s pissed, and gets even more so when he learns that by virtue of Carroll representing himself for his third appeal, he had Internet access once a week at a legal library.

While Ryan is fretting and getting hero-worshipped by a young agent named Mike Weston, a tweaky chick walks into the FBI’s mobile command center and asks to speak to someone about the escapee. While she’s waiting, she gets a text message – “Do it now” – and then stands up and strips down to a black pair of panties. Her skin is covered with verses from Poe’s The Raven, and she’s wielding an awl. This is not going to end well. Ryan runs over and tries to stop her, to no avail; she utters Poe’s last words (“Lord help my poor soul”) and jabs the weapon into her own eye, killing herself. It’s terrible. Ryan finds out that Sally McOnepeeper was one of Carroll’s many groupies, a collective that includes a prison guard named Jordy who Ryan soon realizes helped the murderer slip out of jail. (Side note: I hope animal lovers averted their eyes during the trip to Jordy’s house. I wish I’d had a wee-wee pad for myself before that German Shepherd lifted its head.)

UNFINISHED BUSINESS | The next stop on Ryan’s terrible tour is to see Claire Matthews, Carroll’s professor ex-wife and the mother of his 8-ish-year-old son, Joey. This pilot is crazy packed with exposition and we’ve got a ways to go, so I’m going to shorthand a little: Claire and Ryan had an affair during the investigation, the FBI found out about it, and she recently got a letter from Joe indicating he knows about the tryst, too. Oops. Ryan’s convinced Carroll is just guessing. As the pair talk, it’s clear there’s something between them; she asks about his heart, which her ex-hubby nearly destroyed as Ryan was trying to save Joe’s final victim, and his drinking. She reminds Ryan that Carroll might be looking to finish off that final stabbing victim, Sarah Fuller, the only one who survived.

Sarah, a former student of Carroll’s, is now a doctor – and she’s been under police guard since his jailbreak. (She’s also played by Maggie Grace, who sadly does not refer to anyone involved in this project as “God’s friggin’ gift to humanity.” RIP, Shannon.) Luckily, she has her two gay guy neighbors to help her cope – or so it seems. When Ryan shows up at her house, though, there’s a dying cop in her bed and Sarah’s MIA, absconded with by her not-as-fabulous-as-they-seemed pals. As creepy as Ryan’s search through the men’s house is, it’s made 100 times worse by the revelation (via a big, bloody “NEVERMORE” painted on the garage wall) that they, too, were Carroll followers… who’d been waiting three years to do their master’s bidding. (Guys, I saw the episode early and have had plenty of time to process it, and I still shudder thinking about that level of duplicity.)

THE END… IS THE BEGINNING | Ryan uses his super sleuthing skills to track Carroll alone (side note: when is that ever a good idea?) to an abandoned B&B, where it sounds like the convict is killing Sarah. Ryan charges up the stairs, his pacemaker-regulated heartbeat (courtesy of the aforementioned Carroll corazón cleaving) knocking loudly over the soundtrack. Ryan’s nemesis is there, but the screams came via a recorder… and before Ryan can process that horror, the killer sends Sarah crashing down from the ceiling, strung up by her ankles, dead and sans eyeballs. (It’s even worse than it sounds.) Ryan corners Carroll and is about to choke him to death when the cavalry rushes in.

The murderer surrenders and is returned to the prison, where Carroll tells Ryan that the lapsed lawman is the “flawed hero” in his next work, which they’re going to create together. As he’s spinning the tale, the camera cuts to his demented disciple Jordy about to kill a young co-ed. Joe’s following has started its work — and nowhere is that more apparent than at the home of Claire Matthews, who suddenly can’t find her son. As we watch, the boy’s babysitter Denise drives her unconscious ward to a random parking lot, where she ditches her car, meets up with Sarah’s gaybors and drives off with Joey. Let the creepiness commence.

Now it’s your turn. Did the flashbacks of Sarah’s attack make you never want to walk into a dark house ever again? Are you suddenly itching to actually read all of that Poe you CliffsNotes’d in high school? And do you think, as the show apparently wants us to, that Ryan might be Joey’s dad? Grade The Following in the poll below, then sound off in the comments! 

* “Squicked” also is the sound an eyeball makes when being wrenched from the body, (I assume). 

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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128 Comments
  1. Nick says:

    Best pilot I have ever seen

    • ivaddj says:

      let me borrow a reaction from that other KEv Williamson show: http://i47.tinypic.com/eurpm0.gif

    • KellyG says:

      I’m not a fan or can stomach gore and horror, but this was awesome and kept me on the edge of my seat.

    • Annie says:

      I can’t say it was THE best of all, ever, but it’s definitely in the top three, and may be tied with some others I won’t mention, ’cause frankly, all I can think about is “Squee! Kevin Bacon’s on my TV and it’s an AWESOME SHOW!”

    • Sami says:

      agreed. i was on the edge of my seat. can’t wait until next week!

    • Jim Green says:

      The really could have a better instructor for the actors in basics. The lead female in tonights show, she cannot even run, and the knife fight, the FBI agent doesn’t look like he showed up to any Training at Quantico. Some things have to look real to make me feel I’m looking at truth vs people acting. GET A KRAV MAGA instructor on the SET to help make the fights and gun work look authentic…..
      Jim Green

    • Bill says:

      The only reason to watch this show is to have the cult members get bullets in the head, now that’s a productive for society………

  2. Adam Bramble says:

    I Will Be Following. It was so damn perfect.

    • Sam says:

      Absolutely. I had been longing for such a heavy hitting drama that i could sink my teeth into and it was sooo good and scary at times.
      Purefoy is such a pleasure to watch!!! And Kevin Bacon’s facial expression in the very final scene was out of this world!

  3. Dave says:

    THAT … was seriously the best hour of a new show i’ve seen on a non-cable network in years. With the exception of the asian cop (who disappears after the pilot, thank god), that was pretty much perfection.

  4. Laura says:

    Have to admit I couldn’t watch it although I tried a few times over the hour but it trended on Twitter for the entire hour.

  5. Winter says:

    If you’re up with the current set of mystery writers (Nesbo, McDermid, et al.), this was somewhat trite and predictable. Nothing I’ve not seen before. So…serviceable.

  6. Pat D. says:

    Very nicely done. Villain is engagingly evil, Bacon looks to be into the role. Not sure about the supporting cast yet, nobody really stood out. Hopefully *this* FOX serial drama wont get cancelled after one (well, half) a season.

  7. Sarah says:

    Scared the crap outta me… Ill be back next week!

  8. Eric says:

    I’m generally not that crazy about TV dramas. I’m a sitcom guy, which is why I really wasn’t expecting to enjoy this pilot. I was surprised to find that it is an extremely well-written, completely captivating show, and I plan to follow it long into the future. Consider me a Follower.

  9. Bri Brit says:

    for the past 8 years seen a much better version of it on CBS on Wed night at 9pm, it is called Criminal Minds but Purfoy was great!

    • davej says:

      This turned me off, that the FBI agents were twists on Shemar Moore and Matt Gray Gubler. It bothered me because it was so distracting.

      Also, why do the portrayals have to be so polarizing? Agent Hardy knows everything and the FBI agents are idiots and it makes you wonder how they ever solved one case in their lives.

      Having said all that, I am interested to see where this goes enough to DVR it.

  10. amandalynn says:

    That was better than I thought! The cult factor is interesting….just hope Fox doesn’t screw it up like Fringe and move it around!

    • majamababe says:

      Amen to that. Don’t want to get involved in the show if FOX is going to cancel after one season, if you can call 14 episodes a season.

  11. Pam says:

    This was freaking awesome. I will be following as we’ll.

  12. Adam Bramble says:

    They Killed Sarah!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  13. Katie says:

    With the exception of the dog part, I’ll be watching again!

    • Moonlight4ever says:

      Loved every aspect of the show except the animal part. That really wasn’t necessary. The cast was exceptional.

      • Chuck Finley (AJ) says:

        But it was. So many killers start off torturing and killing animals.

        • ivaddj says:

          yes. but saying it is just as effective as showing a german shephard exhale his last bark

          • we live in a weird world. says:

            so many humans are dieing crucially every single day on our screens and nobody cares. but watch out! a dog is dieing. now that must be a very controversial show o.O

          • Gaby says:

            Seriously, I can’t believe how many people are fine with seeing women and children dead or killed but God forbid someone kills an animal.

          • AmbidextrousAspie says:

            Animals are the ultimate in innocence. A woman, even a child, can fight back against another person. Anyone blase about seeing an animal die lacks humanity.

          • E says:

            Likely because we’ve all been desensitized to human death on TV and in movies. Although I did like that the other agent actually made a comment to that effect after finding the dead dogs.

          • Alice says:

            Flashback to Game of Thrones: Throw a baby out of a window, no problem. Show an arm come up to slice a dog’s throat then cut away :”WHAT KIND OF SICK SHOW IS THIS!”

            Saying “animal torture” not nearly as effective as showing exactly what kind of sickness is required to DO animal torture. Even babyface FBI man was like “Kill a person, I can deal. Killing a dog is just sick. I’ve got this terrier….”

  14. Leah says:

    Oh.My.God. That was the BEST pilot ever! My pulse is still racing and I’m clutching my dogs tight in a VERY well lit room. I want to watch more but I’m a little worried.

  15. SarahB says:

    I watched this while on commercial breaks of another show, and bc this one freaked me out! I want to continue watching it bc Kevin bacon and the other male lead are amazing, but as a single female living alone, i may have to DVR this and watch it during the daytime, followed by mindless sitcoms!

  16. madbengalsfan85 says:

    Thanks to the combo plate that was The Following/Bones I may not be able to sleep tonight

    • Jake says:

      especially following the end of this particular episode of Bones…I thought the pilot of The Following was actually pretty great, but I gave it a B. I rarely give any show an A based on one episode. I’ll definitely be back next week with my dad (hopefully he continues watching it with me).

  17. Lisa says:

    Best show in the last several years! It’s going to be great to see Kevin Bacon every week, and no interruptions, 14 weeks in a row!

  18. Cherylw says:

    a little bloody but i’ll try it again

  19. Marty says:

    Amazing pilot! Definitely watching again.

  20. It’s every mediocre Silence of the Lambs rip-off ever.

    I suppose I watch too many horror films to be ‘shocked’ into ignoring this thing’s flaws. It’s utterly generic.

  21. Jackie says:

    I liked it a lot…until the end. I hope the kidnapped child storyline doesn’t last too long. Seen it way too much. Or perhaps i have been spoiled by the great pace of Homeland and have a higher expectation. But I really did like the acting and pacing a lot.

  22. Wow says:

    Awesome pilot! There were some creepy moments. The concept alone is creepy/insane; a cult(“friends”) of serial killers. Whoa. My “super sleuthing skills” were on too! I figured the “gaybors” were following but I missed the nanny! It did cross my mind that Ryan is the daddy. Looking forward to the next 14 Monday nights!

  23. Drew says:

    Fail. The whole plot was driven by the cops being incredibly useless and stupid. Rather than make the bad guy smart, they make everyone around him stupid. He effortlessly gets out of prison. They effortlessly get everyone who is in protective custody out of their houses with cops right there. It was just one convenient plot contrivance after another.

    And the funniest part was when they found out that the two dudes were bad, they were like “They’re not even gay… they’re bad!”… Umm… Way to jump to completely random conclusions, Columbo. Apparently gay guys can’t be killers?

    Not as bad as some shows I’ve seen, but it was lazy writing. Stuff happened just because the writers wanted it to, and they didn’t bother considering the sense or logic behind the plot. To me, that makes it a bad pilot. If they can’t do it right with a ton of time and a pilot-level budget, what happens when they’re rushed and have more restrictions?

    • Alex says:

      Have to agree somewhat. I’ll give it a shot though….because nothing else is on monday night. What was up with the Baconator flipping out in the garage? He just went on a rant about Edgar Allen Poe…..and then he was fine.

  24. Mike says:

    I missed it, but I think I will be checking it out, will it be online.

  25. Lyndsey says:

    Wow!! I’ve never been a big horror fan but the combination of Poe obsession, Bacon, & Purefoy convinced me to give it a shot! I say again, Wow!! Granted, I could guess that the neighbors & the nanny were part of the “Following” but as Hitchcock said, suspense only builds when you know there’s a bomb under the table (and I’ll admit, I was glad my closet only leads to my bathroom, LOL)!! Bacon was outstanding and who knew Purefoy could play pure evil like that? Can’t wait for next week!!

  26. taniaha says:

    Talk about viewer discretion advised, that was gory, and I watch a lot of crime dramas and true crime shows … they were already close to the edge with the squidgy eyeball stuff, but the dog stuff had me covering my peepers, let’s not go there please. This is strong stuff, not for the faint of heart, pun intended. When Sarah came crashing down from the ceiling I thought it might be a pendulum, but I guess they’ll save that for future episodes. Poe is kind of an obvious literary choice, then again it’s a pretty good vein of creepy to mine, and if it inspires more people to read his work that’s never a bad thing, let’s just hope they don’t take it as seriously as Professor Slaughter. All this said, I will definitely tune in again. And if they show K Bacon in his skivvies again, all the better. PS alternate title considered for this show: Six Degrees of Eyeball Separation

  27. I can watch a lot of things. But the stuff with the dogs got to me. I don’t like it when they do stuff to animals.

    • Sam says:

      Yeah I’m glad I read through this first before I finished watching so I knew to skip forward a bit. I get squeamish at the other stuff but people killing animals really really really makes me upset.

  28. David S says:

    Out and Proud? What? …Poor choice of words me thinks.

    But great pilot and I’m excited for the 14 week straight run. Pair of quesions: Is Kevin Bacon only in 13 episodes? Will every season be 15 episodes or is it 14 (including the pilot)?

  29. Drewer says:

    Oh, I want to watch because Shawn Ashmore is the best! But I don’t think I can watch Maggie Grace die again, that’s disappointing.

  30. steve says:

    I was told Maggie Grace was a main character! Why did she die? So upset.

  31. Patricia says:

    I will definetly keep watching this one, the pilot was perfect. Kevin and James were great, I have no problem with the supporting cast. Looking forward to more

  32. Christine says:

    Fantastic! You can’t go wrong on a thriller that starts off when Manson’s version of Sweet Dreams. You just can’t.

  33. lolo says:

    Does Maggie Grace die in everything she’s in or is that just me?

    • Ryan says:

      It’s not just you but dangit if I wasn’t hoping that was a decoy dead girl. Her death, knowing she endured that torture again, made me incredibly sad.

  34. jonathon says:

    great show. loved the dialogue between purefoy and bacon and expect much more greatness from them two. awesome!

  35. kat says:

    It was so weird when Winona told Antony he was the father of Raylan’s baby. Kevin B. is trying to catch that guy? Good thing that x-man is there, w/the fake name he got from burn notice. That lady fbi-er seemed very rude.
    No way the kid is his, right? Seems like they were still together and happy unless that was a misdirected and she miscarriage. also, seems like they weren’t together anymore after Hardy got involved so regardless of father, doubt she would name the kid after a serial killer in the family.

  36. Gabrielle says:

    Obsessed with it!

  37. Chuck Finley (AJ) says:

    They killed Maggie Grace, scooped out her eyeballs, and strung her up from the ceiling. More please! I’ll be back next week lol.

  38. mime says:

    I couldn’t sit through it and I sit through Criminal Minds every week. I have never been so uncomfortable watching violence on a show .

  39. Michelle says:

    Amazing pilot, best of the new shows this year by far! Was looking forward to this show since I saw the first promo for it, and it totally lived up to the hype. Well worth the wait! The scene with the girl shoving the awl in her eye made me jump out of my seat and cringe, and the scene with the dying dog lifting his head scared the crap out of me. Well done Kevin Williamson! Here’s hoping Fox keeps this show. Will definitely be tuning in again next week!

  40. Midori says:

    Best drama pilot since Chicago Code.

    Hopefully has a different faith.

    • ej says:

      This ^
      Definitely better than FOX’s 2012 mid-season snoozer ALCATRAZ and surprisingly dark (but in a good way) for a network drama. If it was a mixed drink, it would be 1 part SEVEN, 2 parts FX dramas (AHS & JUSTIFIED), and a splash of 24. Both Bacon and Zea were great, the supporting cast was strong, and Grace’s guest gig made for a nice touch. Hopefully, the kidnapping plotline won’t get dragged out too long (or end with an eye-less head in a box).

    • CJ says:

      The Chicago Code is, honestly, one of my all-time favorite shows. I like to pretend it was just a mini-series to comfort myself over its premature demise. Thankfully, it wrapped up nicely at the end and I can watch it over and over and be satisfied.

  41. K says:

    Thought it was the best pilot i saw in a while. Love Kevin Bacon and i thought he did well! It wasn’t as predictable as some of the “crime” shows on TV right now.I’ll definitely be following the following!

  42. anil says:

    Correct me…from the ads and stuff, it looks like a police drama or something. But reading the comments about blood and suspense, it looks like horror mixed in?

    I will def. watch it tomorrow, the comments got me curious.

  43. Em says:

    This was easily the best pilot of the season for me. I watched it with my sister, and as soon as they started to play those first few opening notes of the Marilyn Manson cover of “Sweet Dreams” at the beginning of the episode, we both just slowly sat up straight like, “This is going to be a good one!” Granted, I wasn’t surprised by a lot of the reveals. I saw the “gaybors” and the nanny being in on it almost as soon as they were shown. I also figured that they would have to kill Maggie Grace in the pilot, but it was a very gutsy move to do so. I am very excited to see where this will go. My sister and I are also betting on the kid turning out to be Kevin Bacon’s son. The show is awesome, the cast is awesome, I love Shawn Ashmore, and I love Det. Mike Anderson from Dexter!

  44. Midori4 says:

    I like how people care more about dogs than humans. People’s morals are screwed up.

  45. James says:

    that was fricking awesome. predictable for the most part but fricking awesome

  46. Chuck Finley (AJ) says:

    “Mike reports that there’ve been three more Carroll-like murders in different parts of the country: His following has started its work”

    I’ve watched the end several times and didn’t see this in there at all.

    • Kimberly Roots says:

      The recap was based on an advance screener — the show must’ve cut that scene before airing on Monday. Thanks for the heads-up; recap has been amended!

  47. DB says:

    Very good pilot. It reminded me of a cross between 24 and first season Millennium (minus the whole end of the world parts). The Following is more creepier than Criminal Minds has ever been.It’s Milllennium (a show way ahead of it’s time) creepy and that’s a good thing.

  48. Dave says:

    I’m a Follower. Probably one of the best pilots I’ve ever seen.

  49. Do it. says:

    Could it be any more obvious that Shawn Ashmore’s character is in the cult? The show is going to have a problem if it keeps stretching believability like it did in the pilot, and like it will with that (inevitable) revelation.

  50. Emgee says:

    It was decent. Not sure yet if I will commit every week to it, but I will probably give it another shot next week.

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