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. Bob says:

    Fantastic opening episode. If this pace keeps up, they’ll have a hit.

  2. Lisa says:

    Loved it! Watched a few scenes peeping out from behind my hands though!

  3. Patrickmaloney says:

    I loved it, there was some stuff that didn’t work. That being said, the majority that did work, really worked.

  4. S. from E. now says:

    great pilot! very gripping and wonderful acting work from bacon and purefoy. i can’t wait for next weeks episode!

  5. Aimee says:

    I think they crossed a line with the part about the dogs. I know it is make believe, but I got so upset watching that part.

  6. lindsaywhit says:

    I liked it. I had wanted to love it, but found myself impatient, even annoyed at some character traits that are just so bloody tired: MUST he have antagonized every one he ever worked with except the victims? MUST everyone else in law enforcement be an idiot? MUST there be the obligatory hard-edged female agent who counters his every suggestion but ends up looking moronic? MUST he be an angry unshaven drunk who GOES TO CATCH A FRIGGIN MANIAC ON HIS OWN???

    Just sayin’….

  7. Felica says:

    Not following The Following, story was good, interesting, but the gore was beyond belief, just not necessary to the storyline and disgusting.

    • iMember says:

      A story about a massive serial killer and his following, and the gore wasn’t necessary? Yeah, okay buddy. You’re watching the wrong show.

  8. Malaspina says:

    Shallow TV for shallow people.Predictable.Another turn your brain off program.Help ….

  9. Yesterday's Child says:

    I know I am going to be slammed on this, but here it goes. One of my favorite shows for years was Criminal Minds, until it got to “much”, to much gore and even at times sadistic and torture, and not even a hint of humor in the hour. I have two girls in college now and maybe that was my trigger point, because I saw each of my girls as one of those victims. I watched last night, because I have loved Kevin since Foot Loose, but another show that has crossed a line, a little to much at 9:00. I am far from being a prude and love my crime shows and I am not a gun owner that has a automatic rifle to kill Bambi’s dad, but TV and movies has to take some blame for the mentally ill viewers. Sorry rambling, I will not watch this show again, tune it down, and before you hate me, my niece was in Columbine, and the recent events have brought back the very ugly. Again I love my crime shows (NCIS, CSI, H50, Bones, SVU, and POI), still certain shows need to tone it down, has much as the freaking NRA needs to get a life.

    • Sheree says:

      I agree with you regarding too much horror for regular basic television. I am still watching after nine episodes, but after tonight, I know I’m watching just to see the end; what happens to the “good guys”but the sheer evil in the women cult members I’d horrifying and so real. I too have never been around guns, but love murder mysteries,nevertheless I shudder to think what a sociopath would do after watching, or someone vulnerable to group manipulation. After. Newtown and others, I have been physically sick over it, and I work to end this violence, but here I am watching. It really is more than I can handle right now, I’m watching because of Kevin Bacon and James Purefoy and the cast and storyline, but too real in these times of so much evil.

  10. Alice says:

    I don’t think I will be watching a show about serial killers and mutilation every week. However, I really liked the recap, I think I’ll still follow those. It lightens up the stabbing. I agree with whomever said that if you watched this and Bones, you had a little bit of a night. All the corpses/breaking into houses is starting to run together.

  11. guest says:

    As soon as the scene with the dog appeared my friends and I turned it off and we won`t watch any more of it.The show had potential but there are too many animal lovers out there upset by that part of the show.

  12. Caitlin says:

    This is one of the best new shows that I’ve ever seen. With the amount of action in the pilot alone, it’s clear that we’re going to be on the edge of our seats all season.

    For those of you comparing it to Criminal Minds, that’s ridiculous. This is based on a single serial killer and the cult following he’s developed.

  13. RachelH says:

    Seriously incredible television, but I just can’t stomach the horror. I’ll read your recaps happily, but I can’t watch. I just can’t.

  14. Sarah says:

    I thought it was, for the most part, really well done (except how come every cop was an idiot?) I LOVE Kevin Bacon, but in the end it was just too dark for me to enjoy. I realized I wasn’t having any fun. I’ll just keep current on it by reading TVLine’s recaps. P.S. Bones was also dark yesterday, too (but awesome.) Can Booth take out Pelant now? I’m done with him!

  15. sbo says:

    Why are some people on here so damn sensitive. It was just like any other show, I don’t even know how it was cruel. Also for the dog part, come on you can’t be serious about that, they were just there to make a point.
    I really just don’t get how sensitive some people are… This was like a normal show I really didn’t notice any excessive cruelty

  16. 4thjet says:

    Generally well written and well paced show….but the gore and violence made me want to watch the Bachelor again! (watched The Following on time shifting-different time zone).

    I mean someone talk you into ice pick/awl in eye…..I don’t think so! And all the poor puppies and the German Shepherd….thought I was going to be sick with Kevin Bacon!

    Part of me wants to watch it again, to see what happens with the kidnapped kid and the
    co-eds the guard turned serial killer was going after……
    On the other hand, think I may wimp out and just watch the Bachelor!

    This show need more than the V and L in the parental warnings but a V+++, L and G for gore!

  17. Subrina Pechacek says:

    this is such an awesome show

  18. Frankieboy says:

    loved everything about it… except the killing of Maggie Grace! I miss that woman on my tv ever since she got shot in Lost.

  19. QT says:

    I watched this again for the second time, with my husband. I knew he would like it. I’ve been reading comments here. I guess I just watch shows and try not to figure out stuff. I had no idea the neighbors or the nanny were in on it!! Although, I do get a little tired of the profiler ex-FBI type guy, Kevin Bacon in this case, always being booted out from the FBI and has a horrible past, etc. That’s in every show/movie of this genre. Having him involved with the serial killer’s wife is a little twist.

    After watching it a second time, there are a few things that were kind of glossed over. How did they find Hardy at the Lighthouse? GPS in the Suburban? And I do agree, the other law enforcement people do look like their not too bright. I even thought to check Purefoy’s Internet access before they did! I will keep watching bc it’s a fun show and keeps me interested. Not much on TV does.

  20. QT says:

    Oh, I have to comment again. Re: the dogs being killed. You won’t watch the show because of that, but it’s ok to kill off 14 students??? I don’t get that at all. They probably didn’t have to show the actual dog, but it’s called gore and that’s what people like.
    And too gory? REALLY?? Have you watched Supernatural or Criminal Minds or even CSI lately? Blood squirting everywhere, not just in pictures they show or on the carpet. The garage scene wasn’t that gory. Network TV has to compete with cable nowadays. I am more surprised at the “adult” humor that is on at 8pm now. Especially, Two and A Half Men – all they talk about is sex. Ok, I’m done.

  21. marie says:

    Three episodes in – amazing. A little suspension of disbelief required at times, but I willingly grant that. Best show I’ve seen since Walking Dead.

  22. k.k says:

    Someone need to shut this show down.. there are enough killings and kidnapping going on this world. This show is just creatin more crimes n homos. The disgrace to see homos kissing n r children and teens r watchin it.. jesus is coming soon get ur souls rite.. christ paid a cruel price on the cross for our souls.

  23. Tami says:

    I love the show. My boyfriend and I watch it together.

  24. C says:

    Is no one else bothered by how inept the police force seems to be? They don’t assess or clear a scene. They never call in their locations and signal for backup … and are on ‘the biggest man hunt in the US’ in pairs of two? and … never call for back up? An FBI agent doesn’t think to maybe disable the get-a-way vehicle … or call for back up? Maybe if Chuck Norris were working with them …

    I know that a lot of people out there aren’t involved or familiar with field work, but doesn’t their inability to obtain control over this situation puzzle anyone? Don’t you like to think that those of us out there protecting and serving you have a relative level of intelligence and common sense? Police Officers (let alone federal agents) aren’t dumb, underpaid/undervalued/under-appreciated – sure, but not dumb. It’s a little insulting.

  25. JO says:

    This show started out great, but after 4 episodes SUCKS! Can’t believe the FBI never calls the police for some help, i.e. the shipyard scene. Really stupid! Music in kniving scene even more stupid. we are done!