Following the Following

Here's another blog I've meant to write for a few weeks now, but between recovering from my birthday party and fighting off another bout with bronchitis, I just didn't have the time until now. There aren't too many mid-season replacements I plan on watching on TV this year, only two that I can think of (three if you count Touch, but since that started last year, I don't count it). One of them, Cult, starts on the CW next week, and the other is the topic of today's blog: FOX's new hit, The Following.

Here's a short summary of the premise: Kevin Bacon plays Ryan Hardy, a former FBI agent who is pulled back into service when Joe Carroll, a serial killer he caught played by the brilliant James Purefoy, escapes from prison, intending to finish what he started by killing the victim Hardy saved from him, capturing Joe in the process. Normally, I'd say it's a spoiler to tell you Joe succeeds in killing that last victim, but considering this is all part of the set-up that happens in the first episode, it really isn't. Yes, Joe succeeded in killing her, but Ryan also caught him again. Sounds like the show is over, right?


Getting caught again was all part of Joe's plan. He's got a grudge against Hardy that goes beyond just the fact that Ryan caught him the first time. Ryan also schtupped Joe's wife, and then wrote a book about the case, making himself famous, while the book Joe, an English professor, wrote was a complete failure. So Joe broke out just to get Hardy sucked back into all of this... because Joe has himself a cult now, people that are doing his killing for him, all while Joe taunts Ryan from his place behind bars. And the best part for a literary nut like me is that because Joe was obsessed with the works of Edgar Allan Poe (he cut his victims' eyes out because of Poe's own frequent ocular themes), all his followers are obsessed with Poe and his works are all over every episode. It amuses me to no end.

The show is pretty damn intense, filled with twists and turns left and right... some better than others. For example, the fact that two of Joe's followers who were pretending to be gay but are really straight actually had gay sex once was a pretty obvious twist, whereas the recent reveal that the victimized wife of one of his followers really is one of his followers, but a more diabolical one than the others, caught me completely off-guard.

The real strength of the show is the cast, and specifically the two leads. The supporting cast is capable but for the most part not noteworthy (although Shawn Ashmore is pretty good as a young FBI agent who is trying to befriend the completely uninterested loner Hardy). No, the show rests pretty squarely on the shoulders of Bacon and Purefoy. Bacon is driven and intense, perfect as the angry, self-destructive Hardy who just wants to stop Carroll so he can get back to drinking himself to death. And Purefoy is even better as the charming, seductive, manipulative Carroll. Whenever he interacts with, well, anyone onscreen, it's clear he's mindfucking them and enjoying the hell out of it, and you can't help but love watching him do it. When Bacon and Purefoy are together, though, the energy positively crackles, and their scenes are must-watch.

I told a friend on Twitter last week that with two different leads, The Following might not be nearly as good as it is, and I stand by that. But with Bacon and Purefoy on top of things, The Following is... well, it's a must-follow., I don't feel good about that ending, but I got nothing else. Just watch the damn show.