Is it possible to catch a serial killer without it changing who you are? That's part of the premise behind the new Fox drama "The Following," which had one man trying to do just that but he's struggling with his own demons.
"The Following" followed a former FBI Agent named Ryan Hardy (Kevin Bacon) who was called back to do a job that he barely survived from before. His mission was to help capture escaped serial killer Joe Carroll (James Purefoy) who was working on a complex plan that will keep the FBI busy for years to come. Carroll recruited many followers to do his bidding when he was no longer able to. Joe's top followers were the lethal Emma (Valorie Curry) who was caught in a bizarre triangle with fellow followers Jacob (Nico Tortorella) and Paul (Adan Canto) that could end badly. Hardy also had to deal with his past connection to Carroll's ex-wife Claire (Natalie Zea) and how Joe had her son Joey (Kyle Catlett) kidnapped for the sole purpose of torturing Claire. Will Hardy be able to save Joey or will Joe's followers be able to finish what Carroll started?
In terms of questions, the show has answered some but left many unresolved for the time being. The plot might've been better served as a movie than a weekly series, because it's hard to say what the show will do once season two rolls around. The premiere episode set up a promising premise of good versus evil, but the plot started to falter once Purefoy's Joe went back to prison and his followers took over. Purefoy's Joe could literally the scare the living daylights out of viewers with a simple look or a twisted smile. He didn't even have to say a word for viewers to know that he was up to no good. The show made a huge mistake in taking Purefoy out of the action too soon. They should've at least allowed him to roam free a little longer so that the story transition to his followers carried more weight. The first few episodes were a little awkward in how Curry seemed to be the new lethal ringleader who could hide her wickedness with kind eyes and a smile. Luckily, the show had found its footing and has generated a twisted love triangle between Curry, Tortorella and Canto that gets more and more twisted each week. It's not surprising that their psychotic threesome will only end with all of them in jail or dead. Only time will tell how their story will end, but it won't be pretty either way.
As for breakout stars, Bacon and Purefoy led the pack as they tried to stay one step ahead of each other. Bacon proved to be the perfect person to play the grizzled and damaged FBI agent who danced a fine line between good and evil. He played Ryan as if he was a flawed anti-hero and not someone full of phony virtue. Bacon's Hardy had plenty of flaws to make viewers to relate to his plight. He had a drinking problem and was wounded after his last battle with Carroll. Even though the relationship was doomed from the start, Bacon seemed to have a genuine rapport with Zea that allowed viewers to see Bacon's lighter side which wasn't always showcased very often. His most memorable storyline came when he went to great lengths to rescue his sister from one of Joe's demented followers. Viewers couldn't help but root for Bacon as he was dangerously close to becoming a casualty of Carroll's twisted war. Purefoy, on the other hand, played the ultimate puppet master who was pulling all of the strings without having to get his hands entirely dirty. It's just a shame that he couldn't be a larger part of the action, but the season is far from over. Viewers will have to wait and see what happens.
"The Following" premiered on January 21st and airs Mondays at 9:00 PM on Fox.
Verdict: The show has the potential to be a hit, but it's murky premise seemed to only have a short term plan that might not last past season one.
TV Score: 3 out of 5 stars
1 Star (Mediocre)
2 Stars (Averagely Entertaining)
3 Stars (Decent Enough to Pass Muster)
4 Stars (Near Perfect)
5 Stars (Gold Standard)