FOX's new drama, "The Following," stars Kevin Bacon as Ryan Hardy, an FBI agent who is after serial killer Joe Carroll (played by James Purefoy), whom he helped put in prison a decade ago. A psychological thriller set in Waverly, VA, this series may not be for those with weak stomachs, if the pilot is any indication of the amount of blood and gore viewers will see.
This episode gives quite a bit of background on the characters, showing the audience how Carroll was married to Claire (Natalie Zea) and had a son, Joey (Kyle Catlett), while enjoying a career as a professor of literature. However, writing was his true passion, and notes of Poe's The Tell-Tale Heart and The Raven can be found throughout the plot. In his spare time, however, Carroll had a penchant for killing, and tortured fourteen girls before Hardy caught him. That fateful night, Carroll followed two girls home, killed one, then was about to slit the throat of the other (Sarah, played by Maggie Grace) when Hardy arrived. Carroll believes that the eyes are the essence of one's identity, so his torture methods generally include gouging his victims' eyes before killing them.
Once Carroll is on the loose, Hardy figures that his nemesis wants to kill Sarah (to finish what he started), though the plot is much thicker than that. Carroll has had access to the internet while in prison, allowing him ample time to arrange an elaborate scheme. He even planted two men to be her neighbors for years, acting as a gay couple and baffling the audience as to how Carroll manipulates so many people. By the time hardy arrives, it's too late. The neighbors dragged Sarah through a secret crawl space in the closet and into their home. In the garage, a bloodbath has occurred, an officer is dead, and Hardy must figure out where to go next.
Because Joe has an unfinished book about a lighthouse, Hardy heads to the local lighthouse, where he immediately hears screaming. Unfortunately, the screams were recorded, and Sarah is already dead, eyes removed. Hardy takes a bat to the face but manages to take down Carroll, who will not speak with any officer besides Hardy once in custody.
Hardy has a few skeletons in his own closet as well, the biggest being that he had an affair with Claire. Therefore, it hits home when Joy goes missing despite the home being under surveillance. As the pilot comes to a close, it appears that the babysitter is in cahoots with Carroll.
Between the gruesome scenes, the kidnapping, the German Shepherds killed as practice, and the scary statistics included on the show (like how the FBI estimates that 300 serial killers are active on any given day), this drama may either find an audience eager to hate the villain or struggle to draw viewers who will watch killings in light of today's problems. Either way, it is certainly difficult to paint someone in a bleaker light than how Carroll currently looks to the show's watchful eyes.
Watch "The Following" Mondays on FOX at 9 p.m ET/PT.