Fox’s much anticipated new serial killer crime drama “The Following” made its debut last night (Monday, January 21, 2013) with a bloody splash of drama, intrigue and strong acting.
“The Following” features Kevin Bacon playing former FBI agent Ryan Hardy who is suddenly called back into action when the serial killer, Joe Carroll (James Purefoy), he caught escapes from prison.
The debut episode opens at the Virginia Central Penitentiary in Waverly, Virginia where Joe Carroll sits on death row. A prison guard makes his way to a locker room, grabs his bag and with a wave to a fellow guard leaves the building, gets in his vehicle and drives away. As he drives away two other guards make their way down a hall wondering where everyone is. They go into the control room where they find four guards lying dead in pools of their own blood. They jump into action and sound the alarm as the other guard, who we soon find out to be Carroll himself, drives off into the night.
In Brooklyn, New York Ryan Hardy is asleep. His phone rings and wakes him up. He ignores it, crawls out of bed and gets a drink. He turns on the TV and sees the news that Carroll has escaped. Carroll had killed 14 different women at a university where he taught before Ryan caught him. Ryan answers the phone. It is the FBI director asking for his help. He wants Ryan to travel to Virginia and consult with the agents hunting Carroll. Ryan gets in the shower; a large scar on his chest just above his heart is very prominent. He gets dressed, pours some vodka into a water bottle and heads out.
In Norfolk, Virginia Sarah Fuller (Maggie Grace) is getting in her car to head to work when the FBI and police pull up. They tell her that Joe Carroll has escaped. She turns pale with fear as she flashes back to 2004 where we see her sitting on the stand in a court room explaining how Joe Carroll had stabbed her and how when she realized she couldn’t pull the knife out of her body she tried to push it in further so she could kill herself and end the agony she was in. The police are going to provide around the clock protection for her until Carroll is caught. Her neighbor Will (Nico Tortorella) shows up to comfort her.
Ryan arrives via helicopter and meets agents Riley (Billy Brown) and Mason (Jeananne Goossen). They are at the prison and the agents give him a quick briefing. Ryan wants to know about Sarah Fuller and tells them that he wants to speak with her. They take him to the control room where he meets another agent who is clearly not happy to see Ryan there. Ryan mentions his bad reputation as Mason leads him to Carroll’s cell. He sees a copy of his book in Carroll’s cell. When he asks who gave it to him she tells him anyone could have given it to him. It has a note inside it that Mason believes means he is going to kill again. Ryan wants to know about Carroll’s wife Claire Matthews. Mason tells him that she is under protection.
At Claire Matthews’ (Natalie Zea) house she tells the police that she wants to speak to Ryan and she will answer the FBI’s questions. She flashes back to when she first told Carroll she was pregnant. Now her 8-year-old son runs in with the babysitter right behind him. He wants to know if the chaos is about his dad. Claire hugs him.
Ryan arrives at the FBI field office where agent Mike Weston (Shawn Ashmore) is breaking down Carroll’s profile. Ryan steps in and corrects him. He tells everyone that Carroll was obsessed with Edgar Allen Poe and his killings were works of art that were homages to Poe. Weston and Riley talk. Riley believes Ryan was let go from the FBI because he lost his mind while Weston says the wound he suffered at Carroll’s hands forces him to have a pacemaker so he is on disability. At the headquarters there are several women waiting to speak to agents. When asked, Ryan is told they are Carroll’s groupies who were brought in for questioning. One of them picks up her phone when it rings and reads a text message. She then stands up, takes off her shoes and walks to the middle of the room. She takes off her dress and exposes her body which is covered in writing and pulls an ice pick from her purse. Ryan tries to stop her, but she just looks at him and says, “Lord help my poor soul,” then she slams the icepick into her eye and kills herself. They discover the writing on her body is Poe’s “The Raven.” The text message she had received read: “Do it now.”
At Sarah Fuller’s house her neighbor Will and his boyfriend are there to comfort her. As they eat she flashes back to when she met Carroll who was one of her teachers in college.
At the FBI field office Ryan, Riley and Weston are going over computer files. They realized that Carroll had computer access while in the prison. All of the access occurred when one prison guard Jordy (Steve Monroe) was on duty. They race to Jordy’s place, he is not there. One wall in his house is covered with missing animal posters. In a back room filled with blood and gore there are dead animals. Ryan tells them that Carroll is teaching Jordy how to become a serial killer. They realize that Carroll seduced this guy in prison and is using him to help him. They now understand that Carroll used the internet to contact many different people and convince them to help him. He is building a cult of followers around himself.
At Sarah Fuller’s house she decides she wants to lie down and rest. In her room she takes off her shirt to reveal the numerous scars left on her body from Carroll’s attack. The police tell her they will be right outside. She flashes back to 2003 when she and a friend came home to their empty sorority house where her friend was killed and she was attacked by Carroll.
Ryan and Mason go to Claire Matthews’ house. Ryan sees her son and says hi to him, telling him the last time he saw him he was tiny and the boy laughs. Ryan flashes back to when he first met Claire. She was a professor and he asked her about literature to help him with his case. She suggests he check out Poe in regards to the killings and even suggested he talk to her husband. Back in the present Claire and Ryan speak in private. She reveals that Carroll sent her letter about a week ago. She shows him the letter. He reads its. She asks him how Carroll knows and Ryan tells her that he doesn’t, he is just guessing but he tells her to keep the letter private. She tells him that Carroll is a teacher and that is what he is doing. He doesn’t want his freedom; he has other plans of some sort. Ryan tells her he is sorry he didn’t call her. Their conversation reveals that there was something between them in the past. When he tells her that Sarah Fuller is alive and well she tells him that her being alive will make Carroll mad and that he likely will want to finish what he started which is Sarah.
Ryan and the crew arrive at Sarah’s house. They are told Sarah went to bed about an hour ago. As they go upstairs the officer from outside the door is gone. They burst into her room and find the officer dead on her bed. A blood trail leads them to her closet where Ryan finds a piece of the wall that is removable. It leads into another closet. He and Mason go in, following the blood on the floor. The blood leads them into the next door townhouse which belongs to her neighbor Will and his boyfriend. There are no signs of anyone being home. The rest of the police break through the front door and they all follow the blood trail out to the garage where they find another dead cop and the car gone. On the wall, written in blood, is the word ‘Nevermore’.
We find out Will and his boyfriend left in their SUV 40 minutes before Ryan arrived. Ryan realizes these guys have been working with Carroll to watch over Sarah. On his command they went in through hidden door they had created, killed the police, and kidnapped her. Ryan starts getting angry and has to be separated from the other agents. He flashes back to the night he caught Carroll. He bumped into Sarah and her friend as they walked home. He was checking out their house when he heard the screams. He broke in, raced up stairs and was attacked by Carroll. Sarah was on the floor with the knife in her. Carroll attacked Ryan, pulled the knife from Sarah’s body and stabbed Ryan in the chest with it. He then walked over to Sarah and was going to finish the job when Ryan shot him.
As he cools down and walks through the apartment he finds out the two neighbors went to see Carroll in prison. He sees a picture of the two men standing in front of a lighthouse that looks like the lighthouse that is on the cover of Carroll’s one and only book he had published. He Google’s lighthouse’s name and finds out it was a bed and breakfast. He grabs an FBI SUV and drives to this place. When he arrives he sees that it has been shut down for a long time. He goes through the fence and is digging around when he hears screams upstairs. He races up the stairs, his weak heart forcing him to stop and catch his breath a few times. He finally makes his way into a room where he is attacked by Carroll who hits him with a board. Carroll kicks him a few times and talks to him as he does telling him he was curious about how his heart was holding up. Carroll tells him that the human eye is connected by seven muscles and he removed each one individually which was very hard. He then unties a rope and Sarah’s body falls from the rafters – her eyes are gone. Ryan jumps up and attacks Carroll. As he chokes him Carroll tells him that he wants to turn himself in. He surrenders. Mason, Riley and Weston show up and stop Ryan from killing him. They arrest Carroll and Ryan tells Mason that Sarah was the end to Carroll’s story.
Carroll is now in a holding cell and insists he will only talk to Ryan. Ryan goes in and Carroll tells him that Sarah had to die. He scolds Ryan about his book calling it true crime drivel. When Ryan asks what the sequel will be Carroll tells him it will be a collaborative effort between the two of them. Ryan wants to know how Jordy and Sarah’s neighbors work into this. Ryan says it is cult, but Carroll says he prefers to call them his friends. As they talk the screen cuts to a cute, blonde college girl walking up to her sorority house. Just as she is about enter Jordy, in uniform, shows up and startles her. He apologizes and tells her there are extra patrols that night and asks if he can come in and look around just to check the doors and windows. She says it is fine and invites him in. Carroll then tells Ryan he will be his friend even though Ryan slept with his wife. Carroll informs him that Claire is very important in this story because she is the love interest. When he says he wants to see her Ryan tells him that she will never agree to that. Carroll tells him she will change her mind. We cut to Claire getting ready for bed. She can’t find her son. She starts searching the house. Carroll tells Ryan he killed Sarah for him. Ryan tells Carroll if this story ends with anything other than Carroll’s death he better plan on a rewrite. With that he grabs his hand and breaks Carroll’s fingers. Agents rush in and break them up. As Carroll is being led out of the room he screams at Ryan to call Claire who we cut to again as she frantically races around looking for her son as she screams his name.
The babysitter has Claire’s son in her car. She drives into a parking lot where she is met by Sarah’s neighbors (Will and his boyfriend). The boy is asleep so they gently put him in the car then the babysitter and two men all get into the car and drive away. As “The Following” comes to an end we are left with a close up of Ryan’s face pale and haunted as he realizes this entire mess is just getting started.
If this premier episode is any indication, Kevin Bacon has a hit on his hands.