'The Following: Pilot,' 2013, Fox. Created by Kevin Williamson, written by Kevin Williamson. Starring Kevin Bacon, James Purefoy, and Shawn Ashmore. Genre: Crime/thriller/drama. Rated TV-14 for language and violence. Airs at 9:00 p.m. EST on Monday.
When serial killer Joe Carroll (James Purefoy, pictured on the right) escapes prison a mere month before his scheduled execution, former FBI agent Ryan Hardy (Kevin Bacon, the bloke on the left) is called in by the director of the FBI to help with the case. Hardy is the one who put Carroll in prison ten years ago.
Carroll was convicted of killing 14 women who attended the college where he taught English literature. He cut out their eyes as a nod to his favourite author, Edgar Allen Poe, with whom Carroll is obsessed.
But a lot has changed since then. Hardy, having recovered from the stabbing he suffered at Carroll's hands, now has a pacemaker and drinks vodka as if it's water (literally, as he fills water bottles with the stuff and takes it with him to work). It's a toss-up as to whether Hardy had to quit the FBI because of his pacemaker or because of emotional problems.
Under police supervision is Sarah Fuller (played by the wonderful Maggie Grace), Carroll's last and only other living victim. Carroll's ex-wife, Claire Matthews (Natalie Zea),is under police surveillance as well; she confides in Hardy that Carroll has written her a letter, and it's in this scene that we discover Hardy and Matthews had a relationship. It's also where we get one of the best quotes in the pilot: 'I do better in people's pasts. I always have.' This is from the still-tortured Hardy, who left Matthews for just that reason.
Also on the case is Agent Mike Weston (Shawn Ashmore), who thinks Hardy is a hero. There's a nice contrast between the bright-eyed eagerness Ashmore brings to Weston and the world-weary looks Bacon supplies.
Despite the prolific police presence, Carroll captures Fuller; he wants to finish what he started -- to 'write the proper ending.' This of course brings Carroll and Hardy together for a final show-down. In this scene, Maggie Grace does a lot of screaming, and it's extremely realistic.
Some of the creepiest scenes are those that reveal Carroll's followers: a guard helped him escape and was learning from Carroll how to be a serial killer (warning: he practises on dogs and puppies); a woman kills herself whilst waiting for police to question her (one of the more grisly scenes); two of Fuller's 'friends' turn out to be Carroll's followers; and Matthews' nanny is also a follower.
A tip of the hat goes to the composer, John Frizzell, who wrote some very moody music.