I watched The Following this week because I couldn’t pass up a chance to watch Kevin Bacon hunt serial killers. All in all I did in fact like the pilot, but a few warning flags went off as I was watching. I thought I’d talk briefly about each of them, because if the show could catch them early, it could be great. But if left untreated? It could metastasize into something terminal. See what I’m talking about below.
Overdosing on Poe
I understand that every serial killer in prime time needs some sort of “hook,” but from episode one, you can already tell they’re overdoing it on the Poe thing. I will allow them removing the eyes as a tie in, but the girl with Poe lyrics scrawled all over her chanting Poe’s last words was pushing it, and writing NEVERMORE on the wall in blood was just silly. And if that’s only episode one, what are they going to do four, five, six episodes from now without it getting goofy?
Not Fully Explaining the Cult
I can respect the concept for this show, that a serial killer amasses a cult following to do his dirty work, but we’re really going to need more of a HOW here. I get that he’s charming and what not, but there’s a difference between speaking well and convincing someone to pretend to be gay for three years to live next to someone you want to abduct and kill. The show has explained it away with “internet blogs” as to how he got in touch with people, but I really hope how he assembled them all and how he maintains control over them will be more of a focus.
Turning Bacon Into One Dimension
I thought Kevin Bacon did a great job in the pilot, and his dramatic abilities are way above what we normally see on TV. But I worry that hotheaded alcoholic cop might be too much of a stereotype, and they might need to dial that back again. His best moments were his human ones with Carroll’s wife or Maggie Grace’s now dead doctor. The show should focus more on that, and if they want demons, let’s not make them too alcohol dependent.
Shirking Plotlines in Favor of Extension
I’m already reminded a bit of AMC’s The Killing. That show was an interesting mystery as well, but as it got popular, they decided to extend it past the point of logic. As a result, what could have been a really interesting season was turned into a mess of red herrings. I’d really like to see them stick with their original plan and not alter it just because the show gets picked up for another season. See also Prison Break and Lost for examples of this happening.
Keeping Carroll in Jail for Too Long
I thought it was rather weird that they recaptured Carroll so quickly in the pilot. I get that they’re going for a whole “he’s controlling things from afar” angle, which implies his brilliance and the devotion of his surrogate killers, but the show’s going to get boring if they end up keeping their main villain in lockup for the duration. And with the way they’ve set it up, it would be dumb if he escaped AGAIN so soon, so they’re kind of between a rock in a hard place in a lot of ways now.