“The Following” Returns For More Thrills


HOLLYWOOD—I was a huge fan of Kevin Williamson’s serial killer thriller “The Following” in 2013. I thought it was inventive captivating and kept the audience on the edge of their seat from one episode to the next.  The second season picked up precisely where its predecessor left off, with the audience discovering that Ryan Hardy’s (Kevin Bacon) neighbor attacking him and Claire.  Unfortunately, Claire did not survive the vicious attack.

Once again are fragile detective found himself wounded because of Joe Carroll’s (James Purefoy) antics. When Mike (Shawn Ashmore) revealed the news to Ryan he nearly died.  The series then took a common approach in television by fast-forwarding a year later. Ryan is attempting to put his life back together, but it appears Joe Carroll’s legacy is on the horizon as his ‘followers’ have plans to resurrect him. To have a bit of a side-story, Hardy gets a relative this season in his niece, and an occupation away from the bureau as a forensics teacher.

I will admit I am intrigued to have Jessica Stroup join the cast as Max Hardy.  Last season, Ryan had little family history, which means this season will also play with the idea of placing people he care about in peril. She is a cop, with valuable information that helps her uncle track the latest string of killings that take place at Union Square Station. Indeed a frightening moment to see a trio of Joe Carroll crazies viciously stab several people on the subway; unfortunately, for the trio one survivor, Lily Gray (Connie Nielsen) survives and it becomes evident Ryan Hardy is still the target.

The other survivor in this melee, Mike Weston finds himself called to New York to assist with the latest string of murders. He begs for Hardy’s assistance, but our hero has closed off all circuits, or so he wants everyone who knows him best to think so.

The interesting set-up for season two is the question of “Is he or is he not alive?” The episode plays with that notion and the concept is interesting. We could be dealing with copycats, or perhaps we’re dealing with Carroll himself. The introduction of the whacked out twins who murder a woman and then coddle with her dead body was disturbing to say the least. If audience’s thought last season’s group of ‘followers’ were a bit edgy, these new recruits set a precedent in creepiness.

I was just wondering when Emma (Valorie Curry), a former follower, of Joe Carroll who went into hiding, is intrigued by the re-emergence of a new cult dedicated to Carroll’s work. There is indeed a division between Mike and Ryan; Mike knows Ryan is not finished with stopping Carroll even though he does his best to do so. We soon discover that Hardy has a secret lair where he has been keeping track of his nemesis and those who choose to follow him.

Max gets in on the action to assist her uncle, which gives him a lead on where to locate a suspect in the subway killings. She is a bit apprehensive with her uncle’s decision to not inform the FBI of what he knows; there has to be a reason behind Hardy’s decision, what that is, I’m not certain of at the moment. We soon discover that Joe escaped the boathouse explosion and secretly had assistance in his escape; he’s been M.I.A. ever since.  So Carroll has been secretly recruiting his army for some time now, for what is the big question. With Claire no longer in the picture, what reason would he have for wanting to torture Hardy?

Ryan just nearly misses running into Emma, as she discovers another victim Sarah Clarke who was staged on a parking bench reading Joe Carroll’s book, an inspiration for the character Gwen, who was inspired by Claire, Joe’s ex-wife. These cult leaders are evening will to kill their own to further their cause, twins Luke and Mark are kooky, but its obvious one is the voice of reason the other is sane.

Lily did her best to provide Hardy with a bit more insight into the killings; it’s almost like he’s drawn by guilt to the only survivor. Emma informed her followers that Hardy is onto them and it looks like Ryan is out for revenge for the deaths of Debra and Claire. In the final moments, we get our glimpse of Carroll very much alive, but I’m trying to piece just why in the world Hardy was wearing that mask. Could he be involved in this craziness this time around? While the episode does indeed set the ground work for season two, next week’s episode is expected to tie up loose ends for the audience. “The Following” airs Mondays at 8 p.m. on FOX.

By LaDale Anderson