The new show from Kevin Williamson (Dawson’s Creek, The Vampire Diaries, I Know What You Did Last Summer) stars Kevin Bacon as retired FBI Agent Ryan Hardy (Kevin Bacon) who is reinstated to bring in escaped serial killer Joe Carroll (James Purefoy) who he helped put away eight years ago. After visiting the prison, Ryan heads out to the FBI command center to meet the Agency’s wunderkid analyst (Shawn Ashmore) and discovers for the past few months the genius killer had access to the Internet through the prison law library which he used fro far more nefarious purposes than just planning his appeal.
Along with Weston (Ashmore), Ryan and Agents Mason (Jeananne Goossen) and Riley (Billy Brown) search for the prison guard (Steve Monroe) who helped Connolly escape in exchange for becoming one of his followers and learning to become a serial killer. And he isn’t the only one of Connolly’s disciples as another (Cheri Christian) publicly kills herself in the middle of the FBI command center on orders from her master.
Ryan also talks with the serial killer’s ex-wife (Natalie Zea), with whom Ryan had a brief affair, and Carroll’s lone surviving victim (Maggie Grace) whose testimony put him in prison and who goes missing shortly after his escape. Suspecting the girl’s neighbors (Nico Tortorella, Adan Canto) of being more of Carroll’s cult, Ryan plays a hunch which leads him to capturing Carroll but not before the killer finishes what he started eight years ago.
Weston discovers 47 separate websites and blogs Carroll made use of during his time behind bars to use his greatest gift (teaching), to inspire a devoted cult following of his greatest love (killing). Behind bars Carroll’s new reign of terror begins with the kidnapping of his young son (Kyle Catlett) by one of his other disciples (Valorie Curry) and the glee he takes in starting the game all over with Ryan.
As set-ups go the Pilot for The Following isn’t bad, and definitely is something of a switch by having the main bad guy captured and locked up in the very first episode, although it’s literal metaphors are a bit much at times including all the Edgar Allen Poe references (such as using the pounding of Ryan’s heart to mirror The Tell-Tale Heart). There’s enough here to make me come back for an episode or two but not enough (at least yet) to make me buy into an entire 15 episode season, although the addition of Person of Interest‘s Annie Parisse to the cast beginning next week is a good place to start.