TV Review: The Following

First thing, this show is extremely dark, incredibly violent, and psychologically twisted.


That said, I have enjoyed most of this show. I didn’t watch it when it first aired, but after a few recommendations from my family and a week where I had nothing going on, I decided to try season one on Netflix. I was not disappointed. By the end of the first episode, I was yelling at my television and ready for the next episode.

The show follows Ryan Hardy (Kevin Bacon), a FBI agent who spent a good chunk of his career hunting a serial killer named Joe Carroll (James Purefoy). He thinks the hunt is over and that Carroll’s wife and child can stop living in fear. But of course, that doesn’t last long as individuals wearing Edgar Allen Poe masks, Joe’s favorite author, begin killing in the fashion of Joe. The hunt for Joe’s following begins, and Ryan Hardy is thrown back into his nightmare.

As a fan of psychological thrillers like this, I found seasons one and two incredibly interesting. I’d chosen a favorite character by the mid way point of season one, but I couldn’t trust him because episode one of the show taught me to trust no one on the show except for Ryan. Season one focused on Joe’s following, and season two delved a little deeper into that, focusing on a family who was obsessed with Joe.

A couple highlights of the show are definitely two of it’s actors, James Purefoy who played the creepy Joe Carroll, and Sam Underwood who played twins Mark and Luke, part of the family in season two.

I had only seen Purefoy in one other piece, and he was a good and kind character. Joe Carroll is the total opposite, and Purefoy played him so well that even though he was terrifying I kept looking forward to learning more about the character and looking forward to scenes with the character. He’s a brilliant actor and was definitely fabulous at bringing the character and show to life.

Sam Underwood was a name I’d never heard before, but my goodness was he amazing. He had to play two characters, twins Mark and Luke. Both killers, both twisted, but still with differences. Mark was always more timid than Luke, and Luke was the kind do what he wanted, unless his mother said not to. The true highlight of Sam Underwood’s acting came in season three, the show’s final season. He still had to be each twin, but in a different capacity, and it was wonderful acting.

Season three became the predicted and then the proven final season of the show, and to me that’s ok. I loved seasons one and two. The twists and turns always got me, the writing and character development were wonderful, and the story just grew. Season three, however, took a turn I didn’t really like. I was still enjoying the show, enjoying the new characters the show was introducing. But what I didn’t enjoy included the new killer and Ryan’s eventual character development.

The new villain was a character named Theo. What the show was going for was someone who was creepier and more terrifying than Joe. What they got was a character who didn’t seem to have a reason for killing other than he wanted to or was contracted to. At times I found him creepy, but eventually I kind of just grew tired of him.

And then there was Ryan, the show’s main character. The season started him off well. He was happy, he was in love, and he was opening up to those around him. As the season went on, he became a drunk and a man with hallucinations about his nemesis Joe Carroll. That aspect could have been really well done and well explored. Instead, it brought Ryan out of character. He very easily gave into what hallucination Joe was suggesting, and it made him too dark and too, for lack of a better word, evil. The writers had him do things that he would never even consider doing, and it really didn’t feel right.

I’m not surprised the show is over, and I really enjoyed the series finale. Yes, one story line still isn’t wrapped up, but it easily could be with a 2 hour special if they ever decide to wrap absolutely everything up. And I’d tune in, I’m really curious about this final story line.

I also think season three had too much going on all at once. There was a Joe story, a Mark/Luke and friends story, another story about the man who trained Joe, and a Theo story, all while having stories about the good guys as well, and all in fifteen episodes. It just felt like there was too much happening all crammed together.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the show. I was hooked from episode one and looked forward to each coming episode. I liked how it ended, and if they didn’t leave one story unfinished it would have been well wrapped up.

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