This review contains spoilers for the first season of “The Following.” However, it does not contain spoilers for the second season. If you want to catch up on the first season it’s currently available for streaming on Netflix. Otherwise, you’ve been warned!
The Following is back and, after the shocking finale of season one, it took its sweet time to get here. Picking up where the last episode left off, the first episode promises to provide some answers and establish even bigger questions. However, perhaps the biggest question is whether or not this show warrants a second season. Read on to find out.
Without wasting a beat, the second season episode “Resurrection” takes place moments before Ryan Hardy (Kevin Bacon) and Claire Matthews (Natalie Zea) are attacked in Ryan’s apartment. Last season we were left with the image of Ryan injured and bloodied and the fate of Claire was up in the air. I won’t say much about what happens, but it doesn’t take long for the show to reveal the aftermath of the surprise attack. The intro also serves as an excellent reminder that this is probably one of the bloodiest programs on basic television.
Zooming forward one year later we see that Ryan is trying to put his life back together. Leaving law enforcement behind him, Ryan has moved to New York where he works as a criminology professor at a university. He also attends AA meetings to help cope with an addiction he picked up during the year prior. And, while it may seem like Ryan leads a life of solitude, he has reunited with his niece Max Hardy (Jessica Stroup) who is a detective in the NYPD.
All and all, it would seem as if Ryan has successfully put the past behind him following the traumatic events of the last season. However, while Joe Carroll (James Purefoy) may or may not be dead, remnants of his cult are still out there and actively plotting to resurrect his memory.
In this first episode we’re introduced to a pair of killers who are easily on par with any of the psychopaths seen last season. Without revealing too much about what they do in this episode, I will say that they like to spend too much time with their victim postmortem.
However, it wouldn’t be a serial killer cult without a major attack and we get ours in the first episode. Donning a few realistic looking Joe Carroll masks, a group of cultists board a subway train where they attack and maim the riders all while chanting that Joe Carroll is resurrected. It’s a horrific and chilling event, which is what I’ve come to expect from “The Following.”
Of course, an attack like this is enough to grab the attention of Ryan Hardy and, along with Mike Weston (Shawn Ashmore), the two are pulled back into the hunt to stop the cult once and for all.
If this first episode is any indication, the series is on track to deliver another shocking and intense season. Along with the return to mayhem and violence, the first episode quickly establishes a few mysteries and plot threads that’ll surely play out throughout this new season. For instance, while the cult may still be active, who is leading it now and for what purpose? You may think you know, but if the first season taught us anything it’s that there are twists and turns around every corner.
There’s also the mental state of Ryan Hardy. While he may seem perfectly fine at the onset of the episode, we quickly see that there are cracks developing in his heroic armor. It’s enough to make me wonder if even Ryan will survive this season.
Surprisingly, the use of flashbacks is also making a return for this season. Last year they were used liberally to showcase the developing relationship between Joe, Ryan, and Claire. This time it seems as if the flashbacks will be used to show what happened during the year that the show skipped over. In the first one we get a glimpse of Ryan and Mike’s deteriorating relationship in the missing year. It adds a lot of meat to the story without cluttering things up.
I originally thought that this was the kind of series that could only exist for one season. However, it’s clear that Kevin Williamson has a few tricks up his sleeve to keep the series alive and feeling fresh. I don’t know how many seasons they can justifiably keep this going for, but I’m a born again Joe Carroll follower and I can’t wait to see what insane twists await us this year.
“The Following” returns to Fox on Sunday January 19th.