Like most other people, I have a desire to watch shows and movies that are terrifying; I want to feel my pulse quicken and my adrenaline rush. After many sleepless nights, however, I have learned that I cannot give in to this desire. I really end up regretting it.
The only exception that I have made to this Golden Rule within the past year has been to watch “The Following,” which first aired on FOX on Jan. 21, 2013 and is currently in the fifth episode of the second season.
The show focuses on FBI agent Ryan Hardy (played by Kevin Bacon) who tries to defeat a mastermind serial killer, Joe Carroll (played by James Purefoy). What complicates Hardy’s mission is the fact that Carroll is not killing alone. Instead, he has a band of equally sadistic and insane followers who help him fulfill his mission.
What is this mission? The first season emphasizes the fact that Carroll has a deep obsession with Edgar Allen Poe. Like Poe, Carroll believes in the “insanity of art” and the idea that art needs to be physically and emotionally “felt.” Carroll, therefore, decides to create his own form of art,which involves the killing and torturing of college girls. Carroll gouges out their eyes as a tribute to Poe, who believed that the eyes were equivalent to one’s identity. Carroll is a writer himself, and so uses his killings in order to get inspiration for his novel.
Now, I’m not saying that this show is unbelievably scary, but it does get the blood pumping. Every episode is full of gory killings and unexpected surprises. The fact that Carroll has many followers helps to add to the suspense. The viewers don’t know if a character that is seemingly “good” is going to end up being a follower in disguise. Still, this is a frequent plot twist in the show, and one that does have the possibility of becoming overdone.
What also helps to make this show more captivating is the fact that there are seemingly no rules. A character that a viewer might think is a permanent member of the cast is all of a sudden viciously killed off. The only character that is safe from Carroll and his followers is Ryan Hardy. Indeed, Carroll explains that he is working on a book, with Hardy as the main character; if Carroll were to kill Hardy, then there would be no ending to his book. Carroll finds pleasure in the battle with Hardy, especially since Carroll always seems to be one step ahead.
Personally, I am curious to see if the show is going to kill off Carroll, and if it doesn’t, then I wonder how long the show will be successful. It’s very rare that a psychological thriller succeeds if it’s based on only one villain. It might be a smart idea to have Carroll step down as leader (or be killed off) and have another follower take over. It’s important, however, that the show doesn’t just center on Hardy chasing a bad guy. It might get a little boring.
For now, however, “The Following” is a must watch. If I can watch it (I only watch it during the day, long before I have to go to bed), then anyone can. Oh, and if you need another reason to watch it, “The Following” mentions Wesleyan University towards the end of the first season. The show airs Mondays on FOX at 9 p.m.