Last night, I lurked in my roommate’s doorway. “At 9pm I’m watching the Following.” It was a threat and a promise. Because she is well-trained my roommate said, “Cool, I won’t talk.” In my apartment, if I feel obligated to let you know that I’ll be watching a TV show it means that I shall require silence for the duration. Because I am a decent person (and also I had been drinking) when my roommate creeped into the room and slow-motion sat down in the chair beside me just as the show was about to start, I hit pause.

“Okay. So. Let me bring you up to speed-”

“That’s nice of you!”

“Yeah, well, I’m a nice person. So there’s this British serial killer, right? His name is Joe Carroll. James Purefoy is playing him – so he is also sexy, I’d go so far as to say “mad sexy”. He is a failed novelist and a highly charismatic English professor obsessed with Gothic lit – and who isn’t? Carroll views the serial murdering of beautiful women to be the highest form of art. Probably because his agent dropped him.

So yeah – can’t succeed in publishing, killing people becomes your art. It’s Kevin Williamson – the writer – at his message-sending best.

Years ago Carroll’s caught by cracker-jack FBI crazy, Kevin Bacon. Presumably, in my heart, their wieners touch, though sadly – at this juncture – that is neither here nor there.

But Hardy – that’s Bacon – doesn’t get out unscathed. In the scuffle that led to imprisoning Carroll, the dude had a ventricle in his heart so badly damaged he now has a pace-maker! But he saved this one girl (Sarah)  life! But then he left the FBI! But then he wrote a book about Carroll! But he’s got a drinking problem now! And he’s highly unpredictable! Also he used to sleep with Carroll’s wife! Kevin Bacon! He’s a scoundrel, yo!

But now we are in present – and Carroll escapes prison! To finish off that girl (till Sarah) he was in the middle of killing when the Baconator stopped him. Once he’s done that, officially presenting Bacon with an inciting incident and saying as much, he’s all “BACK TO JAIL NOW AND ALSO LET THE GAMES COMMENCE.”

‘Cause see, he didn’t do it alone – he had an assists from….wait for it…HIS FOLLOWERS, LIKE THE SHOW’S TITLE! YEAH! People who love him who he connected with via “the internet” and “book readings” and “jail”.

The affable gay couple who lived next door to the girl who was murdered? NOT REALLY GAY AND ALSO KILLERS? The nanny of the son Carroll fathered before he was arrested? NOT REALLY A NANNY, A LADY RECRUITED TO KIDNAP HIS SON FROM HIS WIFE!

Because you see, Carroll views Ryan as his ‘next great work’ – he is creating this whole fucked up deal for Ryan, because Ryan is his next great work.

Also I believe the kid he thinks is his is actually Kevin Bacon’s son. ”

“That was thorough.”

And it was, gentle reader, it truly was.

Now that we’ve caught you up to speed, let’s get into the meat of this week’s second episode, appropriately titled “The Second Chapter.” I’m pleased to report that it maintained the steady pacing, occasional jump-in-your-seat moments, violence, and sexiness of the pilot. The dialogue is still a bit cringe-worthy in places, but the concept is so strong, and the plotting so much fun that even I – dialogue snob supreme – wasn’t turned off.

There were some moments that were predictable, but not in a plot-sullying way, more in a “ooooh shit now this is going to happen” – on the edge of your seat way. Also, at one point, realizing the story was taking place in DC and Virginia I may have turned to my roommate and been all “Yo, between Bones and Homeland and now this show, Washington DC has a shit ton going on in it.” Right? Hilarious. If ever I stopped paying attention last night, it was to wonder briefly what Carrie Mathison was crying about and is Temperance was up changing baby Christine’s diaper.

The second episode jumps righ tin where we left off – with Carroll’s puppy-murdering, idiot-cop Jordy talking his way into a sorority where he promptly murders all of the women inside. Rather than show us Jordy’s spree, we stay with the girl who let him in and Jordy himself, only for as long as it takes for the sorority sister in question to realize that, like Gob Bluth before her, she’s made a huge mistake.

With the ticking clock of the missing Joey Carroll, the stakes are high, leaving very little time to examine the whole “Ryan Hardy is not fit to do this job” aspect of Bacon’s character. It’s touched on briefly, mainly to introduce the new lady-FBI agent who replaced the TERRIBLE ACTRESS WITH THE MOLE from the pilot. While everyone is all “Ryan is balls out nuts and a drunk”, his expertise with Carroll, and his – ehem – relationship with Carroll’s ex-Claire cannot be denied for the powerful resources they are.

As Ryan and the FBI slowly begin unraveling the true identity of Sarah’s next door neighbors, and Claire’s nanny, we learn that the three of them and young Joey are fine – staying in a house arranged by a strange unknown party – presumably another follower. Joey wants to call his mom, but the Nanny – Emma – has him thinking that they are laying low until his dad is captured. The Nanny is also banging one half of the fake-gay couple, much to the distaste of the other half of the fake-gay couple who it turns out, is probably real-gay. It’s like Shakespeare, guys!

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We learn a bit about Emma the Nanny – that she was a mousy Carroll fan who met him at a reading, that Carroll likes girls with pixie haircuts,  that she had a domineering mother, that Carroll set her up with her current BF, and that on their first date, she stabbed her mom to death thus ensuring her BF’s eternal devotion. Their shared insanity, blood lust, and passion for Carroll is the glue keeping them together. But angry not-gay-real-gay third wheel does not get the attraction, also he hates children – it’s the Real World, only with the disciples of a serial killer.

Meanwhile Ryan and the FBI find the sorority girls and are like “Meh”, then they find Emma’s old house, now covered with creepy art, full of dead moms in the wall, art indicating that Carroll’s ex-Claire is in a danger, and a row of latex Edgar Allen Poe masks – CONTAINING ONE REAL KILLER WHO SCARES RYAN AND FLEES. It was scary!

Because the police are incompetent, the idiot cop Jordy manages to get into Claire’s house and hold her at gunpoint, forcing Ryan to take the guy out – saying that Joe said Ryan must kill Jordy or Jordy must kill Claire. BUT THE JOKE’S ON CARROLL because Ryan just kinda shoots Jordy a little and Claire is fine. I mean, probably not fine, but alive? She’s had a shitty time between this, and going to see Carroll to find out where he son is and then enraging Carroll – who is still in love with her – to the degree where he tries to crush her windpipe.

The episode ends with Ryan feeling a little cocky – he’s won this round of Carroll’s game. What he doesn’t know is that the FBI lady – Agent Parker – who has replaced the terrible  actress with the mole IS A POTENTIAL FOLLOWER! She’s all slippin’ him the complete works of Poe and eye fucking James Purefoy. So conflict,  yeah, that’s exciting! Except for maybe Carroll was all “Lady. I literally have read this a million times – it inspired my murders. How about something new to peruse here in the ol’ jail?” And also, while Purefoy is mad sexy, I need them to give me a little bit more to understand how he manages to make these followers his thralls.

  • Jen

    I love this wrap up. I have to say that Poe guy popping out scared the crap out of me. There were a couple of life scarring moments in the first two episodes. I am hooked.

  • Slevin

    This was a great review, but your last line says it best:
    HOW is this guy convincing people to go all Ted Bundy for him? Don’t get me
    wrong, he was great in Rome and is VERY affable, but that doesn’t quite give me
    enough to make me believe he could meet someone a handful of times and turn
    them into killing machines. Perhaps they will explain this a bit further, and I
    hope so, because I really enjoy this show! I work at DISH and was watching with
    a coworker of mine, and she raised the same question, asking WHY these people
    are murdering to for him. We both had some theories but I missed a few things,
    so I decided to re-watch the show this morning before work. Since it airs on
    one of the big 4 networks, during primetime, it was recorded by PrimeTime
    Anytime on my DISH Hopper, so I was able to see it again. I can’t wait for next
    week’s episode, “The Poet’s Fire”, and I will definitely be back to see what
    you think of it!

    • http://www.fempop.com/ Rebecca Jane Stokes

      YOU DISH GUYS ARE SO SLICK. I was all excited about a comment but then – it was spaaaaaam, boooooo