The villainous Joe Carroll chapter was concluded in The Following Season 1 Episode 15 with the death of the literary-obsessed antagonist. There’s no way he could have escaped that massive explosion.
Wrong. As much as I like James Purefoy in the role, I would have preferred his character’s story concluded in the fire. That said, Carroll is back... or as the mysterious new cult pronounces, “Joe Carroll lives” (although I wasn't surprised, as promos kind of ruined that last minute bearded reveal.)
If this book ends in anything but your death, you better plan on a rewrite.
Ryan Hardy’s words spoken in The Following Season 1 Episode 1 could definitely be applied to The Following Season 2. Fine, Joe survived, but this next chapter needs a refresher, a revamp that avoids the missteps it made in the previous season and provides a focused and interesting story from beginning to end.
So is this sequel season worth starting?
The Following Season 2 Episode 1 was a positive return that’s compelling in its new direction, while providing an essentially blank slate for story opportunities and the exploration of characters we’ve gotten some time to know. The hour dips right into a heavy dose of fear, terror, violence and a mysterious new presence.
While the initial moments of the episode wrap up the The Following Season 1 finale with Claire’s bloody stabbing death, Ryan doing some neck snapping and the tragic realization he lost his love, the episode quickly jumps forward in time to introduce the new cult.
While there’s always the possibility this new cult could be completely two dimensional, it feels small enough that we get to meet the characters involved. It’s not just random followers. For now.
Plus, not a bad way to premiere the new crazy crew looking to resurrect Joe Carroll (find him?) in a graphic multiple stabbing scene on the subway.
And the show definitely gets its creepy masks right. There’s something unsettling about seeing the face of Joe, and a pretty good one at that, on multiple killers staring at their potential victims.
The new twins, Mark and Luke, provide a scary turn in their own endeavors that separate entirely from the original cult. Not only was there an American Psycho vibe, but watching one of the twins dance about and talk to the dead girl was just wrong. They definitely seem unhinged and dangerous, and I’m curious as to their plan.
Does anyone think they are scarier than Joe?
Additionally, it’s good to see the episode acknowledge that Joe’s cult dropped down to eight surviving members, even if there is the possibility of them recruiting eight more who recruited eight more.
Also, using Carlos, (J. D. Williams from The Wire), as the link between the two groups is an interesting way to expand the mythos at the same time it departs from the original. He was obviously necessary to explain Joe’s survival, but I do hope he lasts a while on the series.
I do wonder where Emma is going to fit in, seeing as she seems to be on the outside of information. Not really digging the punk rocker look, but it’s a definite change from her previous style. The FBI won’t be able to notice her right away, that’s for sure.
As for the good guys, Mike Weston is trying to recover during his time off, but he gets sucked back in. He wants to be able to work with and get through to Ryan Hardy, but Ryan just won’t let him. I’m hoping that soon enough, the duo unite to stop the new threat.
Ryan is back and more determined then ever. Not only is he sober (with Keith Carradine as his sponsor!), but his passion for defeating Joe and the cult has gotten more intense. He’s given up on the FBI (let’s be honest, they didn’t do a very good job before) and gone rogue in his hunt.
He can’t help but care, but it’s fun knowing he’s not worried about bending the rules or even breaking them to reach his goal.
The addition of his niece, who conveniently is an NYPD detective, adds a nice human element to his character. Their interactions - from discussing her pastry chef boyfriend to her worry about helping him out - also gave some lighter moments where Ryan was able to smile. I’ve got a feeling she’s going to wind up captured or dead by season’s end.
This was an entertaining and solid premiere to sort of restart the series, and while I had my reservations, I’m hooked to know where it all will lead.
And, sure, The Following Season 2 could easily fall in line with its predecessor, give us more incompetent FBI, followers who just get killed, and a longwinded journey that focuses more on the scares than the complexity of the story. But if this start is any indication of what’s to come, I’m excited to watch this chilling thriller soaked in the dark and mysterious terror.
It’s a very promising beginning, and heck, who doesn’t love them some Kevin Bacon?
What did you think of The Following Season 2 premiere? Grade it now!
Sean McKenna is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow him on Twitter.