Plot: It has been one year since Joe Carroll (James Purefoy) supposedly died in a burning boat house. While everyone has since moved on, Ryan Hardy (Kevin Bacon) is convinced that the Poe-obsessed killer is still at large. Will he find the answers he seeks after a grisly homicide in a subway car?
For whatever reason, Fox was so hell bent on starting The Following this week that they decided to air it on a Sunday night about a quarter after 10:00 PM. I get that Sleepy Hollow is wrapping up tomorrow with a two hour finale but the sane solution would have been to push this premiere to next week. Instead it was pushed into the late night Sunday hours when hard working individuals are clearly asleep. It’s as if the powers that be are practically screaming, “DVR this and watch it tomorrow. We don’t care.”
I digress. Last night The Following came back in the much promoted Season 2 premiere titled “Resurrection.” As I’m sure you recall, Season 1 ended in a big way with Claire Matthews (Natalie Zea) being stabbed repeatedly by Molly (Jennifer Ferrin). Her fate was left entirely up in the air. Now normally you’d expect the fallout from this insane event to take up much of the premiere, but The Following is far from being a normal show. What we actually got was an introduction sequence where it’s revealed that Claire died from her wounds, Molly was killed by Ryan, and then we jump a year into the future. Ryan has now moved on to a fancy new place in New York and he’s hosting dinner parties with his niece Max (Jessica Stroup). He’s also five months sober and is traveling to AA meetings. To the uninformed eye, Ryan has a completely new lease on life now.
But clearly that’s all a rouse to cover up what Ryan’s really doing, which is tracking down Carroll. Ryan has no apparent interest in working with the FBI now and he’s taken it upon himself to find Carroll with the help of his niece from the NYPD. It’s right here where the new season really steps off in the right direction. In terms of acting, Bacon absolutely sells Ryan’s inner turmoil while also putting on a brave public face. He is obviously not convinced Carroll is dead and has become a man obsessed. Yet he doesn’t want the public to know this so he repeatedly states that everything is fine. Once again, Bacon is one of the best parts about this show.
In terms of the story, Ryan officially taking matters into his own hands is definitely a smart decision for the show. It’s basically a hard reset from what we saw last season. The FBI was far from competent a year go and their inability to keep track of Carroll while a single man is leagues ahead of them was laughable to say the least. “Resurrection” had the FBI, specifically Michael Weston (Shawn Ashmore), practically begging Ryan to help them with the new case. Mike is also not doing too well and is clearly suffering from PTSD following Debra Parker’s (Annie Parisse) death last season. Truth is, I’d much rather have Ryan unshackled and doing what he does best in his search for answers. I already find the Ryan-Max duo more enjoyable than the Ryan-FBI team up. Plus, it just makes so much more sense to have crazed followers outsmart one guy than the entire freaking Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The shock value that The Following has become known for is by no means unchanged too. “Resurrection” really held nothing back once the story got moving. First off, we had three masked individuals stabbing people in a subway car yelling, “Joe Carroll lives! Ryan Hardy can’t stop us!” The ensuing investigation into who these people were took up the main bulk of the episode and naturally Ryan is the only one to make headway. The attack only left one survivor too named Lily Gray (Connie Nielsen) who evidently will work with Ryan in his quest. Little was revealed about who Lily is, but thankfully she doesn’t have that excess baggage tied to her like Claire did. That’s already a good start for me.
The other major shock of the night was some quality corpse dancing. A pair of twins named Luke and Mark (both played by Sam Underwood) kill a girl in an apartment and then proceed to toy around with her strangled corpse. These entire scenes were completely grotesque but successfully proved how fucked up these two new characters are. It is through here that we’re introduced to an apparent splinter group of followers who have no communication with other groups. We know this through the still living Emma (Valerie Curry) who has found a place with other followers and has heard nothing about a planned subway attack. Exceptionally little is revealed about the majority of these new additions but I like the idea of having two separate factions of Carroll followers working against each other.
Despite all of the welcomed changes to the new season, “Resurrection” still suffered from some of the same issues that plague us last year. To be specific, its focus is all over the place. Naturally, Ryan is the main point of interest but there was a lot of attention paid to these new characters that we know nothing about. So much of last season was spent focusing on tertiary characters that it actually got pretty exhausting. That is clearly unchanged here. Plus it’s obvious that the FBI isn’t going anywhere meaning that it’s extremely likely Ryan might team up with them again. If he does, expect the new Season 2 to become the old Season 1. And lastly, who seriously didn’t expect Carroll to be alive? How can you name an episode “Resurrection” and have that be the big reveal at the end?
It’s obvious that The Following is trying to go in a new direction this season. We have a much more independent Ryan Hardy and a fresh batch of creepy assholes. Losing the excess baggage from last season like Claire and Joey (Kyle Catlett) was a really smart idea too. Yet some of the old problems still plague this show and I fear that it might fall back on old tropes. But let’s hope for the best shall we? The craziness is back and I fully expect it to get even more insane.