Staff Writer

FOX recently released a new show, “The Following,” which airs on Mondays at 9 p.m.
My first impression of the show was that it would be about a serial killer who escapes prison with the help of several devoted fans.

But I was somewhat mistaken to find that was merely the plot of the first episode, as Joe Carroll, the show’s main antagonist and serial killer, is recaptured soon after his escape.

The plot instead follows multiple different characters.

It centers around Kevin Bacon’s character (yes, that Kevin Bacon) named Ryan Hardy, the show’s antogonist. Hardy is an ex-FBI agent who shot and apprehended Carroll ten years ago, getting stabbed in his heart in the process. Now, Hardy is an alcoholic with a pacemaker who is pulled back into his worst nightmare when Carroll sets into motion a plan long in the making.

Despite being on Death Row for the past ten years, Carroll, a charismatic professor of literature who killed 14 girls and nearly another before she was saved when Hardy shot and apprehended him, was allowed visitors in jail and was therefore able to accumulate a “following” (hence the title) of several people who view his murders as art and want to become serial killers as well.

Through the help of at least seven followers who appear to be normal, until viewers see them coldly betray friends and murder anyone who gets in their way, Carroll enacts his plan. The master plan is to create a real-life plot for a sequel to Hardy’s book on capturing him.

This plot involves Hardy’s love interest, Claire Matthews, who surprisingly enough is the ex-wife of Carroll himself. It also involves the kidnapping of Carroll’s own son.

After only five episodes viewers are not certain what the end-game of the plan is. But the story unfolds through several different perspectives, including those of the serial killers as well as that of Ryan Hardy and his attempts to thwart Carroll.

Viewers are also given background information through flashbacks that depict what occurred in the past ten years, such as Hardy’s search for the serial killer the first time around. The flashbacks show what occurred after his capture, including how the followers were recruited and what happened between Hardy and Matthews all those years ago.

This show is not for everyone, despite being on primetime television.

Some people argue it should be on channels such as HBO instead of such a widely watched channel as FOX.

The show is so controversial because of the subject matter.

There is so much violence; already viewers have seen characters stabbed, set on fire, beaten and more. Viewers are also shown the aftermath of Carroll’s “art,” which involves the removal of his victim’s eyes.

Therefore, even with the captivating plot, only those who are comfortable with fairly graphic violence should watch this.

So far the show has drawn me in, as it takes a different angle than other shows have.

There have been plenty of shows on serial killers, such as “Criminal Minds,” which revolves around the agents who analyze and attempt to apprehend all different kinds of murderers. Even Showtime’s “Dexter” is from the point of view of a serial killer attempting to fit into society while killing other killers. But, this show addresses the very real and chilling matter of the people who are in awe of such vicious murderers.
In reality, there are plenty of people who write to serial killers in prison letting them know of their admiration of their “work.”

So, the fact that a show was created about what would happen if those admirers were given the chance to help a serial killer is fascinating and differentiates this show from others.

Sure, at times there may be some ill-conceived aspects.

Bacon’s character being hit over the head practically every episode and managing to escape in any way possible can get a bit old. (Seriously, he has got to learn to turn around since there’s almost always someone behind him trying to kill or capture him!) But overall, I’d say this show is definitely worth checking out if you are not bothered by its level of violence.

We’ll have to see if FOX will keep this show around instead of canceling it, whether due to ratings or controversy, but I for one hope they’ll renew this show when the first season comes to an end.

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