The Following Season 1 Review “Chapter Two”

For the longest time, the television medium has been considered the weak sister of movies. That opinion has started to change in recent years, but the stigma still remains. Any time a big movie star makes his way to television, the move comes with inevitable questions about the state of their career. Furthermore, if a movie star can give a half-decent performance in any credible drama, he/she is instantly a favorite to win every award that exists. As a result, TV is often seen as a stepping stone to movies for young, up-and-comers, or a quick awards grab for some veterans looking to stay relevant in the zeitgeist.

To a certain extent, this stigma still remains. However, the conversation surrounding movie stars coming to television is starting to change. Television gives storytellers the opportunity to tell their story at the pace they want to tell it. Instead of the constraints of a 2 hour movie, writers, showrunners, and actors now have the chance to craft a narrative over 10, 13, or 22 episodes. When you couple that fact with the rise of the cable prestige drama, it’s a wonder more movie stars don’t come to the small screen.

I lead with all this exposition not to mirror tonight’s episode (though there was A LOT of exposition), but to bring up that all of those reasons have led Kevin Bacon to our television screens. This show certainly has its warts, but Mr. Bacon definitely isn’t one of them. In this week’s exposition-heavy episode, Bacon was tremendous. The bouncing back and forth in time gave us the opportunity to see more of a different version of Ryan Hardy than the vodka-in-the-water-bottle ex-agent he is now. For his part, Bacon captured the subtle nuances between the two different versions of Hardy. He seemed livelier in the past while doing a good job playing the beaten down former cop in the present day. Kevin Bacon’s presence in this series is a bright spot in an otherwise bland series.

When crafting a serial killer-based drama series, the idea of motivation should be in the forefront. Every twisted serial killer has some sort of crazed agenda. Some are rather fascinating (i.e., Dexter), some are not. Fitting in the latter category is Joe Carroll’s obsession with Poe-style artistic renderings through murder. It’s going to be far more interesting to follow the cult of serial killers he has created. What twisted worldview has led them to want to please this man? You can postulate your own theories (it’s the accent, right?), but the show has a lot of pressure on it to make these characters compelling. Carroll may have turned them loose, but James Purefoy’s Hannibal Lecter impersonation can’t sustain an entire series. It will be fun to watch him spar with Bacon and the always solid Natalie Zea, but Carroll’s minions are going to have to do more than play house and bicker over who gets the big bed.

With plenty of exposition plowed through in this episode, it seems like future episodes are going to provide more action. Whether the action proves to be in the service of anything meaningful remains to be seen.