The Following Season 1 Review “Havenport”

At first glance, The Following is simply derivative of someone’s serial killer fantasy land. The show lacks originality or a true compelling character (sorry, Mr. Bacon). Instead, the show attempts to make up for its deficiencies by constantly focusing on how awesome serial killers are. Cold detachment, occasional superhuman strength, and manic adherence to twisted ideals are only part of the package the show is offering. That type of show is not the worst thing you can put on television. It’s only when you add the abject stupidity of many of the particulars do you start to realize that this show isn’t just your typical serial killer network offering. This television show’s brand of madness truly transcends any genre. In fact, given what we know of the television landscape these days, it’s pretty clear The Following has a spirit animal: it’s The Walking Dead.

It may not grab you right away, but all the comparisons are there. For starters, there is the woefully overmatched actor playing the supposedly menacing antagonist. I’ve always enjoyed James Purefoy, but he’s far better suited as a bombastic good guy than a dark, brooding twisted person. The fault is not entirely his since the writing doesn’t do him any favors. His phone call this week to Ryan Hardy (Seriously, how has the FBI not gotten this signal yet?) played like the ravings of a mad man instead of a calculated move carried out by a dark soul in complete control. It takes whatever his plan may be (more on that later) and makes it seem trivial, at best. I will give Purefoy credit for not being as milquetoast as The Walking Dead‘s main antagonist from this past season. That being said, The Walking Dead never made the Governor try to have it both ways. He’s a sadistic person, but he’s always in control. Sadly, the writers on The Following have sucked all of the credibility from Joe Carroll as a credible threat by having him ranting and raving to Hardy about his book that he’s writing. Neither Purefoy or David Morrissey can sell the goods they’ve been given to work with. These are men with talent, but poor material cannot be overcome by even the most brilliant of actors.

Without a doubt the easiest comparison between the two shows is their reliance on pure sensationalism as a means of entertainment. Plenty of death occurs within the flow of the story, but the amount that occurs purely for sensationalism purposes far outweighs the meaningful violence and/or death. Tonight’s prime example is the final scene. A follower rolls into the FBI offices and stabs Nick Donovan in the eye. Why was she sent to do this? Because the writers realized the Roderick Power Hour wasn’t overly compelling? We may never know. All we know for sure is that Ryan Hardy has one less piece of red tape to step over when he’s doing the exact opposite of what he’s been told. How does The Walking Dead fit here, you may ask? Can I interest you in this, this, or this? Exactly, sensational deaths can be used to underscore a point, but these two shows use them to mask deeper issues.

With only two episodes remaining, key questions remain. The most important of which is how many more dumb analogies can I come up with? Stay tuned.