The Following “New Blood” Review Season 3 Episode 1

The Following New Blood Season 3 Episode 1 02

On the season premiere of “The Following,” hardcore Kevin Bacon fans finally got to see what they’ve wanted to see since the show began, in “New Blood.” Nope, not Ryan Hardy finally laying Joe Carroll to waste- but Bacon getting “Footloose” on the dance floor! Everybody cut, everybody cut! I kid, I kid. There was blood and creepy messages and creepy messages in blood and stuff, too, so settle down, fans, all manners of cutting were present and accounted for, making for more of a “Friday the 13th”-era Bacon than anything else.

We began a year after the events of the last season, with the lone surviving twin Mark (Sam Underwood) still unaccounted for, despite the best efforts of a vengeful Mike (Shawn Ashmore), who bailed on his budding relationship with Ryan’s niece Max (Jessica Stroup) to chase after him. Now returned, Mike shows up at the wedding of Agent Gina Mendez (Valerie Cruz), just in time to see a man who claims to be the father of a slain cult member gunned down in the FBI raid last year toss blood on Ryan and the brides.

A closer look reveals the man to be Andrew (Michael Irby, “True Detective”), but he’s not who he claims to be, as Ryan discovers after going to visit said victim’s family, only to be greeted by a man who is not the father of the girl Andrew claimed to be. Looks like Ryan shouldn’t have let that erstwhile Andrew go after all.

Meanwhile, a randy married couple celebrating their anniversary decides to spice things up by securing the services of a high-end call girl. Alas, they pick the wrong hooker, as this one proves to be a deadly assassin who ties the wife up, promptly stabs the husband and then the wife as well, all before her man arrives, none too happy to have been left out of the proceedings, but not enough to not get it on with his lady despite numerous dead bodies in the room, including a maid the girl swiped a card key from.

The FBI team eventually realizes after the second crime scene is discovered in an address attributed to Andrew, that the killers are staging scenes to look like the same crime scenes perpetuated by the FBI in their takedown of Lily James and her kids and various followers, which, of course, means that Mark is the mastermind behind it all. However, Mark is a bit nutty at the moment, to the point of talking to, at turns, a mannequin with a mirror on it and rear-view mirrors and pretty much any mirror available as if it were his late brother Luke he was talking to, instead of himself. Not sure why any of these people would follow this guy, but why would anyone follow Joe Carroll, either, so okay.

We do discover that Andrew is the one who came to Mark’s rescue after his brother was killed, so I suppose there’s some connection between him and Lily. Might he be their actual father? That would explain it, at least in Andrew’s case. Not sure what the couple’s excuse is, beyond their clear enjoyment of killing people, but they already seem more than a little bit dubious of their so-called “leader.” Whatever the case, Mark has some sort of plan that’s only just begun, so we’ll see how that goes.

As for Joe, no sign of him this week, and Ryan claims to not only have not visited him once, but to have moved on entirely, to the point of even dating a new lady, Gwen (Zuleikha Robinson, “Homeland”). Granted, he does try to push her away once Mark’s shenanigans begin in earnest, but ultimately opts to stick with her in the end, which for Ryan is definitely progress. Likewise, Max has a new man as well and obviously so does Agent Cruz- or a new woman, rather. So, progress all around, save in Mike’s case, who actually looked relieved to finally be closing in on Mark after all this time, so maybe closure isn’t too far off for him, either.

The question is, will Joe make it to execution, or will something go down before then to change things? The FBI claims to have weeded out most- if not all- of his followers, but the show is called “The Following” for a reason, so I suspect that his people have something big planned soon enough, what with Carroll’s death looming. My guess would be that they’ll attempt to free him as he’s being transferred to whatever prison he’s being executed in- though I suppose it would have made more sense to inter him wherever he was being executed so that they didn’t have to transfer him in the first place. But we probably wouldn’t have a show otherwise, and I can’t imagine FOX would have renewed it if we weren’t getting Carroll back as the main bad guy, but we’ll see, I suppose.

In the meantime, Mark is a suitably wacko substitute, albeit off his rocker in a far less interesting way than Carroll, to be sure. Still, we’ve got to bide some time until the main event, so there you go. If I understand it correctly, Michael Ealy is joining the show this season as another psycho Ryan has to contend with, so my prediction is that Mark won’t be around too much longer anyway. Hell, with the way he’s behaving, if he doesn’t get himself killed, I imagine that couple will off him soon enough.

That’s just as well, as I like Ealy a lot (RIP “Almost Human” and “Common Law”) and the couple is more interesting than Mark already, in a kind of a couple-that-slays-together-stays-together sort of way- i.e. Mickey & Mallory Knox (from “Natural Born Killers”) or the real-life “Ken & Barbie” killers. Then again, Andrew didn’t seem too fond of said couple, either, so he might just put an end to them first. We shall see, I guess.

Until then, this was a decent enough premiere. The crime scenes were duly creepy, what with the messages in blood and wirework used to suspend the dead bodies in particular positions, making them look like the world’s freakiest marionettes. Interestingly, the show-runners mentioned how last season was too bloody and scary for some, so they were going to tone it down this season, but I couldn’t tell much difference as of yet. I’m not sure what people watching a show about a cult (or cults, I suppose, would be more accurate) of serial killers were expecting, but whatever.

Hopefully, that doesn’t mean the show will devolve into one of the billions of crime procedurals already cluttering up the television landscape as it is. I mean, what did people expect from the guy who created the “Scream” franchise: a happy-go-lucky romp like “Dawson’s Creek”? (Oh wait, he did that, too.) A soap opera with monsters like “The Vampire Diaries”? (Oh, damn, that was him, as well.) Hell, even “Stalker” is pretty gruesome, and it actually is a crime procedural- and yep, show creator Kevin Williamson did that one, too.

That said, though it certainly had its moments, last season definitely had its ups and downs, as well- notably that wacky color-coded cult that Joe took over with the world’s least likely cult leader ever. I could have done without that subplot, for sure. But I didn’t mind the thing with Lily and her sons; even if I would have rather they died than her, leaving a much more compelling leader to contend with than the out-of-his-gourd Mark. Given that she hated Joe as the season was drawing to a close, it would have made for a much more formidable opponent than Mark is in his current state, that’s for sure.

But it is what it is, and I suspect Mark won’t be around much longer, so it’s probably neither here nor there, anyway. Hopefully, Ealy will make for a much more compelling villain than some of his predecessors. (Also coming back is Joe’s mentor, Dr. Arthur Strauss, a character that never quite got his due last season, so that could be interesting as well.) We’ll see soon enough, I suppose.

What did you think of the premiere of “The Following”? Do you think Mark will make it past a few episodes? How about the killer couple? Or Andrew? Will Mike go off the rails again? Will Ryan? Do you think someone will break Joe out? How will they pull it off? What is Mark’s big plan? Sound off below, and let me know what you think, and I’ll see you next week!