I liked The Killing a lot. I like Twin Peaks a lot. I love the idea of crime shows that have a single, progressing case. So when I first heard that Kevin Bacon was going to star in what would appear to be just that, i was interested. You might even say that I was excited. Unfortunately, the show I watched last night was...not what I was hoping for. That's not to say that it was bad, rather I think it was generally well done, but I was expecting a hook. I was expecting something that would grab me. I kept waiting for the moment when it was gonna stop being the first act of a B-level thriller and start being a show I'd actually want to come back to. But that moment never came. Rather, over the course of it's 40-something minute pilot, The Following managed to complete an entire story arc which felt like it should have been fleshed out more and put on the big screen by someone like David Fincher. Instead, what we got was a whole lot of promise and a whole lot of intended suspense revolving around characters we barely knew and couldn't really care about.
The idea of the show has merit: an old, worn-thin FBI agent (Kevin Bacon) get's called back in to hunt down the escaped serial killer he caught years ago. Where the writers went wrong was in assuming we would feel the intended sense of awe and fear towards the killer, Joe Carroll, that the agent does simply because they tell us to. Kevin Bacon plays the character of Ryan Hardy well, doing a great job of acting sleepy and disturbed, and he does all he can to convince you of how dangerous Carroll is, but not once are we given a real reason to feel the suspense we're meant to. It doesn't help that Carroll's insanity stems from his obsession with Edgar Allen Poe, a motivation which is less than original at this point. There are plenty of references to The Raven and The Tell Tale Heart which come off more as flimsy attempts at shock and suspense than as ways to add weight to Carroll's character.
The other characters introduced are standard fare: there's the wife of the serial killer who seems to have some manner of romantic past with Hardy, the cold, emotionless female agent with an allergy for kids, and that guy who played Iceman in the X-men movies does pretty well as the rookie investigator looking to impress Kevin Bacon.
I could have overlooked all these rough spots, however, if the ending of the episode made me feel like I had a reason to come back next week, but it didn't. At the end, Carroll gets caught, thereby eliminating any purpose to the build-up he'd received up until that point. Rather than Carroll, it seems the show will focus on all the people now in the internet "cult" he started from prison. No, seriously. The man started a cult by bypassing internet blocks on the computer he was supposedly using in prison every week to...read? Or something like that? I don't remember, it was all kinda vague...but how in the world could he do that, you ask? It's never really explained! Maybe it's because Carroll has the magical ability to look a lot like Hugh Jackman. Maybe it's his envy-inducing skill at making bad book metaphors. Maybe it's because the writers thought that having an all-powerful serial killer villain would be cool, regardless of whether or not he makes sense! Maybe I like this show a lot less than I thought I did when I started writing this! Regardless, it would seem that the rest of the season will consist of possibly episodic plots revolving around the members of Carroll's cult, rather than on a progressive story about chasing Carroll himself. Or maybe it'll be great! I'll probably keep watching anyway just to see, so I guess I'm the real sucker...and now I've officially become a blogger...I need a life...