Find us

The Following 1×01 Pilot Recap and Review

Written by Alexander Tucker   // 01/21/2013

The Following 1x01 Pilot Recap and ReviewThe Following 1×01 Pilot Recap and Review


The Following Premiere episode went a bit beyond my expectations and hopefully beyond the expectations of most TV critics. Before I begin, let me say, Wow! Okay, now that I have gotten that out of my system; The Following had more twists and turns than I was ready for, to say the least. I hope you will follow along, I will try to be brief. I know that I tend to go on when I really enjoy an episode.


The Following was like a mini-movie that you know will have a sequel. It begins benignly enough, with the outside of a Virginia Penitentiary. Inside the locker room, one of the guards is retrieving his personal things from his locker as two others arrive. “Goodnight Pete.” one offers, and the guard waves. He goes to his truck and another guard wishes Pete a goodnight. The engine starts and the radio plays “Sweet Dreams” by Patsy Cline. Interspersed with his exit, the two night guards comment how quiet it is, wonder where everyone is, before entering the surveillance room and finding it filled with dead guards.


Ryan Hardy awakens to the sound of his phone ringing, but he doesn’t answer. He grabs a bottled water and turns on the TV where he sees the news reporting the prison break and five guards confirmed dead. When his phone rings again, Hardy answers. He is asked to return to the FBI as a consultant on the case. He’s the man who caught Joe Carroll in the first place.


In Norfolk Virginia, the US Marshalls arrive at Sarah Fuller’s house and tell her that Joe Carroll has escaped. We are treated to a flashback of the trial as Sarah testifies against Carroll. During the trial, she admits that when she couldn’t remove the knife from her body, she pushed it in deeper and to the right, hoping to bleed out so that it would all be over more quickly. Sarah lets the officers check out her home. As the Marshall explains how they will keep Sarah safe, a friend of hers arrives and Sarah tells the officers that he’s okay. Will and Sarah embrace and he tells her that Billy’s on his way; they just heard about Carroll’s escape.


Meanwhile, Ryan Hardy arrives by helicopter and is briefed by a couple of agents; Agent Mason is adamant about his status as a consultant only. Looking at the video they realize that Carroll killed all five guards in under two minutes. Ryan looks over Carroll’s cell and finds the book that he wrote on the case. It galls him that Carroll was allowed a copy. Inside is a note: “Dear Ryan, I enjoyed your book- ever consider writing a sequel?” Mason wants to know what that means. Well, you don’t have to be an FBI agent or a profiler to figure that one out; he plans to kill again and expects Ryan to catch him… AGAIN.


Ryan asks Agent Mason about Claire Matthews, Joe Carroll’s ex-wife, and learns that she is already under protection. It’s a nice segue to Claire’s house as she is being questioned by a police officer. She says she’ll wait for the FBI and asks to talk to Ryan Hardy. We are treated to another flashback: 2002. Claire tells Joe that she’s pregnant. Little Joey comes in with his Nanny and asks why he can’t watch TV; then he asks if it’s about his daddy.


At the FBI Command post, Mike Weston delivers a profile of Joe Carroll; he thinks the catalyst for Carroll’s killings was the book he wrote “The Gothic Sea” which did not receive a warm welcome. Of course it’s a best seller now that he’ s famous. When Hardy scoffs at Weston’s profile, the younger agent gives Ryan the floor. Ryan explains that Carroll believed he was making art with his killings.


Background discussion between Mike Weston and another agent reveal that Hardy didn’t just retire, he is on disability. Carroll stabbed him in the chest and punctured his left ventricular. Hardy has a pace maker, that’s why the bureau had to let him go; he’s no longer fit for active duty.


As the team is briefed on the ‘Joe Carroll Groupies’ who are waiting to make their statements, one of the women receives a text. She shudders, then drops her phone into her bag and rises to take off her clothes. There’s writing all over her body, including her back. She holds an ice pick as everyone screams. “Lord help my poor soul.” she says twice, before shoving the ice pick through her own eye.


Okay, quick reality check: Again, I have worked in high security situations but anyone who has taken an airplane or reported for jury duty knows that there are metal detectors and searches that you have to go through. This is supposed to be the FBI investigating a serial killer who has groupies; I would expect no less than we get going into a local courthouse. The effect is great, but it happens in the wrong place; if these women were about to give statements, they might not even be allowed to keep their cell phones, even if they reported voluntarily.


The print all over her is Edgar Allen Poe’s The Raven; some is in her handwriting, but she didn’t do  all of it. The FBI will analyze the handwriting to see if it belongs to Carroll. Her fingerprints pull up 7 different identities, some with criminal history; two have visited Carroll in the last six months. The text said “Do it now.”


Agent Mason finally gets Sarah Fuller on the phone for Hardy and he promises her that Carroll won’t hurt her again. As she hangs up the phone, Sarah sees a criminologist on TV discussing Joe Carroll. She flashes back to the college classroom where he was giving a lecture on Poe. She was very taken with him and even understood his point that Poe “killed’ women on every one of his poems. They both thought it was his way to release their beauty.


At the prison the FBI assisted by Hardy discover that one of the guards called out the night that Carroll escaped; They suspect him of aiding Carroll and head to his home where they find he has been experimenting on animals; removing their eyes as Carroll did to all of his victims. Carroll was training him to become a serial killer.


At Sarah’s house, her friend turns off the news and asks if she’d like to watch a movie instead. She’s tired and bids Will and Billy goodbye. Up in her room, Sarah looks at her scars in the full length mirror. She flashes back to the night she and her friend Anna were attacked. Anna was just saying she could feel the hangover coming on already, and then she went silent. Sarah called out to her and went to see if she was okay. Anna appeared in the doorway, with Carroll behind her. She remembers screaming as the door to her room opens; the Marshall apologizes and dips his head as Sarah covers herself with her shirt; he explains that there are two officers right outside her door if she need anything.


The Following 1×02 Chapter Two Promo and Synopsis


With the US Marshall’s office involved, I was surprised that Sarah Fuller was not in witness protection, or at least moved from her home. The FBI is uncovering some pretty creepy stuff about Carroll and his internet access; let alone the number of visitors he has had. In general, considering the fact that the prisoner was being kept in a Virginia Penitentiary, I would have been in California, as far away from the killer as possible. Maybe it’s just me.


Hardy arrives at Claire Matthews’ house and meets Joey, who doesn’t remember him, he was too young. When he sees Claire, Ryan flashes back to conversations he had with her about the case years ago. They were discussing the connection to Edgar Allen Poe, and Claire suggested that Ryan talk to her husband, a Poe expert. He wasn’t aware that she was married. In the present, Claire insists on talking to Ryan alone, much to Agent Mason’s chagrin. Claire shows Ryan a letter she received from Joe. He assures Claire that there is no way Joe could have known about their affair. He apologizes for not calling her in the past eight years. Ryan Hardy says he works better in peoples’ pasts. Before Ryan leaves, Claire asks about Sarah Fuller. Although Hardy says she’s under protection, Claire tells him that The Gothic Sea was Joe’s attempt at finishing Poe’s unfinished art. Sarah Fuller is Joe Carroll’s unfinished art.


When Ryan Hardy arrives at Sarah Fuller’s home with Agent Mason and other FBI agents, Detective Warren informs them that she went to bed an hour ago. He introduces officers responsible for keeping her safe, but when they reach her room, two are missing. Hardy finds one of the officers with his throat cut in Sarah’s bed. They can’t find Sarah anywhere. Ryan follows the blood trail to the back of Sarah’s closet, and discovers a false back. Once the back is removed, they are in the attached home next door. Will and Billy, Sarah’s neighbors, are nowhere to be found. The blood trail leads to the garage where the second officer sits in a chair, dead, and facing the back wall. “Nevermore” is painted on the wall in blood.


Ryan learns that Will Wilson was a teacher and Billy Thomas, his partner, was a computer technician. There was no reason to search their home; they’d been friends with Sarah for three years. When the visitors records are examined, it turns out that they have been visiting Carroll in prison. Now they are taking Sarah to him. Hardy loses it and demands the FBI use GPS and satellites to locate Sarah. They aren’t wasting that on this case; his heart is pounding audibly as he tears himself away and has one more flashback.


Now we finally learn the truth. He had been following Joe Carroll the night that Sarah was attacked, but he lost him. He actually ran into Sarah and Anna on the street as they returned home from their night out; they commented about a serial killer on the loose as they ambled away. When Hardy heard Sarah scream, he broke through the door. Carroll pulled the knife from Sarah’s body and plunged it into Ryan’s heart; then he returned to finish Sarah off. Ryan Hardy shot Joe Carroll before he could slit Sarah’s throat.


On a hunch, Ryan Hardy leaves the scene and heads to “The Lighthouse Bed and Breakfast” in Lake Whitehurst, Virginia. He parks and breaks through the sagging doors of the abandoned building, then reaches reflexively for the gun that isn’t there. “I came alone Joe, isn’t that what you wanted?” Ryan shouts into the empty halls. He hears Sarah’s familiar scream and follows it until Joe suddenly catches him from behind. Carroll wields a two by four at him saying he was curoius how Hardy’s heart was holding up. Joe brags about his crimes saying the human eye is connected by seven muscles; he severed each one individually. Ryan asks where Sarah is and Joe plays the recorded voice. He loves souvenirs. He lets Sarah’s body drop from the ceiling. When Joe tells Ryan that she hung on longer than he expected, Hardy attacks and has him against the wall by the throat.


“I’d like to turn myself in; I surrender.” Carroll says over and over; but Hardy’s not an FBI agent anymore. Unfortunately, Agent Mason shows up with her team and saves Carroll who sheepishly places both hands on his head and backs up against the wall.


Revelations in the end of The Following:

  • Ryan Hardy tells Agent Mason that he worked the case for eighteen months and couldn’t crack it; he made a ot of mistakes, but he saved Sarah. She was Carroll’s unfinished work. The Lighthouse was Poe’s unfinished work; that’s how he found Carroll.
  • At the prison, Mason tells Hardy that Carroll will only talk to him. Joe Carroll tells Hardy that they will write the sequel together. “Sweet Dreams” by the Eurythmics plays as Joe tells the tale.
  • He wants to see his son; Hardy says Claire won’t allow that. As she says goodnight to the officer who is guarding her ( there is a second killer out there now) she checks on her son and finds him missing. The Nanny has taken Joey and delivers him to Will and Billy.
  • Joe Carroll says that Ryan is his new “flawed hero” and that Sarah’s death was necessary for the sequel; it made Ryan into the hero they need to appeal to a wider audience.
  • The FBI reports that there are 300 serial killers on the loose on any given day. As Joe tells Ryan this fun fact, his protege, dressed as a police officer, offers to check the doors and windows for a woman in Virginia; she lets him into the house telling him she thinks everyone is already asleep.
  • Ryan lets Joe Carroll know that if the sequel ends in anything other than Carroll’s death, there’s gonna be a rewrite. He also breaks Joe’s fingers as the killer calls for the guards to protect him.


So, back to my review; While I found flaws in the way the FBI and the US Marshall’s handle the case of Joe Carroll’s escape; the acting, the twists and turns, the writing for the most part, was great. It kept my heart racing so that at the point when Ryan Hardy’s heart was beating audibly, I felt as though mine was beating in time with his. I would definitely recommend this show. The premiere was about introducing the players; the next 14 weeks will be a roller coaster ride for viewers of The Following on FOX.


There will be a replay of tonight’s episode, The Following 1×01, on FOX this Friday, January 25th, 2013 at 9:/8: Central. The Following 1×02, Chapter Two, will air on January 28th, 2013.


Follow Faye Constantino on her blog or e-mail her at



Similar posts