Review: The Following – Episode 1

Kevin Williamson has done it again. And he has done it by using the same conventions as he did so many times before with his genre re-defining film work.

The conventions? – clichés, those half-predictable yet somehow engaging narrative twists and the treading of a thin line which fits snuggly between pastiche and parody.

Much like The Faculty and the Scream series equally mocked and celebrated the teen-slasher genre, The Following is well aware of the pitfalls and tribulations of the serial-killer genre and it uses them to its advantage.


James Purefoy is the ‘always one step ahead’ serial killer who uses the work and ill-mentality of Edgar Allen Poe as his inspiration/excuse.  Kevin Bacon (in his first TV leading role – if you don’t count the ‘Bacon adverts‘) is the former FBI detective who originally put him behind bars, and is brought back from a semi-disgraced, alcohol-fuelled wilderness to track him down once more.

The formula is one which has been recycled time after time, but somehow creator Williamson injects it with enough intrigue – namely, shocking, sudden violence and the odd not-so-predictable twist – to keep us happy until the second episode at least.

This first episode – with more flashbacks than a series of Lost on LSD – hurried along in a bid to squeeze in as much backstory and character development as possible. Although this did ensure our interest piques enough by the end to return next week,  when you find yourself trying to play catch-up with some rapid, spurted-out dialogue, it feels like the brakes could have been pressed on slightly.

The erratic pace aside, The Following offers the promise of at least a series worth of thoroughly engaging, edge of your seat games of cat and mouse.

So the scene has been set. Some characters have already met a gory end, others have taken sides. Next week and beyond we will see how long Purefoy’s incarcerated puppeteer can inflict pain and suffering before Bacon cuts his influential strings of madness once and for all.



About thenumbereightytwo

I am an avid film enthusiast with a passion for creative writing. My favourite things in life are writing about; film, popular culture and current affairs; watching films and looking at penguins. One day I hope to be getting paid more than I deserve for doing all of these professionally (not the penguin part - that will still be a hobby). View all posts by thenumbereightytwo

6 responses to “Review: The Following – Episode 1

  • Tony Woolacott

    BANG!! Winner Winner Chicken Dinner! Episode two has landed and I can safely say The Following is in it for the long hall. The previous criticism of rapid pace has been addressed and yet my mind is working twice as face trying to outguess Williamson’s next twist.
    Williamson masterfully attacks some of the possible criticisms of the predictable cliché plot by addressing it through Purefoy’s character right on screen for all to behold, a sort of Eminem eight mile rap battle self-slaughter laid bare style of attack that will leave most haters of The Following squirming in their seats looking to find the smallest fragment of self-respect in order to rebuild their obviously failing career in entertainment review. As is easy to see I am now a fully-fledged member of ‘the cult following’ of The Following which I have no doubt stands to make Lost look like nothing more than a tiny spec of an island on the horizon of television drama.
    Mr Baker, can you find out for me what creative genius is in charge of the music for this show, as again they have made a marital heaven of song and scene with the use of Deftones Change (In the House of Flies) in the scene with Emma’s mum. The soundtrack takes me back to the last few years of school/college, oddly enough, not too dissimilar a time from that of the height of the Scream franchise’s peak, pre scream 4 of course. I’m thinking there may be a deliberate attempt here to embrace a specific audience generation, as opposed to hedging its bets trying to appease everyone’s tastes. After all a jack of all trades is a master of none.
    The final few scenes again leave us craving the next sweet fix of twists and turns and creates another bounty of questions and intrigue that commit us to stay faithful and watch on. Mr Bacon and co, please, keep it up!

    • thenumbereightytwo

      I also caught episode two last night and I can safely say I will also be in for the long haul. So far I don’t think there is anything particularly groundbreaking about the series, but with Purefoy’s acting and the talented team behind the lens providing an engaging story, along with added dimesnions such as the soundtrack – it has certainly got off on a good foot. At the moment I can’t see it becoming one of the more memorable series years down the road, but I’m definitely up for the ride while it lasts.

  • Tony Woolacott

    Just watch episode 1 and you can strap me down and link me up to the intravenous drip now because I’m hooked! Not only has Williamson raided the inner workings of my brain, as you well know Mr Baker, he has manage to do it a way in which I would feel dirty to begrudge. I agree that the pace is somewhat styled on Usain Bolt for this first episode but the ends certainly do justify the means in this one.
    If I’m to be honestly critical there were a few ‘jargon’ moments that stuttered my interest as they can come across a bit like fools gold, flash at first but ultimately useless and disappointing, I prefer my police detectives a bit more of the Idris Elba sort; rough, ready and too pissed off to do anything but talk straight, no offence Mr Bacon you too are a legend in your own right.
    However, by the final scene I have to admit that salivation had kicked in and I have only delayed the viewing of Episode two of The Following to write this and then it will be straight on. I also feel the opening and closing choice of song rub salt into my already deepened wounds as I love Marilyn Manson’s version of Sweet Dreams and the context of the song and Marilyn’s unique delivery of it absolutely optimises the inner workings of James Purefoy’s character, it also amplifies the final speech into one of ascending emotion that leaves you fired up and shamelessly gagging for the next episode. So here I go, I hope it doesn’t disappoint!

  • 5 Reasons Why The Following Could Be A Great Series « thenumber-eightytwo

    […] first episode of The Following was met with much anticipation and speculation. Before it aired, I think most of us were hopeful it […]

  • thenumbereightytwo

    Thanks for your kind words Tony. A glowing recomendation and I hope you will continue to read, enjoy and share my reviews in the future.

  • Tony Woolacott

    Yet another comprehensively perfect review from the best the British media field have to offer. Mr Baker again enlightens and tantalises us with a thorough and honestly open review. He manages to turn the usually negative accusation of cliché into a badge of honour for Williamson to wear proudly. So whether you are a fanatic of the Scream series or if the Faculty hits your guilty pleasure button this review will engage you and guide you to what could quite possible be the next big thing in TV!

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