I finally got around to watching the pilot for The Following, and because I'm a Kevin Bacon fan I'm going to give this show two more episodes to hook me. Few pilots are anything more than character introduction; they are filled with familiar stories and plot, which either develop into something original or stay the same and fail. If The Following stays its current course, I will cease watching.
The Edgar Allen Poe connection didn't grab me. I understand the serial killer, Joe Carroll, has an obsession with Poe, specifically, Poe's idea of beauty through death, and he wants to create a living book, but writing, "Nevermore," on the wall of a crime scene isn't macabre or mysterious. It wasn't shocking. It was trite and not what I would expect from a genius. "The Raven" is something I read in the ninth grade and not one of Poe's deepest works, definitely not a reference I would expect a college professor to obsess over.
From the onset of the episode, I was reminded of Thomas Harris' Red Dragon and the similarities persisted throughout, especially pertaining to Bacon's character, Ryan Hardy, and FBI profiler Will Graham. Here's a few things they have in common: stabbed by a brilliant serial killer that helps them with the case and whose capture makes them famous/revered by other agents, retired from the FBI after the case, and haunted by the case. I think they both might be alcoholics as well. Basically, all Ryan Hardy needs to be Will Graham is a family and an eidetic memory--the estranged lover, Carroll's ex-wife, and what is obviously Hardy's son, might constitute a family.
The surrounding force of inept FBI agents did not interest me in the slightest, and I'm hoping the supporting characters get fleshed out. Previews for next week showed a Cult Specialist that appeared to be on the same level of brilliance as Hardy, maybe even combative. Other than Sherlock Holmes (I still hate Elementary), I don't buy that a single profiler is so above and beyond other agents--the local police I could understand but the rest of the FBI as well? Mike Weston, played by Shawn Ashmore, was obsessed with Hardy's profile and capture of Joe Carroll, had read Hardy's book, yet needed to be corrected on the facts and profile as if he had never heard of the case.
As a horror fan, the blood and gore, including a tortured dog, did not shock me; it actually made sense that a wannabe serial killer would practice on animals, but I have a problem when dead bodies are dragged through a house with an army of cops surrounding it and no one hears. As a horror fan, I also saw the nanny's betrayal coming and saw through the neighbors' disguise as soon as they were introduced.
Then this genius serial killer, who somehow brainwashed other people with visits while he was in jail, allowed himself to be captured rather than staying out in the world and recruiting more followers. Using big words didn't convince me Carroll was smart either. Actions speak louder, and none of what he did was the level of sophistication of Hannibal Lecter or the Zodiac Killer. He escaped prison to finish his work and demonstrate his intelligence from behind bars as a master of puppets? Why? Isn't he scheduled for execution?
While more killers are sure to arise, it should be pretty easy for Hardy to reference Carroll's visitor log and website to find the rest. The FBI knows how he started his cult, so it's also not likely that Carroll will gain access to the Internet or have visitation rights. This is a major plot hole--how will he recruit more killers? Are the writers going to have him escape captivity again, knowing they've already played the inside man card three times in the first episode? Why are all the killers together? Why aren't they in separate states, killing at random, and keeping the FBI looking every which way?
In two more episodes, can the writers give me something new and leave behind the cliches prevalent in the pilot?