This article contains spoilers for the last episode of season one of The Following.
On Tuesday night The Following season one came to a dramatic end amidst fire, explosions and a lot of blood. The question now is: where will the show go now, moving forward into its second season?
The Following charts the story of serial killer Joe Carroll (James Purefoy) as he escapes from jail, with the intention to kill the girl who would have been his last victim when he was caught in 2004. His return to jail sets in motion a series of events which have been years in the making, orchestrated by a cult that Carroll has cultivated in his years in jail. The FBI call in retired agent Ryan Hardy (Kevin Bacon) who, as the original arresting officer, knows all there is to know about Carroll and his crimes. The show works as a mixture of present day action and flashbacks to both the hunt for Carroll initially and the intervening years for both Ryan and many of Joe’s cult of Followers.
Throughout the first season of the show I have enjoyed every twist and turn, which along with some very special acting for Purefoy and Bacon, created a show that had me on the edge of my seat every week, wondering what could possibly happen next. James Purefoy is the charismatic serial killer, simultaneously perfectly cordial and polite, and sinister to the bone. Likewise Kevin Bacon depicts the stoic and world weary Ryan Hardy in a very believable manner. Add in a supporting cast including Shawn Ashmore and FBI Agent Mike Weston, Valerie Curry and Nico Torterella as the surprisingly sympathetic serial killing cult members and you have a very special mixture.
The last episode left me with a lot of questions and on a massive cliffhanger – Ryan and Claire are left stabbed by one of Joe’s cult, and Joe is presumed dead in a fire, although none of them have died on screen. Questions are raised as to where the show will go from here, already having been picked up for a second season. It seems a pretty safe bet that Ryan Hardy will be alive for the next season, as the main hero, so the big question for me: Is Joe Carroll really dead?
If Joe is alive then clearly the focus will be on catching him. The real question then is what will be his motivation in the second series. One of the things I really enjoyed in the first series was the references to Edgar Allen Poe in Joe’s killings, and I’d like to see that continued. However, with Claire dead or with all ties severed between the two of them, will it be a case of Joe out for revenge against Ryan?
And if Joe is dead? Part of the strength of the show is that anyone could be a cult follower. The first season has been electrified by the revelation of unexpected cult members, and the audience has no idea how big this cult would be, as we have only ever had glimpses of large gatherings of people. This is something that the showrunners could be planning to build on – if Joe is dead then his followers could be out for revenge. Hunting down those followers who still remain at large, such as Emma, one of the most influential, could form a large part of the next season.
One thing is certain for me. When The Following returns, I will be glued to it once more, hoping that they can replicate the winning formula from the first season.