TV Recap: 'The Following' Episode 101 - 'Pilot'



the followingThe Following Episode 101
Written By: Kevin Williamson
Directed By: Marcos Siega
Original Airdate: 21 January 2013

In This Episode...

We open on a prison escape. A prisoner, Joe Carroll, escapes by posing as a guard and leaving a trail of bodies in his wake. Carroll was a professor of literature who, ten years ago, turned to murder. He killed 14 women in 18 months or so. All had their eyes removed, or were otherwise killed in a manner reminiscent of victims in Edgar Allen Poe tales.

The FBI’s first call goes to Ryan Hardy, a former FBI agent who literally wrote the book on Joe Carroll. He pursued Carroll for 18 months before finally catching him, single-handedly. Ryan found Carroll in a sorority house, having just killed his 14th victim and halfway done with #15, Sarah. Carroll stabbed Ryan in the heart, then returned to Sarah. But Ryan wasn’t dead, and he shot Carroll. Sarah survived to testify against Carroll, and Ryan now has a pacemaker. The pacemaker was one of the reasons he is no longer an agent; his alcoholism is another. 

The FBI’s second call goes to Sarah. Agents and marshals descend on her home to keep an eye out for Carroll. Her neighbors Will and Billy keep her company and try to calm her down. Their third call goes to Claire, Carroll’s ex-wife. She will only speak to Ryan. But Ryan is a little busy.

Ryan checks in at the FBI command center, where Carroll “groupies” have gathered. Carroll had Ryan’s book in his cell, with a note suggesting that there was going to be a sequel. He finds out that, since Carroll had decided to act as his own attorney, he was given access to the law library - which included “limited” internet access. As if on cue, one of the groupies gets a text message. She moves into the center of the room, removes her dress, revealing text scrawled all over her body. “Lord help my poor soul,” the woman says before stabbing herself in the eye. Those were allegedly Poe’s final words. The woman had visited Carroll in prison, and Ryan believes Carroll used his internet access to get help on the outside. That help is one Jordy Raines, a prison guard. He helped Carroll escape. A raid of Jordy’s home reveals an obsession with Carroll, and Jordy practiced his killing style on kidnapped dogs.

The FBI finally gives in and agrees to let Claire speak to Ryan. It is clear that they had a relationship at one point, and about a week ago, Claire received a letter from Joe, saying he knew about her and Ryan. Ryan tells her to hold on to the note - that won’t help them find him. Ryan finally realizes that Joe escaped to finish his work. Sarah.

Sarah is gone. The cop that was supposed to be guarding her is found dead in her bed. Ryan discovers a false wall linking Sarah’s closet to Billy and Will’s closet. Despite the fact that they had been living next door to Sarah for over three years, they must be Carroll groupies too, for the have kidnapped Sarah. In their house, Ryan finds a photo of the guys in front of a B&B called The Lighthouse. Poe’s last, unfinished book was called The Lighthouse. Carroll wrote a universally-panned novel that was his attempt to finish what Poe started. Without a word to anyone else, Ryan heads to The Lighthouse.

Arriving at the long-abandoned B&B, Ryan realizes he no longer has a gun; he enters anyway, promising Joe that he is alone. Sarah’s screams cause Ryan to race into the B&B, which causes his weak heart to pound like the tell-tale heart. He finds Joe, alone, upstairs. Carroll knocks him to the ground, then toys with Ryan: How is your heart? Do you know how many muscles connect the human eye? He reveals that Sarah’s screams were coming from a recording. He tugs a rope, and Sarah, long since dead, tumbles from the rafters. Joe surrenders, but that doesn’t stop Ryan from choking him. The FBI agents who swarm the place have to separate the two.

Back in custody, Carroll will only speak to Ryan (there is a lot of that going around.) Carroll needed to finish his “work” and kill Sarah. Yet he believes the story isn’t over; that he and Ryan will write a sequel. Ryan confronts him about his groupies, his cult; Carroll prefers to think of them as his friends. He then brings Claire into the discussion, because “every story needs a love interest.” He wants to see her, claims she is very important, the only woman he ever loved. Ryan grows more and more agitated until he breaks Carroll’s fingers. Guards have to separate them.

At Claire’s home, a new level of horror has hit. Claire has a son, Joey, eight years old... yes, it’s Joe’s son (I have to assume he was already born before she found out about her husband’s extracurricular activities - otherwise why would she name her son after a psychopath?) Joey is gone. His nanny, Denise, kidnapped the boy and has driven him to meet Will and Billy. The four drive off together.

Dig It or Bury It?

This was an incredibly dense, fast-paced pilot. It jammed an entire season’s worth of plot into one episode - and did so without feeling forced or otherwise awkward. I am really enjoying the show.

Blood Trails

There was plenty of the red stuff in the premiere episode. The most horrifying one, to me, was the scene with the dismembered - and apparently still alive - dog. 


Lots more murders. Lots.