‘The Following’ Season 1 Finale Review – A Satisfying Final Chapter

Published 2 years ago by , Updated May 1st, 2013 at 6:26 am,

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For a show like The Following, where a streamlined story replaces television’s all-too-familiar episodic narrative, it’s all about the journey and the end result. No matter how thrilling the ride or how high the body count, the success of the series rests on creator Kevin Williamson (Scream, The Vampire Diaries) providing a satisfying conclusion to this chapter of Carroll’s twisted tale. Thankfully, Williamson does just that, and then some.

Much like the series premiere, The Following season 1 finale thrusts audiences into a non-stop, action-packed, suspenseful thrill-ride where Ryan Hardy (Kevin Bacon), through his unwavering determination, leads viewers into the heart of darkness  - only now it’s to provided answers, or in this case, a potential conclusion. And though it is often the promise of impending answers which fuels excitement for any type of finale, The Following is merely turning another page to the last chapter, as was the plan from the start.

The Following has, through its impeccably planned series progression, helped fuel and rejuvenate the much-ignored idea of an enclosed tale on broadcast television. Still, what makes this series work better than others is its perceptible intent at actually telling a story with purpose, not simply because having a TV show sounds fun.

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Carroll, now injured from Claire’s attack, is forced to play out his final act as physically exhausted as Hardy is through his selfless dedication; both out for vengeance, yet up against an opponent more powerful than either initially planned. But The Following has always been about carefully planned attacks on the psyche more so than brute force – so even when Carroll and Hardy come face-to-face, the suspense not only remains, it builds exponentially, as this is where the series shines.

The Following thrives on moments where dialogue and intent are used to progress the core plot, and James Purefoy and Kevin Bacon, whether together or separate, are masters at it. Whatever happens onscreen, The Following is a show where its most poignant moments can be enjoyed simply by listening to the dialogue – well, most of it. Even after a rewarding and thoroughly surprisingly conclusion to this chapter of the story, the FBI aspect of the series still fails to come close to the powerful prose that its two leads receive - with the exception of Annie Parisse and her amazingly impactful final scenes as Special Agent Debra Parker, of course. Though this element of (sometimes) weak dialogue doesn’t stand out in the finale as much as it has in earlier episodes, it does raise some questions about the show’s potential, next season.

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In many ways, no one could have expected to witness the death of the show’s villain, Carroll, or the surprise stabbing of Hardy and his love, Claire, in the show’s final moments. The Following has always presented itself as a streamlined story with a purpose – but now, without Purefoy, the show must evolve in season 2.

The ending of The Following season 1 finale feels like a mixture of “Plan A” and “Plan B,” depending on whether or not it was renewed for next season. And, for all intents and purposes, it delivered an exciting conclusion to what could have been seen as a successful mini-series. But now, with cliffhangers and a dead nemesis, the show’s producers, as well as its audience, are venturing into unknown territory about what The Following can be in season 2, versus what it was in season 1.

While it’s true that Carroll can (and probably will) “live on” through his followers, Williamson and his team have more than enough time to craft another complete tale for viewers to enjoy. And if the quality of season 2 is anything like it was in season 1, you won’t have to think twice about whether or not you’ll be tuning in.

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The Following season 2 premieres in 2014 on Fox.

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  1. My guess is…

    Joe isn’t dead, but he won’t appear in this season. Molly will become the new antagonist for now and will team-up with Emma to kill Ryan, even though Emma will be betrayed in the end after Joe promised Molly she would be the one to kill Ryan.

    Then in Season 3, Joe might come back disfigured and bent on revenge. Who knows?

  2. I thought I had it figured out. The perfect ending was going to be Claire, stabbing Ryan in the back. She would have been part of it the entire time. Can you imagine that?

    That would have been perfect.

  3. Eh, too predictable. We called in right in the beginning of the episode that Joe would “die” and then Molly would come out of nowhere to stab Ryan and Claire. Season 2, Claire dies, Ryan is depressed and out for revenge on Molly with Molly pulling the same “oh so believeable” escape plans with Emma becoming that Roddrick role.

  4. I am very surprised at how much I enjoyed this show. While there defintely are many better shows out there, this show definitely does stand on its own.

    My policy with deaths in a show, unless you see a person’s head ripped off his body or see the person’s dead body burried, they may not be dead. Joe Carrol could have had a bodu stashed away in that cabin and had a dentist work on dead man’s teeth so that it would look like Carrol. While I don’t think that Carrol’s plan was to get burned, I do think that he was planning on throwing off the police and having them believe that he dies in a fire.

    I too think that he likely will not turn up again next season, but they will probably throw him in at the very end of the second season to lure the viewers back for season 3; granted he’ll probably be a bit burnt tho.

    Next season will probably have another major antogonist, other than Emma, someone who Carrol confided in above anyone else and someone who Carrol kept secret. Next season will likely be the start of a new “story”

  5. This review seems to say undoubtedly that Carroll is dead but I dont think for a minute he was actually killed in that boathouse. With all the resources this guy has I believe its totally possible he can fake his death because how else could he get some breathing room from the FBI. I believe theyll be a slight time jump in season 2 with a flashback to the stabbing of Ryan and Claire. Now there is a mystery guy whos committing crimes with the followers again and it will turn out to be Joe in the middle hof season 2. I dont think theyd just kill off the main antagonist like that because I think it would be a weaker show with out Joe and just relying on the followers to carry the villian role

  6. I know I’m a little late to the party (just finished the season on Netflix), but I definitely agree with the other commenters. Joe is NOT dead – not a chance in hell. Think about when he was watching Ryan and Molly have sex like a bona fide creeper… He kept rewinding the video to Ryan saying “He can’t kill me. I’m already dead.” And Joe was inspired by that. I knew at that moment that he’d come up with some plan to fake his death. Everything was planned, from then on out, to end in that boathouse. Joe may have even put those giant gas tanks in there himself. And we never did find out who that injured man in the lighthouse was. We were left to assume he was maybe the lighthouse keeper, I guess, but who’s to say he wasn’t a man that Joe found who happens to have a very similar dental structure? And that he was the body pieces that were found after the explosion? No, a successful show isn’t gonna let their star antagonist die in the first season. He’s 50% of the acting talent on that cast. I’m only interested in how exactly he “Sherlocked” his epic death scene… And I’m sure we’ll find out at some point in season 2.