The first season of Fox's The Following started off on a strong foot, and managed to maintain (most of) its narrative momentum throughout its 15-episode freshman season. Still, by the time surreal killer Joe Carroll (James Purefoy) and shattered lawman Ryan Hardy (Kevin Bacon) were trading final blows in a burning boathouse, the convolutions needed to sustain fifteen hour-long episodes of TV had left some wondering if this show had a short shelf-life.
Early teases of The Following season 2 storyline demonstrated that show creator Kevin Williamson and Co. indeed have a larger plan in place for Ryan Hardy's journey through darkness (a plan that already extends through season 3), and with today's new official preview, we get to see some of what that larger plan entails.
It almost feels like a spoiler to know upfront that Ryan will be living a dual life: well-adjusted and disciplined educator by day, relentless bloodhound vigilante by night. It is NOT a spoiler to surmise that those final harrowing moments of the season 1 finale don't end well for Hardy; with a jump in time occurring between seasons, one can only hope that we at least get to see how that twist season 1 ending plays out in the season 2 premiere, before we move on to the next chapter. Don't make that same 'trip to Tahiti' mistake that other shows are making...
Throughout season 1 Williamson showed a (pretty) good mind for what red herrings to dangle, when, and for how long - as well as how to twist expectations into shocks. No doubt that the Claire thread will get tied off (one way or another) sooner before later.
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That just leaves Purefoy. He has appeared in the promo material for season 2 (though not too much and very ambiguously) - but it would be nice if the first part of the sophomore season focused on "the Carroll legacy" - i.e., the monster's impact on Ryan and the waves of new (hopefully more interesting) followers he has inspired. Like a good boxing match, the main event could be saved for a prime spot later in the season, when Joe Carroll makes his triumphant return.
...Although, having Ryan find nothing of the man but ultimately end up becoming the monster himself? Now that would be some sweet (and original) television.
The Following season 2 premieres on Sunday, January 19 on FOX.