'The Following': More Blood, Threats, and Tears

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·Critic-at-Large, Yahoo Entertainment
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  • Kevin Bacon
    Kevin Bacon
    American actor

The Following is back for a third season, starting this week. How will you know? Because your TV will suddenly start saying things like, “Come on, let’s go kill some people” and “He’ll kill us all.” Poor Kevin Bacon: doomed to another season of blood, threats, and tears. 

Bacon’s FBI guy Ryan Hardy starts off the season happily enough — he smiles; he’s been dating a nice woman for the past six months; even brings her to a wedding. He claims, “I’ve moved on” from the bad vibes of incarcerated cult-leader Joe Carroll (James Purefoy). But, darn it all, some loony shows up and throws blood on Ryan and the wedding party. After that, someone writes — in blood, of course — “RYAN HARDY LIES.” Next thing you know, Ryan is getting all grim-faced again and telling that girlfriend that this new case is “gonna take up all of my life for a while.”

This show, created by Kevin Williamson, has never prized wit or mirth, and despite pre-season interviews in which new show-runners Alexi Hawley and Brett Mahoney promised less bloodshed and deeper characterization, The Following’s Monday premiere overflows with familiar content: A married couple stabbed to death; another woman on her knees, begging for her life before being mercilessly shot. 

Related: 'The Following' EP Previews Season 3: 'We Went Too Far Last Year'

Some of the killing faces are new to this show, such as Weeds’s Hunter Parrish and Tyrant’s Ruth Kearney. They play a new couple of followers, along with the return of Joe Carroll-cultist Mark Gray (Sam Underwood), who’s taken to chatting a lot with his dead twin brother.

“The killing is only the beginning,” says Ryan at one point, and the show is revving up some new thrill-kill conspiracy that feels an awful lot like the ones in the past two seasons. Honestly, I don’t know how a good actor like Bacon musters the strength to soldier through another one of these things.

For all the talk and hope of The Following taking a new path, some things never change. We don’t even get away from those awful homages to Edgar Allen Poe that used to stud the show’s Joe Carroll scripts — the new season contains murderous rhymes with terrible scansion such as, “While you lie/More die.” Written in blood, of course.

The Following premieres Monday, March 2 at 9 p.m. on Fox.