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TV Review: The Following 3.1 “New Blood”
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The Following Season 3 Cast Photo

The Following
Season 3 Episode 1: “New Blood”
Created by Kevin Williamson
Written by Alexi Hawley and Brett Mahoney
Starring Kevin Bacon, James Purefoy, Shawn Ashmore, Sam Underwood, Valerie Cruz, Jessica Stroup, and Michael Irby.
FOX
Air Date: Monday, March 2nd, 2015, 9:00pm

Warning! Spoilers for The Following Seasons 1 and 2 here below, as well we recap for this Season 3 premiere.

Two years ago, FOX debuted a new thriller series that brought the horrors of Edgar Allan Poe to the modern stage. Notorious serial killer Joe Carroll (a calm and chilling James Purefoy) is broken out of prison by his “following,” whom he amassed through his pre-killing teaching career and prison internet use. The Following was and is unending, and every time we thought protagonist Ryan Hardy (Kevin Bacon) had him in his sights, more following members pop up to aide their cult-like leader. Season 1 ended in a lighthouse chase where Joe seemingly dies in an explosion.

The first season established The Following as one of the scariest and creepiest shows on television. Much like a Poe story, the show was constantly riveting, filled with intoxicating dialogue and visually horrifying, utilizing Poe’s gothic themes.

We find out quickly into Season 2 that Joe is, in fact, not dead. A new series of killings are committed by people wearing Joe Carroll masks (in Season 1, they wore Poe masks). We learn that rather than Joe as the culprit, it’s actually Lily Gray (Connie Nielsen) and her identical twin sons, Luke and Mark (both played by the excellent Sam Underwood). Lily wants to coax Joe out and have him join her “family,” but after Joe dismisses her, she seeks revenge on both him and the FBI who are constantly on their case about the whole serial killing thing.

Every episode runs at a feverish pace, and the writers and directors have no problems offing innocent victims, introducing new characters and killing ones just as quickly. With Lily and her crazy sons causing terror on one side, Joe ends up seeking refuge at the Korban camp, a cult living out in the woods. Before long, Joe is in charge with new and old minions ready at moment’s notice to commit more horrible atrocities. After Lily is shot dead by Mike (Shawn Ashmore, in a revenge killing for her slicing his father’s throat) the twins kidnap Claire (Natalie Zea, who was thought dead most of the season) and force the most unlikely of pairings as Ryan and Joe team up to save her. Season two ends with Joe going back to prison (spared by Ryan), Claire moving on, and Mark carrying his dead brother’s body into a mysterious van steered away by an unknown driver.

Season 2… was crazy! The Following lost some of its horror elements dumping the Poe stories for ones of crazy families and cults. The show is successful because it’s so furiously paced and action-packed that you sometimes forget how silly things are plot-wise. Joe and Ryan working together is ludicrous, but also awesome. The show also became more psychological as Joe relishes in pointing out how Ryan has amassed acolytes in the same way he has and they too will kill for him. No show on TV makes me verbalize at the television set as much. It feels like at least once an episode I’m screaming “WHAT!” or “HOLY SHIT!”

We open The Following Season 3 premiere “New Blood” one year later. Joe is unseen on Death Row. Ryan Hardy is dating and has moved on until a distraught father of one of the Korban cult kids surprises him with a very public demonstration at a wedding. As with many characters on The Following, this man is more than he seems, and soon enough vicious murders are perpetrated and tableaus depicting events from Season 2 are found by the FBI. “Ryan Hardy Lies”, “Max Hardy Lies,” and “While you lie, more die” are phrases written in blood at the crime scenes, all of which depict how Gray family members died. We know Mark is still out there. Does he have his own following now?

The tableau-plot has been done before, and the episode certainly reminded me of both David Fincher’s Se7en and Dexter’s season 6 storyline. That said, the acting is so good, especially Sam Underwood, whose Mark is losing control of whatever sanity he had last season. Kevin Bacon plays Hardy as someone desperate to move on from the horrors of Joe Carroll, but who keeps getting dragged back into these violent life-altering killing sprees. The addictions that plague him are now manifesting in his friends and family. Weston is distant, Max is drinking. And Ryan’s in danger of maybe letting someone get too close to him again.

The Following has got you thinking all the time. One thing we know after two seasons is that no one is who they appear to be, and literally anything can happen. That plus a bevy a “HOLY SHIT” moments! The Following Season 3 premieres tonight, March 2nd at 9:00 EST on Fox. Season 1 & Season 2 are available now on DVD and Blu-ray and through Netflix.

The Following 3.1 “New Blood” promo:

A sneak peek:

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