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The Following - Review Of The Season So Far

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It's been an excellent first season for FOX's The Following. I've thoroughly enjoyed all 14 episodes to date, with the season finale due to air on Monday night.

The Following is a fast paced, well written, well acted serial crime drama. It's a definite break away from a normal procedural based crime show like Criminal Minds for example - which, though pretty gory and intense at times, is fairly predictable and follows a standard procedural format.

The Following isn't for the faint hearted, or for those who don't fancy the sight of blood or intense violence. I haven't been keeping tabs on the body count, but the slaughter at the town hall in last week's episode would have pushed it beyond 30 for the season at a guess. Casualties come from everywhere - from ordinary innocent civilians, to the Followers, to law enforcement. Don't forget the flashbacks as well, with several rather nasty slayings from various points in time.

The cast for The Following is ideal for its style and format. Kevin Bacon (Ryan Hardy) has been solid and consistent throughout the season. Natalie Zea (Claire Matthews) would be the third best female lead actress of all the shows I watch (if you're interested, Kerry Washington in ABC's Scandal is #1, Stana Katic from ABC's Castle is #2). Like Kevin Bacon, she has done a terrific job all season, in a role which is a pretty challenging and demanding one to pull off convincingly. I don't want her character to die in the season finale for this very reason. James Purefoy (Joe Carroll) was an actor that I initially doubted as the right man for the job, but that opinion quickly changed as Carroll got more screen time through the middle of the season. Most shows nowdays have a computer nerd in the cast somewhere, and for The Following, that comes in the form of Shawn Ashmore (Mike Weston). Ashmore's character has had a pretty tough time throughout the season. Annie Parisse (Debra Parker) - fresh off a recurring role on CBS's Person of Interest - has been good to watch. Whether her character survives to see another season will be known on Monday night. Finally, plenty of credit must go to Kyle Catlett, who is doing a stunning job playing Joey Matthews. One has to hope he doesn't have nightmares about what goes on in the show!

There's been plenty of other temporary cast members through the season, most of whom have been and gone in one way or another. There's Roderick (dead), Jacob Wells (now dead), Paul (also dead), and Emma (soon to be dead). The writers have done a great job to make sure those recurring characters are somewhat likeable, but not enough so that you miss them when they are six feet under. However one thing that helps attach viewers to a show is a good character (or characters) that they like, and if those character(s) are killed off, then that might be enough for viewers to tune out. You do get the feeling that no one is safe, and that everyone is a potential target. Of the main characters I discussed in the previous paragraph, Mike Weston was almost killed, Parker has also come close to death, but is currently in a coffin, and Claire is now trapped in a boat with Joe. One would like to think these characters make it through the finale intact, but you never know with The Following.

Overall, the storyline for The Following has been pretty good. There's only been a couple of minor things that I've thought were rather silly. The story has been easy to follow, yet complex and quick to change direction. It's a storyline that is hard to predict accurately, and I for one have often relied on my gut to tell me what might happen. I've enjoyed the duels between arch-rivals Carroll and Hardy. Each interaction improves the viewers' understanding of their relationship and how it's affected each others' lives. It's been fascinating watching the Followers become somewhat overwhelmed, and crumbling so quickly in the space of a couple of weeks, considering the years Carroll has spent recruiting and brainwashing them. That's one aspect of the story that - while being good to watch and keeping things moving - doesn't really make sense when you think about the scale of the operation.

I don't want to speculate too much on what will happen in Monday's finale because I will almost certainly be wrong. However I don't want Parker or Claire to die, and for a change, it would be nice to not have someone's life in the balance at the end of the finale. That will wear thin on viewers pretty quickly, in addition to being a standard cliffhanger for the majority of shows regardless of genre, so hopefully the creative team have used some imagination and ingenuity to change the game.

So there's a short summary of what I've been thinking about The Following this season. It's in a very tough timeslot, but it's done very well despite that, and of course it's done much much better than its predecessor The Mob Doctor in the same timeslot last year. What are your thoughts? What are you wanting to see in the finale? Be sure to share your speculation in the comments below, and follow me on Twitter!

Thanks for reading!

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