The Following: The Complete Second Season Blu-ray Review
Written by Steve Pattee
Blu-ray released by Warner Home Video
Various writers and directors
Created by Kevin Williamson
2014, Region A, 660 minutes, Rated TV-14
Blu-ray released on October 7th, 2014
Kevin Bacon as Ryan Hardy
James Purefoy as Joe Carroll
Valorie Curry as Emma
Shawn Ashmore as Agent Mike Weston
Connie Nielsen as Lily
Jessica Stroup as Max Hardy
Sam Underwood as Luke / Mark
Tiffany Boone as Mandy
A year has passed since the apparent death-by-fire of serial killer Joe Caroll when The Following: The Complete Second Season starts. Former FBI Agent Ryan Hardy's life looks like it's finally turning around after the events that led to Caroll's demise and the subsequent loss of his lady, Claire. But the good times don't last, especially when a group of people wearing Joe Caroll masks slaughter a bunch of innocent folks on the subway, screaming things like "Joe Caroll lives!" and "Ryan Hardy can't stop us!"
Like I mentioned in my review of The Following - Season 2, Episode 1: "Resurrection", looks like someone did, in fact, get out of the cockadoodie car. And Hardy is called back to the FBI to see what he knows. I'll tell you one thing, he knows far more than he tells the feebs.
Two of my biggest problems with the first season of The Following is how much of a crutch the writers use the idea of Joe Caroll's followers and the writing that got lazier as the series progressed, and both issues are magnified in this second season. But what's even worse is the storyline gets so incredibly unbelievable with each episode, it's very hard to take seriously.
Okay, I'm willing to do some suspension of disbelief to allow that this serial killer has accumulated a bunch of other murderers to do his bidding. It's not that far out of the realm of possibility (see The Manson Family). I can even almost let it slide that there are apparently thousands of these followers in every city and in every job to make the writers' jobs easier. Fine. Whatever. There's enough good in the show – which is still there, and I'll get to it – that makes it palatable and even enjoyable. But here in sophomore season of The Following, it gets stupid ridiculous. After Caroll is lured out of hiding by a new group of followers looking for him to lead them, things get crazy... too crazy for even Caroll, so the two serial killing groups split off from one another (and of course there's bad blood between them) and our the antagonist goes and finds another group of like-minded evil people up in the mountains. One thing leads to another, and eventually Caroll ends up in charge of a new-but-different batch of followers. So now Carroll is being hunted by Hardy (who, keep in mind, is no longer an agent), the FBI, and another team of killers. I assure you, I've tried to keep that as simple as possible.
As with the first season, there are seemingly no moments of levity found here, and Hardy just can't win. Every single time there's a light at the end of the tunnel, it is snuffed by either Carroll, one of his flunkies, or any other given bad guy somewhere in the mix. It's a tough watch, especially when you binge it, because there are no feel good episodes. Don't get me wrong, I do love a dark TV show or movie, but there is a reason there are moments of good mixed in a sea of bad. Sometimes you need a breather and it doesn't seem like you ever come up for air. You are drowning in misery along with Hardy, and it gets tiresome.
What makes all of this incredibly frustrating is everything The Following has going for it. The show has a great cast, led by Kevin Bacon as the flawed but determined anti-hero, and James Purefoy as the brilliant serial killer who is about 321 steps ahead of everyone else. These two do well with the convoluted storylines presented to them, and are at their best when they share a scene (which, unfortunately, is very rare).
The supporting cast is equally impressive. Valorie Curry has done well with her character Emma, Carroll's Girl Friday (with benefits), showing some growth since last season. Emma is not so doe-eyed this time around, and is the voice of reason in Carroll's circle (even if that voice is used for nefarious purposes). Jessica Stroup joins the cast this year as Max Hardy, the niece of the determined hunter. She is the yin to Emma's yang, helping her uncle in the hunt for Carroll. Shawn Ashmore (Mother's Day) as Mike Weston steals about every scene he's in as you watch him on a path of personal destruction not unlike Kevin Bacon's Hardy. He has quite possibly one of the best scenes of the season with his reaction of a tragic turn of events (one of which I won't spoil, but you'll know it when you see it). And it's moments like that one that I will point to and say, "There, that's why I won't give up on this show just yet."
And here's the kicker: I'm going to keep watching this show, especially after season two's finale. If the writers don't get lazy, this new turn could be pretty interesting. I don't have a lot of hope, considering some of things that happened this season – one is borderline Dallas-it-was-all-just-a-dream – but I just can't turn away. The Following has almost everything it needs to achieve greatness. It's got superb acting all around, it's not afraid to go over-the-top with its brutality, a high body count, and it's not reality TV. All it needs is one thing to push it over: a new batch of writers to ground it and truly utilize the skill of those in front of the camera.
Video and Audio:
The 1080p 1.78:1 presentation is exactly what you should expect from a TV series that aired just this year. Don't go into this show looking for a broad spectrum of color, as they are muted just like any sign of happiness. The video shines with fine detail and overall there are no noticeable issues.
The DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack gets it done and, as above, is what you should expect. There's nice use of the surrounds and the subwoofer kicks in when needed.
- 14 Inside The Following Behind-the-Scenes Featurettes
- 4 Featurettes: Following Marcos Siega, The Religion of Joe Carroll, Bound by a Common Foe and The Joe Mask
- Season 2 Alternate Ending
- Sneak Peak: Silence
- 2013 Comic-Con Panel
- Severed Scenes
- Gag Reel
Warner Brothers has provided some relatively decent features, something I don't see too often with a television show. Granted, the majority of the featurettes are fluff pieces, but there is a lot to be had here.
The 14 featurettes are the most guilty of being feel-good pieces. Most run under two minutes and they are unfortunately split up among the Blu-rays. I didn't see a way of playing them all at once, which would have been ideal. They consist of brief interviews with those involved with the show on a variety of topics.
Of the four remaining featurettes, Following Marcos Siega runs the longest at about 18 minutes. The piece centers on, you guessed it, Executive Producer/Director Marcos Siega, and shows the multiple responsibilities on the show. Multiple people are interviewed here, including The Following's creator Kevin Williamson, Producer Michael Stricks, Stunt Coordinator Tim Gallin, Siega himself, as well as some of the actors. All of this is intermixed with behind-the-scenes footage, so it's not just a bunch of talking heads.
The Religion of Joe Carroll is a nine-minute piece consists of multiple interviews with the cast and crew about the show's main antagonist and his motives. It also touches on the show's newest evil characters and their role in The Following.
At about six-and-a-half minutes, Bound by a Common Foe explores the relationship between Mike Weston and Ryan Hardy.
The Joe Mask wraps up the featurettes and is my favorite of the bunch. The piece tells of how the mask worn in the show came about and the trials of making one that looked like Carroll. It's a great featurette that's too short at under four minutes.
The alternate ending for season two is definitely worth a watch, as it is quite different from what eventually aired. I prefer this ending, but I won't spoil it for you.
The 2013 Comic-Con Panel is pretty self-explanatory. Running 21 minutes, the panel consists of Kevin Williamson, Kevin Bacon, Marco Siega, Shawn Ashmore, Valorie Curry, and James Purefoy. It is moderated by Deborah Birnbaum, the former editor-in-chief of TV Guide.
Finishing it up is a gag reel, numerous deleted scenes, and a sneak peak of the episode "Silence" – which is odd because it's just a one minute promo piece. That's the only feature that just seems thrown on as an afterthought.