Created by Kevin Williamson, The Following picks up shortly after notorious serial killer Joe Carroll (James Purefoy) escapes from death row and embarks on a new killing spree, the FBI calls former agent Ryan Hardy (Kevin Bacon) to consult on the case. Having since withdrawn from the public eye, Hardy was responsible for Carroll’s capture nine years ago, after Carroll murdered 14 female students on the Virginia college campus where he taught literature. Hardy is a walking textbook of all-things Carroll. He knows him better than anyone; he is perhaps Carroll’s only psychological and intellectual match. But the Ryan Hardy who broke the Carroll case years ago isn’t the same man today. Wounded both physically and mentally by his previous pursuit of this serial killer, it’s been a long time since Hardy has been in the field. This investigation is his redemption, his call to action. In contrast to nine years ago, Hardy isn’t calling the shots on this case. He works closely with an FBI team, which includes all-business and tough-as-nails Jennifer Mason (Jeananne Goossen) and young, razor-sharp Mike Weston (Shawn Ashmore).
The team considers Hardy to be more of a liability than an asset. But Hardy proves his worth when he uncovers that Carroll was covertly communicating with a network of killers in the outside world. It quickly becomes obvious that he has more planned than just a prison escape, and there’s no telling how many additional killers are out there. The FBI’s investigation leads Hardy to Claire Matthews (Natalie Zea), Carroll’s ex-wife and mother of the criminal’s 10-year-old son, Joey (Kyle Catlett). Close during Hardy’s initial investigation, Hardy turns to Claire for insight into Carroll’s next move. The tension rises when Carroll’s accomplices kidnap his intended last victim from nine years ago. Hardy becomes ever more determined to end Carroll’s game when he realizes that this psychopath intends to finish what he started. The thriller will follow Hardy and the FBI as they are challenged with the ever-growing web of murder around them, masterminded by the devious Carroll, who dreams of writing a novel with Hardy as his protagonist. The reinvigorated Hardy will get a second chance to capture Carroll, as he’s faced with not one but a cult of serial killers.
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