Thanks to a chilling performance from Michael Ealy, The Following finishes its television run with a strong storyline and leaves open the chance for a return at some point.
The Following – The Third and Final Season arrives on Blu-ray featuring all 15 episodes from the season and a wealth of bonus material to take fans into the making of the suspense series. The special features also contain a good amount of laughs thanks to the inclusion of a gag reel from the show and a Funny or Die special. Other features include a look at Ryan and his doomed romantic life; a New York Comic-Con panel feature; deleted scenes from various episodes; and an examination of the show’s villains.
While trying to stay as spoiler free as possible, The Following: Season Three kicks off with most of the characters in a happy place – which you know won’t last long. Ryan Hardy (Kevin Bacon) is sober and finally moving on with his life. He is in a relationship with Gwen (Zuleikha Robinson), and awaiting Joe Carroll’s (James Purefoy) death by lethal injection. Max Hardy (Jessica Stroup) has also found new love with FBI agent Tom Reyes (Gbenga Akinnagbe) after leaving Mike Weston (Shawn Ashmore) – who could not give up his obsession of hunting down Mark Gray (Sam Underwood) for the death of Mike’s parents.
Things don’t stay happy for long as Mark and his new followers launch a grisly plan to force Ryan’s less than legal actions in Season Two into the public eye. Through series of murders that recreate the deaths, Mark and his friends are able to wreak havoc on the trial of killer mentor Dr. Arthur Strauss (Gregg Henry) and send Ryan’s world into chaos. As Joe’s death date rapidly approaches, Ryan is forced to deal with his inner turmoil about his connections to Joe, and hope he can stop Strauss and company from fulfilling their plan.
Just as Ryan and the FBI are wrapping up their manhunt for Arthur and Mark, Ryan discovers they are on the trail of a new killer and one that is far more dangerous than Joe or anyone they have faced. Theo Noble (Ealy) is a cold killer, and his technology skills have made him virtually a ghost – impossible for Ryan and his team to track. Instead of running, Noble begins hunting Ryan and his family.
Season Three of The Following does have some problems, but manages to end with you wanting more. The season takes a few episodes to really get going and the storyline with Mark and his killers gets a tad stale. Ryan’s drinking also gets a little overdone, but it is a reminder of how flawed a character Ryan. The writers and Bacon do an excellent job showing how much toil this job takes on Ryan’s life. From his doomed relationships to his career suicides, Ryan is obsessed with finding these killers and his obsession often brings the killers closely into his own life – which leaves his loved ones paying the price. Bacon is incredible in the role and plays Ryan as a man constantly on the edge of breaking.
Halfway through the season, the series seems to be going flat, but it all changes with the arrival of Theo Noble. Ealy owns this season and crafts a character that could go toe to toe with some of the screen’s most evil men. Noble is simply cold and calculating. He has no concern for human life – as seen by what he does to his own family. He also shares Ryan’s obsession going after Hardy even when it could lead to his own capture or the death of the one person he does care about. The cat and mouse game between the two characters saves the season and leaves you wanting more.
The third season of The Following shows the series feeling a tad dated but also able to still deliver some suspense. It does a good job of wrapping up storylines hanging from the past while laying the groundwork for what might have come in season four – or if the show ever returns.