The Following is a TV show on Fox that's just about to close out its first season. It's a cat and mouse thriller in which FBI agents pursue a serial killer with a cult following. It's a decent enough show, but it's one of those bits of fiction that either requires the viewer to suspend reality while watching or teaches things heretofore not obvious. Let's give it the benefit of the doubt and say it's teaching us new stuff.
Having watched all the episodes except the finale, which hasn't aired yet, here are ten useful life lessons the show has taught me, so far:
1. A psychopath with a British accent can be so charming that he can attract dozens of cult followers who are willing to maim, kill, kidnap, or commit suicide for him. Handsome men, pretty women and law enforcement officers, seem especially vulnerable to that charm. African Americans seem to be immune.
2. Convicted killers have access to prison computers with which they can secretly recruit cult followers.
3. Convicted killers in prison have direct contact with visitors. Conversations with visitors are not recorded. Some day prisons might have stations in which visitors will be separated from inmates by protective glass and talk via telephone. But that day has not yet arrived.
4. Be cautious when entering into a romantic embrace with a cult member. You might get lucky. But there's a fair chance a sharp blade will enter your body somewhere between your navel and your chin.
5. Satellite phone calls routed through foreign countries are untraceable.
6. In a there's-only-one-man-who-can-solve-that-case scenario, a low level FBI supervisor can deputize and arm a former rogue agent without the need of approval from higher-ups.
7. Listen for ominous music. You can rummage through the bomb making material of a cult member without fear UNLESS there's ominous background music. In that case there's a villain hiding nearby who'll lunge when you turn the next corner.
8. The innocent wife of a serial killer is as likely to hinder as help with the rescue of her own kidnapped son.
9. Some FBI agents and cult leaders are so resilient that they can be beaten, stabbed or shot and be back on the job before the episode ends. Innocent bystanders and minor characters who experience the same thing are DOA.
10. Law enforcement perimeters have more holes than Bonnie and Clyde's last car.
11. A renewal for a second season is a sure guarantee of a cliff hanging 1st season finale.
Main characters include:
Kevin Bacon as Ryan Hardy
Natalie Zea as Claire Matthews
Shawn Ashmore as Mike Weston
James Purefoy as Joe Carroll
Annie Parisse as Debra Parker
Valorie Curry as Emma Hill and
Nico Tortorella as Jacob Wells.