Joe Carroll used to be an English professor, but then he decided to murder fourteen of his students in a particularly gory way, so now he's in prison. But just for a minute. Carroll escapes and picks up where he left off, with Sarah Fuller, who was a college student when he tried to stab her to death and is now a doctor.
On Carroll's trail: former FBI agent Ryan Hardy, who is Kevin Bacon and who, in the course of pursuing Carroll the first time around, eight years ago, slept with Carroll's wife, got stabbed in the heart by Carroll, and now has a pacemaker, a drinking problem, and an enormous Brooklyn loft. He leaves one of these behind to head to Virginia and try to track Carroll down again. Helping him: gruff FBI agent Riley, wooden FBI agent Mason, and cute Ryan-fanboy FBI agent Mike (who was in X-Men and is therefore awesome). Not helping: U.S. Marshal Turner, who hates Ryan.
Turns out Carroll has been spending his time in prison amassing a cult of wannabe serial killers who will do his bidding: everything from helping him escape from prison to committing suicide as a distraction to abducting Sarah Fuller so he can finish cutting her eyes out (ewww) and kidnapping Carroll's own son. They are his followers (title of the show! Everybody drink to forget the horrifying images this show has burned onto your retinas!) and they're a creepy army.
Ryan recaptures Carroll, but not before Carroll murders Sarah Fuller. Back in prison, Carroll taunts Ryan with his legion of followers out there, whom he plans to use to continue his gruesome work. He's very grandiose and literary and really kind of tiresome when he's not brutally murdering people. So that's what we're in for. Welcome, viewers who are strong of stomach.
Is everyone exercising their discretion, that is, deciding if you're interested in watching fake gory murders for entertainment purposes? Good. Let's get to the gory murderin'. We start at Virginia Central Penitentiary, where a guard scans his card and lets himself into the locker room. Another guard tells "Pete" to have a good night, but Pete, of course, is James Purefoy, and since we aren't idiots we know he's the bad guy and he's escaping from jail. But let's hold off on being smart for just a second (in this way, we emulate the FBI agents who will show up soon). "Pete" walks out the door, gets into a truck and drives out of the prison as Patsy Cline sings "Sweet Dreams."
The guards who greeted "Pete" just a second ago walk into the secured area and find all their coworkers hideously butchered. They start shouting for help and lockdown. Setting the tone for the evening, we get lots of close-ups of the guards with their slashed throats and guts. Ick.
"Pete" is driving sedately away from the prison as sirens and searchlights power up behind him.
Brooklyn! The phone wakes Kevin Bacon. He has a huge loft with original windows, so you know that sucker is a bitch to heat. He ignores his phone, which keeps ringing, chugs a bottle of water and throws it in the trash next to an empty liquor bottle. Ooh, FORESHADOWING. He switches on the TV and sees the news that Joe "Pete" Carroll (er, not the coach of the Seahawks) has escaped. Carroll was a professor who murdered fourteen young women who attended the university where he taught.
Kevin finally answers the phone. It's FBI Director Franklin, who addresses Kevin as Ryan and says they need him in Virginia. Ryan says he's not an agent anymore, but Franklin says Ryan originally caught Carroll and the FBI needs him to consult and help recapture the guy. Ryan takes a shower and fills his water bottle with vodka, then heads for Virginia. (That's also how I do it when I'm headed home to the commonwealth. I-95 is a bitch.)
Norfolk, Virginia. Police cars pull up to Sarah Fuller's house. She's wearing scrubs, so obviously she's something heroic -- like a pediatric oncologist -- or she works in the NICU saving tiny babies, which will make it all the more tragic when Carroll pulls her eyeballs out. A Norfolk cop introduces himself and tells her about Carroll's escape.