The Following is already challenging its audience with how far people might go to get what they want in life-- love, affection, devotion, revenge-- but with characters like Jacob (Nico Tortorella) and Paul (Adan Canto), it is also asking its audience to reconsider how they define love and romantic relationships at all.
Jacob and Paul were "undercover" for Joe Carroll (James Purefoy) as a gay couple to win the trust and access to his only surviving female victim, and as the years went on, they went from strangers to extremely intimate. Now their cover story is over, and they are living in a house with Jacob's girlfriend Emma (Valorie Curry) and Carroll's son Joey (Kyle Catlett), though, leaving a lot of emotional loose threads that are about to result in some loose cannon behavior.
"We had a three year relationship. We had our own little world and everything going on. All of a sudden you take that away from Paul; what else does he have? This guy needs to settle in somewhere, so he loses it," Canto admitted when we sat down with him and Tortorella in Los Angeles.
"We feel at home; we feel we belong to something; we feel at ease by being together with people who have affinity. So, yeah, yeah, I do see a sense of family...I think we all know that we're a part of this bigger picture, too, but I am totally not in control!"
Tortorella echoed that sentiment: "You spend three years pretending to be in a relationship with somebody, real emotions are going to come up no matter what. It’s just bound to. And [you'll] learn how we’ve gotten to the point we’re at now, why we truly love each other and care for each other, and how we take care of each other."
Series creator Kevin Williamson described The Following as being two stories rolled into one television show. The present day Ryan Hardy (Kevin Bacon) hunt for Carroll and his followers, like Emma, Jacob, and Paul who have taken his son is the sequel to the original story being told through sporadic flashbacks woven into each episode. Through those flashbacks, we will not only get glimpses into Jacob and Paul's forced-fake relationship that inspired very real feelings, but we will also see why each one of them wanted to be a part of Carroll's world to begin with.
"We all have our daddy issues, and I think Jacob is a perfect example of that, but I feel like Jacob kind of found these people at the exact moment that he needed to. And he is just looking for someone to just love and accept him without any judgment and that’s what I found with Paul, with Emma, and with Joe," Tortorella said.
We're also going to learn a deep, not-so-dark secret of Jacob's that could threaten his position within this new family, as well as his relationship with Emma. It is something that Paul already knows, and the mere point that he confided in Paul and not Emma is bound to cause some friction.
"It’s always going to be a little bit of a struggle. I think you’re going to see a progression and you’re going to see him find himself and grow into himself with these two and others," Tortorella said of "getting over" his little problem.
Interestingly, Jacob's secret is something that should humanize him to the audience while simultaneously worrying Emma. It has the potential to be a turning point for the character-- where he either experiences real growth, or he separates himself from his new family that much more. Regardless of how it turns out, both Canto and Tortorella felt that they wouldn't be doing their jobs right if you didn't feel for these characters and sympathize with them-- even when they're acting out violently.
"That’s when it gets interesting. You get people rooting for the bad guy-- and feeling bad about, you know, if they are going through hard times. You kind of understand why they became who they are thanks to the flashbacks," Canto said.
"They are incredibly complex people—potentially real people that I hope the audience does catch themselves empathizing with."
The Following airs on FOX on Monday nights at 9 p.m.
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