"The Following" returns next month for its second season, and on Wednesday, Dec. 18, Kevin Williamson spoke to press about what's coming up for Ryan Hardy (Kevin Bacon), Joe Carroll (James Purefoy), Mike Weston (Shawn Ashmore), Emma (Valorie Curry) and more.
"The Following" season 2 is going to be a bit different from season 1, with a time jump of one year that allows them to put their characters in a different place to kick off the new season. "I think the biggest difference is it's not such an FBI chase in the sense that Ryan Hardy's not a consultant smack in the center of an FBI taskforce trying to find Joey who's been kidnapped," Williamson explained. "It’s a little bit more of a character thriller and a relationship thriller." The one year time jump allows the writers to use flashbacks to offer a look at what has happened, but don't expect to get a complete look at the missing year. "We show a little bit of what happened in the past year, but we also— like for instance, when a certain someone is alive, we explore sort of childhoods. We go a little bit more into, sort of, a little more of the psychology of our characters and what sort of made them the way they are," the EP shared.
As everyone knows by now, Joe Carroll is alive, and that's because there's more to tell about that character. However, he's not necessarily going to be the same Joe you knew in the first season. "It's sort of an escalation and sort of an evolution of his character," he teased, but something that will remain true is that Ryan is very much part of Joe's story. "I feel like now we're on to the obsession. Last year, it was like we’re trying to find Joe Carroll. Joe Carroll, who we started to sort of play out the end of last season where he sort of saw Joe sort of unraveling, because he was sort of obsessed with Ryan, but now you’re telling a full on love story. You’ve got these two men who are 100 percent obsessed with each other. …They need each other. They fuel each other. It’s almost reaching a point where, all Ryan wants to do is put a bullet through Joe’s head. That’s all he wants to do, he’s obsessed with it, because …he wants revenge for everyone who’s died. …That’s what’s driving and motivating him, but through the course of the season, that’s a false goal because Ryan’s a human and so it’s going to be interesting. The fun of the show is to sort of—his journey this year is sort of to watch how that goal sort of changes over the course of 15 episodes."
The show is also still dark and creepy – and in a very good way. Williamson wants the show to be a thriller, something that keeps you on the edge of your seat, and season 2 is going to do that from the first episode. "I do sort of want to explore a bunch of different types of characters this year, so we bring in a bunch of interesting new characters," he previewed. "Their psychosis is such that it does make for some rather dark sequences, because just in terms of their MO." That said, something may be different in season 2. "The show doesn’t feel as violent as it did last year. There are some of the later episodes of last season where you sort of remember just sort of the brutality and I think of just sort of the body count," he said. "That’s not the show we’re telling this year. It’s just different, but I’m not going to pretend it’s not scary and violent, because it is. It just has a different tone and feel to it this year, which hopefully, that every season can just be a brand new show."
With the new season, expect to see some changes in some of the characters from last year. "We've lightened Ryan up," the EP shared. "Ryan has a whole different sort of persona this year, in the sense that after last year, he's not so dark and hopeless and so grim." Ryan is also "doing his own thing," which means the FBI, while still there, is not so much in focus.
We have a feeling one of the most intriguing relationships of this season could be Mike and Ryan's. "I think that Mike and Ryan’s relationship is a key focal point of this entire season, because it’s such a great parallel. We've got sort of Ryan, with all his sort of years and experience on him working alongside of Mike Weston, who is sort of basically becoming Ryan Hardy before his eyes. I think that relationship alone is sort of the center and focus of most of the season, and Mike's having a real hard time with it," Williamson said. While last year may have been tough for him, don't expect it to get any easier. "That's nothing compared to what happens this year for him. He really does get pushed to the absolute limits of his sanity and his ability to cope with something. He has a quite an interesting journey. He doesn’t have a good time of it."
Emma, meanwhile, has had to go into hiding following the events of season 1. "She does emerge in a big way as the episodes continue," he told reporters. "She's got nose rings, and she dyes her hair every time she walks out the door. She's had a hard time of it." She is still wanted by the FBI, and she does think Joe is dead. "When she discovers that he, in fact, may not be, it's going to be a lot of mixed emotions. Did he abandon her? Did he have his reasons? She is very conflicted, and she’s going to want some solid answers. She’s not the little girl; she’s not this little nanny who took care of this kid. She’s not so much follower anymore. She’s a little bit more of a leader."
As we stated earlier, we're going to be meeting new characters. "We met a handful of [Joe's followers] last year, but we never really got to live with too many of them," Williamson said. "I wanted to make sure that we had three or four new characters here, both good and bad, that we really can invest in, and we get to see how they interact with our surviving characters from last year. … As the show progresses and you sort of see how it all falls into place, how these characters all sort of emerge and sort of come together, you go, "Oh." You’ll sort of understand there’s a bigger plan in place."
Season 2 will feature a bit more of the media aspect of the case, especially since it is the one year anniversary of Joe's death and the Havenport tragedy. "Carrie Cooke, for instance, who wrote the book that we tease in the first episode, actually comes onto the show later and has a full on story line and becomes a major part of the series," the EP revealed. "She’s got her own cable news show and the whole bit. She’s like a little tabloid cable news journalist who wrote the book. It’s one of those books that she wrote it really quickly, wanted to get it out there by the anniversary, and the publishers are trying to make a buck. Its accuracy’s in question."
Finally, Kevin Williamson is hopeful that season 2 won't be "The Following's" last, and based on his tease, the viewers will feel the same way: "[The] last five [episodes of season 2] are already sort of setting up for season 3. So I'm really hopefully that we get a season 3, because I've got another story I want to tell."
"The Following" season 2 will air Mondays at 9 p.m. on FOX. A special preview airs Sunday, Jan. 19 after the NFC Championship Game.