Are you ready for more Hardy and Carroll?
The Following returns to FOX on Jan. 27 (following a special preview event on Jan. 19) and it’s about to take a different direction. That’s according to series creator and executive producer Kevin Williamson. ScreenSpy and assembled press had the opportunity to quiz Williamson earlier today on what fans can expect this season.
With the premiere kicking things off a full year after the events of last season’s finale, and with Joe Carroll (James Purefoy) presumed dead, audiences will see Ryan Hardy (Kevin Bacon) living in New York. On the surface, Ryan appears to have moved on, (“We’ve lightened Ryan up. He has a whole different persona this year. He’s not so dark and hopeless and grim.”) but as Williamson explains, nothing could be further from the truth.
“At the end of last year we saw Joe sort of unravelling because he was so obsessed with Ryan, but now we’ve got a full on love story. We’ve got these two men who are one hundred percent obsessed with each other. Certainly Ryan is. They need each other. They fuel each other. All Ryan wants is to put a bullet through Joe’s head. He’s obsessed with it. He wants revenge for everyone who’s died. He wants revenge for Claire. He wants a bullet through that’s guys head, and that’s what’s driving and motivating him. But that’s a false goal. Ryan’s a human being. It’s gonna be interesting to see how that goal changes over the course of 15 episodes.”
But it’s not just Ryan’s agenda that’s different this season. Fans can also expect more “character thriller” episodes to come.
“The entire show’s different,” admits Williamson. “Our characters are in a different starting place. The entire show has been reset, but it’s also been moved forward a year. One of the biggest differences is that it’s not such an FBI chase. Ryan Hardy’s not a consultant right in the middle of an FBI task force trying to find Joe. This story is being told from a different starting place. It’s more of a character thriller – or a relationship thriller, if that makes sense, rather than a procedural FBI hunt-em-down thriller.”
William also noted that significant flashbacks, some stretching back to childhood, will be used to highlight the psychology of of certain characters and show the audience what made them the way they are. “We have a whole international house of psychos. They’re delicious,” he joked.
Williamson also summarised Joe Carroll’s upcoming return for more mayhem this season as “a lot of fun.”
“I love Joe Carroll. I love James Purefoy as Joe Carroll,” he noted. “I have the rest of the story to tell. I felt like there was so much ‘find little Joey’ last year. “There was so much of the cult, and Joe Carroll and what he was about and what he was doing that we didn’t get to tell. There were so many stories where we kept saying “Well we’ll do those in the second year. What Joe Carroll is about this year and what he’s doing is completely different to last year. It’s sort of an escalation and an evolution of his character. It’s kinda cool. It’s really a lot of fun.”
With the ever-present temptation for successful sophomore shows to attempt to outdo their previous season, just how dark is The Following likely to go this season? Williamson weighed in on the subject.
“I’m not trying to creep people out,” he said. “But I do want to tell a scary story. I do want it to be a thriller. When I think of a thriller, I think of a fast-paced page turner, edge of your seat experience. I want people to be moved. I also want to explore a bunch of different types of characters this year.”
“We’re bringing in a bunch of new characters this year and their psychoses make for some rather dark sequences, in terms of their MO. I like the dark! I’m not so much in love with blood and guts,” he added. “I’d rather be scary. When it needs to be scary, it’s scary. When it needs to be funny, it’s funny. When it needs to be dramatic, it’s dramatic. When it needs to be disturbing, it’s disturbing. The challenge for Network television is how to do that without ripping heads off and showing innards? That doesn’t interest me anyway. I’m much more into the scaring.”
“The show doesn’t feel as violent as it did last year. That’s not the show we’re telling this year. It’s just different. I’m not going to pretend it’s not scary and violent because it is! But it just has a different tone to it this year. We’re hoping that every season can just be a brand new show.”
The Following returns with a special preview Sunday, Jan. 19, immediately after the NFC Championship Game, and will premiere Monday, Jan. 27 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT), following an encore of the Season Two preview (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX.