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At the panel for Fox’s The Following at Comic-Con International in San Diego, it quickly becomes apparent that, while heroes get the respect of fans, villains receive all the enthusiastic love. Audience members packed the room to hear producers and cast members share details of what to expect in the second season of the serial-killer drama.
Joined on stage by stars Kevin Bacon, Shawn Ashmore and Valorie Curry, and executive producer Marcos Siega, series creator/executive producer Kevin Williamson opened the panel with a clip from the Season 1 finale in which the ex-girlfriend of Ryan Hardy (Bacon) reveals herself to be a follower of charismatic killer Joe Carroll (James Purefoy), to devastating effects.
As the lights came up, the panel was interrupted by Bacon’s ringing cell phone. The veteran actor apologized, but answered.
“Hello, Ryan,” said Purefoy, on the other end of the call.
Bacon quickly slipped into character, replying, “Joe? I thought you were dead.”
“No, on the contrary, Ryan, I’m very much alive – and kicking,” Purefoy continued as Joe Carroll. “You didn’t really think you could do a Comic-Con without me?”
With this, Purefoy stepped onto the stage to cheers from the audience. The actor’s character supposedly died at the end of Season 1, but it’s hard to keep a good serial killer down.
“I don’t want to give too much away, except to say that, of course, Joe Carroll will figure into next season in some way, shape or form,” Williamson said. “And to say much more than that would spoil the fun.”
The executive producer then revealed that the show jumps forward one year when the new season picks up. He said viewers will see in the premiere where the characters are now in their lives, and how they’ve changed.
Ashmore said his character, FBI Agent Mike Weston, will be deeply affected by the death of Debra Parker, the FBI cult specialist played by Annie Parisse, as she is the second partner he lost within the year (the other being Troy Riley, who died in the third episode). The X-Men explained that Weston began as a “shiny penny” in the first season, but had his enthusiasm and energy worn down by Carroll. “What I thought by the end of the season … is that Weston became kind of a mirror of Hardy,” he said.
He also indicated his character could take a dark turn, saying, “Let’s be honest, Hardy and Weston kidnapped and basically killed a detainee in handcuffs. There will certainly be repercussions to that.”
But while Weston’s world grows dimmer, Bacon revealed that Ryan is actually “lighter” one year later. He’s found something that’s moved him away from the darkness, although the actor wouldn’t say what that is.
Curry, who plays devoted Carroll follower Emma Hill, told the audience her character lost everything at the end of the first season. “The cult has disbanded, and Joe Carroll is seemingly dead,” she said. “Of course, she lives in hope that he’ll turn up. Jumping ahead, she will have to learn how to live without that protection and the infrastructure of the cult.” Curry added that Emma will be living on the lam and making new friends during the year that passes.
Purefoy said the passing of a year means a lot of soul-searching for his character. When asked if his Carroll had a soul, the actor joked, “That’s what he’s searching for.”
“I suspect Carroll is trying to figure out where his plan went awry,” he continued. “I think he’s going to have some time alone – out of the city.”
For the audience to come to a better understanding of Carroll, Williamson announced there will be more flashbacks in the upcoming season. “We’re going to try to answer how this man became this way,” he said. “What happened in his past? Where were the seeds of evil planted? Nature vs. nurture will be explored, and we’ll flashback to see some of his family life when he was a small child. We’ll also see him when he was a young adult. We’re going to go to all these areas…”
The drama’s creator wants the upcoming season to be about the characters, saying, “Next year is not such a chase. It’s not such an FBI-focused show, but it’s more about Ryan Hardy, Joe Carroll, Agent Weston and all these new characters … we’re sort of resetting. That’s what moving forward one year later gives us.”
The Following returns at midseason on Fox.