Joe Carroll might have been put in handcuffs in the season finale of The Following back in May but that doesn’t mean he won’t be factoring into the storyline when the series returns this fall with new psychological thrills. After their panel at Comic-Con on Sunday morning, Kevin Bacon, Shawn Ashmore, Jessica Stroup, and Sam Underwood, along with executive producer Marcos Siega and new showrunner Jennifer Johnson, sat down with press for round table interviews in which they discussed what’s in store for Season 3.
During our chat, they explained why they’re calling it a Following “reboot,” revealed that we’ll be seeing a much happier Ryan Hardy when the show returns in October, and talked about Max’s tough moral choices, among other things. Hit the jump for more.
MARCOS SIEGA: We are gonna jump ahead a year, just like we did last year. But last year there was the theme of masks; we see Ryan, he’s jogging, he’s happy, he’s not drinking and then you think everything is great—he’s changed he’s evolved. Then he opens a secret room and you realize he’s not great, it’s a facade. This year, we’re jumping ahead a year but he actually is great, he’s in a great place, he’s evolved. That’s where we fundamentally start as a reboot. It’s going to allow us to kind of start from a new place with our protagonist. I think if you can accomplish that, the show inherently has a new beginning.
Will that happiness last? We’re not used to seeing him happy.
JENNIFER JOHNSON: We’re gonna root for him because we’re really gonna like this situation he has and he’s happy. Here’s a spoiler, we might get to see him dance. Maybe. Then it will be a matter of whether or not he can maintain that. In terms of the reboot, we’re going to reboot what happens with the following and what that means this year, who might be behind it and what that looks like for them. It was very specific to Joe Carroll for Seasons 1 and 2, the theories he had or the philosophies that backed up his actions, like Edgar Allan Poe or his diatribe against organized religion. So, there will be something new this year and Ryan will have to figure out what that is and that will turn everything upside down. It is literally a reboot of what The Following means.
JOHNSON: Joe Carroll is going to figure into the season prominently but maybe not in the way that you expected.
Max always seemed to have such a level head and was like the anchor for Ryan. What is happening with her this season?
JOHNSON: We’re gonna have her make excruciating choices this season because in order to maintain that moral center, everybody around you has to maintain that moral center. People that she loves and people she cares about maybe can’t stick to that course, she would have to make some really tough decision that would affect her personal life. She’s going to have a very interesting character arc this season and it’s going to be related to Mike and to the cases.
SIEGA: I found myself rooting for Max and Mike to get together last year, and we get to the kiss and it feels earned. Now, this season we’re gonna play that off, we’re gonna see where they are a year later and that’s gonna be satisfying. Then it’s the challenges moving on from there because Weston does have his father’s killer out there. He still has that bloodlust. Can he maintain that moral center? Can he be the good guy?
SAM UNDERWOOD: I feel like I ask as many questions as I possibly can until they stop answering my questions but then embracing—just being in the moment. I feel that if there’s something really important that I need to know, they won’t go without letting me know because otherwise it would be a detriment to the story. I actually found it rather freeing, kind of four episodes in last year when we were shooting, to just go, “Just be in now. I will hand responsibility to the guys who edit to be in control of that.”
JESSICA STROUP: It’s tough. I probably don’t even ask enough questions, to be honest. I’m always like, “Yeah, I got it! Let’s do it!” I think it keeps it exciting and fun because we have an amazing cast, our crew’s very dedicated and the writing—especially this year, we’re really pumped about the writers room and what they’re gonna be giving us. They listen to us whenever we have input. They’re not trying to screw us or the viewers. I don’t think they would leave anything out that we really needed to know.
With playing twins that had this fascinating, disturbing relationship and now being just one, do you have to redefine the character when so much of what made the characters what they were was each other?
UNDERWOOD: Yeah. I think that’s the most profound impact. I don’t think there’s anything bigger that could’ve happened to either one of the brothers to make them progress as a character. I think that one of them had to go in order for one of them to grow. The fact that Luke was asking for it for a long time, I think Mark always had more in terms of progression of character to go through. It’s fascinating and especially with the beginning of this season. We see Mark a year later in a completely different environment that you would’ve never suspected him to be in. Then we see in flashbacks how he got to that point, going through the grief of losing his brother and how that affected him and who helped him—if anyone.
Can you talk a little bit about Ryan’s new family and does that mean that he’s moved on from Claire?
KEVIN BACON: Yeah. I think at the end of last season, the final episode, there was a very important scene where I said, “Look, I’d like to come with you.” And she says, “Listen, this is not a good idea. You know in your heart of hearts it’s not a good idea. We have a relationship based on trauma and came out of something very, very strange, which is I was the wife of a serial killer.” I think he hears her. Is she always going to be deep down the love of his life? I think that remains to be seen. But I do think he’s trying to make good on the promises he made to Joe Carroll, which was, “I’m done with this. I’m done with this obsession. I’m gonna go to a place now where I’m gonna let other people into my life and I’m gonna find a life that doesn’t involve you.” That’s part of what has happened, that’s part of why he’s been able to let this new woman into his life.
BACON: I’ll have to have my teeth whitened. I feel good about it. We discussed it going into the second season, for a minute there was a similar kind of idea that was talked about, without going into too much detail—maybe domesticity or whatever. I was very, very resistant to it. I was like, “No, this is not a guy who would be there. I just felt like it was too soon.” I didn’t know we were gonna get a third season but for whatever reason I didn’t feel like he was there yet. That he’d be still someone that was centering his own ire, tried to let Max in this year and I guess it’s like Ryan’s steps. He’s getting a little bit closer to being a happy person.
Can you tell us about your relationship with Max?
SHAWN ASHMORE: I think it’s gonna be really nice. I’ve been saying all weekend that I don’t think the Mike and Max relationship will be an easy relationship, just based on what these guys do. And also how their relationship started. I still feel that in some way, Max has witnessed Mike nearly beating Luke to death with his bare hands, murdering Lily Gray in cold blood. I think there’s gonna be some issues there, there’s gonna be some things to work through. I think that revenge is still bubbling underneath, within Mike but I think that my character will want to grasp on to something good—that light that is there at the end of the tunnel. I think what will be interesting is watching that struggle, which side of the fence is he gonna be on when push comes to shove. I think it will be interesting to explore that and see where it goes. I like that there’s going to be that element to this season.