The Following Cast Talks Season 2: Ryan on the Mend, 'Territorial' Emma and Tantric Sex?!

following-s2-preview-325Ryan Hardy wasn’t in such a great way when last we checked in with The Following. The love of his life had been stabbed by his neighbor-with-benefits/crazy cult member, who then turned the knife on him. Sure, Ryan had witnessed the death of his serial killer nemesis Joe Carroll – but at what cost?

That’s exactly what we’ll find out when the Fox thriller returns for a second season Sunday (immediately following the NFC championship game).

In advance of the sophomore debut, TVLine sat down with returning cast members Kevin Bacon, James Purefoy, Valorie Curry and Shawn Ashmore, as well as new additions Connie Nielsen (Boss), Jessica Stroup (90210), Tiffany Boone (Southland) and Sam Underwood (Dexter). Read on to find out what’s ahead for this season’s major players.

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RYAN HARDY | Ryan and Claire start the hour lying in pools of blood (and if you don’t want an inkling of how that turns out, don’t read this), then we leap ahead to find a healed, seemingly more content Hardy living in a new apartment on New York’s Upper West Side. “I am not drinking. I am going to meetings. My heart is in good shape. I’m running, Bacon says, offering an update on his character, who’s parted ways with the FBI and is teaching criminology and forensics at a college. “In a strange way, I’m following a little bit in Joe’s footsteps… You see a happier, more together kind of guy,” he continues, adding with a laugh, “Now, it is The Following, so it doesn’t last for long.”

JOE CARROLL | Ever since series creator Kevin Williamson & Co. announced in July that James Purefoy would return for Season 2, it’s been a given that murderous mastermind Joe didn’t actually die in that season-ending explosion. We’re not going to give away exactly how the former professor dodged death, but here’s what we can tell you: When TVLine spoke with Purefoy, it was on a set that looked very much like a summer camp’s great hall but which the actor informed us was a cult’s meetinghouse. “This cult believes that they are going to be picked up by a spaceship, their spirits, and be taken off to Neptune or to somewhere else,” he says. “There’s a little bit of that and tantric sex involved, I believe.” (Yes, we know a charming and attractive British actor just said “tantric sex,” but try to pay attention to the rest of his scoop anyway.) “He’s identified them as a vulnerable target, as something that he can join in the low level, inveigle his way through and manipulate to the top.”

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EMMA HILL | You may not immediately recognize Valorie Curry’s alter ego when you first see her in the premiere – and the actress says that’s just how the FBI-tracked Emma would want it. “She has to adopt some really fun disguises in order to evade capture,” Curry previews. The “territorial” former follower is operating under the assumption that Joe is nevermore… and if he is alive, he’d better not be with anyone else. “It’s a complicated thing, because there’s always that glimmer of hope for her — she knows more than anyone that Joe is capable of anything including coming back from the dead, but the complication there is if he did, a lot of feelings would arise in terms of having been abandoned and allowed to believe that he was dead.”

MIKE WESTON | Remember how messed up Ryan was at the start of the series? His sidekick Mike isn’t quite as bad off – at least, he’s not sipping Smirnoff from a Poland Spring bottle – but the young FBI agent is far from OK. “He’s dealing with some serious repercussions,” portrayer Shawn Ashmore says, reminding us that his character and Ryan kidnapped and killed a detainee last season. Add in the “physical and emotional scars” inflicted by Joe Carroll’s evil plan, and “Mike’s in a pretty dark place when we see him again.”

MAX HARDY | Jessica Stroup joins the series as Ryan’s niece Max, a New York City police officer. “She has this ability to call him out, to ask him the questions he doesn’t want to answer,” Stroup says. Max’s access to law-enforcement files becomes very attractive to her uncle after a violent subway attack looks like it might have been committed by Carroll acolytes. And even though her character is no rookie cop, Stroup says, “I don’t think Max has dealt with anything even close to the scale of what this season is going to pack in, for sure.”

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LILY GRAY | One person survives the subway attack that comes to fascinate Ryan: Connie Nielsen’s character, Lily, a SoHo art dealer. Nielsen describes her this way: “She’s an international kind of character and someone who is at ease speaking any language, and she’s a very sort of downtown New York kind of girl — she’s very rich and she’s just has this very luxurious, golden life.” When she meets fellow Carroll-horror survivor Ryan, “She feels really safe talking to him,” Nielsen adds.

LUKE | British actor Sam Underwood would like to apologize in advance for being able to say next to nothing about who his character is. So let’s play a little game. Would we be smart in letting Luke babysit a child? “I hope, if he does his job correctly, that you would trust him to do so, yes.” But knowing what he knows of the role? “No,” he says, laughing. How about a dog? “I’d be worried about my dog, too.”

MANDY LANG | Relative newcomer Tiffany Boone is also under strict rules not to reveal much about her teenage character; when we ask whether the fact that she’s being interviewed in the same cult cabin where Purefoy held court means that she’s connected to his storyline, she smiles and replies, “It might.” She apologetically adds: “Joe Carroll is such an important part of the show, so you want to be surprised by who he hangs out with this season.”