In preparing Fox’s The Following for Season 2, attention was paid to remedy one of its freshman run’s perceived shortcomings — whether series star Kevin Bacon liked it or not.
While introducing a recent New York City screening of the season premiere — which is repeated Monday at 8/7c, leading into a new episode at 9 pm — Bacon indicated that series creator Kevin Williamson had taken stock over the summer of what worked and what didn’t during Joe Carroll’s original reign of terror. Afterward, TVLine invited Bacon to elaborate on what landed on the “Room for Improvement” list.
“Well, a lot of the comments last year were about people wanting me to have a few more wins” as former FBI agent Ryan Hardy, he shared. “I kept getting beaten up, bad guys kept getting away from me, to the point where it got a little bit like, ‘Come on.’ So we’ve tried to give him a bit more success every once in a while, because you want the hero to have a little success.”
To be clear: You do, but Bacon doesn’t. “I like all the f–k-ups,” he admitted with a laugh. “But I think that for Kevin [Williamson], in terms of the overall arc of the character, [greater success] is what he really wanted to go for.”
Other changes for Season 2 include the juxtaposition of Ryan’s seemingly “lighter” demeanor with his actual, dark agenda, which in part is dictated by [season premiere spoiler alert!] the brutal year-ago murder of his lady love, Claire (played by Natalie Zea). Because of that and the path it pushed Ryan along, the new episodes are “a bit more emotional, if that’s possible,” Bacon ventures. “We still have all the scares and the intensity, but there’s more stuff going on character-wise.”
As revealed in the premiere, though Ryan is insisting to the FBI (including former colleague Mike Weston) that he no longer keeps tabs on all things Joe Carroll, he in fact does — to the nth degree, from a secret room in his apartment and with the begrudging help of his NYPD analyst niece, Max (Jessica Stroup).
“[Ryan's] got a lot of secrets,” Bacon notes. “You think he’s totally fine and has gotten past this thing, but obviously he hasn’t, he’s holding this stuff inside.” In fact, the actor teases yet “another level” to the mask Ryan is wearing this season. “Down the line, you think you know that he’s pretending to be this person, but he actually is this person — but the person that he actually is, is also kind of a pretense.” (Not “following”? We must presume his comment will make all the sense in the world as episodes unfold.)
Of course, the big question coming out of last Sunday’s special season premiere revolves around the shaggy gent revealed in the final moments. He may now go by “Darryl,” but we all know it’s Carroll (James Purefoy). So if and when will the resilient serial killer go mano a mano again with his arch nemesis?
“We do come face to face, but it’s very fleeting,” Bacon reveals. After all, he reminds, “One of the great challenges of the show” is finding cause for the adversaries to share a space yet still have both walk away, to clash yet another day.
“We have phone calls sometimes. They’re not as powerful but interesting,” Bacon notes. “And we had a scene last year where I tracked him to this house, and he was behind glass and I was on the other side of it. That was, for me and James, one of the most fun scenes we had to play…. It’s hard [to make happen], but it’s really fun stuff to play.”