The Following's Annie Parisse Talks Cast's Cult of Paranoia, Teases Big Twist: 'Everything Changes'

The Following Season 1 SpoilersIf you’re batting around theories about which of The Following‘s good guys might secretly worship bad guy Joe Carroll, know that the Fox drama’s cast engages in such speculation, as well.

“Just yesterday, we were sitting down, going, ‘OK, due to this, this, this and this, I think that so-and-so cannot possibly be in the cult,'” Annie Parisse relates. “‘But, this person and this person definitely could be!'”

The actress lets out a chuckle, then notes: “It’s one of the brilliant things that [series creator] Kevin Williamson has done, even as early as the pilot, keeping the audience off-balance about who they can trust. It really does feel like anybody could be playing both sides of the line.”

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In fact, Parisse’s FBI specialist Debra Parker drew side-eye from viewers early on when she slipped Carroll the collected works of Edgar Allen Poe. While the gesture could be seen as covert complicity, “You can also justify that she’s just an excellent observer, that in watching the interrogation with Hardy, she noticed that [Joe] wished he had a book to read before bed,” Parisse explains. “It was a very smart move as someone working with Ryan Hardy (Kevin Bacon), to ‘open that door’ to say, ‘I’m not going to be the antagonist. You can talk to me in a different way than you talk to Ryan.'”


Surveying the Ryan Hardy-Debra Parker dynamic as a whole, one might think that although he has sneaked off behind her back and butted heads in other ways, soon enough they will work together like a well-oiled machine. But that won’t be the case. “They both view themselves as outsiders, and that is going to become more and more clear, a point of bonding. And they’re going to see that they can trust each other,” Parisse allows. “But in terms of strategy and approach to the case, they’re really different. He’s way more impulsive while she’s way more of a thinker, more of an observer and a planner. And that is going to continue to create conflict.”

Teeing up this week’s episode (airing Monday at 9/8c), Parisse says that when Claire gets a call about her kidnapped son Joey, “We in the FBI start to realize that we are closer to him than we think, and a plan gets put in motion.” Yet as seems destined to always be the case, Joe Carroll will have some sort of countermeasure in place. Enter The Good Wife‘s Renee Elise Goldsberry — like Parisse, an alum of both New York City’s soap opera and Shakespeare in the Park scenes — as a lawyer for the incarcerated killer.

“Joe has a plan, which we’re of course not aware of, that is set in motion almost simultaneous with our rescue effort, and his lawyer becomes a key catalyst in that scenario” Parisse reveals. “There’s some twisty stuff going on!”

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Parisse describes this week’s episode as basically the launch of a two-parter that reaches a frisson next Monday when Tom Lipinski (Suits) shows up as another follower, named Charlie. “He ends up revealing the scope of Joe’s larger plan, so there is a shift which is pretty exciting. It’s one of my favorite episodes,” she shares. “You suddenly go, ‘Oh wait — we’re going in a completely different direction than we all thought we were.’ Really, everything changes.”

Want more scoop on The Following, or for any other show? Email and your question may be answered via Matt’s Inside Line.