If The Following‘s Season 1 finale left you slack-jawed with more than a few burning questions, don’t fret! TVLine was right there with you, and we tracked down the Fox drama’s executive producer Marcos Siega for some answers.
Here, one of the brains behind the series discusses whether or not Joe Carroll truly met his demise, how some dearly departed faces might pop up again next year, what a “very different” Season 2 has in store and much more.
TVLINE | Can you definitively say that Joe is dead?
I’ve been getting text messages all morning from friends and family, and some people are saying, ‘I loved it! Best episode yet. I can’t believe you killed Joe!’ And others are like, ‘You expect me to think you killed Joe?’ [Laughs] Some people believe he’s gone and some people think that we’ll figure out [a way to bring him back], but all I can say is that [creator/showrunner] Kevin Williamson knew where he wanted this thing to go. We shot a couple of different versions to protect ourselves in terms of how we were going to present it to the audience, and then after we showed it to Warner Bros. and Fox and talked about it, we put together the version that made the most sense. But how it plays out is part of the fun of doing a cliffhanger.
TVLINE | Was it always the plan to “kill” him by the end of the season?
Wow, you’re trying to trap me… [Laughs]
TVLINE | No, I just know that things can change or develop organically as you move through the season. The same thing goes for the various characters you killed off along the way.
[Laughs] With the actors who “didn’t know,” I sat down with every single actor early on — and I mean top to bottom — and told them that we know where the season is going and that I wasn’t going to tell them if or when they’re going to die, but they needed to know that in this story no one is safe. Everyone understands that a show like this has those kinds of stakes. But I do struggle with some of the things we’ve laid out. I knew from the day we cast Annie [Parisse] as Parker that she was going to meet some big demise, and that’s what changes; it evolves in terms of how and when it’s going to happen. But then I fell in love with Annie as a person and with Parker as a character and I wondered why we had to [kill her]. But you realize that it all serves the greater purpose. Parker’s death services Ryan’s Hardy’s character, and it’s part of the building blocks of who he is and who he’s going to become in Season 2… So, the short answer is yes, we knew and know where we’re going, but I can’t really tell you specifics because that’s the fun of it.
TVLINE | So, back to Joe’s “death” specifically…
All I’ll say is the way that it ended is always the way that I knew it would end.
TVLINE | Do you think this is a show that could move forward without Joe? Could this ever be a series with various Big Bads or new branches of the cult?
I give you mad props, Meg, for the creative way you’re asking me to tell you if Joe is dead or alive. [Laughs] I have full confidence in Kevin Williamson’s ability, if he chose, to write a character that is as compelling as Joe Carroll… We got people to root for Joe, right? We got you to fall in love with Joe Carroll the serial killer. So, I do think we could do it again if we needed to… But I don’t think it’s that black-and-white for us. There’s a big picture here. Kevin’s been very vocal about this being a passion project for him; he’s gone through a lot of stages and evolution about how he’s going to tell the story… But I do know that when he first sat down, he knew how three seasons could play out — and he could build beyond that. He had a solid foundation when he started.
TVLINE | You mentioned at a recent event that you shot some extra footage that you’ll be able to use in Season 2. Is that just flashback-type stuff? Or will is actually service the story?
There are some things we shot as alternates… Because it was the finale and we wouldn’t have the opportunity to go back and reshoot, we protected ourselves. And there are some things we shot that we know are absolutely essential to next season in A) answering questions, B) satisfying the audience and C) propelling the story. We have a little bit of everything in what we shot, and it was all very deliberate.
TVLINE | Given the way the finale ended, do you guys already have a place in mind for where Season 2 will pick up?
There’s a plan and framework in place, yes. Once the writers’ room starts up, that’s when things start to evolve and new ideas come out. But we’re not going in with a white board with no ideas on it.
TVLINE | Looking back at Season 1, is there anything you’re particularly proud of? And on the flip side, is there anything you maybe would have done differently?
I haven’t had that conversation with Kevin, so I can’t speak for him. But I personally was surprised at how the Jacob/Paul story evolved early on and it became my favorite storyline. I found myself really invested in these two guys and wanting to see more. I knew where we were going with it and how much of that story we were going to tell, but I kept thinking that maybe we would alter it a little bit since people were responding to it. Those are the sort of things that surprise me. I wouldn’t have predicted that early on… But at the end of the day, because Kevin has such a strong framework, it would have pulled too many strings and unraveled too many things if he’d deviated from that… Also, at the beginning of the season, I would sometimes [bring up] how we could give Ryan Hardy a bit more depth. In Episode 6, when he’s held hostage at the farmhouse, we really got to see a sassier side of him when he was bantering with the captors, and I really loved that. I kept pushing for more of that Hardy, too — and I think we will see more of that.
TVLINE | Tight-lipped as you are, I know you have a good Season 2 tease somewhere in you.
We put it all out there in terms of what we’d want the audience to be guessing: Who really died? How do you resolve it? How do you move forward if people die? What I can say about Season 2 is that it’s a very different season, but at the same time it will feel like a continuation of the story. There’s no way to tell the same story again; we can’t have the exact same moments of jeopardy, because then people will get bored and it’s predictable. The brilliance behind the series that Kevin has built is that he’s seen how these steps need to evolve. The thing that’s going to surprise people most, I hope, is that the fans will become as invested in that story as they were in this one — and even more so because now they know these characters and we’ll have to spend less time explaining backstory.