The Following @ Comic-Con: James Purefoy to Return for the Killer Drama's Season 2

James Purefoy Returning The FollowingJoe Carroll lives!

James Purefoy will return to The Following for Season 2, it was announced at the show’s Comic-Con panel on Friday.

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The news was revealed to a shocked Ballroom 20 crowd — the actor wasn’t part of the original line-up for the session — when Purefoy called star Kevin Bacon mid-panel and then appeared on stage as a surprise guest.

Purefoy’s professor/cult leader/serial killer was last seen getting seemingly blown to smithereens in the Season 1 finale’s fiery boathouse explosion. His remains were later identified via dental records and DNA, but we suppose someone as clever as Joe could fake those.

“Yeah, I guess he might be alive,” said series creator Kevin Williamson. “I don’t want to give too much else away, except to say Joe Carroll will figure into next season.”

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Among the panel’s other revelations:

JUMP JUMP Fans at the panel saw a continuation of Season 1’s final scene; in it, Molly repeatedly, brutally (fatally?) stabs Claire and Ryan snaps the follower’s neck then sobs over his true love’s seemingly lifeless body. Season 2 will kick off with that footage, then will jump ahead one year. The show will then become more of a “character-driven thriller as opposed to a FBI chase,” shared Williamson. And what happened in that year will affect Hardy and co. greatly. “We have the opportunity to look at what happened to those characters,” added Bacon. “Everyone is in a very different place in their lives. Ryan seems lighter and more at peace than you’ve ever seen him in the show. He’s finally been able to find something in his life that [takes him] away from all the killing and the violence.” Hmm, does that mean Claire’s not a goner? Also, expect to see lots of new characters, good and bad. (With this show’s death count, how could you not?)

JOE’S NEW REALITY | Williamson did offer up this tantalizing Joe tease: “[He] may need to reimagine who he is as a man and a killer. That Edgar Allen Poe stuff didn’t work out so well, so he’s going to have to figure out a new way.” The creator also hinted that viewers will see flashbacks to Joe’s past, exploring the questions of “How did this man become this way? What happened in his past? Where were the seeds of evil planted?”

THE STUDENT BECOMES THE TEACHER? | As for what Joe’s “absence” means for his disciple Emma, “she’ll have to learn how to live without that protection and motivation from Joe Carroll,” mused Valorie Curry, hinting that “Maybe she’s met some new friends. I’m curious to see what becomes of her when she’s left to her own devices.” And of course, Emma “lives in hope, as always” that her mentor will reappear. But in the meantime, is she the new Joe Carroll? “Nobody could ever replace Joe Carroll,” the actress replied.

BROTHERS IN ARMS | Look for Mike and Ryan’s relationship to show significant change in the new episodes. Williamson noted that he’s excited to see “what that horrific first season has done” to the partners/friends. As Shawn Ashmore noted, “Hardy and Weston kidnapped and basically killed a detainee in handcuffs. There certainly will be repercussions for that moving forward.”