11:20am PT by Philiana Ng
'The Following': Shawn Ashmore on Mike Weston's Return and a 'Huge' Season Finale
Mike Weston is back on the case.
The FBI agent returns to Fox's The Following after enduring a beating from Joe Carroll's loyal followers, and his return to active duty is met with some hesitation from his agency cohorts. Why? Because they believe Weston's return to the case is a bit too soon.
"Mike is still physically, emotionally and psychologically affected by that beating," Shawn Ashmore tells The Hollywood Reporter. "I don't think anyone really knows how much so until he gets back on the case."
Ashmore chats with THR about Mike Weston's return to the field, why his character's journey mirrors Ryan Hardy's and ramping up to the "huge" season finale on April 29.
The Hollywood Reporter: Mike Weston returns to the fold. How different is he from the last time we saw him?
Shawn Ashmore: Last time we saw him, Mike was beaten up to death by Roderick (Warren Kole) and some of the followers and this is only around four days after those events. Mike is still physically, emotionally and psychologically affected by that beating. I don't think anyone really knows how much so until he gets back on the case. Honestly, I don't think that Mike is ready to come back; he wants to come back but he's not ready to handle what's about to happen. The reason that he wants to come back so badly is that there is a certain sense of there's some revenge to be exacted on the followers. I also think Mike is frustrated at how the case is going, as is the rest of the FBI. He wants to handle business with the followers who tried to kill him and he wants to help.
THR: How does Mike get back on the case? Is there some persuasion?
Ashmore: There's no fanfare. He's just back on the case as soon as he's released from the hospital basically. Everyone's shocked to see him back quickly. It's unexpected but again, Parker (Annie Parisse) and Ryan (Kevin Bacon) and everybody are supporting Weston's decision to come back and work on the case. It's kind of like here we go, let's get on this, let's do it.
THR: Is there any particular member of the team who has the most surprising reaction to Weston's return?
Ashmore: Everyone sort of questions his capacity to handle what's going on and questioning the level that he's actually dealt with it (his beating) on a psychological level. There aren't any red flags, but there are certainly moments where it's like, "It's OK if you're not ready."
THR: What Weston went through was a worst case scenario for anyone involved in this type of world. How has his mindset changed?
Ashmore: It's a bit of a mirror to the journey that Ryan Hardy took in the past. When we meet Ryan, as an audience, he's already beaten down. He's an alcoholic and grumpy and very guarded. We do see how he becomes that way but we never see him before this case. This gives a little insight, because we see Mike who was a very eager, fresh-faced agent in the beginning. As the season progresses, he becomes more defensive, impulsive and starts to break the rules with Ryan. It's cool to see Weston start to show signs and traits that Ryan has, and I think that allows Ryan and Weston to ultimately bond. They don't become good buddies, but there's a trust that's built. That starts to build because of what they've both gone through; [Weston] sacrificed his life for Ryan's love for Claire (Natalie Zea).
THR: Do you think Weston is headed to a similar place that Ryan is currently?
Ashmore: The possibility is there. It's the same recipe that Ryan went through, except that Ryan came into this case with what we're calling "the death curse." That was a next level sort of situation, but I think Mike is totally over his head emotionally as far as dealing with this case. There's the potential for Mike to go where Ryan has gone. There's also the possibility that he can pull it together. Everyone's wary of the potential for Mike to go off the deep end a little bit.
THR: What can you tease to in terms of the finale?
Ashmore: Honestly it's a huge episode. You can expect the same pace, tension and thrills and kills that you come to expect on The Following. It's going to be a satisfying finale. Sometimes finales come and go and there are huge cliffhangers because you want to keep everyone guessing what's going to happen. There's certainly that aspect of that in the finale but I also think there is satisfaction in that character arcs are wrapped up emotionally. Some loose ends are tied up. [The] audience [is] getting what they've been waiting for, yet it's still wide open for a second season.
THR: Some of the characters that we've grown to love might not survive?
Ashmore: There's always that possibility.
The Following airs at 9 p.m. Mondays on Fox.