'The Following': Natalie Zea Previews Claire's Big Turn and the Season Endgame

The Following Natalie Zea Episodic - H 2013
Craig Blankenhorn/Fox

A change is coming for The Following's Claire Matthews.

On Monday's episode, "Guilt," Joe Caroll (James Purefoy) sends some of his followers to capture Claire (Natalie Zea). The way the hour unfolds for Claire is crucial to how the character operates in the weeks ahead. For Zea, it took a while to come to grips with the significance of the episode.

"I never honestly thought of this episode as the turning point," Zea admits to The Hollywood Reporter. "I saw the next one ["Whips and Regret," airing April 1] as the turning point, but it now makes sense because the end of this episode, there is a huge reveal and there is a huge decision that's made on her part that sets the ball in motion for the rest of the season."

The danger for Claire is more direct due to Carroll actively seeking her out. "The last thing she's thinking of is her own safety," Zea says. "She wants to get to her son [Joey, played by Kyle Catlett], and she wants to do that in any way possible. There's the threat that she feels for herself, but I don't know how aware of it she is."

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It will only be a matter of time before Claire and her son are reunited, but Zea wouldn't divulge details of that anticipated moment ("I know exactly how that moment would be!" she teased). Either way, when that moment comes, it is an "intense situation" for all involved.

There is one particular scene from "Guilt" that ranks high for Zea. "It's the last scene for Claire; it's very much toward the end, where that shift that everybody's talking about takes place," the actress says. "She makes this definitive choice, and the strength of that character gets to shine through that hasn't yet -- and it's a strength that gets carried out."

This change will be all-encompassing. "It affects everything. It affects location. It takes her from being a reactive character to being a proactive character," Zea says. "There are so many elements that take her to a completely different place."

Though Zea was coy, she hinted that the final two episodes of The Following's freshman season are not to be missed. "There will be more questions," she says. "It feels as though there is some closure ... and then there isn't." Though the season is ending in a month, Zea is privy to the broad strokes of what season two may entail, calling it a "smart" way to continue the story. "I think it's going in the right direction, so I'm curious and excited to see," she says.

Should viewers be worried about Ryan Hardy (Kevin Bacon), Debra Parker (Annie Parisse) and the rest of the team, on the heels of Paul's (Adan Canto) death? "Yes, you should. You should be worried about everybody," Zea says. 

The Following airs at 9 p.m. Mondays on Fox.

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