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“I don’t see the show as nearly [as violent], now that we’re shooting episode 11,” Williamson told reporters Monday afternoon at the Television Critics Association press tour. “It’s just from the storytelling of this year and the story we’re choosing to tell kind of has different shapes and changes, and where it’s at, I find it less violent than last year.”
The Following picks up one year after the events of the explosive season-one finale, which saw the presumed death of Ryan Hardy’s archnemesis, serial killer Joe Carroll, and the fate of Ryan’s love Claire unclear. The time jump essentially resets the show, showing a newly rehabilitated Ryan attempting to move on with his life. He’s inevitably pulled in when a crop of murders forces the FBI to ask for his expertise.
“This year it’s a different show. It’s a different story and what the story calls for,” Williamson elaborated, reiterating that he never wants “gore for the sake of gore.”
He did cop to the fact that the season-two premiere is bloody. “The first episode, ‘OK, there’s a little bit [of violence], but I felt [director] Marcos [Siega] did a beautiful job of making it scary. I don’t really see it as gory. I guess it’s subjective. I like a little bit of violence, sorry.”
Though Ryan may start off the season on a lighter note without the apparent threat of Joe Carroll looming, the chances of that lasting are slim to none.
“This second season, seemingly, I have lost my obsession for Joe. I have stepped in a different place in my life and he is no longer burning inside my heart in the way that he was in season one,” Kevin Bacon said. “But like everything on The Following, things are not always the way they seem. You find out in season two that a lot us have masks that we’re living and truth is that he is incredibly important to me. Sadly, the most important thing in my life.”
Several new characters will be introduced into The Following universe: Connie Nielsen, playing Lily Gray, the lone survivor of a murder spree; Sam Underwood, as Luke; Jessica Stroup, as Ryan’s cop niece Mandy; and Tiffany Boone, playing Mandy Lang. “We needed to bring in some new characters because we killed them all,” Williamson half-joked, which could serve as a spoiler for viewers unaware of Claire’s fate, which will be addressed in the first two minutes of the opener.
During the Monday afternoon panel, James Purefoy admitted to lying for months about not knowing whether he would return to the show (“I always knew I was going to live”), but Williamson left the question open in regards to how long Joe Carroll’s shadow would be cast on The Following.
“I wouldn’t assume any of that stuff,” Williamson said when a reporter hypothesized that Purefoy would remain a heavy part on the show. “I would not say that.” That prompted Bacon to pose this question, perhaps jokingly: “Wouldn’t it be more interesting with Ryan Hardy dying?”
Williamson also addressed criticism that the FBI team was inept for much of the first season in their hunt for Joe Carroll. “A lot of it was fair,” he said of the critique. “[It happens] every time you have a serialized show where your main character is sitting on an FBI couch, and they’re not catching the bad guy and you’re trying to have twists and turns. His solution: taking Ryan out of the FBI setting altogether, something he hinted to at Comic-Con.
The Following premieres Sunday following the NFC Championship Game on Fox.
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