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[WARNING: Spoilers ahead from Monday’s season finale of The Following, “Forgive”]
The Following has big plans for season three.
The sophomore season closed out with a final episode that saw one major death (R.I.P. Luke), one arrest (Joe Carroll), one kiss (Max and Weston) and one vowing to start anew (Ryan Hardy). But the Fox serial-killer drama took a less flashy approach in its final scene: With Luke’s body in tow, Mark heads off to parts unknown in a white truck driven by an unknown party whom he knows.
Executive producer Marcos Siega talks to The Hollywood Reporter about ending the season on a tamer note, not killing off Joe Carroll, introducing more than one “big bad” and justifying the Max-Weston kiss.
Why did you opt to go with a more thought-provoking, mysterious ending rather than a splashier close like last year?
We didn’t want to repeat. We had versions where we could have easily gone the big cliffhanger route, and we thought it was more interesting to set up a series of questions and make it more thought-provoking, and people wanting to know answers that aren’t necessarily the big cut-to-black, “Did somebody die or no?” That would have been repeating last year. We genuinely have plans to shake up the series next year, and it was important to lay a lot of foundation for that that isn’t totally obvious to everybody just yet. But I think when people see what we’re planning on doing next year, it will reveal itself.
What was the rationale for letting Joe live and having him go to prison?
I think there’s a better way to wrap up the Joe Carroll part of the story than just have him die in a moment in the finale. The ideas we were playing with for next year all service what Joe Carroll being alive for a while, how it [affects] Ryan Hardy as a character. It was important to have a real resolution that we could work towards next season to close that chapter. Killing him would have done a disservice to that story.
Was there significant thought given to killing Joe and having Ryan prevail?
Absolutely. These are ongoing discussions. [Executive producer] Kevin Williamson has very strong feelings about what we needed to do to set up how we would move forward and a lot of thought went into it. We could have done a number of different numbers, and we knew that we were running the risk of having the audience say, “That?! What do you mean?” We’re so used to the cliffhangers on the show. But this was a better ending for the series. Maybe we could have done a more exciting ending for the season had we been a little bit more dramatic and drastic, but it would have done a disserve to the series. We had to think bigger picture.
How prominent will Joe’s presence be in season three? Will he be a thread?
It’s still early, but in my mind right now, nowhere near as big a thread as he’s been. He’s going to serve an important purpose in terms of Ryan’s character.
Will there be a new big bad?
If not one, I think there’s going to be more than one big bad. We like the idea of, again, shaking it up a little bit, and we’re going to step outside of the construct of these first two seasons. These were the Joe Carroll chapters, and it’s going to evolve into something else. There will be some new fresh faces coming in.
The finale left off with Mark getting into a white truck with an unknown driver. How big of a role will this truck driver have in season three? Can you divulge whether it’s someone we’ve met or someone we will meet?
Do you really think I’m going to tell you that? (Laughs.) Good try. My wife asks me, and I wouldn’t tell her.
There are several theories floating out there about the identity of the truck driver. Some names that have cropped up have included Claire and even Carrie. Do you know the identity of the truck driver?
I’ll answer it in a very Following-esque mysterious way: We absolutely know who it won’t be. I love when I read all these theories because it’s very, very, very rare where people have actually guessed. People can say “I knew Claire was alive!” and that’s different and that’s fine. What our writers have done exceptionally well is surprise people, and that won’t be any different. I think next year people will be pretty surprised.
Speaking of theories, there’s an idea floating out there that Ryan may have dreamt up some of the events because of the nightmare sequence. Can you set the record straight?
I hadn’t heard this one. The concept behind the dream sequence was for me personally — this might not even be a Kevin Williamson thing — I definitely like having a little fun with the callback to the end of last season with the takeout. That wasn’t even in the script; I purposely had him walk in with the same bag tied in the same way to create the sense of “Oh, my God, something horrible is going to happen.” But the dream sequence was really, you’re not going to experience these events in your life like Ryan has and not be a weight on you. It’s a little bit of a taste that it’s not going to be easy for him to let go of everything that has happened to him. They’re going to haunt him. That was the conceit behind doing that.
Claire said that she wanted to live her life with her son. Is she truly done with Ryan or is there a chance she could return?
There’s possibility for anything. The protagonist on our show is Ryan Hardy, and we have a lot of ideas as to how to build his character up, have the show evolve and change and grow and if it means — sometimes you may need to go to that well of characters that you’re familiar with — but I don’t think it’s all very black and white just yet. The writers need an opportunity to play with some ideas.
In happier news, Max and Weston’s kiss was a long time in the making, and Max verbalized what all the viewers were thinking when she said, “Finally!” Was that always in the cards or a reaction to viewers gravitating toward the pair?
I’m going to say it was always in the cards because it was always a thought. We were very lucky that there was chemistry. It’s really hard in a show like this, if you really think about it. When do you stop to have a moment? That was a struggle. We knew we wanted them to have the kiss, but you’re working on the finale and you’re building, building, building and it’s [a question of]: When is it going to happen? When are we going to do this? I liked that she saves him [in the house] and they have a moment there, and you’re like, they could have done it there; let’s tease it and they don’t. And I think the stakes are a little bit too high there at that moment. In staging it and [Weston] getting her off to the side [of the crime scene at the end], it was earned. We shot a much longer version of the kiss, but I thought it was too much. It’s earned. I’m happy they did it.
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