'The Following' post-mortem: EP on who's REALLY dead, that cliffhanger, and what you WON'T see in season 3

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Image Credit: Sarah Shatz/FOX

The Following closed out its second season Monday night with a finale that closed some chapters, left several people dead, and had an ending that, executive producer Marcos Siega says, was always meant to be a taste of something different.

In the conversation below, Siega opens up about said finale, telling us who’s really dead, what we’ll see more of next season, why they filmed two endings, and why fans’ reaction to the ending surprised him and creator Kevin Williamson.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: So you filmed two endings for this episode. Was the other a decoy?
SIEGA: No, we were seriously discussing potential ways to [finish the season]. Kevin Williamson and I — we haven’t cleared this with the studio yet — but we will potentially put that [second ending] on the DVD, just as a fun “Here’s what it could have been.” So I don’t want to say specifically what it was, but the idea was we always wanted [the] ending [viewers saw] because we knew what it set up potentially for next year, which is the direction we want to go in. The other ending was actually a better ending for season 2, just not as good of an ending for the series [moving forward] because it unraveled a lot of the things we wanted to do. Does that make sense?

Yes. Also, I have to say, this was a very different kind of cliffhanger than last year.
That was by design. And so was the other one, by the way. We definitely didn’t want to repeat the same type of ending. And it’s interesting, because I’m hearing — when I look on social media and see reactions — some people say, “We loved the episode and are slightly disappointed with the ending.” But I think it’s because they expected what we did last year. They complain about the giant cliffhangers and then when you don’t give it to them, it’s like, “Whoa! Where’s the giant cliffhanger?” But I think everyone will see when we go into next season, we left a lot of open questions out there, and that’s by design. We didn’t want to tie everything up into a neat little bow but we also didn’t want to try and fake you out the way we did last year.

You mentioned the finale set up what you want to do next season, so what does that blueprint look like right now?
I can say that it won’t be about Joe Carroll (James Purefoy). The Joe Carroll chapter is closed, but we wanted to keep Joe alive to make sure we were able to build a proper, big closure for the big Ryan (Kevin Bacon) and Joe chapter of the series. So having him die at the end of the season felt a little bit like we weren’t fulfilling that. So the ending we have currently — having Joe go back to death row — allows us to work toward closing that in the best possible way. And then, obviously, there’s the relationship aspect of his life. How are we going to answer those questions? There’s [also] Mike Weston (Shawn Ashmore). He has that bloodlust for Mark (Sam Underwood), who killed his father, and Mike is the one who killed Mark’s mother. So there’s that looming. And then there’s the question of how does Ryan move on? He said to Joe, “I’m not going to visit you because I’m going to move on and my new life doesn’t involve you. And I will be living my life and not thinking about you,” and Joe just says, “Yeah, good luck with that.” And to me, that’s the hint. You don’t go through the experiences Ryan went through in the past two seasons and forget. These things are going to haunt you. That’s sort of why the dream sequence was there. It’s a little bit of an indication that he’s going to be haunted by these things and that’s how our show evolves. That’s how our show changes. It will be a different premise next year because he’s not chasing Joe. Joe’s not going to escape prison again. And I personally don’t see … we’re not going to turn him into Hannibal Lecter, where [Ryan] has to go to Joe for advice. That’s not what this series is about. So this ending leaves us the opportunity to write toward these other things for Ryan’s character. The DNA of the show is not going to change — it’s still going to be twisty and turny and full of surprises. I think that’s the fun of The Following. But I do think we will evolve next season. The construct is going to be different.

Is James Purefoy going to be part of that?
I’m going to say not as big of a part because [the show] won’t be [about] chasing Joe. But I think he’ll have a very important part. This is something the writers are going to be working toward. I don’t want to say with any real conviction because that’s the part that ends up changing when you’re in the writers’ room. Ideas come up, stories evolve, but that’s where we’re at right now.

So, Ryan broke up with Joe. Why split Claire and Ryan up?
Again, these are foundations for what we think — right now — are going to be important parts of the character moving forward, and he doesn’t know that. He has to be told that. And it’s like, she’s the one saying, “I’m in your past, Ryan. You need to move forward.” And we left a lot of things hanging out there. There’s the Carrie Cooke question, how does he deal with that? And I think those will be fun character beats to play with.

Was Luke’s “death” one of the things you left hanging out there?
I don’t think it’s ambiguous. He’s dead.

Wait. Like, for real?
He was shot in the head!

I didn’t believe it! He was being carried to the car…
We have set up that these twins play house with dead people.

Yeah.
He’s having a conversation with his brother at the end. But, yeah, Luke’s dead.

Aww, man! I was in major denial on that one, apparently.
Let me just put something out there: Emma is dead. And until we turn into a [show with a] zombie strain and bring her back from dead [laughs], she’s dead. We’re done with that device. Luke is [also] dead. It’s funny. On social media, you hear [theories]. Like, Robert, the guy who went with Emma to the Inn to get Claire? I love hearing these theories. “He’s the one in the car!” And I’m like, “How?! She killed him!” I love hearing it because I just feel like we’ve probably done our job in creating so many twists and turns that people think anything is possible.

Exactly! Let’s talk about that last scene, though. I know you’re not going to tell me who, but tell me about ending on that specific note.
What’s interesting — Kevin and I were just talking about it, and we did not anticipate the fans of the show being so “Who’s driving the truck?!” We knew it would be a question, but the design of it was never meant to be a big cliffhanger for us. We didn’t want to repeat the type of cliffhanger from last year. So we wanted the tone of the end of this season to be different. … And the thinking behind that was simply we’re setting something up for next season that will be an important part of the beginning of our season. But I don’t want to say who it is or what their relationship to the twins are. But I love hearing all the theories, but I can say, I have not read one theory that is right.

Lastly, tell me about the kiss between Max and Mike. Is that something that’s going to play out at the beginning of the seasons?
I think our fans would come kill me if we didn’t play that out. People seem to really like that. [Laughs] It’s an important part of Weston’s character and Max’s character. It’s just a nice way to introduce some emotional stakes into our show that are different than just the scares. I liked that people were rooting for that to happen. I wouldn’t mind having a little more of that on the show. It’s just a fun way to keep people engaged. And it was always an idea, it was just [a question of] how to do it. And as we were getting closer to the end, I was worried we weren’t going to find a place to do it. But I think it worked where it was.

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