The show was as dark as ever, but our characters were irrevocably changed by the events of the Season 1 finale, and thus, their goals had changed. Ryan Hardy (Kevin Bacon) is no longer working with the FBI to find Joe Carroll (James Purefoy) because the FBI believes Joe is dead — though Ryan knows he’s still alive, so he is now working with his niece Max (Jessica Stroup) outside of the law to find him and exact his revenge.
Williamson warned this season would be less of an FBI chase like Season 1 ended up being most of the time. “I never envisioned this show to be such an FBI hunt,” Williamson tells a small group of reporters. “One of the things I always kept wanting to do was write all those scenes I’d rather see about Ryan Hardy, and Claire, and Joe Carroll, and how he teaches his cult, how he finds these people and their vulnerable minds, and how he sort of digs in there and gets them to turn their will and life over to him, and fall into such a blind devotion.”
Now that little Joey has been found and is safe in witness protection and Claire is dead, Williamson is excited to explore the next stage in Ryan’s life.
“I feel like now we’re on to the obsession,” Williamson says. “Last year, we were trying to find Joe Carroll, and we started to play out at the end of last season where we saw Joe unraveling, because he was obsessed with Ryan, but now you’re telling a full on love story. You’ve got these two men who are 100 percent obsessed with each other. Certainly Ryan is, and they need each other. They fuel each other.”
Williamson teases that Ryan’s obsession will take a darker turn this season as we began to see in the season premiere, as Ryan stared at himself in the mirror wearing a Joe mask. “It’s almost reaching a point where all Ryan wants to do is put a bullet through Joe’s head,” Williamson says.
He continues, “He’s obsessed with it, because he wants vengeance. He wants revenge for everyone who’s died, for Claire. That’s what’s driving and motivating him, but through the course of the season, that’s a false goal because Ryan’s a human and so it’s going to be interesting. His journey this year is to watch how that goal changes over the course of 15 episodes.”
But don’t expect Ryan’s obsession to make his whole life dark. On the contrary, Williamson says they have “lightened Ryan up” a bit in Season 2.
“Ryan has a whole different persona this year in the sense that after last year, he’s not so dark and hopeless and so grim,” Williamson says. “This year, he has the ability to, if you come at him, he’ll come right back at you. He’s learned to cope in a way in which his sense of humor is sort of the surviving side of him and he utilized it.”
And as for Joe’s return, Williamson reveals his salvation wasn’t always a given. “Of course, I’ve considered [killing Joe],” Williamson says. “We’re still telling the story. We’re not done with the story yet. When we’re done with the story, you’ll see, that’ll happen.”
After Sam Underwood’s chilling introduction in the season premiere as psychopathic murdering twins Luke and Mark, you can bet this season will have its fair share of compelling and thrilling villains.
“We have a whole international house of psychos that are just delicious,” Williamson says. “We have some really fun characters. It’s been exciting this year. It is a brand new different show, and it has a lot of the fun stuff from last year, but I think it takes our characters into a new territory, and it’s going to be fun.”
“The Following” airs Monday (Jan. 27) at 9 p.m. ET on FOX.