When “The Following” reintroduces viewers to Ryan Hardy (Kevin Bacon) in Season 3 on Monday (March 2), it’s been a year since he put Joe Carroll away for good. Ryan has started to move on with his life, or so it seems.
“I’ve got a woman that is actually the right woman for me to be with,” Bacon tells Zap2it about Ryan’s state of mind when Season 3 begins. “I’m on the precipice of opening up my heart and my apartment to her, and I have convinced myself that Joe Carroll, I don’t need him anymore.”
Joe (James Purefoy), however, was the key relationship in Ryan’s life for several years, so it’s not exactly easy for him to move on. And it just wouldn’t be “The Following” if some new, grisly breed of murderer weren’t lurking just around the corner.
“I think I’ve convinced myself that I’ve filled the hole [left by Joe], and filling a hole is exactly what the issue is,” Bacon says. “I think what we’re going to find out in the course of the season is … I’m gonna start to realize and my girlfriend is gonna start to realize … that I haven’t gotten past him. It’s like a whack-a-mole — you stop drinking, and there’s another addiction that pops up in its place. Then how am I going to deal with it when he’s truly gone, when he’s no longer on this earth. What’s that going to do to me? Am I cleansed, or am I destroyed?”
While Ryan deals with that, he and Mike Weston (Shawn Ashmore) — who’s still purusing his vendetta against Mark Gray (Sam Underwood) — will also be investigating a new string of crimes that appears to be tied to Ryan in some way.
“[It’s] a totally different approach, which is what’s kind of exciting. Understanding Joe, we knew who we were hunting,” Ashmore says. “This season, especially at the beginning, we have no idea who we’re hunting or why this is happening. There’s a certain level of discovery for our characters, because we don’t know where this is coming from … or why.”
With Joe (presumably) no longer leading a cult of psychotic followers, “The Following’s” tone will change slightly. The “rock star” vibe Joe took on toward the end of Season 2 is gone, Bacon says, replaced by something a little bit more grounded.
“There’s less massacres,” Ashmore says. “It’s more targeted violence than, ‘OK, we’ve got the cult this year and they’re gonna go on a rampage and just kill everyone in this bakery, just because.’ It’s more targeted and more specific and for a purpose.”
Ashmore and Bacon also promise that the biggest lingering question from the Season 2 finale — who was driving the truck that picked Mark up? — will be answered early.
“That’s the question I get asked the most,” Ashmore says. “You find out pretty quickly in the new season. I think it’s episode 1 or 2.”
“The Following” premieres at 9 p.m. ET/PT Monday on FOX.