For the past two seasons FOX’s macabre hit about a man who’s disciples do his bidding, The Following, gears up for a new installment set to premiere Monday, March 2 at 9:00 p.m. This year Brett Mahony jumps from being co-Executive Producer and writer, into the role of Executive Producer with fellow showrunners Alexi Hawley and Marcos Siega.
He took time out of his busy schedule to chat with journalists about what can be expected this season of The Following.
Though the series has chronicled the murderous spree and criminal mind of maniacal Joe Carroll (James Purefoy), season two ended with his final capture by Ryan Hardy (Kevin Bacon), who refused to kill his nemesis. According to Mahony, fans love Purefoy so much they decided to wait and didn’t have Hardy dole out justice his way…yet! Instead, the man awaits execution in an undisclosed location; however, the repercussions of Carroll’s reign still lingers as a new batch of crazies seep out of the woodwork.
Although the focus of the series thus far has been on Hardy’s pursuit of Carroll, Mahony reveals that it will revert back to our hero, Hardy. In the season opener we find he’s happy, in a healthy relationship with Gwen (Zuleikha Robinson), someone outside the FBI, and has tried to put his obsession with Carroll behind him. Mahony previews this will not be the case for Hardy’s partner Mike (Shawn Ashmore), who has lost everything.
Still reeling after watching Mark (Sam Underwood) murder his father in front of him, he turns his back on his relationship with Hardy’s niece Max (Jessica Stroup) in favor of seeking out the killer. “He kind of gave up his chance to have a normal relationship because of his obsession with revenge and that has sort of taken him to some darker places than we’ve seen him previously.” He’s hit rock bottom and will struggle this season. We’ll see how it has affects his relationship with Hardy as the two butt heads. “We actually take them to a place in this season where they have conflict and anger and arguments that we really have not seen previously.”
According to Mahony, the actors really don’t get too much input as to the direction of their character or what they might like to do. However, Bacon who is listed as a producer this season, has pitched broader ideas. For the most part, the actors may chat with writers about the script, want clarification on something or where the character is headed.
Now that Carroll will be “put to bed” so-to-speak and the series is refocusing on Hardy, how did Bacon feel about his character and where he should go this season? Mahony explains their star felt really good with the direction they envisioned for Hardy when they pitched what they had in store, excited about the role having “meaty character-driven [arcs] about what his obsessions mean and what it’s cost him.” Can he truly have a healthy relationship given all that’s occurred or will he go down the dark path again? It’s going to definitely be a struggle as the season progresses.
Last season ended with Mike and Max together; however, the relationship crumbles when Mike goes off in search of Mark. So what’s in store for Ryan’s niece this season? She’s a damn good FBI Agent with a set of values that I feel, differs a little bit from how her uncle and Mike approach the job. Mahony previews that she will be put in situations, having to make decisions as to whether or not she will bend the rules she relies on so much. She’ll be tested. Of course, Max will also be dealing with her broken relationship with Mike, as well as her new beau.
With Carroll locked up, the more immediate threat is Mark, played by Underwood who is phenomenal playing the demented twins. Last season we saw Mike kill Mark’s mother Lily Gray (Connie Nielsen) and Max kill his twin Luke. This took him over the edge and now he’s enlisted a couple that specializes in luring their prey. Mark thinks he’s in charge, but a bigger baddie is on the horizon. Mahony previews, “There is come ultimate larger conspiracy that he’s a part of and he’s being used as a tool.” How long will it take for Mark/Luke to realize he’s being played? My guess is not too long because as Mahony states, although he’s a psycho with homicidal tendencies, he’s not stupid! Question is, who is really in control and how will Mark deal with being a pawn in a bigger plan?
The fans have definitely embraced this show from the beginning. If the charismatic Purefoy as Carroll didn’t draw you in, then Bacon’s Hardy with his unrelenting passion to catch the killer definitely did! For myself, I was glued to the screen, anxious to see the rivalry unfold each week. It was maddening trying to figure out what the hell Carroll’s game was and why was he so fixated on Hardy? It’s scary to think that there are people who can be manipulated to take their own lives in honor of a single man’s vision.
So what does he think draws fans to a show like this? “I think people are drawn to the spook and the scare and the creepiness of it all. I think they’re interested in not just the three-dimensional hero characters, but also the dimensionality that we give our villains.” Mahony describes this season’s villain is derived from the mythology of the series, that “comes out of the shadows and becomes a significant threat to Ryan Hardy.” Interestingly, Michael Ealy (Almost Human) who plays Hardy’s newest rival Theo, literally did scare Mahony during his first day on the set. “I was pretty amazed and a little bit scared myself.” He adds Ealy is “charismatic and also a chameleon” with many different identities. Sounds ominous to me!
But how do they write such incredibly faceted characters and villains, each with their own set of psychosis waiting to be tapped? Mahony describes the writers have a library of books on psychopathy, sociopaths and psychopaths on which they draw on. “In the course of the discussion in the writers’ room they’ll bring up different books and names of books and we’ll discuss them.” In addition they pull articles from online, as well as magazines. He adds although the show doesn’t necessarily use stories ripped from today’s headlines, sometimes life does mimic art, though unwittingly.
Sounds like this season will be another fast-paced, disturbing yet intriguing one. Though Mahony admits being one of the showrunners is more work than he anticipated, he’s up for the challenge and is very excited about the direction of the show. With plans to make the series more heroic-centric, new villains that will be unlike anything we’ve seen thus far and finally closing the Joe Carroll chapters, The Following will definitely be the show to get caught up in all over again!
Don’t miss the season three premiere of The Following, Monday, March 2 at 9 p.m. on FOX!
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