Two powerhouse actors - Kevin Bacon and James Purefoy - and one genius script spells hit series. Then again, creator Kevin Williamson probably knew that when he penned The Following. Debashine Thangevelo looks at how Williamson's allure with nifty twists and playground for all things terrifying were amalgamated to give birth to this series, now back with more blood spattered minefields and psychologically cruel distractions...
KEVIN Bacon’s home-coming on TV created quite a buzz. Admittedly, the first season lived up to all the hype.
In fact, there were moments when even I was completely immersed in the cat-and-mouse chase between Bacon’s character, former FBI Agent Ryan Hardy, and James Purefoy as Joe Carroll.
Every episode saw the writers unleash another brainwashed puppet of the serial killer, who was still madly in love with his wife Claire despite her affair with Ryan.
Looking at creator Kevin Williamson’s big and small screen exploits – Dawson’s Creek, The Vampire Diaries, Scream, I Know What You Did Last Summer, Teaching Mrs Tingle and Cursed – you can clearly draw from his playful knack for amalgamating drama, suspense and psychological minefields into a storyline.
That’s probably why The Following has become such a hit. He is a master puppeteer at reeling in his audience by constantly baiting them with a sprinkling of clues. Of course, he is very cunning by never giving anything away.
In an interview with Collider. com, Williamson shed light on the cast changes.
“It’s such a hard question to answer because I’m looking at it as we approach episode 11, which we’re currently working on, and I think the entire show’s different.
“I think our characters are in a different starting place, pushing forward a year later. I think the biggest difference is that it’s not such an FBI chase, in the sense that Ryan Hardy’s not a consultant, smack in the centre of an FBI task force, trying to find Joey who’s been kidnapped.
“This story is a bit more of a character thriller and a relationship thriller, if that makes sense, rather than a procedural FBI hunt-them-down thriller,” he said.
This season, Jessica Stroup joins as Max Hardy (Ryan’s niece). She is an NYPD cop working in the Intel Division and becomes invaluable to her uncle. Other cast additions include: Connie Nielsen as Lily Gray, one of the survivors, Tiffany Boone as Mandy and Sam Underwood as Luke/Mark.
As for bringing Joe back, the creator defends: “I love James Purefoy as Joe Carroll. I felt like I have the rest of the story to tell.
“I feel like there was so much, last year, where we were trying to find out about little Joey. There was so much of the cult and Joe Carroll and what he was about and what he was doing that we didn’t get to tell.”
On what becomes of Emma, Joe’s disciple, he reveals: “In real honesty, we needed a lot of real estate to set up our new characters. But she does emerge, in a big way. She has spent the year hiding in the shadows of society. She’s had a hard time. She’s the FBI’s most wanted.”
With Joe’s so-called return from the dead, feelings of abandonment and anger run rampant for Emma. Meanwhile, the cult is resurrected, the bodies are pilling up and Ryan is running out of time. Brace yourself for another thrilling ride.
• The Following, M-Net (DStv Channel 101), Tuesdays, 9.30pm.