Each year, Fox's cult killer drama The Following returns to New York Comic-Con for a sneak peek at what's to come in the twisted lives of Ryan Hardy (Kevin Bacon) and Joe Carroll (James Purefoy) - 2014 is no different. Last year, fans were treated to the introduction of Lily Gray (Connie Nielsen) - a character that, along with her twin boys (both played by Sam Underwood), turned out to be the driving force behind much of season 2.
However, with Lily Gray's story wrapped-up, and Carroll once again in police custody, it's hard to know where producer Marcos Siega will take the series when it returns in 2015. Despite his homicidal blood lust, Carroll remains a character that could, in the long run, be redeemable: will season 3 see him team-up with Hardy to help squash the murderous cult Carroll created (as his control over his followers has begun to slip) or will the upcoming series afford him, once again, an escape from custody to cull an entirely new Following?
While Siega, along with cast members Kevin Bacon, and Shawn Ashmore (Mike Weston) walked a careful line between teasing and spoiling - the NYCC Following panel provided enough information to give us some idea of what fans can expect from season 3.
- A quick piece of preview footage shows Ryan Hardy, happy, and giving a toast at a wedding - until he is attacked by a knife-wielding follower.
Check out the season 3 teaser trailer for yourself below:
- Season 3 picks up one year after season 2 but flashbacks featuring relationships with other FBI agents will be shown to help the audience catch up with where Hardy has been in the interim. The writers designed the season 3 premiere to be an entry point for new viewers too - with flashbacks and details to help ensure that no one who wants to watch is left behind. According to Siega, what makes the show great, and his pitch to new viewers, is the character content - and that we learn to love the villains too.
- Bacon says last season was about the masks we wear - and Hardy masking his pain. This season Hardy is in a much better place. He's got a girlfriend and his relationship is strong with his niece - he's got a life.
- Conversely, Mike has lost everything and made a decision to go off on a hunt for Mark - which has pushed him away from Hardy. Mike doesn't blame Hardy for his personal losses and the decisions he's made have been his own but this season is about Mike trying to decide whether to give himself over to the vengeance or try to move on like Hardy.
- Joe and Mark will not be hidden from the audience. Joe plays a big part in the season - and that chapter of the Following has its proper ending. There are a lot of scenes with Ryan visiting Joe in prison but they're trying to do something different from Hannibal and similar shows. Additionally, Joe's story is just the tip of the iceberg. Mark will be a shark under the water - used in ways to surprise the audience. In the first episode, we'll find out who was in the car with Mark (it's a woman) at the end of the finale. Mark is in a very desperate place - he's lost his entire family and could be a threat to anyone (Joe, Mike, and/or Hardy).
- Siega reiterated that the producers shot two endings last season - one where Joe was killed and one where Joe lived (which they went with). Fans wanted Joe to stay on the show and Siega believes there is plenty more to do with his character.
- Hardy is concerned about Mike and his well-being - he believes Mike is at risk. But the most interesting thing that drives a show is conflict. Conflict between Carroll, Mike, Hardy, and Mark fuels this season but it's important that the characters grow and change - especially Mike this season. Mike is very raw, it's on the surface but there's a guard that's up now.
- Zuleikha Robinson plays Hardy's new girlfriend - an ER Doctor. The second episode will feature a flashback about how the two met. It's the first time that Hardy could be in a relationship with the right woman - since Claire (the wife of a serial killer he caught) might not have been the healthiest choice. Bacon believes Claire leaving Hardy in season 2 was a great gift.
- Max Hardy (Jessica Stroup) is in a relationship with a character named Tom, a SWAT guy that we will see regularly. Mike still wants to be with her but has to make the choice between fighting for her or his thirst for vengeance against Mark.
- Dr. Arthur Strauss (Carroll's mentor played by Gregg Henry) will return. He's on trial and the audience will meet some of his followers. Part of the season will revolve around Hardy and Mike's questionable methods of dispensing justice.
- Last year, they said they were dialing back on the blood a little bit. Bacon says this year they're actually dialing back on the blood (and "stabby stab") but some of the actual violence will be more disturbing. The actor believes that some of the implied brutality, what you don't see, will be even more frightening than previous seasons. Ashmore says there's a death in episode 2 that's an especially shocking method for killing.
- The producers know where season 3 ends and where season 4 begins - assuming they get a season 4.
The Following season 3 premieres in 2015 on Fox.
Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick for any future updates on The Following, as well as movie, TV, and gaming news.
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