On Fox’s THE FOLLOWING, now in its second season Monday nights at 9 PM, it’s a year after the events of Season 1. Profiler Ryan Hardy (Kevin Bacon) is no longer with the FBI and he’s trying to put his life back together after tangling with serial killer/cult leader Joe Carroll (James Purefoy). Ryan is brought in to consult on what may be a new set of serial murders, unaware that Carroll is not as dead as he appeared to be after his charred remains were identified.
Series creator/show runner Kevin Williamson (writer of the SCREAM films, creator of DAWSON’S CREEK and executive producer/adapter of THE VAMPIRE DIARIES) is at Fox’s Q&A session for THE FOLLOWING for the Television Critics Association. When the panel is over, Williamson sticks around for some FOLLOWING follow-up questions from a small group of reporters.
ASSIGNMENT X: When you originally conceived of THE FOLLOWING, did you think maybe you’d follow different serial killer each season, rather than stick with Joe Carroll?
KEVIN WILLIAMSON: Yeah, by the way, we do [follow different killers]. When you watch the show, we’ve brought in many characters through the course of [the first season’s] fifteen episodes. We brought in Roderick [Warren Kole], we had Jacob [Nick Tortorella], we had Paul [Adan Canto], but then we brought in Maggie [Virginia Kull] and all these other characters through the course of the season that lasted for three or four episodes and then they died or went away. And that’s the nature of the show.
AX: Is Joe still an organizing principle?
WILLIAMSON: Maybe, maybe not. What if there was another cult?
AX: Do we see a flashback to how Joe escaped the fire?
WILLIAMSON: How Joe survives? Oh, yeah, we see it, we answer it, we find out where he is, where he spent the last year and what he’s been up to and how it all happened. It turns out to be this amazing little character, Joe’s first new follower.
AX: Do you know how you’re going to handle more seasons? Someone asked what you’ll be doing in Season 9 …
WILLIAMSON: If we’re here nine seasons from now, oh, dear. We’ll all be in walkers. I do think the fun of the show is, we do bring in new killers. And we do bring in new ones this year. Sam Underwood [as Luke] makes a big impression. And he causes much havoc this entire season, and he’s fun and he’s delicious and he’s a showman and he’s a role player. So he’ll take a dead body and play with it. But once again, he’s longing for something. He’s alone on this planet and he’s longing for a family. He’s trying to find a family.
AX: When we last saw Joe’s homicidal follower Emma, played by Valorie Curry, she felt pretty betrayed by Joe …
WILLIAMSON: Yes. She’s more confused [at the beginning of Season 2].
AX: So we don’t know whether she’s on Joe’s side for awhile this year?
WILLIAMSON: Well, she’s confused. And she’s been on her own for a year, with no help from Joe Carroll. So if in fact Joe Carroll is alive, in her mind, he’s going to have some explaining to do. “Why did you abandon me? If you had this other plan, why didn’t I know about it?” Or, “Did you have another plan? Maybe you need me. Maybe you’re trapped. Maybe I can help you.” She’s a ball of mixed feelings, because she doesn’t have answers. And so the first thing she needs to do is find some answers to her questions. And she doesn’t even know if Joe’s alive or not.
I think it was the very second episode of first season, we flashed back and showed how she and Jacob met. And we saw the moment where she killed her mother and the impulse – if Jacob had wised up, the very moment that she killed her mother should have clued him in that he should never have gotten too close to her, because the impulse was there. I don’t think the plan was to stab her mother in the back before the salad. I think she was going to kill her around dessert. [Emma] never had a father and she never felt creatively fulfilled. Her mother was just this sort of trashy woman who used sex to get what she wanted in life, and I think actually Emma’s not proud of that she does use that when she needs to. And if that doesn’t work, she finds a very sharp object. But the good news about Emma is, she’s a survivor, she’s in a different place this year, she’s grown up, she’s wised up and she’s still a bit of a psychopath in a lot of ways, but she’s a little more grounded in what she wants and what she wants to accomplish, and she’s much more guarded and she’s stronger. So she’s in a different place a year later, and it’s really been exciting to write for her.
AX: Were you surprised at how much Valorie Curry popped as Emma?
WILLIAMSON: No, I expected it. I was grateful. When she came in, I gave her a dummied-up scene [that wasn’t part of the final script] to audition with, and she came in with that little short red hair and I just went, “Oh, she’s the Angel of Death. She should not watch anyone’s child. She’s so creepy.” And she played it so stone cold-faced, I just fell madly in love with her and I thought, “I love her, I hope everyone else does,” and she was one of the first people cast. I really liked her. And looking back, there are so many characters I love and I hate, like Roderick. I loved [actor Warren Kole]. I love him so much. I tried to get him on THE ORIGINALS. He wouldn’t do it. He was, “If you’re going to kill me off, I’m not going to …” [laughs] He’s so amazing. And so it’s just been a fun show for me. There are so many things I want to do. I’m so ambitious, there are so many things, so many stories I want to tell. My brain’s going a mile a minute, so yes, eventually, it’s a TV schedule, you have to sort of narrow them down, you have to sort of focus them and you have to sort of tell the story that’s in front of you and you run out of time – you’ve got to do it. But yes, I want to show you so much more.
AX: You’ve talked about realizing the FBI looked a little inept in first season and addressing that this year …
WILLIAMSON: That was never really intentional. I kind of got ahead of it before you guys saw it, but we in the writers’ room were like, “Oh …” But it’s one of those shows where I was surprised it was such a big criticism, because that’s sort of the case in all of these shows. I felt like, why aren’t we talking about it on other shows that do it just as badly? But this is my show and you’ve got to cop to it, and that was some dumb FBI work. And it was never intentional, and one of the things that we’ve done this year is – you think I like reading how dumb the FBI is? It hurts. So we’ve got a bunch of new writers and Number One objective – no dumb FBI moves. So if there are any in there, then maybe we just disagree about what’s smart [laughs]. The audience is watching both sides. The FBI is only privy to what they’re privy to. The audience is privy to what the bad guys are up to. And so that alone makes the FBI seem [uninformed].
AX: Are there any tonal shifts in Season 2?
WILLIAMSON: Yeah. You know what? It’s a network show. When you conceive a show, you start here [indicates one place] and you end up here [indicates another place], and they’re totally different places. I never expected the impact of the six-act structure on a thriller. I’d never really done a thriller like this on television. I’d never had to sort of write to a commercial break and keep a pace up and keep a tone and tell a character arc. And this is a very ambitious show. I didn’t realize how ambitious it was until I sat down to do it. And the pilot’s one thing. You make a flashy pilot, you can surprise everyone and come out with it, and then you have to actually do a fifteen-episode arc. And getting back to the FBI – I didn’t realize [Season 1] was just going to be a show about Ryan Hardy searching for little Joey. You can’t crack a joke if you’re searching for little Joey. He’s a kid. He’s the most important thing – I have to save the kid of the woman I love. And so nothing else matters. You can’t really crack a joke. I like humor. I write gallows humor. I like my pop culture. I like my self-awareness. I like all of that stuff. And there really was no place for it. I never envisioned the show to be about one man in the middle of a task force. In retrospect, that was the thing that we struggled with the most last year, was that he was in an investigation, and it was an investigation that he could not win, or there’s no fifteen episodes. So no more kids. Little Joey’s in witness protection with his grandmother.
AX: You’ve said Season 2 may be a little bit less violent than Season 1 …
WILLIAMSON: Well, I didn’t do it intentionally. It just sort of happened by storyline. One thing leads to another when you’re breaking these stories and you do what the story calls for, and by the way, there is some violence. I don’t want to pretend it’s not a violent show – it still very much has a lot of the trademark of last year. But if you watched it closely last year and you watched it this year, I think you would agree that there’s less killing for some reason. Maybe there’s not so many mass murders. I don’t know. It’s how it should go, honestly. A brand-new team of writers have joined me this year, and we’ve had an amazing time and they’ve been brilliant and amazing and wonderful, and we just took the story in directions that maybe don’t call for as much violence. It’s just as twisted and creepy – a little more psychological than it was last year, because it’s more character-based, but it is probably not as bloody as it was last year.
AX: When you’re out and about, do you look at objects and think, “How could this be used to kill someone”?
WILLIAMSON: No. I’m a little baby. I’m skittish, I get scared of the dark and I’m squeamish. Real violence terrifies me. I don’t like real violence. I can’t watch real violence – sometimes I have to turn off the news. If I go on YouTube and I see the tsunamis, I can’t see a real person die. But fiction’s okay. Fiction is where those things can live. They can’t live in the real world. It’s not acceptable. I have a hard time with that.
AX: There have been some rumors about a DAWSON’S CREEK reunion show. Is there any truth to that?
WILLIAMSON: I can pretty much tell you no. And by the way, no one’s talking about it. I think it’s all sort of Twitter-y. Thank God that DAWSON’S CREEK had made such an impact, so that we have people that would love to see that. But even from the opening credits, it’s such a nostalgic piece. Even when we made it, it was meant to be, here are all these kids who are making all these memories together, and that’s the show now for me, and I don’t know how the others feel about it, but for me, it’s a memory piece. And I look back on it, and it’s just the most amazing and greatest thing that ever happened in my life. Because it’s my life story brought to the TV screen on a weekly basis and by all these brilliant actors and it gave me a career. And I love it.
AX: So you wouldn’t want to revisit that?
WILLIAMSON: No, I would never. I would never even consider it. But I respect all the people who want it and I hope they continue to talk about it forever. Let’s keep talking about it, but I don’t think we really, really want it.
AX: Meanwhile, is it fun having a show like THE FOLLOWING, where you can continually add new characters and new twists?
WILLIAMSON: If you get picked up and you have an audience that sticks with you and has faith in you and it likes what you’re doing up until now.
AX: Are you working on anything else?
WILLIAMSON: There are so many stories that I want to tell that I haven’t been able to tell and guess what? I’m going to start developing a new show that I’m doing and so that’ll hopefully tell some of those stories.
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Article Source: Assignment X
Article: Interview with THE FOLLOWING creator Kevin Williamson on Season 2