There are new threats and new romances coming in “The Following” season 3, as Kevin Bacon has previewed and as executive producer Brett Mahoney discussed with reporters on Tuesday, Feb. 24. Who’s going down a dark path this season? Can Ryan be happy in a relationship? Who’s Theo? Bacon and Mahoney have teased answers to those questions and more.
When season 3 of “The Following” begins, Ryan does have a new woman in his life, Gwen (Zuleikha Robinson), and while his love life has been more than “complicated” in the past, that changes this season. “[Gwen] truly is the right woman for him,” Bacon shared. “She’s not involved with the FBI. She’s not involved with the case. She’s not a killer. She’s a doctor. She’s someone who helps people, heals people. That’s really what I need in my life, and she’s also willing and able to kind of call me on my s***. So when I look at her, I say to myself, ‘okay, this is the girl that I should be with,’ and the struggle of trying to keep that relationship together, in light of this incredibly difficult and bloody and stressful job that I have, is going to be part of what is the backbone of the season.”
It’s not going to be easy for Ryan, especially with Joe Carroll very much still in the picture. “It’s almost like a love triangle because I’ve told this woman that he’s out of my life 100 percent, and here he comes, making his way back into my life and she’s not happy about it,” he explained. Another problem comes from the fact that, according to Mahoney, Ryan is going to wonder if he feels “worthy in terms of does he deserve this [healthy relationship] and can it work?”
There are, once again, multiple threats, from past ones like Mark (Sam Underwood) and Dr. Strauss (Gregg Henry) to new characters and the question of whether or not the current murders are connected to Joe Carroll or not. “We have a fantastic, loving and extremely beautiful couple named Daisy and Kyle [played by Ruth Kearney and Hunter Parrish], who are terrible, terrible sociopaths but incredibly in love with each other,” Bacon previewed.
Then there’s Michael Ealy’s Theo, who, according to Bacon, “is sort of slow burning into the season this year.” “He’s actually a guy that prefers to be behind the scenes, to not be in the limelight,” he teased. “You will see pretty quickly that that is equally as chilling and equally as terrifying. [He’s] the shark that swims beneath the surface of the water.” Mahoney offered a few more teases about Theo. “We will find out that he’s a character that sort of comes from the mythology of the show and he has a place in it and based upon events that happen and stuff that was set up in the previous season, he comes to light and he comes out of the shadows and becomes a significant threat to Ryan Hardy.” The EP described him as a kind of villain that hasn’t been seen on the show yet, as well as “charismatic” and “a chameleon” with “many different identities.”
Shifting gears to the good guys, Max (Jessica Stroup) is now in the FBI, and Bacon revealed that “one of the craziest and most angry that [Ryan gets] in the course of the season has to do with something that happens to Max” and “with her not being protected in a way that [he finds] absolutely unacceptable.” This season is “going to test her and test whether she’s willing and what situations she would be willing to break and bend [the] rules,” Mahoney shared. Then there are the relationship issues she’ll have with Mike (Shawn Ashmore) and Tom, which gets complicated because Tom is “a good guy,” according to Bacon. “He works hard. He’s in the FBI. He’s SWAT so he’s a badass, and you can’t really fault the guy.”
As for Mike, he’s going to be “in a really dark headspace,” with Bacon even saying, “he’s probably a little bit more Ryan than Ryan is at he beginning of the season.” The executive producer agreed, adding, “he’s in a very similar situation to Ryan in terms of how much he is willing to give up for revenge.” There will be flashbacks to him choosing to leave to try to find Mark instead of staying with Max. “He kind of gave up the chance to have a normal relationship because of his obsession with revenge, and that has taken him to some darker places than we’ve seen him previously, and it sort of colored who he is.”
What does that mean for Ryan and Mike? “I think Ryan is taking responsibility this season in terms of – and I think this is sort of what he was doing at the end of last season when he chose not to shoot Joe Carroll – that he saw that he was leading Mike, and even Max, to some extent, down a dark path, and he’s trying to avoid that and trying to keep him from it,” Mahoney said. “Now he sees Mike going down that same path, and he’s trying to pull him away from it based upon his own experiences.” However, Mike argues that he’s “a hypocrite” based on his past actions. “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,” the EP previewed.
With the “close of the Joe Carroll chapter” comes the “opportunity to…shift focus and go back to…really making the show more Ryan Hardy-centric and more focused on our hero,” Mahoney told reporters. “And I think we’ve done that pretty successfully an really found some great character stuff for him and really sort of just framed the show more around him.” While Ryan is happier than he’s been at the start of the season, however, that is going to change. “It won’t be easy for Ryan, and, of course, he’s going to be tempted to go down a dark path himself.”
“The Following” season 3 airs Mondays at 9 p.m. on Fox.