In the Season 2 premiere of The Following, the action picked up right where it left off in the first season finale. Joe Carroll (James Purefoy) was apparently dead and a very weary Ryan Hardy (Kevin Bacon) was getting ready to have a relaxing dinner of take-out with Claire. Joe was gone and there were FBI guards outside the door. What could go wrong? Everything.
In a brutal attack, both Claire and Ryan were mercilessly stabbed by Ryan's seemingly friendly neighbor who also happened to be one of Joe's followers. Ryan woke up in the hospital to be informed by a teary-eyed Mike Weston (Shawn Ashmore) that Claire had died. Fast-forward one year later and we found a healthy and sober Ryan going out for a jog and teaching forensics. All traces of the horror and trauma of searching for Joe were gone... or were they?
Soon there was a new group of Joe's disciples murdering people on subways and playing with corpses before propping them up in creepy poses. Ryan was asked by the FBI to help out, but he claimed no knowledge or interest in the case and left his buddy Mike trying to solve the mystery on his own. It looked like Ryan was just going to go back to his new life, but soon it became clear that he was hiding a secret of his own: Ryan Hardy had become obsessed with Joe Carroll.
At last week's Television Critics Association press tour, Kevin Bacon spoke about the journey Ryan will be going through this season. Bacon remarked that one of the more interesting things about Season 2 is that "seemingly I have lost my obsession for Joe. I have moved on to other things in my life. But like everything on The Following, not everything is as it seems.
"The truth is that [Joe] is very important to me. Sadly, the most important thing in my life," Bacon revealed.
Last season, Ryan was a broken man with a heart problem who never could seem to get the upper hand on Joe or his followers. At every turn, poor Ryan found himself and the people he cared about outwitted and often injured at the hands of the followers. This season, Ryan has obviously decided to fight back.
According to creator/executive producer Kevin Williamson, Ryan won't be as broken as he was last season. Instead, Season 2 will focus on "Ryan's relationship with Joe and what Joe means to him."
At the end of the Season 2 premiere, Ryan donned a mask worn by one of Joe's followers after getting confirmation that the psychopath was still alive. The scene was a freakish moment in an episode full of frightening scenes. Does this mean that Ryan will let more people in on the fact that he's been obsessed with Joe all this time?
Ryan could understandably be leery of letting too many people in on what he's doing. After all, Joe took great pleasure in systematically destroying everyone that Ryan cared about last season. If Ryan lets, say, Mike know about his secret, he could be setting his friend up for danger.
The idea of Ryan seeking out family is a theme that will be addressed in Season 2. According to Williamson, Ryan has "forged a relationship with his niece" and sees Mike as family. Ryan had given up on the idea of having a family, "but now he might be ready to see himself having one again," Williamson said.
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