The season three finale of ‘The Following’ on May 18 ultimately became the series finale when the show was cut from Fox’s lineup. So, did it add up to what the EP wanted?
Where was season four of The Following going to go? What would be the future of Ryan Hardy? Would he ever meet his child? These are all questions that were left in the air after the finale, but Alexi Hawley, the show’s EP broke it all down for us. Warning: spoilers ahead.
‘The Following’ Series Finale
“Season four would have been Ryan hardy as vigilante. Ryan Hardy, lone wolf,” Alexi told us after the season three finale tried, ending the series. Alexi, who was very open on social media about his shock over the cancellation, did admit that the finale was filmed a week or two before the announcements — so no, this finale was not altered at all once they learned that it was canceled.
“Ultimately, the end of the season is Ryan making a very powerful sacrifice,” he added. “In theory, next season would be about him trying to get back, if it all possible, [and] take out every single person that was a threat and get back home again.”
Here’s the rest of our post-mortem Q&A:
If you had known this would be was the last episode, what ending did you want? When you started the show did you have an ending in mind?
We didn’t actually. At the end of the day, this is the story we wanted to tell this season, it’s the story we’ve been building up for for 15 episodes. For us, this answered the questions we had posed for three seasons about Ryan whether he could truly be happy outside of his obsessions. We didn’t go forward thinking we weren’t going to have a season four. We hoped that we would, but we had to lock the finale a week or two before we knew our fate.
After killing Lisa in the final act, for a minute you think Ryan could have become the villain. Was that a thought?
Yeah there was a chance. You know our show very much lives in the gray, and Ryan has crossed the line many times. He crossed it aggressively in episode 12, in the waterboarding of Penny. And you know, how far will you go to protect the people you love? That’s ultimately what season four would have been about, and to what cost of your sou? That very much was a journey we were going to take next season.
Do you think you would have kept James Purefoy longer had you known this would be the series finale?
[His exit] was the way we were planning to end it, honestly. One point clearly was his execution. There was a little discussion. We had always planned for him to infect Ryan. He had infected him from the beginning. We liked the idea of him carrying on beyond death to sort of haunt Ryan. After he was killed, there was a little talk about whether that should be the last image of him, but i really do think that haunting of Ryan was really affective in episode 12. It was chilling.
You always kept your villains – Joe, the twins, Theo – so evil and scary, but still likable.
I think that most shows, their choice is to show villains as evil. For us, the fascination is well, how do you take character like Joe, or Mark, or even Daisy and Kyle and make people that you care about. One of my favorite moments is in episode five where Ryan is chasing Daisy and Kyle, and I don’t know, who are you rooting for? You like them, you like him, you want him to win, but you don’t want them to lose. That is our show in a nutshell. You feel uncomfortable, which I think is a great place to be.
Did you ever contemplate killing Ryan Hardy?
We did not. We felt like his journey would always continue.
Did you go back and forth on giving Mike/Max a happy(ish) ending?
Don’t you think we’ve earned a little happy ending? We definitely tortured you by having the ultimate love scene between them interrupted by a lot of stabbing. It felt only right! That is, at its heart, the love story of our show. Obviously Ryan has led a complicated, emotional journey, in terms of falling in love with Joe Carroll’s ex wife, and then in theory, Gwen really was somebody Ryan was truly in love with, but things are complicated. Mike and Max, you need some happiness. You need wins, as well as losses otherwise it’s just unbalance.
Where do you see Ryan in the future — 5 years down the road?
We were hoping to tell a story in season four and maybe in five, about Ryan the vigilante, Ryan as the man who were haunting down people who was a threat to his family. And ultimately, we had an image of Ryan, holding his child, as an ending of sorts. In a perfect world, that would have been what we were heading for: ultimate happiness for him.
Name one of your favorite scenes.
I can’t pick a favorite. I’m very proud of the box. My wife is horrified by the fact that I came up with it. On a show that is this violent, to have an act that ultimately you never see, but it was all in the audience’s imagination — I’m proud of that. I think that was a really disturbing and effective scene. Also, I loved Mark, it’s one of my favorite characters. [I love] the scene at the breakfast table when he’s talking to the mirror.
Heading to Castle, are you excited?
As heartbroken as I am about The Following, I’m equally excited about going back to Castle.
— Emily Longeretta