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Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

You can't keep a good psychopath down

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PASADENA, Calif. -- From the moment he read the first script for The Following, Kevin Bacon knew audiences would love the show.

As he pored through the pages for the Fox series, Bacon, who has seen a lot of scripts in his career, was surprised by all the twists and turns. He was confident viewers would be drawn to the interesting, complex characters living through -- or dying in -- shocking moments.

He was right. The first season of The Following was such a hit, Fox ordered a second season, which begins to unfold tonight with a special preview following the NFC Championship game. The new season cranks up Jan. 27.

"The fact that people found it and embraced it, and the excitement that I feel and the connection that I feel to the fans of this show, is probably deeper than anything I've experienced in my career. So that is something that we all are eternally grateful for," Bacon says.

What captivates people is the story of burned-out FBI agent Joe Hardy (Bacon). The near-fatal injuries he sustained while tracking down serial killer -- and cult favourite Joe Carroll (James Purefoy) -- sent Hardy to the sidelines. He was coaxed back to work when Carroll escaped from prison. The first-season chase ended with an explosion that initially looked like it had killed Carroll.

No great villain can be dismissed that easily. Carroll's back, bringing Hardy more pain and misery.

One thing that made the first season so compelling was the fear it generated through plot twists. A pixie-like nanny turns out to be one of Carroll's biggest supporters. Characters who looked like they would be around for a long time got killed. And it was impossible to guess the loyalties of those who didn't die.

All you have to do is watch the first two minutes of the second-season opener to realize even sacred cows go to slaughter.

Series creator Kevin Williamson says he doesn't put violence in the series -- it will run for 15 episodes -- just for the shock value. There has to be a good reason for taking any type of violent action.

"We sort of write to the story and what the story calls for and what the shocking moments are. And, you know, I don't run away. I don't shy away from violence. But I also never, ever just want gore for the sake of gore," Williamson says. "It's always been to sort of shock and sort of push the story forward and make you gasp and also make you truly be afraid and truly be scared of these characters and the situation."

Those situations tend to pop up as the guardians of good and evil wage their mental, physical and emotional battles. Neither Hardy nor Carroll hesitates when it comes to getting what he wants.

This season, what Hardy needs is a little extra motivation to resume his battle against Carroll and his crazed cult followers. Hardy lost his obsession with Carroll when he believed the killer to be dead. On the one-year anniversary of the believed death, Hardy is given reason to resume his battle. In a contrast to the first season, Hardy is now clean and sober.

Williamson stresses that the show is about Hardy's journey and his struggle to find some hope in life, to find some reason to live. He has a death curse that hangs over him like a dark cloud.

One thing that remains the same is Carroll's band of fanatical followers.

"Psychopaths are willing to step outside the normal bounds of human behaviour, and I think people find that really interesting and people fantasize about that themselves. Most people don't carry it out, but they think, wow, that's amazing that these people can live with no sense of empathy for somebody else or no sense of an idea of a consequence to any of their actions," Purefoy says.

 

-- MCT Information Services

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 19, 2014 A14

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