When James Purefoy and I sat down earlier this month, he told me that something would change Joe forever in an upcoming episode. And while we now know that game-changing moment came courtesy of the knife (and then fork!) in Claire's hand, how it truly course-corrected Joe's masterplan remains to be seen in tonight's can't miss season finale!
And The Following's final season one chapter will be equally intriguing for the cast as James told me none of them actually know how the episode comes to a close since they filmed multiple endings!
ETonline: How much did Claire derail Joe's masterplan?
James Purefoy: Well, I think that was a bit of a wrench in the works, but you have to operate from a place of knowing Joe Carroll is insane. He's a serial killer and they are, by definition, insane. He doesn't live by the same rules as the rest of us, or have the same moral goalposts. So Joe's behavior cannot be marked in the same way a normal persons could. Having said that, yes, I think he believed once Claire came back, he'd be able to convince her to love him again. That might seem totally mad to your or I, but he can make himself believe anything he wants because he's insane.
ETonline: Did he believe that up until the moment she stabbed him?
Purefoy: Yes. He was so shocked. He genuinely thought she wanted to kiss him, and then she stabbed him. It f*cked with his wiring really badly because I certainly was not expecting anything like that.
ETonline: So how much of what we're seeing is improvisation and how much is his original plan being carried out?
Purefoy: Yeah, he had to improvise a bit and then he decided she was going to die, which was not the original plan. In the beginning, Joe thought they would go off and live somewhere happily together. However, on the other hand, just because he says Claire is going to die, does that mean she’s going to die? Or is he just using that as bait to get Ryan out in the open? With Joe, you can never quite tell if what he's saying is true or real or false or fake. The thing is, he believes everything he['s saying.
ETonline: What are you excited for fans to see tonight?
Purefoy: Certainly the outcome of Agent Parker, that's something they'll need an inhaler for. It's a terrifying outcome there. It's explosive, obviously. Lots and lots of loose ends will be tied up. You have to bring some satisfying conclusions to some stories, but let's not pretend that Kevin Williamson doesn't want to keep the fish hook in the audience's mouth and tug them along into the next season. He wants people to get excited about what the next season will bring.
ETonline: How much does the cliffhanger inform season two?
Purefoy: I genuinely don't know how tonight's episode ends. We have shot varying degrees of ending, and done several things in ADR that would take it in an entirely new direction for season two. I honestly don’t know what the final frame of this season will be.
ETonline: Well, one would imagine it would have to include an escalation of Joe's plan, right?
Purefoy: Of course. Let's not forget that Joe has only been in Richmond, Virginia this season. You've only seen his followers from that geographical area. His plan was global. Joe can go anywhere in season two and have just as many followers. I beg to remind people that although The F.B.I. is an amazing law enforcement organization, Osama Bin Laden was out there for 13 years before the combined agencies of The United States found him. It's perfectly possible. I mean, The Fugitive ran for 150 episodes or something [laughs].
The Following airs tonight at 9 p.m. on Fox.