“The Following” Season 3 finale cliffhanger might never be answered. Monday night's episode turned out to be a series finale for the FBI drama, which Fox announced was canceled earlier this month.
In the finale, Ryan (Kevin Bacon) faked his own death. He wanted to go off the grid to protect his family and take down Theo’s (Michael Ealy) crime bosses. Walking away from Gwen (Zuleikha Robinson), who was pregnant with his baby, made for a seriously unhappy ending for Ryan. It was a pretty dark conclusion, but the show's producer said there was no other choice.
“What we took into the finale was this question, which he’s been struggling with [from] the beginning,” executive producer Alexi Hawley told TV Line. “‘Can I be happy? Can I have a life outside of this obsession?’ At the end of the day, given everything he’s been through, he realizes he can’t — which is a tragedy.”
Of course, the dark ending was a setup for Season 4. Ryan would have gone off to become a vigilante and take down even more bad guys. The writers didn’t realize when they wrote the episode that it would be the finale. Unlike for last season, they didn’t even shoot multiple endings.
“No, we didn’t [shoot multiple endings] this year,” Hawley said. “We felt very strongly that this was the ending we were driving towards. … It’s the ultimate sacrifice that Ryan is making.”
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Hawley was asked if he considered killing Ryan since it was in the series finale. He revealed that they didn’t have enough time to change anything. “The reality of it is, given the way we were airing our last four episodes back to back and then back to back, we had to lock everything before we found out our fate,” he explained. “There was no time, even if we wanted to."
That isn’t to say Hawley regrets the tragic ending. Despite the Season 3 finale not being planned as the last episode, the executive producer is happy that they didn't give Ryan a happily ever after or a real death. The ending isn’t too final, so fans can decide what happens next. “Personally, I feel like the ending is incredibly dynamic in the way it would’ve held us into Season 4 if we had one,” he said. “But I also feel like, as a place to leave off, it leaves off with more story left to tell, which I don’t think is a bad thing. In the audience’s mind, ‘The Following’ is still alive and they can imagine where it might’ve gone.”
But this might not be the end for “The Following.” Variety reports that the drama is looking for a digital platform to commission Season 4, but no deals have been made yet. Hulu saved another Fox show, “The Mindy Project,” last week, so there might be hope for the thriller series.