Spoiler warning for those who haven’t watched The Following Season 3 finale.

While its ratings haven’t been as great in Season 3, Fox’s The Following still had people talking, especially after the show finally killed off Joe Carroll a few episodes back. Monday night’s two-hour series finale was another stockpile of surprises, and was clearly written without cancellation in mind, as it ended with a big cliffhanger that would have fed into a potential Season 4. Ryan Hardy, you crafty bastard.

In the finale, Dr. Strauss’ pet (and murderer) Theo is holding Ryan’s girlfriend Gwen captive, which leads to an eventual standoff where Theo gets a bullet in the head. But since this is The Following, that bullet doesn’t stop him, and he and Ryan take a tumble off of a bridge into the water beneath, and no bodies are recovered. Ryan is presumed dead, but of course he isn’t, because he totally pulled a Jack Bauer where he just pretended to be dead in order to focus on completing his mission of taking down the mysterious criminal organization that plagued him.

Ryan’s choice there falls somewhere between noble and insane. He’s a guy who doesn’t seem to be able to live without one obsession or another always goading him, and it’s unbearable for him to live in a world where there are still people out there who hurt him and betrayed him, even if it means leaving his pregnant lover behind. And as was seen when he killed the surprise (or not) FBI mole Lisa, he’s now playing more by the bad guys’ rules than those inherent to his profession. So it makes perfect sense that he would have to continue his self-asserted mission from the shadows.

To be expected, Season 4 would have followed Ryan trying to identify and take out everyone that was a part of the threat, while the surviving Mike and Max would be helping Gwen with her impending child. It would have been quite a shift for this story, which has largely seen Ryan going head-to-head with big bads, although I’m sure he would have had a few overarching villains as his end goals while wiping out the underlings.

Here’s how executive producer Alexi Hawley envisioned Ryan’s future and possible conclusion would have gone, in an interview with Hollywood Life.
We were hoping to tell a story in season four and maybe in five, about Ryan the vigilante, Ryan as the man who was 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.

So long as he didn’t wear a mask and hook himself up with a warehouse of gadgets and other super-tools, that would have been an interesting direction for this batshit crazy show to go. Let us know your thoughts on the finale below.

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