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The Following Scoop: Shawn Ashmore on Mike's Return—and Why Fans Should Trust (and Not Mock) the FBI Agents

The Following Giovanni Rufino/FOX

Agent Mike Weston returns to The Following tonight after getting some much-deserved time off from, you know, the brutal beating and stabbing that went down after he was abducted by Roderick (Warren Koleand other Joe Carroll (James Purefoy) followers. All in the name of protecting Claire (Natalie Zea) by keeping her location secret. Fat load of good that did, because now she's in the last place the FBI wants her: with Joe and the Followers at the creepy house.

So we hopped on the phone with Shawn Ashmore to talk about Mike's triumphant return to the case, his fear of being killed off the show and what the deal is with the FBI's perceived lack of competence. 

That was a pretty brutal abduction scene in your last episode. Were you worried that was going to lead to you being killed off the show?
Shawn Ashmore: I wasn't, and I have to thank [creator] Kevin Williamson because a couple days before the script came out, he came up to me and was like, "Listen, when you read the next episode and you're being wheeled off in a stretcher, don't worry, you're not dying." I was just like, "Oh, thank you!" They had the conversation with all of us when we started shooting. They were like, "This is the nature of the show, our characters are going to die, so if it happens, please don't take it personally. It's not that we don't like your performance or the character, but that's the kind of show we're making." We all knew what we were getting into, but they're very good about if something traumatic happens to the characters; they definitely let you know. So I knew prior to reading that episode that I wasn't going to be killed off.

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So what's going down in your returning episode?
Well, basically Weston comes back about four days after the beating, so he's still very physically affected, and we see it on him. There's still cuts, bruises, scars. He's still physically in pain and affected by that. He's also emotionally and psychologically affected by it, and we see that in his social interaction with the team and also with the followers. Emotionally, I think he probably wasn't ready to come back, but I think he was as frustrated as the rest of the FBI at this point. We are getting so close and yet Joe Carroll is always a step ahead, and I think he doesn't want to waste time. He probably could have spent three or four more days resting, but he was like "I need to get back to the case; we need to get to the bottom of this." I think there's a certain aspect of revenge there. It's consuming him, and I think what's really fun about what happens to Weston is that we sort of see in a mirror how Ryan Hardy (Kevin Bacon) got to be the way he is. Over the season, Weston is affected by the violence that he sees, and now the violence has been inflicted on him. I think we get to see how Ryan got to be the way he is, by what's happening to Weston. So I think it's a complete parallel and we experience a lot of that. 

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The Following Sarah Shatz/FOX

We love seeing Mike and Ryan together. Are there any good interactions coming up between them?
Yes, absolutely. I think that Ryan likes Mike; I think he's always liked Mike. Mike is a capable agent, he's actually beneficial to the case and he's there for Ryan. Mike supports the fact that Ryan is the one person that can follow this case, and they need to step out of boundaries a little bit to do that. Mike is willing to do that, as is evident when Mike hacks his boss's e-mail and gets sent home. So yeah, I think that relationship continues to grow. Like I said, I think it's always sort of there, but Ryan isn't in a place where he can show that; he can't do that. Again, these guys will never be buddy-buddy and sort of hanging out after work; I don't think that's the nature of this show, nor do I think it's the nature of Ryan Hardy, but there is a bond of trust that continues to grow between them. It's really satisfying for me as an actor playing this character and having that part. Mike is trying so hard to fit in and do his job properly that Ryan starts to let him in a little more, so we start to see that.

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There's been a lot of chatter online about how incompetent the FBI agents seem in every episode. Have you been aware of that criticism at all?
I know what you're saying. I think at the end of the day, this show is about the mayhem, and if the FBI captured Joe Carroll, or even a follower that would lead us to Joe Carroll right now, the show would be over. So I think the nature of the show requires the followers to be one step ahead of those guys, which can be frustrating. I mean, let's be honest, film and television, especially procedural shows, an audience is used to seeing the case solved in that episode. As much as I think it could be sort of frustrating for an audience that's been conditioned to see a case solved every episode, I don't think that's reality.

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I also think that, again, the way the show is written and the way things happen on the show, the case is frantic and a lot of the time it is life and death. So maybe you wouldn't make the right decision. Maybe you would shoot at the wrong person. Maybe you would totally forget to put a tracking device when your partner is literally potentially being killed inside the warehouse. But I totally understand what people are saying. It can be frustrating if the FBI doesn't get further ahead, but I think that that's what it is and I think it's realistic, to be honest. It is what it is, but that's my viewpoint on it, and I understand people's frustration.

Mike Weston returns to the case on The Following tonight on Fox!

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