Hannibal: Bryan Fuller on the Huge Events in the Season 3 Finale and Continued Hopes for the Future
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Going in-depth on all of those shocks and what could come next.
Note: Full spoilers for the Hannibal: Season 3 finale follow.
Hannibal’s third season has ended and needless to say, some huge events occurred. But is that it for the show? In the wake of NBC’s cancellation of the series, no new distributor has been found, as the actors have been released from their contracts and moved on to other roles. But when I spoke to Bryan Fuller for a post-finale conversation, he revealed that there is still some hope that we could see Dr. Hannibal Lecter and Will Graham again.
Of course, given how Season 3 ended, fans got a very strong conclusion, if it needs truly serve as that… one post-credit dinner scene aside that more directly aims towards a new storyline. Read on to see what Fuller – who is currently working on an adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods at Starz -- had to say about Hannibal and Will’s big fall, Bedelia’s fancy meal, Chilton and Alana’s fates and much more.
IGN: If the show were coming back next year on NBC, I’m sure I’d jump to questions about how Hannibal and Will survived, but given the circumstances, do you want people to even assume they survived? Or are you fine with people thinking, “That’s it and both of them are dead”?
Fuller: Well, I think if there were a Season 4, of course they would survive but there’s still… The conversation is still in play in so many ways and I may be holding on to false hope that we’ll be able to continue telling a bit of the story because I love these actors and would love to continue working with them. I think it works both ways where if you are satisfied by this conclusion to the series, then that can be the end. if you are wanting more story then there is a version of events yet to be told.
IGN: You’ve had a long term plan for this show for quite a while, but at what point did you know that the Red Dragon story specifically was going to end this way?
Fuller: About half way through the season, we knew that the great conclusion for Hannibal and Will, with everything they’ve experienced this season, would be for them to actually kill the Red Dragon together as two jackals taking down a wildebeest. That felt very organic. Then we started talking about Moriarty and Sherlock over Reichenbach Falls and how that was an interesting direction to go for us, because Sherlock survived. You get your cake and get to eat it too, where you have a big, epic finale where there are gasps and apparent losses of lives and then you are able to continue telling that story by just simply saying “they survived the falls.”
IGN: Not that it wasn’t a clear part of the show to many people, including myself, before but the final two episodes especially got more explicit with the idea of this essentially as a tragic, gothic romance, including Bedelia and Will directly discussing Hannibal being in love with Will. Did it just feel like now was the time to be more overt with that conversation?
Fuller: Well it felt like it was -- it felt like they would be talking about it. It felt like he would ask that question. It wasn’t a strategy of “let’s wait and reveal this now,” it just felt, as we were writing those scenes, Will would ask that question because Hannibal’s behavior is indicative of someone who is obsessed and it seemed that Will would not be terribly bright if he hadn’t figured out there was some romance going on there. For me, Hannibal has always been a romantic horror story. Even from the get go of the series. I was fascinated by the idea of telling the story of a “bromance” between these two gentlemen that called into question how men relate to each other.
IGN: When they go off the cliff, it’s Will who pulls them off. Do you think Hannibal is a willing participant in that and accepting of that or do you think that’s all Will in that moment?
Fuller: I think he’s surprised in the moment that it happens. I think he’s surprised that it happens, but then a millisecond later he’s like, “Of course, that’s what he would do.” Because earlier in the episode, Will tells Hannibal very plainly that his survival is not necessary for him to accomplish what he wants to do, which is to end Hannibal. And he said very early on in the season or it was said very early on that if he doesn’t kill Hannibal, he fears that he will become him and that comes back to haunt him in the Red Dragon arc and we see how much joy he actually does take from killing another man, side by side with Hannibal Lecter. It’s operatic and poetic and also sickening.
IGN: When Dolarhyde is going to kill Hannibal, there’s a great moment with Will calmly drinking his wine, watching this go down, because this is what his plan is. But then right before Dolarhyde stabs Will it looks like Will is reaching, like he’s going to pull a weapon. At that moment, might Will have changed his mind?
Fuller: Yeah, I think that in that moment… What Will was afraid of -- and the reason that he co-opted Dolarhyde into his plot, in as much as Dolarhyde felt that he was co-opting Will into his plot -- was Will’s fear was that when it comes right down to it, he cares too much about Hannibal to kill him but kill him he must.
IGN: The ending being what it is, if the show comes back, we’ll see how they survive and if not, that could be their end but what’s happening with Bedelia is a huge, much more overt question. Should we assume she did that to herself? Should we assume that’s a time jump? What would you have people take from that?
Fuller: Well, I think what they should take from it is that the story is not over and somebody cut off Bedelia’s leg and is serving it to her and she just grabbed her fork and hid it under her napkin and she’s going to plunge it into the next person that walks into that room. And that if there had been a Season 4, we would have seen a continuation of that dinner.
that’s taking place? Is it taking place simultaneously to what we just saw with Will and Hannibal?
Fuller: I think we can safely say it’s after what Will and Hannibal experienced, suggesting one or both of them may have survived.
IGN: Okay. See, I was way off on that one! Let me ask about Chilton, who I have described as the horror version of Wile E. Coyote at this point.
IGN: [Laughs]. Except Kenny at least gets to come back looking the same.
IGN: Clearly, Chilton’s role had already changed a lot. Alana was doing much of what Chilton had done traditionally in Red Dragon and Silence. If the show does continue in some form, did you have a specific idea of how Chilton could figure in, given his physical limitations at this point?
Fuller: There are miraculous leaps and bounds in grafting technology these days, so I always imagined that if we ever got around to Silence of the Lambs, we would see him back control of the institution with a scarred face. There’s something so haunting about a scarred Chilton flirting with Clarice Starling in the manner that he does in the book. “Baltimore can be a really fun town, if you have the right guide.”
Continue to Page 2 for more from Bryan Fuller, including discussion about Freddie, Dolarhyde and Reba.