NBC's Hannibal is arguably the best thing on network TV, and with the events of the second season finale there's a lot up in the air about the show's return next year. The future of those characters was a big focus of the show's Comic-Con panel this week.
Spoilers for season two and three ahead.
If there are two things we’ve learned watching Hannibal these past couple years it’s that a) Central characters are expendable and b) Everything is not always as it seems. Both those points are going to intertwine quite a bit in the upcoming season it seems, as not all those whose fates appeared to be sealed are gone entirely for good. For starters, season three will be set a full year after the events of last season’s finale, and even though a handful of characters could be written off as deceased following Hannibal’s escape at the end of season two, executive producer Bryan Fuller made it clear that not all of them are dead:
“We want to be very vague with who survived that bloody, bloody night, and because we wanted to land the characters in a place where they were active [...] It was very intentional that we wanted to take a space, land Hannibal and Bedelia, because the first episode is very much a pilot for a new series starring Gillian Anderson and Mads Mikkelsen. It was important for us to have a passage of time so we could come into their story at the most dramatic point.”
Fuller explained that the gap in time between seasons two and three will be explained in the fourth episode of the upcoming season. Then he started dropping names of season two’s survivors. We now know that Dr. Frederick Chilton (Raúl Esparza), Baltimore’s most unlikeable sanitarium director survives his bullet to the head, and will be back to exert his insufferable pomposity over the rest of the show’s characters. Eddie Izzard will also reprise his role as Abel Gideon for at least one or two episodes, albeit in flashback form only. This is understandable, considering when he last saw him he was limbless and visibly dead.
Laurence Fishburne’s Jack Crawford, who was last shown fighting to keep from dying of blood loss after taking a knife to the throat at the hands of Dr. Lecter himself, is also returning. During a Television Critics Association panel Fishburne stated that he is back shooting season three. Fishburne did note that he is taking some reduced screen time which he’ll use to split work with ABC’s new sitcom Black-ish. Whether that reduced screen time will be used for the flashbacks/hauntings of a dead Jack, or simply a less involved, living one remain to be seen.
The Comic-Con panel went on to address future characters who are staples of Thomas Harris’s series who may be appearing in season three and beyond. Commander Pazzi, Lady Murasaki, Francis Dolarhyde, and Dr. Cordell Doemling are all confirmed to appear over the next couple seasons, with Fuller adding that there will be “a lot of fun Easter eggs for those who are big fans of the books.”
Finally, producer Martha DeLaurentis addressed the potential inclusion of Dr. Clarice Starling, who was of course iconically portrayed by Jodie Foster in her Oscar-winning performance in The Silence of the Lambs. DeLaurentis explained that there some legal issues with MGM that will affect whether or not Starling can appear at all in Hannibal, but provided they’re able to work something out, she’d like to see her appear around season four. Bryan Fuller chimed in to say they’re going to push hard to win the rights to the character.
Every episode of Hannibal features a moment that tells us it should never have been allowed to air. At any given moment, the series depicts bizarre, abstract imagery, the maiming/death of a well-established character, or Mason Verger slicing off strips of his face to feed to dogs. Each of the three could be construed as network television suicide, but for whatever reason, the show lives on and we’re damned excited to see where Hannibal and Bedelia take us next year.
Images: NBC, MGM