‘Hannibal’ Finale: Bryan Fuller Reveals Will and Hannibal’s Fate…And Explains That Chilling Last Dinner Scene
Spoiler alert! Don’t readon if you haven’t seen the Season 3 finale that aired on August 29.
Lovely night for a cliff dive, wasn’t it?
Hannibal closed out its final season on NBC—and possibly anywhere, though as executive producer Bryan Fuller says, “Never say die”—with Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) and Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen) becoming “the murder husbands of fanfic lore” (per Fuller) and taking down the Red Dragon (Richard Armitage). The two shared a bloody embrace before Will flung the both of them off a rather high seaside cliff, and while we didn’t see them hit the water, that appeared to be the case…
…Until the episode tag, that is, where we saw Bedelia du Maurier (Gillian Anderson) strapped to a chair at a well-laid dinner table, about to get a piece of herself. (Her leg, to be precise.) Fuller talked us through the trauma.
So what’s eating Bedelia du Maurier?
Well, someone is. Either Hannibal survived his fall, or Hannibal’s Uncle Robertus is taking up his nephew’s old habits. If I’d known we were doing a fourth season it would’ve been great to reveal, like, David Bowie sitting on the other side of that table and have a ball with that. That was one of the things we were kicking around—if there was a fourth season—to reveal who was at that dinner table. The most obvious choice is Hannibal, but wouldn’t it be fun to subvert that and make it somebody else?
You finally had Will and Hannibal commit a murder together.
We wanted it to be like the two jackals taking down a rhinoceros. And it felt like it was a natural conclusion to the story we’ve been telling on NBC: Will and Hannibal, who have talked about murder and murdering separately, now are doing it together. That felt like it was the evolution of their relationship, that in this moment they would become the murder husbands of fanfic lore.
How much of that scene could be ascribed to fan service, then?
There was definitely a part of us that said, “Oh there’s certain factions of the Fannibal fan base that will enjoy the embracing of the Hannigram hashtag.” The other part was, it felt authentic. Actually, Mads and Hugh went much further in certain takes, where lips lingered over lips and things like that, and I was like, “Mmmmm I dunno if I believe that take, that feels like it’s going too far in servicing a faction of the fan community, and losing authenticity to the characters and their agendas in this version of the story.” But we have the material!
That’s probably a pretty easy way to raise the money for a fourth season, or at least a movie.
Given that Chilton (Raúl Esparza) still isn’t dead, despite being set afire while glued to a wheelchair, we should have known Will and Hannibal surviving was a possibility.
Oh yes. Raúl was so great in last week’s episode, by the way. Him being superglued to the wheelchair in absolute terror, balanced with everything else he had to do; he gave it his all. If it were on a non-genre show, I would be furious if these performances didn’t get recognized. But as it’s a genre show, you kind of just go, “Eh, they’ll never get recognized, but the fans know they did an amazing job.”
In a lot of ways, acting on a genre show is far more difficult.
It’s true, you’re maintaining suspension of disbelief. If you’re surrounded by real things and a real environment, talking about real issues, that’s very relatable. But if you’re sitting opposite a cannibal and you’re making puns and trying to remain emotionally authentic, that’s a slightly higher tightrope act.
So Alana Bloom (Caroline Dhavernas) managed to get away with her wife and son, which is nice!
She’s kind of the only happy ending in the piece. She traveled through the darkness with all these bad boys and came out of the other side. I think that’s important. I knew I wanted Alana and Margot to have some semblance of a happy ending, and also have the good sense to get out of Dodge.
In that one scene, Hannibal, in one of the scariest moments of the episode for me, he’s like, “Your wife, your son, your life, they are all mine, you’re on borrowed time,” and he is so matter-of-fact with what fate is waiting for her, that to see her go, “Nope, f–k it, I’m out!” just cracked me up. [Laughs] Yep, that’s what I’d do if I had a billion dollars. I would get on a helicopter and I would go someplace he couldn’t go.
Where does all this leave Jack Crawford (Laurence Fishburne)?
Jack said in the Italian arc this season that part of him needs Will Graham to kill Hannibal Lecter. Jack believes that Will Graham’s intention was genuinely to kill Hannibal Lecter. His approach with Will previously was a pawn he was willing to sacrifice—and, ultimately, he did. Jack got his men, but it cost him Will Graham to do it. But Jack doesn’t know that, at the end, because as far as he knows, Will and Hannibal disappeared into the night—they went to a secret hideaway; no one knows where it is or how they got there, and Chiyo’s probably going to go there and clean up the mess and no one’s going to be the wiser. So it does leave Jack in a compromised position.
Was there ever any hope for Will, to avoid this kind of fate?
I think in Will’s mind he had gone too far to the other side. If you look at the dialogue before the final act, he’s telling you everything that’s going to happen. He’s telling you he can’t save himself, and that’s fine. We’re telling the audience, “Will Graham is willing to die to finish this.” And he does take that leap.
But I do think the most interesting, most important chapter of Will’s life hasn’t been told yet. But for those in the audience who feel like Will and Hannibal died in that cliff dive, then the story’s over for them. And for those who are like, “OK, I didn’t see a body,” there is a tale to tell. I’m still hoping to tell that version of the story sometime down the road, but I feel like this feels so final that it gives the series on NBC a satisfying conclusion…yet you come back and somebody’s eating Gillian Anderson.
And I think there’s still kind of a funny moment in a future Hannibal story where you see a female figure walking down the road and you follow her home and she takes off her leg and you reveal it’s Bedelia.
At least for now, Hannibal is done. How’s American Gods coming along?
We’re in the writers’ room now, we’re breaking out the season, and the stuff we’re talking about; it is all really rich, interesting, relevant issues: faith, and belief, and all of those things. We’re in the casting process now. We’re reading Shadows. It’s allllllll starting up.