'Hannibal': Bryan Fuller Talks 'Brutal' Season 2 Finale, Will's Fate, and Plans for Season 3

·Writer


The Hannibal Season 2 finale is a thing of beauty. Insanely bloody beauty. "It's brutal, right?" Bryan Fuller said with a laugh after hearing that the finale left us shaking — and he's not wrong.

Spoiler alert: Don't keep reading unless you've seen the Hannibal Season 2 finale, "Mizumono."

With a few surprise returns (Abigail! Bella! Bedelia!) and more blood than we've ever seen on this very bloody show thanks to the four near-death, bleeding-out people at Dr. Lecter's house, the conclusion to the fight between Hannibal (Mads Mikkelsen) and Jack Crawford (Laurence Fishburne) was even more shocking than the season premiere teased.

But who survives, if anyone? Fuller confirmed to Yahoo TV that Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) does make it through that physical gutting to hunt down Hannibal, now on the run with Bedelia (Gillian Anderson), in Season 3. But the outlook for Jack, Abigail (Kasey Rohl), and Alana Bloom (Caroline Dhavernas)… yeah, it's not so good. Keep reading for more teases of Season 3 to find out who might be coming, what episodes you need to re-watch, and what books you need to read (or re-read) as prep over the hiatus.

[Related: 'Hannibal' Paper Doll: Dress Up Dr. Lecter With Your Very Own Cut-Out Cannibal!]

I find you to be incredibly chatty, as far as showrunners of secretive dramas go, but you never truly spoil anything — even when you gave us that in media res season premiere fight scene — because there are so many twists and turns.
The fun for us in breaking the finale was we always look at act breaks, and what's the coolest, most fun act break, and this one had quite a few that were a lot of fun. They just started folding in new ingredients to the omelet that, by the time it gets to your plate, it's kind of surprising how much we crammed into the finale.

Technically speaking, is this the most blood you've used in a single episode thus far? It certainly seems to be…


I believe so. Hannibal's kitchen was… we went in there after we had wrapped, before they cleaned up the blood, and it looked like a crime scene. Not only was there more blood than would've actually come from the three people bleeding out in the kitchen, but there were multiple takes. After the first wave of blood hits the ground — or the walls or the actors or wherever it's hitting — we don't really have time to clean up and re-set. We just keep going. You get one first shot of blood hitting the clean surface, and then from that point on it's all just messy, messy, messy.

But you don't really need that set anymore. You've teased before that Season 3 would be Hannibal on the run, and the final tag of the finale shows us that's the case, but Bedelia! I didn't see that one coming. What more can you say about the plans for Season 3?
Oh good! Right now the plan for Season 3 is a combination of the novel Hannibal and the novel Hannibal Rising, mashed up in a very specific way. But most importantly, the gamesmanship that we have seen between Will and Hannibal is now all on the up-and-up. Everything has been exposed. Everyone knows what the agenda is between those two gentlemen, in terms of the cat-and-mouse, or cat-and-cat, of it all. I think now the fun is to see Hannibal sparring with a new partner while Will Graham is trying to hunt him down with a little help from the Vergers.

Oh the Vergers…


The ending of Episode 12 sets up a lot of the arc for the third season, when Mason Verger [Michael Pitt] is saying that he hopes he gets the chance to repay Hannibal for all of his good therapy.

And we see in the books and the movie Hannibal that Mason Verger's plan doesn't end well for him. But what meeting with Hannibal ends well for anybody really?
[Laughs.] That's the thing — we see four characters bleeding out at the end of the finale, and they all can't survive. But there was this horrible feeling of these people all rocketing toward their doom, and being trapped in that gravitational pull of what Hannibal's density has sucked them into. We had previously thought that Bedelia got away — she was the smartest person on the show, she figured Hannibal out, had the wisdom to get out of dodge while she had a chance, and then was scooped up by Jack Crawford. How she ends up on that plane will be a big part of the first episode of Season 3.

[Related: 'Hannibal' Introduces Michael Pitt as Mason Verger: Who Is He,
and How Might It All Play Out?]

She's a cool character and doesn't show when she's flustered, but she seemed to be there of her own free will, sitting next to Hannibal in first class, sipping champagne.


Yes, I think it would be a mistake for a character that has been as smart as Bedelia to then all of a sudden be brainwashed or seduced in a way that would put her at a disadvantage to Hannibal. I think we have to keep her as intelligent, as sophisticated, as tricky as Hannibal Lecter. In a way, Hannibal has a partner in Bedelia that is getting as much out of the companionship as Hannibal is… but for much different reasons.

What, is she writing a book? It felt like an interesting parallel, having poor Alana Bloom trying to fire her gun at Hannibal to find he'd already thought ahead to take out all of her bullets, and then to see Bedelia, the series' only other female in Hannibal's life return for him like that. Was Jack Crawford setting Bedelia up for this all along, sort of as a preemptive strike?
There are a lot of clues in the conversation between both Bedelia and Jack Crawford and Bedelia and Will Graham in the penultimate episode that are very intentionally suggestive of her mindset, and how she might be able to navigate this situation — not only as someone who has fallen prey to Hannibal in the past, but someone who feels that she has an opportunity to outsmart him well enough to survive.

Speaking of survival… You already said that Will makes it through this to hunt down Hannibal in Season 3. You said it, so it's true, right? What else can you tease about the others who were left bleeding at Dr. Lecter's house?


Well there is a reinterpretation of the events in Red Dragon, which is when Will Graham discovered Hannibal Lecter, and Hannibal snuck up on him and gutted him with a linoleum knife, and then was immediately apprehended. We are departing from that — he guts Will with a linoleum knife and then gets away, so we have this fugitive arc to tell in Season 3. I think it's safe to say that Will Graham does survive, but I think he's the only person that it's safe to say survives.

Will and Hannibal are the central couple of the show. There's a very different kind of show if Will dies, but it would be hard to find a better partner — in whatever way — for Hannibal.
Absolutely. The tale of the series is the tale of Hannibal Lecter and Will Graham. So I think the challenge for us, as storytellers, is to keep shifting that paradigm, that dynamic, so it has a freshness every season. The first season, Will was totally victimized and was not aware of what was happening to him or who was doing it to him until the very last moments of the finale. In the second season he is well aware of who is responsible, and then it is a matter of how does he capture his prey? And now the third season is a completely different dynamic between Will and Hannibal, which I'm very excited to get into and start exploring.

[Related: 'Hannibal' Cast and Showrunner Bryan Fuller Tease Surreal Season 2 Moments and Seeing the Devil Get His Due]

The Abigail twist was a true shock. Was that planned from the beginning?


Yes. I remember calling Kasey [Rohl] in Season 1 and saying, "It's going to look like you're dead, but the plan is for you to come back at the end of Season 2. So keep that under your hat." I was very happy when we got around to breaking the finale that it didn't make me a liar … That moment is so brutal because Hannibal is practically just spraying Will with her blood. And then he just kind of drops her like a hot potato. [Laughs.] Nope, the party's over! You earned it! But there's a whole new party for Season 3.

How do you tell people when they're getting killed off? Everyone on Mad Men says Matthew Weiner calls you in, pours you a drink, and you know. What's the Bryan Fuller version of that?

With Hettienne Park and Beverly Katz, it crushed me, I was very upset, and I think that was sort of the great reaction to have. It was one of those things that you don't want to happen, but it sort of has to happen to set events into motion. It's still upsetting to this day… I adore Hettienne. Every time I'm in New York, we hang out — I love her as a person and as an actress — but you really needed to see somebody get on Will Graham's side, unequivocally, and then pay the price for it so Will Graham had to come out swinging. Someone had to go, and it had to be someone that you cared about and someone that Will was connected to and could find the evidence that needed to be found. It was unfortunate that she was the best person for that role, but it was something we planned from the very beginning. The very first meeting with Hettienne was, "We're going to kill you off, and it's going to be devastating." So she knew from the very beginning that she wasn't long for this world. We were actually going to kill her off in Season 1, and then ended up holding

onto her because I felt like we didn't do our work in taking advantage of the actress and the character. We did that in Season 2, so we kind of earned her death in that way.

Sometimes, like with Eddie Izzard's death, there was a back-and-forth between representation and availability and that sort of thing, and so I dropped the ball on that one. Eddie, when he got the script, was like, "Oh so I'm dying in this script?" And I was like, "Oh sh--!" I actually would love to see Eddie Izzard back on the show, in flashback, because he's got three other limbs to enjoy, and I think there's more dinner conversation to be had.

I also wasn't expecting Bella to return. I loved it, and it was heartbreaking all over again, but I honestly thought we had wrapped that one up.

Since she had such a life-changing experience with Hannibal Lecter, in that she intended to die and he pulled her out of the fire that she started, I wanted to see those characters have a moment, post-the events of Episode 4, where she's actually much worse off, and him not letting her die has actually resulted in a much more painful life experience for her. She's now wasting away, she's bed-ridden, and it's very difficult for her. Yet she has some clarity about why she is still here, and what that means to her relationship with her husband. The concept of forgiveness was such a huge thematic presence in the finale — can Bella forgive Hannibal for what he did? Can Hannibal forgive Will for what he's doing? He even gives him an opportunity to come clean and offers him absolute forgiveness if he cops to his agenda, and Will doesn't. So that is really what allows Hannibal to rationalize such an extreme reaction to the betrayal.

So for Season 3, it could just be Will getting vigilante justice, funded by the Vergers, but does he need a new FBI partner to make this manhunt legal? Maybe a Clarice Starling?
There's going to be quite a few new characters in Season 3 — some from the literature, and some that are new — but Will will have unexpected alliances throughout the first part of Season 3.

Not confirming or denying Clarice Starling?
Well we don't have the rights to Clarice Starling! The plan is to re-approach the rights holders to Clarice after Season 3 and see if we can get that character for Season 4, but right now we cannot use her or use any character that originated in Silence of the Lambs.

Interesting. Good to know.
It's a bummer. We desperately wanted to do a Buffalo Bill origin story, and we were cock-blocked by MGM, who holds the rights to that character.

I mean, have they seen the show? It can only help their DVD sales!


It's definitely the plan to re-approach. They were developing their own Clarice Starling series for Lifetime, and we were trying to broker a deal — they can't use Hannibal or even say his name or acknowledge his presence, and so we were trying to negotiate saying, "What if you were allowed to use the Hannibal Lecter character?" And not see him onscreen, but just be able to reference the history, because it's such a pivotal part of that character's life. Clarice Starling is who she is because of her experience with Hannibal Lecter. And they were very firmly at that time saying, "Nope. What's ours is ours, and what's yours is yours." I was like [whispers], "It's better for your show!"

[Related: 'Hannibal' First Look: Is This TV's Most Dysfunctional Love Triangle Ever?]

Seriously, have they seen your show?! I'm just so happy we get the third season. NBC had everyone on pins and needles there…
They're getting such a deal on this show — they pay nothing. If they hadn't picked it up, it would've been a bummer because I love the partnership with NBC and they've been so supportive of the show, but there was one cable outlet and one streaming outlet ready and willing, with open arms in the wing.

Well I'm sure. When you win Hulu's Best in Show, Hulu's going to save you if they have to!
I'm so glad that happened because I think all the Hulu Best in Shows that have been on the bubble and have won have gotten third season pickups. It was a great boost that we needed.