[WARNING: The following story contains spoilers from the Season 3 premiere of Hannibal. Read at your own risk.]
Hannibal Lecter and Bedelia Du Maurier might be the most glamorous couple in Florence, but things are far from perfect at home.
On Hannibal's time-tripping Season 3 premiere, viewers met Dr. and Mrs. Fell, the identities assumed by Hannibal (Mads Mikkelsen) and Bedelia (Gillian Anderson) after Hannibal killed the real Dr. Fell in order to win a position at the Palazzo Capponi. But while one set of flashbacks showed in greater detail the true nature of the relationship between Hannibal and Bedelia, another set — featuring Dr. Lecter's final days with Abel Gideon (Eddie Izzard) proved one thing to be true: Bedelia's companionship is no replacement for that of Will Graham (Hugh Dancy).
Bedelia couldn't agree more and, after learning of Hannibal's intentions to resume killing — starting with Antony Dimmond (Tom Wisdom), one of the real Dr. Fell's former colleagues — she decides to make a run for it. Naturally, Hannibal catches Bedelia before she can escape and reminds her, as she watches Hannibal snap Dimmond's neck, that she is no longer an observer in this game, but a participant.
So, just how in over her head is Bedelia? And are her days with Hannibal numbered? Plus: Will Hannibal be able to attract Will's attention with his "valentine"? TVGuide.com chatted with executive producer Bryan Fuller to get the answers.
This was an all-Hannibal hour! Is he now the protagonist of the show that bears his name?
Bryan Fuller: I think the series has broadened towards an ensemble. We are still following Will's story. We're also following Hannibal's story. We're also following Jack's story and Bedelia's story and Alana's story. So, there's quite a few roles at play, and as we get deeper into this season, particularly with Episode 4, it really ignites how everyone is tangled in this knot and desperately trying to work themselves free. So, Hannibal is more front and center, but everybody has taken a step forward in their places in the ensemble.
As promised, the premiere was almost a mini-movie that reset the show. What was the most important thing to accomplish in this first hour?
Fuller: The first episode really was an exploration of how Hannibal functions in relationships. We've seen over the course of the first two seasons how his relationship with Will Graham has informed his behavior, and now we're juxtaposing that with Abel Gideon, a pretender to the throne who is like-minded to Hannibal, but also prey in his own way. We see in this episode that Hannibal enjoys playing with his food as well as cooking it. And with Bedelia, we see how he needs to be seen by someone who understands who and what he is and can provide a companionship in a very lonely time after his heart was broken by a huge betrayal. So it really is a non-linear study on how Hannibal relates to those in his life.
Indeed, the structure of the episode certainly jumped around in time a bit. Why was it important to tell the story that way?
Fuller: It really was about emotional storytelling as opposed to plot storytelling. I wanted to launch the third season with a certain amount of sexiness and energy that felt like we were in completely uncharted territory for this series — that Hannibal was off the leash and [we were going] to get him wild and crazy. I love the idea of him being out on the loose, and there's almost like a midlife crisis-y aspect to it. We see this guy who's dealing with his emotions in a very different way, and so much of that first episode is informed by Hannibal's heartbreak. We really see a heartbroken man acting out.
But as he says, he's been dormant for a while. Why is now the time to return to killing
Fuller: He's lying fallow so as to not get caught, and then as the episode progresses, we realize that neither Abel Gideon nor Bedelia Du Maurier are suitable substitutes for Will Graham. So he then, [after] acknowledging that and talking it through with Bedelia, starts to set into motion the events that will draw everyone to him.
Bedelia seems to know she's in over her head. What has she learned during this time with Hannibal?
Fuller: Her arc in this episode is the observe-or-participate question. In her mind, as Hannibal's psychiatrist, she gets to study a psychopath in his natural environment, which is a rare gift that for anyone who's fascinated with the criminally insane would be hard to resist. But as the relationship continues, she realizes, "Oh, I'm going to be party to these deeds directly," and we see her when she realizes that Mr. Dimmond is going to be murdered. She starts to try to establish patterns of behavior that, if anybody was looking, they could find her: her sitting assiduously in front of the cameras at the train station staring right at them, her going several times to a grocer and buying the exact same thing. She is doing a very small, passive-aggressive maneuvers to bring attention to Hannibal and hopefully stop him before he kills again or can kill her. So, we see her trying to effect change in non-obvious ways, and then gets pulled under.
There seemed to be some anger during that scene between Hannibal and Bedelia. Is Hannibal able to trust her enough to keep her as part of this game he's playing?
Fuller: Essentially, he's telling her, "In for a penny, in for a pound,. You came along. This is what we're doing. You're a part of it. You're not getting away. This is our marriage. This is our commitment. We've both got rings on our fingers, and we're keeping true to our commitment." It's sort of the hell of marriage, that you don't just get to get away when you want to get away.He hard-lines it with her in a way that he didn't have a ring on his finger with Will Graham, and the symbolism of their marriage as far as their alias is concerned really demonstrates a loyalty from Bedelia that Hannibal couldn't trust from Will. So, in many ways, his relationship with Bedelia is a more trusted relationship, yet it is a less intimate one.
Is that in some ways because Hannibal feels he has the upper hand on Bedelia because he knows the truth of what she did to her former patient (Zachary Quinto) who we got a glimpse of in the premiere?
Fuller: Well, that's kind of the first taste of the pomegranate on your way to Hades for Bedelia. We get to see more of that relationship in Episode 10 and exactly what happened before the scene in the premiere episode where she's pulling her arm out of his throat and how circumstances led her to that and exactly what kind of a human being she is.
My favorite scene was the dinner with Mr. Dimmond and the not so subtle hint of a ménage a trois.
Fuller: As I was writing that scene, it cracked me up for Bedelia to be told essentially by dinner guests that she is being prepped for consumption and then her having the wherewithal to turn it into an oral sex joke. And then that turning against her, it just seemed like that's exactly where we needed to be going this season.
But in that moment, does Bedelia truly internalize that she's being fattened for the slaughter? Does she think her time is running out?
Fuller: There's an element of Bedelia understanding that in that dinner scene. We see her "Oh sh--" moment, and she recalculates and recalibrates. She says something in Episode 3, which is "I've always known what my escape plan is. I know exactly how I'm getting out of this situation. So, don't worry about me. I've got it covered." That was very important for me that Bedelia be as wise in handling Hannibal as he is in handling her.
Why does Dimmond go along with Hannibal after he pieces together what happened to Dr. Fell? Did he have some wicked plans he wanted Hannibal to be a part of?
Fuller: In Dimmond's mind, he has come to Hannibal's place of employment, has introduced himself, has been seen, and is letting Hannibal know that he's actually thrilled with what's happened to Dr. Fell. So, there is a bit of a cabal, and I think he miscalculates. [Laughs]
And once Dimmond is dead, Hannibal leaves a little present for Will, right?
Fuller: Absolutely. He's gone through this whole experience, and he's been on the lam with Bedelia thinking about the context of his relationships with others. And what he comes out the other end with is missing Will Graham and wanting to send him a valentine and draw him near. Gideon performed a certain role. Gideon even says that Hannibal, like a snail, enjoys eating in company. We see him enjoying being with Bedelia. So, he is a social creature in many ways, but neither Gideon nor Bedelia can be substitutes for the one who captured his heart, and that's Will Graham.
But Gideon repeatedly says he can't wait for the day when Hannibal is on the losing side of things. Is there some foreshadowing in that?
Fuller: It's actually setting up where we're going at the climax of this arc.
So, what can you tell us about next week's episode?
Fuller: The following week's episode is probably the most artsy-fartsy, pretentious episode that we've done. It's our Don't Look Now episode, and it's really about the haunting of Will Graham. It's an exploration of grief. How do you move on? How do you take the next step? What are you haunted by and what can't you get rid of? There was something that I found satisfying in telling a story that is essentially a poem to grief and what it is to experience loss that you're not quite willing to let go of.
Hannibal airs Thursdays at 10/9c on NBC. What did you think of the premiere?
On the Set: Hannibal stars break down the hunt for Dr. Lecter!