[WARNING: The following story contains major spoilers from the Season 2 finale of Hannibal. Read at your own risk.]
Well, that was pretty bloody perfect.
Although the titular character of NBC's Hannibal can sometimes feel like a supporting player in the exploits of Hugh Dancy's Will Graham, the Season 2 finale reminded everyone who the real star of this show is. Although Will and Jack (Laurence Fishburne) executed their elaborate plan to lure Hannibal (Mads Mikkelsen) into a trap as well they could've hoped, in the end Dr. Lecter's superhuman sense of smell gave him the upper hand.
Bryan Fuller: I knew that I wanted to have Hannibal lay waste to the remaining cast and then drop the mic and leave the stage. [Laughs] That was the main goal. Really, we wanted to demonstrate how much Will hurt Hannibal. That was a big motivation for this entire finale: It had to be the nasty breakup. It had to be the terrible doom that everyone was rocketing toward because they dared to enter into a relationship with Hannibal Lecter and thought they could outsmart him.
Postmortem: Hannibal boss breaks down the season's long con
I was shocked by how bad I did feel for Hannibal. He looked so heartbroken.
Fuller: When he smells Freddie Lounds on Will Graham, Mads' performance is so struck in that moment because Hannibal was convinced. Will's plan succeeded; he absolutely seduced Hannibal Lecter. That's part of it for Hannibal. "You tricked me, and I allowed myself to be tricked." The other part was just the devastating loss of the friendship.
And yet, it seemed that Will tried to warn Hannibal that Jack was coming. Had Will truly betrayed Hannibal?
Fuller: Honestly, Will did not know what he was going to do next in terms of who he was going to betray and who he was going to save. I think he could see a world in which he allowed Hannibal to get away, and there's a world where he could see him incarcerated. When Will calls Hannibal to say, "They know," part of it was to bring the series full circle back to that very first episode and create moments to parallel that. But also for Will, it could mean two things, [which] we won't really understand with absolute clarity until Season 3. On one level, it could be exactly as it appears with him calling his friend and warning him that trouble's coming. Or it could be Will calling and telling Hannibal, "They know," because he wants Hannibal to get out of there before Jack arrives because he's worried about Jack's safety. We really wanted to embrace the idea that the audience should not know at this stage what Will Graham's intentions are because we have a few more punches to be pulled — and not pulled — in Season 3.
The first huge shock in the episode is the reveal that Abigail is still alive!
Fuller: Originally, we were going to have Hannibal flying away with Abigail Hobbs. When we started talking about it, we said, "Oh, gosh, we brought Miriam back and we're brining Dr. Chilton back — does that seem like too much?" So we just thought, "Well, let's just bring her back and kill her on-screen!" [Laughs]
Where has she been all this time? And was there more to Hannibal keeping her alive than just to surprise Will?
Fuller: [In Season 1] when Hannibal was stroking her cheek and presumably about to cut her throat, he says to her, "I'm sorry I couldn't protect you in this life," which means he had to craft a new one for her. Who she was had to go away. He probably had Abigail in the same house by the sea where he was storing Miriam Lass for all those years, and I think it was about, "I'm going to, once again, take somebody who had the capacity to be a victim in their situation and transform them into their own champion." It's about having Abigail take her life back — or take a life back. Hannibal felt truly responsible for what happened to Abigail. He called her father and said "They know," and that changed her life inexorably.
Did Hannibal make Abigail push Alana out the window because of his own feelings for Alana?
Fuller: What was good about sending Abigail in is that completely surprises Alana, and the element of surprise is her downfall. Alana had a gun, she had an extra clip, and, without Abigail [coming in], she was probably going to end Hannibal in some way. So, Hannibal says, "You go in there and shove her out the window. This is what you have to do in order for us to continue what we set out to do with your life." I don't think Abigail was comfortable with that at all. She was terrified and reluctant to do it but nevertheless had to. As a result, her faith in Hannibal started to shift.
And then Abigail also was a surprise for Will, though not in the way Hannibal originally intended.
Fuller: It's so romantic! It's such a romantic gesture. [Laughs]
Gutting Will and slicing Abigail's throat was decidedly less romantic, however. Did he just want to hurt Will as much as possible?
Fuller: Absolutely. [He's saying,] "This is the world that we could've had together and it was going to be beautiful. And you ruined everything."
Is this truly the end of the relationship between them? Will does see the stag die...
Fuller: The stag always represented the connection between Will Graham and Hannibal Lecter. He started seeing the stag after he was first exposed to Hannibal's murder of Cassie Boyle impaled on the stag head in the field. It felt like, at that moment, the relationship that they had has died. Whatever comes next between them will be a fresh new hell. ... In any relationship, when you throw a fit and end a relationship in dramatic fashion, later you might be going, "Oh, I do sort of miss them." [Laughs] The obsession is going to always work both ways between these two gentlemen.
Fall TV: Get a first look at all the new shows coming next season!
That's assuming that Will survives!
Fuller: We are staying very true to in the incident in the novel with Will and Hannibal and it's very basic outcome.
What about the others? Will they make it as well?
Fuller: There's going to be an impact from what's happened here. It's safe to say that not everybody survives. Everyone that's laying their breathing could be breathing their last breaths. It doesn't go well for all of them.
Meanwhile Hannibal escapes to France ... with Dr. Du Maurier! Has she been in on this the whole time?
Fuller: The answers to exactly why Bedelia Du Maurier is on a plane to France with Hannibal Lecter is all part of the first episode of Season 3, which will essentially function as a new pilot for a new series because everything's different.
Will we be seeing much more of Bedelia next season now that Gillian Anderson's other NBC show was canceled?
Fuller: She's a very busy lady. But if I had my druthers, she'd be a series regular in Season 3.
You said next season will be different. Does that mean you're shifting the point of view to be more squarely about Hannibal?
Fuller: Season 3 is going to be a lot of fun because it's going to be taking a lot of disparate elements from the novel Hannibal Rising and the novel Hannibal and mashing them up together as part of the thrust of the season. It's going to be fun to bastardize two novels into one sort of Frankenstein season. I will brace everybody right now: We're significantly changing the Hannibal origin story from Hannibal Rising.
Exclusive Hannibal video: Go inside the deliciously twisted mind of creator Bryan Fuller
You originally had mapped out certain seasons to follow certain books. Is that still your plan, or have you abandoned that timeline?
Fuller: The books won't necessarily be in sequential order. We'll be hitting elements of each of them except Silence of the Lambs in the next season. My hope is that not only do we have a completely different Hannibal Lecter story in Season 3, but we will meet some of those great characters like Francis Dolarhyde and Lady Murasaki and weave them into the world in a unique way.
Do you know when the show will be back or when you'll go back into production?
Fuller: We're having that meeting Tuesday. I'm hoping we start production a little later this year because we had very few weeks in the writers' room before cameras started rolling, and it was hard to keep up. I'm hoping we have a little bit more time in the writers' room. Because this season is so different and it is such a departure structurally from what we've been doing in the first two seasons, I want to make sure we've thought it through very well.
What parts of the structure will change the most? The setting? The case-of-the-week format?
Fuller: The basic structure revolving around the FBI will be less prominent in Season 3 — at least for the first half of the season.
That doesn't sound good for Jack's survival! And Laurence Fishburne does recur on a new ABC sitcom.
Fuller: Laurence is also a very busy man. One of the wonders of this season is: Will Alana survive and will Jack Crawford survive? Will Abigail Hobbs survive? Those are things that are going to be revealed very slowly at the beginning of Season 3.
So, when you said before that somebody doesn't make it, you were including Abigail in that? I assumed she was already gone.
Fuller: I'm speaking of everybody in that house that was dying. And it doesn't just mean that only one person could be dead.
What did you think of the finale? Who do you think will survive? Watch episodes of Hannibal here.