"Hannibal's" mind-blowing Season Two finale left viewers in the middle of a bloodbath. With the FBI closing in, Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen) finally showed his true colors. He jabbed a shard of glass in Agent Jack Crawford's (Laurence Fishburne) neck; his "guest," the mentally fragile Abigail Hobbs (Kacey Rohl), hurled Alana Bloom (Caroline Dhavernas) out a two-story window; Hannibal consequently slit Abigail's throat. The horrific coup de grace was Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) being gutted by Hannibal. The final moments of the episode found Hannibal and his therapist, Bedelia Du Maurier (Gillian Anderson), taking off on a jetliner together. If anyone survives, Season Three promises to be more intense and personal than ever.
Executive producer Bryan Fuller spoke to press during roundtable interviews at Comic-Con International in San Diego to preview the upcoming third season on NBC. The ever-passionate Fuller discussed Hannibal as a fugitive and his new dynamic with Bedelia, Will's twisty emotional arc and the show's gore.
Spinoff Online: At the end of Season Two, we saw Hannibal and Bedelia together on a plane. She warned Will about Hannibal, so why is she with him? What is their relationship going forward?
Bryan Fuller: I would tell you, but it's so much of the fun of the first episode. That's the whole point of the first episode. You don't see any of the other characters. It's Hannibal and Bedelia. It's the Talented Mr. Lecter and how they live under aliases and how they are navigating away from the FBI. It takes place a year after the season finale, so they've been at it for an entire year when we land in their story. It's going to answer a lot of question because we do flashbacks. We understand what happened with her patient. We flash back to that. We flash back to the night of the murders and what her perspective was.
You said earlier in the panel that you think of the first few episodes as a pilot for a different show. Does that not throw a curveball for audiences tuning in to see "Hannibal" and Will's not as much part of it?
It's just for the first episode. The first episode is just Hannibal and Bedelia. We'll see Will in episode 2 and start his story then. In a way, it might be a kinder introduction to the show because you're not coming in with an FBI criminal procedural show. You're coming in with a criminal and his psychiatrist, who have escaped the law and are living abroad and are having adventures with their situation that are exciting and intriguing. Their relationship is hard to quantify for the audience because they think, "What is she up to? Why is she on that plane?" The fun for us was like, "We have to make her smart. We can't make her brainwashed or be duped by Hannibal." She has to be a woman in charge of her own story and be driving her own story in the same way that Hannibal has to drive his own story.
What is Will's arc this season? Are all gloves off between him and Hannibal?
We're very into horror homages on the show. Really, for Will Graham this season, the most accurate horror homage for us was Frankenstein. Here's a guy that has been gutted, arguably dead, and coming back from that death, being sewn back together, and looking for the man who created him to understand what his journey is. That's the tip of the iceberg. It felt like an interesting journey where we had to make him a different Will Graham than Season One or Season Two Will Graham. They have to grow and have to change. Everyone who survives that horror house finale of season two is a slightly different character because they can't help but be changed by what they experienced.
Is it hard to doing a network show this unique with its violence?
It's been surprisingly easy with NBC. When we first sat down, I was doing "Mockingbird Lane" for NBC. We talked about "Hannibal." Jen Salke, who is the president of NBC Entertainment, said, "Don't take it to anyone else. I want it. I promise you I will let you do the show you want to do. Just let us have it." We sold it to NBC and she kept her promise. We don't get great ratings. The show has a very loyal fanbase that has kept us going. What else has kept us going is Jen Salke keeping her promise. I can't articulate how rare it is to have a network executive say, "We're going to support your show."
We get minimal notes. We have harder violence and gore than most R-rated movies. They are always working with us to help navigate this. When Michael Pitt was cutting off his face and feeding it to the dogs, we called Standards and Practices and said, "There's a scene in the book we'd really like to do. Help us do it." She was like, "Okay, if you keep this in the shadows. If you have the red of the blood look almost brown or black, it won't trip off the alarm bells." They've been incredibly supportive. It's unheard of.