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‘Hannibal’ EP Bryan Fuller on ‘Lighter’ Season 3, Doubts There Will Be a Season 4

“There’s a lot more comedy and a lot more of a twinkle in its eye,” the serial killer drama’s executive producer tells TheWrap

Last Updated: June 3, 2015 @ 4:56 PM

NBC’s “Hannibal” closed its second season with most of its main characters’ fates in jeopardy as Dr. Lecter slew his way through most of his former friends and allies after they discovered his true identity.

Meanwhile, the cannibalistic doctor (Mads Mikkelsen) was flying off to Europe, with first class champagne in hand and his former psychiatrist Bedelia Du Maurier (Gillian Anderson) by his side.

“We begin [Season 3] eight months after the plane ride with Hannibal and Bedelia, and land them as they are transitioning from one life to another in their journey to escape the authorities,” Bryan Fuller told TheWrap about what to expect. “Presumably they are under one alias moving into another alias, and presume that over the course of the past eight months, this is something that happens regularly.”

Fuller seems deliberate in omitting any mention of Will Graham (Hugh Dancy), Jack Crawford (Laurence Fishburne) or Alana Bloom (Caroline Dhavernas), the aforementioned former Lecter allies all left on the verge of death, so fans may have to wait just a bit longer to find out who lived and who died.

Fuller did divulge whether Season 3 will be even darker and crazier than the show’s already insane second season, as well as how he approaches each season when it may be the show’s last, and how he’ll be addressing iconic characters like Francis Dolarhyde and Reba McClane, each of whom will be making their first appearances on the show this season.

TheWrap: Season 2 was exponentially darker and crazier than Season 1. Will Season 3 follow that trajectory?
Bryan Fuller: There’s something about Season 3 that for me feels lighter in a way, even though the subject matter is still pretty dark and heightened. There’s a lot more comedy and a lot more of a twinkle in its eye.

Hannibal - Season 3

Why is that?
Just the desire to start folding in different ingredients into the omelette, telling different kinds of stories from different perspectives. If we were just telling the same story over and over again, I would lose interest.

Hannibal and Will are on different continents by the end of Season 2. How does it change the show’s dynamic to have them separated?
You get to explore what other characters bring out of those individuals. Hannibal being paired with Bedelia is going to bring out a different energy than we saw in the first two seasons, and Will being paired with Chiyoh is also going to bring a different energy to his storyline. So for me it was necessary to freshen everybody up by giving them a new dance partner.

Hannibal - Season 3

You’re introducing more familiar faces in Season 3. How do you balance what to keep and what to change from the books?
Every character who’s come in has to bring out some new dynamic for one of [the four principal] characters. Otherwise it’s just a cutaway. We have the return of the Vergers (from Season 2) — they play a pivotal role in the first half of the season. Then, when we get into the second half of the season — which is the Red Dragon arc — we’re also introducing Francis Dolarhyde and Reba McClane.

So really, the first part of this season, we’ve paired up [the principal four] with different individuals to bring out their new purpose as a character, after the events of Season 2. Then, when we get into the Red Dragon … we were gaining entryways into the story that you haven’t seen in any of the adaptations before and making connections that you haven’t seen. So it merits tuning in even if you have seen the previous adaptations.

“Hannibal” is always considered a bubble show. How do you approach each season with that in mind?
As if it’s the last.

Every single time?
Oh, yeah. The first season, if we had ended with Will Graham taking the fall for Hannibal’s crime, that would have been a really bold finale for the series. Same with the second season, if we had left with Hannibal Lecter walking out the door after leaving everyone for dead, that would have been a bold ending to the series. The Season 3 finale is no different.

Do you have an actual series finale in mind?
There’s a storyline that I want to explore, but the idea for Season 4 is another reinvention of the format and the relationship. If we’re able to do that, then ideally we’d get into “Silence of the Lambs” at the end of Season 4, beginning of Season 5. But all of those plans shift because we just don’t know how much time we’ll get to tell the story, so I’ll be very surprised if there’s a Season 4. As I was with Season 3. As I was with Season 2.

But you could conceivably keep it going for years.
Yeah. There’s two or three more years, in my head, that we could tell. Having been down this road before on previous shows I’ve created, I’m much more prepared emotionally and narratively for every season to be the end of this show.

“Hannibal” Season 3 premieres on Thursday at 10 p.m. ET on NBC.