(Spoiler alert: Please do not read if you’ve not watched Thursday’s episode of “Hannibal”)
“Hannibal” fans who tuned into the Season 3 premiere hoping to find out who lived and who died after the bloody Season 2 finale were left wanting.
The premiere of the NBC serial killer drama focused solely on Hannibal Lecter, played by Mads Mikkelsen, and Bedelia Du Maurier (Gillian Anderson), as they settled into a new life in Europe posing as a married couple.
Asked why he decided to table answering the life-or-death questions raised by last season’s finale, showrunner Bryan Fuller told TheWrap he went with the direction that felt most natural.
“I guess the big reason is this was the story that interested me the most,” he said. “I thought it felt organic to leave Season 2 on Bedelia and Hannibal, and begin Season 3 with Bedelia and Hannibal in the sense that these people have moved on with their lives.”
But even though Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) wasn’t physically in the episode, Fuller believes his presence was still very much felt, particularly in a flashback scene that had Hannibal serving Abel Gideon (Eddie Izzard) his own leg for dinner.
“Towards the end when Abel Gilleon asks Hannibal: ‘But wouldn’t you rather be having this conversation with Will Graham?'” Fuller said. “What the first episode is exploring is the nature of Hannibal Lecter’s friendships in a non-linear way. We see how his friendship with Abel Gideon is a very odd one, given that Gideon was a pretender to the throne for Hannibal. He can’t help but respect this man’s mind and his approach to life. So we learn the dynamics of their relationship at the same time we’re juxtaposing those dynamics with Hannibal’s relationship with Bedelia. There was something attractive for me about exploring Hannibal’s friendships without touching on the major one. Seeing how those relationships can inform how Hannibal has connected with Will and why.”
As Hannibal made new friends — and then inevitably killed them, as Tom Wisdom’s Anthony Dimmond found out the hard way — the episode also dove deep into the psyche of Bedelia and her conflicted emotions over staying with Lecter with full knowledge of his extracurricular activities and diet.
“The story with Bedelia is one about someone who’s so attracted to darkness in humanity and where there’s a certain darkness is within herself,” Fuller said. “First and foremost she is a psychologist, a psychiatrist, who is fascinated with this man. So really her reason for being with him is partly informed by her edification of seeing such a rare example of various pathologies present in one man. It’s like she’s studying an animal in the wild.”
Bedelia’s inability to tear herself away from Lecter even as he continues to demonstrate his horrific actions right in front of her is slightly reminiscent of the way Abigail Hobbs (Kacey Rohl) stuck by the cannibal’s side for months while the world believed she was dead.
However, Fuller teased, Bedelia’s story isn’t meant as a substitute. Abigail’s story will also see its own day in the sun.
“That’s a big component of Episode 9,” Fuller said. “The theme of that episode is family and what we do for them and how we make them. We go back and we see what it was like for Abigail to live with Hannibal in those months she was pretending to be dead.”
“Hannibal” airs Thursdays at 10 p.m. ET on NBC.