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‘Hannibal’ EP on Heartbreaking Twist, Will’s Forgiveness: ‘You Can’t Be Mad at a Shark for Eating Somebody’

”I didn’t want it to be mean and really play the audience along,“ Bryan Fuller tells TheWrap about Thursday’s shocking revelation

(Spoiler alert: Please do not read if you have not watched Thursday’s episode of “Hannibal”)

NBC’s “Hannibal” is known for blurring the lines between fantasy and reality, and Thursday’s episode pulled off one of the most heartbreaking twists yet.

As Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) traveled to Europe with Abigail Hobbs (Kacey Rohl) by his side, in search of Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen), it seemed he finally got a chance to be a father figure to the orphan.

However, as the episode wore on, it’s revealed that Abigail had actually died in the bloodbath that was the “Hannibal” Season 2 finale, making her the first official casualty of Dr. Lecter’s wrath that night. Tragically, Will’s time in Europe with her was a just figment of his imagination.

Showrunner Bryan Fuller told TheWrap the fake-out could have been even more heartbreaking.

“I didn’t want it to be mean!” he insisted. “We had talked about having her be around for several episodes before that reveal, and that to me felt like it would have been mean, to really play the audience along.”

He also defended the decision to bait and switch the Will and Abigail developments.

“What was necessary for me as an audience member was being able to see a ‘what if?'” he said. “If Abigail was given back to Will Graham, and not taken away so quickly, what would the nature of their relationship be, how would she manifest in his imagination? What is the dynamic that he kicked around his own head?

“So the storyline for me was just about Will Graham dealing with the aftermath of the finale and his regrets and the wanting a different world … If this was the horrible thing that happened to us in this universe, then maybe there’s a parallel universe out there where Abigail is alive and Will is alive and they have a friendship they are able to explore,” he said. “But that becomes hypothetical and a science-fiction exploration of the relationship.”

The result of Will’s hallucination of Abigail was that he got to the place where he was able to let go of his grief for her, said Fuller, and embrace the true nature of his friendship with Hannibal.

In Thursday’s episode’s closing moments, Will tells Hannibal he forgives him.

“Will has got to the point in his relationship with Hannibal where he can’t be angry with him for doing what he does,” said Fuller. “It’s like being angry at a shark for eating somebody. You’re in the water, the shark is a predator. That’s what it does, so you can’t be mad at a shark for being a shark. You have to take responsibility for your role in getting in the water, and Will is saying, ‘I acknowledge that I got in the water. I accept that you’re dangerous, I understand how you’re dangerous and I forgive you for being who you are.'”

“Hannibal” airs Thursdays at 10 p.m. ET on NBC.

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