Hannibal Postmortem: Where Do Will and Hannibal Go From Here?
Laurence Fishburne, Hugh Dancy
[WARNING: The following story contains spoilers from Friday’s episode of Hannibal. Read at your own risk.]
“I’d like to resume my therapy.”
With those words, NBC’s Hannibal reverted back to the familiar Season 1 dynamic between troubled FBI consultant Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) and cannibalistic serial killer/psychiatrist Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen). But nothing is the same as the last time these two men sat across from one another in Hannibal’s well-appointed office.
After Will was locked up for Hannibal’s crimes in the Season 1 finale, he spent the first part of the season trying to prove his innocence from inside the Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane. When those efforts failed (and led to the death of former colleague Beverly Katz), Will took a new approach: He tried to have Hannibal killed.
On Friday’s episode, as soon as Will is released from the asylum — the discovery that Miriam Lass (Anna Chlumsky) is alive and (somewhat) well turned the focus of Jack Crawford (Laurence Fishburne) and the FBI back to the Chesapeake Ripper, who has now been implicated in the murders for which Will was incarcerated — Will storms into Hannibal’s kitchen and once again sticks a gun in his face. Needless to say, Hannibal and Will are no ordinary doctor-patient duo.
Fortunately, Will doesn’t pull the trigger. So why, then, would Will subject himself to more therapy with the not-so-good doctor? “If Will still wanted to kill Hannibal, it would be a very short season,” executive producer Bryan Fuller tells TVGuide.com with a laugh. “What’s interesting about what Will is going through is that he’s realizing there are elements of Hannibal Lecter’s … education, for a lack of a better word, that are resonating with him. Hannibal, although he is a monster, is correct in many things about Will Graham’s instincts and why he understands killers the way he does.”
Additionally, since Miriam Lass failed to identify Hannibal as the Chesapeake Ripper (more on that later), Will still needs to find a way to prove to Jack & Co. he’s right about Hannibal’s evil ways. “In order to lull Hannibal into a false sense of security, Will’s got to play the seductor in the dynamic,” Fuller says. “It’s dangerous territory for Will because it’s not entirely clear how much of a game he is playing. He is definitely in Hannibal’s orbit and he feels that gravitational pull. But he also is trying to maintain his humanity. He doesn’t know how close he can dance to the fire before he bursts into flames.”
As for Hannibal, who’s been closely watched by Jack over the past couple episodes, he can now breathe a little easier. After a few years of brainwashing Miriam while holding her captive, Hannibal made Dr. Chilton (Raul Esparza) his patsy by planting the body of Dr. Gideon (Eddie Izzard) at Chilton’s home. In fact, when Miriam sees Chilton and IDs him as the Ripper, she also grabs a gun and shoots him in the face. “When we started talking about bringing Anna Chlumsky back as Miriam Lass and how she was going to exonerate Hannibal Lecter, it wasn’t going to be enough for her to just come forward and say, ‘No, he’s not the Chesapeake Ripper,'” Fuller says. “Someone had to go down for that, and Chilton had been there from the start. So we thought, ‘He’s got to pay the final price.'”
But isn’t Dr. Chilton a major part of the Thomas Harris books upon which the series is based? Although Fuller acknowledges he’s messing with the history, he could still have a few tricks up his sleeve. “As far as canon goes, I wouldn’t put it past me to have [Chilton] show up looking like Ed Harris in History of Violence in Season 3 or 4,” Fuller says with a laugh. “I love Raul and I love what he brings to the atmosphere of the show. Serpico survived a shot to the face! That’s not exactly where we’re going, but I would never count out Dr. Chilton.”
Hannibal may have a neat-and-tidy alibi proving he’s not the Ripper for now, but Fuller says things will get messy again once Hannibal gets himself back in Will’s head. “Episode 8 is definitely the new chapter,” Fuller says. “It’s very much the cat-and-cat game that’s on display. Who’s going to win? Does Will want to win? Does Will want to surrender to this? We will be unsure up until the final moments of the season.
“Will has to be in psychic danger through the end of the season,” Fuller continues. “The arc of the last six episodes is all about Will’s struggle with the darkness that got inside him and how much of it he can control. And how much of it he wants to control.”
Hannibal airs Fridays at 10/9c.