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Postmortem: Hannibal Boss Breaks Down the Season's Long Con

Michael Pitt, Hugh Dancy

[WARNING: The following story contains spoilers from Friday's Hannibal. Read at your own risk.]

So, it turns out Hannibal’s Will Graham isn’t quite the psychopath he’s been made out to be.

On Friday’s episode, Will (Hugh Dancy) remained under suspicion, particularly by Alana Bloom (Caroline Dhavernas), after the “body” of Freddie Lounds (Lara Jean Chorostecki) was found charred after taking a ride in a flaming wheelchair. But when Alana pushed the issue too hard with Jack Crawford (Laurence Fishburne), he was forced to show Alana the truth: Freddie is alive and well, and Jack and Will have been working together to trap Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen).

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And it seems to be working. After Will and Hannibal delight in Will’s newfound killer instinct (during a disturbingly bone-crunching dinner), Hannibal begins to let down his guard and even admits to his role in Abigail Hobbs’ murder. However, Hannibal is still playing puppet master in other areas of Will’s life. After learning that Margot (Katharine Isabelle) is pregnant with Will’s baby, Hannibal manipulates Margot’s brother Mason (Michael Pitt) to take despicable action, which ends with Margot losing the child.

So, does Will actually have Hannibal on the hook, or is Will playing right into Hannibal’s hand? How much does Jack truly know about what Will’s been up to? And what’s Alana’s next step now that she knows the truth about Hannibal? TVGuide.com chatted with executive producer Bryan Fuller about all that and more.

First of all, congratulations on the Season 3 renewal! That has to be exciting. 
Bryan Fuller:
 Yes, very exciting. We’ve got such crazy stuff in store.

Freddie’s not dead, but this episode went a long way toward making us believe she was, including that crazy opening scene.
Fuller:
  We have this communion between Will and Hannibal where they have ortolan bunting, which is this debauched delicacy. You eat a songbird that has been drowned in armagnac alive and plucked and roasted. It’s the sinful affront to God. In that [scene], we talk about who Will’s becoming and how the radiance of Freddie Lounds’ murder has to fuel who he’s to become. We want the audience to think that Will actually did kill her, but it’s all part of a long con that Will and Jack Crawford have engineered to trap Hannibal. When Freddie stands up and says, “How was my funeral?” we know that Will is actually as good a fisherman as he promised Jack he was.

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So, Jack knows everything?
Fuller: It was interesting over the last few episodes to be playing Jack Crawford without commitment to any one person’s point of view. Now, we realize he is in fact one of the architects of this whole plan. He told Will, “If you hook him, I’ll land him,” and we see that Jack has gone to crazy extremes to facilitate catching Hannibal. But there are things that even Jack doesn’t know. For example, I don’t think Jack knows that Will ate somebody. [Laughs] I think that’s something that Will may have kept to himself.

Who were Will and Hannibal dining on last week?
Fuller:
 That was Randall Tier. The two choices would be either Randall Tier or the donated corpse of the woman they falsified to be Freddie Lounds. And, God knows how long that body’s been on the shelf! [Laughs] At least we know Randall is fresh meat.

Does Jack know that Will killed Randall Tier? Even though it was self-defense, is Jack worried about Will getting his hands too dirty in this con?
Fuller:
 We become increasingly aware of how much Jack knows and how much he’s been in on things. Without spoiling moves that are coming up, Jack knows a tremendous amount and has really stuck his neck out. I don’t think anybody can be certain which way Will is going to swing in the final moments. We see the temptation and the seduction with Will. I don’t think all of it is an act; I think he is genuinely being seduced and it’s genuinely dangerous territory for him to be in. He’s paying a psychic price to catch a killer.

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And yet, it’s working. Will gets Hannibal to admit to killing Abigail Hobbs. How much longer does the ruse need to continue?
Fuller:
 Will needs something actionable. Just because Hannibal says something in the intimacy of a therapy room, it could always be argued that it was never said or that Hannibal was saying it to elicit a certain response from Will based on his abnormal behavior. Anything that is said is not actionable. Will is not a reliable witness because we saw him go cuckoo once already. So it would be one cuckoo’s word versus another.

So, when Will sends Mason after Hannibal in the final scene, is Will hoping Hannibal will kill Mason as his actionable offense or does Will want Mason punished for what he did to Margot? Or does Will really want Hannibal dead?
Fuller:
 All of the above. Will said he was doing it because he was curious. I think that’s an honest answer. All those other things are just sauce for the goose.

How important was it for you to show Will reflecting on possibly becoming a father in the midst of all this chaos?
Fuller: 
It almost felt like a small beacon of hope for Will, particularly after we played the last episode as if Will was a murderer. As Will has gone deeper into this killer’s frame of mind where he’s thinking about death and the poetry of death and waxing philosophical about it with his BFF Hannibal Lecter, there was something about a glimmer of life, a glimmer of hope that comes into that darkness for Will. It’s a tool for him to think perpendicularly to how he had been previously thinking.

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Obviously, that possibility is snatched away by Mason. How much does the loss of the baby weigh on Will?
Fuller:
 It weighs on him in a realistic amount. It was all very new and came as a total surprise, and not even a week later it’s like, “Just kidding!” I don’t think he was devastated, but it was very sad. But also, he’s seeing this situation as a massive maneuver by Hannibal. He feels Hannibal is responsible for all of this: activating that dream, taking it away, manipulating Margot’s life and manipulating his. Everybody is reeling in Hannibal’s wake.

During Will and Hannibal’s therapy session, it seems the loss of daughter-figure Abigail Hobbs is the most profound loss in Will’s life at this point. Will was very emotional.
Fuller:
 What Abigail meant for Will was this opportunity to save somebody from this downward spiral and therefore be able to save himself. But he lost her and he’s losing himself. She’s representative of that battle. She was brutally murdered by Hannibal Lecter, and now he’s admitting it. The idea of being with someone who is admitting something so traumatizing, I would be a mess.

But it also signals how firmly Will has Hannibal on the hook. Does Will feel he is close to finally bringing Hannibal down?
Fuller:
 Will is actually divorcing himself from that agenda and allowing himself to experience this very particularly psychotic man. In a way, he has respect for him. That’s the dangerous place for Will: what he feels for Hannibal. He has a modicum of respect for him, which is terrifying.

Alana’s feelings for Hannibal are going the other way in this episode, especially after Jack shows her the truth about Freddie.
Fuller:
 I think Alana feels like the biggest ass—- on Earth. I think it’s humiliating and confusing, and I feel bad for her. All things being equal from her point of view, Hannibal was the best choice. With the craziness of Will Graham and the risky behavior of Jack Crawford’s handling of Will, Hannibal is the sanest guy she knows. But now she doesn’t have any doubt. The moment she comes into the room and Freddie Lounds is there, that says so many things to her. Because all of this has been going on and because of Hannibal’s very specific behavior, it was like, “Oh my God, it’s all true.”

But does she now have to play a part in this con? Would Alana suddenly pulling out of the relationship with Hannibal alert him that something is up?
Fuller:
 I think she’s hit the silk with the relationship. And If [Jack and Will] allowed Alana to go back into this situation, knowing how perceptive Hannibal is, they would be endangering her life.

So, what can we expect next week? Will Mason go after Hannibal as Will suggested?
Fuller:
 Episode 12 is one of my favorites of the season because it is so bonkers. It’s bonkers by way of Michael Pitt having the time of his life with this performance. He’s so fun in it and such a bastard. And yes, Mason Verger is activated in a big way.

Hannibal airs Fridays at 10/9c on NBC What did you think of this episode? Watch past episodes here

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