Spoilers for the Hannibal Season 3 finale below. Duh.
As Twitter put it, last night’s series finale of Hannibal was a drop the mic moment. The murder husbands, Will Graham and Hannibal Lecter, finally consummated their three-season flirtation and tag-teamed to kill Francis Dolarhyde, Will delivering a kill shot to the body while Lecter used his teeth to tear a chunk out of Dolarhyde’s neck. As they embraced, both worse for the wear, Hannibal revealed this had always been his endgame, telling Will, “This is all I ever wanted for you.” Nodding in agreement, Will tightened his grip around Hannibal, and then pulled the pair over the edge of an eroding cliff, the show taking a very literal approach to the realization that Will had finally gone over the edge. As the camera elegantly swooped over to catch up with the pair and veered down into the watery abyss, we lost complete sight of them, unsure if they fell to an obvious death or if perhaps they were dangling to the side of the cliff just off camera. It turns out, Bryan Fuller’s big plan to end the show was to go out on in true Sherlock and Moriarty at Reichenbach falls fashion.
And that’s all she wrote, folks. Put a fork in Gillian Anderson’s severed leg being fed back to her, because Hannibal is over. Or is it? No, it probably is. Or is it?
In various interviews after Hannibal was officially canceled in late June, Bryan Fuller unexpectedly spoke up to defend NBC, his then soon-to-be former employer. From his point of view, even though NBC dropped the ax they were not the enemy because they stuck with the show longer than you could realistically expect a broadcast network to. They were supportive and turned a surprisingly big blind eye to the gory content, but the ratings were never there and the critical buzz never equated to any major awards nominations.
Hannibal was the definition of a prestige show which brought NBC very little in the way of measurable prestige, and when they decided to move on it was Bryan Fuller, not NBC, who ultimately prevented a fourth season from happening somewhere else. Amazon was eager to save the Hannibal from the cancellation pile, but Fuller was already committed to serving as the co-creator and showrunner of Starz’ upcoming adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods. As such, a fourth season of Hannibal was going to have wait a full year before Fuller could begin working on it. Not surprisingly, Amazon didn’t have that kind of patience, and the all actors were let out of their contracts, with Mads Mikkelsen already circling a big role in Marvel’s Doctor Strange.
Fuller isn’t ready to give up just yet. Talking to THR last night, he revealed he’s still working with his producer to explore every option, including a possible Hannibal movie.
[Executive producer] Martha De Laurentiis is looking into financing for a film. I’m still hoping that we get to tell that story in some way. There is something in the novel Hannibal that has not been done in any of the adaptations and I would love to explore that with Will Graham and Hannibal Lecter. I’m hoping that someday, whether it’s a year from now… two years from now… that we will continue to get to tell that story. I feel like if Will Graham did survive that plunge, his most interesting chapter is yet to be told.
Plus, if they do manage to find a new home they might be able to work out a deal with MGM to be able to use the Silence of the Lambs story and characters, which was the one aspect of Hannibal canon off-limits to them at NBC.
The movie route is very appealing because we have movie actors. It would be great to see them on the big screen and we’ve always shot the show as though it were an independent movie with an independent film esthetic. Coming full circle in return to the big screen is very promising. But it would be interesting to discuss a miniseries or some sort of continuation of the story with another network once all the hubbub of this series has gone fallow. Who knows? Maybe there is an opportunity for us to address things with MGM and Clarice Starling now that the show has completed its run on NBC and there is an opportunity for a rebirth of sorts.
Who would he cast as Clarice?
There’s two ways. If you were to go that traditional route, Ellen Page would knock it out of the park. She’s a brilliant actress and has a lot of the qualities that we remember about Jodie Foster’s performance but yet unique in her skill set as an actress. That would be one way to go. But I do think it would be interesting to cast someone who is not white in that role and use race experientially as a defining attribute of the character.
That all sounds nice, but Fuller has yet to pull off any Pushing Daisies continuation he’s teased over the years. Realistically, as encouraging as it is to hear him actively pursuing a future for Hannibal there’s only so much he can actually accomplish. No one’s under contract anymore, and he already lined up his next job, American Gods, before Hannibal had even been canceled because the writing was clearly on the wall at that point. If they can’t find the right money people or a new home then it’s not coming back, which would be a shame because Hannibal was always a cable show airing on a broadcast network. Put into the right environment, it could thrive, even if it is rapidly running out of source material to adapt from the Thomas Harris novels.
In the end, much like fellow former NBC series Community, Hannibal is officially dead until the day comes that it isn’t. No one is obligated to it anymore, but by going out the way it did maybe they piqued the interest of the right people who can actually help us find out what happens next. Should that day never come, we’ll be left to decide for ourselves what to make of that ending, with Fuller’s parting shot being:
I don’t think you can assume anything [whether Will and Hannibal died or not]. It’s very intentionally left obscure but hopefully somewhat satisfying for the audience. If there is a continuation of this story with Will Graham and Hannibal Lecter and Hugh Dancy and Mads Mikkelsen in those roles then of course they survived. And if not then it’s a big fat question mark.
What did you think of Hannibal‘s series finale? And do you think that it should probably stop now and never come back? Or would you love to see a Hannibal film?