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Hannibal: Reflecting on the Shocking Season 2 Finale and Speculating on What’s Next

HannibalSeeing as how the very first episode of Hannibal‘s second season kicked off with a brutal fight sequence between Dr. Lecter and Jack Crawford, which took place some time after the majority of the season’s events, I was pretty certain that last night’s finale was going to be a total shocker, with at least one major character – Crawford – not making it to Season 3.

Looking back, my going into the episode believing it was going to be a shocker was a total understatement, as last night we witnessed what was hands down the ballsiest and most unexpected season finale I have ever seen.

It probably goes without saying, but if you haven’t yet seen the episode, I strongly encourage you to avoid reading this post until you do. Since I can’t talk about it without offering up spoilers, there will indeed be many spoilers throughout the post, so you have been warned!

As we had been promised in Season 2’s premiere episode, last night’s finale built to that moment where Hannibal and Crawford engage in a bloody battle to the death, with the true intentions of Will Graham hanging in the balance. What we weren’t shown during the premiere was that both Graham and Alana Bloom were en route to Hannibal’s house right about the same time Crawford was, with all four parties coming together for a totally game-changing finale.

Or five parties, I guess I should say. Though we had long believed that Abigail Hobbs was killed by Hannibal, way back in Season 1, we learned towards the end of the finale that she’s been alive this whole time, shacking up with Hannibal because she didn’t know what else to do. After Abigail pushed Alana out of a window to her certain death – she’s under Hannibal’s spell, and doing whatever he wants her to do – Graham arrived on the scene, and that’s where the episode really took a turn for the shocking.

It seems Abigail was a pawn in the big game of Chess that Hannibal had been playing this whole time, testing Will’s friendship and loyalties to him. Upon realizing that Graham was on the side of the FBI, Hannibal butchers him with a linoleum knife and then slits Abigail’s throat right in front of him, while he’s bleeding out. Hannibal had planned on starting life anew with both Abigail and Will, but since he felt Will’s true intentions were to lock him up and throw away the key, he completely severed (literally!) all ties to the life he had spent so many years living.

In a post-credits stinger, we saw Hannibal flying off to his new life, Dr. Du Maurier by his side. It was a scene that somewhat echoed the final moments of Silence of the Lambs, and confirmed that Bedelia was on Lecter’s side all along.

The absolute perfect end-cap to the slow build we’ve been enjoying over the course of the past couple years, last night’s episode was one of the most satisfying and memorable season finales I have ever seen. It was utterly shocking, totally ballsy and completely brilliant, serving as a brutally poetic swan song to the twisted friendship between Hannibal and Will Graham – an emphatic period at the end of their captivating journey together, if you will.

I could go on and on about how awesome it was to see Hannibal finally go full-villain, how shocking it was to find out that Abigail was still alive or how unexpected it was to see Will take his final breaths, in a pool of both his and Abigail’s blood, but these are things you already know, and are already feeling for yourself. Instead, I’d like to focus on what’s next, and speculate on what I think we’re in store for in the future.

Where does the show go from here? That’s the big question on everyone’s mind, as last night’s finale felt more like the end of the series as a whole, rather than the end of a single season. All secrets revealed, and nearly all major characters left for dead, it would seem that there’s really nowhere else for the show to go, and I really got the sense that creator Bryan Fuller was worried that NBC wouldn’t renew it for a third season, so he just went for broke and wrapped everything neatly up, in the event that they didn’t.

Of course, NBC did recently renew Hannibal for a third season, and so the story must go on, even if it may seem like there’s simply no way for it to do so. While it’s incredibly hard to imagine subsequent seasons without Graham, Crawford and Bloom, and though I certainly never expected them all to die, I think the decision to kill them off was not only incredibly ballsy but also totally necessary. In retrospect, ending this season with their deaths was kinda the only way to do it, if you really think about it.

Both Season 1 and Season 2 of the show were primarily centered on Graham, Crawford and Bloom trying to identify the so-called Chesapeake Ripper, having no idea that their friend Hannibal was the killer all along. That’s been the basis of the show this whole time, and so how much further can you really drag it out, after Hannibal’s secrets have been revealed? Again, can’t say I saw it coming, but looking back, what would’ve really made Season 3 impossible is if Graham and Crawford did survive the Season 2 finale.

Let’s not forget that the show is titled Hannibal, and therefore he is the only character who needs to stay alive, for it to continue on.

With all traces of the past two seasons being wiped away in one fell swoop, Fuller and company are now free to take the show in a whole different direction, and if you’re asking me, they’re probably in the process of casting Clarice Starling as I sit here and type up this post. The next logical place for the show to go is to delve into the relationship between Clarice and Hannibal, and I could totally see the next couple seasons being devoted to their story. The sequel to Red Dragon was Silence of the Lambs, after all.

If they don’t want to go that route, last night’s finale also provided the perfect opportunity for the writers to make the series entirely their own, and stray far away from the source material. That’s something that I’d also be quite interested to see, as the first two seasons primarily focused on characters present in Thomas Harris’ novels – though a lot of straying was done, regardless.

Either way, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Mason Verger pop up at least a couple more times in the series, and it’s also entirely possible that he’ll become a central character in the future of the show. Through horrifically scarred, let’s not forget that Mason is still very much alive. The character was introduced in Harris’ Hannibal book as the only surviving victim of Hannibal, so if the writers are looking to stay at least somewhat by the side of the source material, it would only make sense that Verger pop up sometime down the road – playing that same ‘only survivor’ role.

Of course, it’s also entirely possible that Will Graham is still alive, and Season 3 will center on him pursuing Hannibal, which is not something any of us should be ruling out. Only time will tell, I suppose!

Needless to say, it’s going to be very interesting to see what’s in store for us in the future, and I so admire the ballsiness of the totally out of control season finale we were presented with last night. Very few shows on TV right now have the cajones that Hannibal does, and it’s a pretty damn exciting feeling to have no idea what to expect from here, and to know that absolutely anything can happen on the show, at any time.

We are currently living in a true Golden Age of television, and if you’re asking me, Hannibal is right at the forefront of that movement. Us horror fans are incredibly lucky to have a show like this in our lives, and I can only hope that you’re savoring every last delicious bite.

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If you don't get enough of me here on Halloween Love, you can also find me on Dread Central, iHorror and Shock Till You Drop. Contact me via john@halloweenlove.com.
  • Ha, you beat me to it John!

    I was just about to write up a piece on this, but you’ve done a great job here.

    I too, was very surprised by the finale, but I’m more surprised by your interpretation of its events.

    We can agree, that all bets are off, while staying loyal to the most important part of the novels and films, the specifics and chronology are totally up for re-imagination.

    What really surprises me, is that you believe Graham is dead however. Of course, you may be right (which would in fact be a season 3 premiere shocker for me), but in all previous incantations of the story of “Red Dragon”, Will was brutally attacked by Hannibal… and survived.

    What came next was that Hannibal really was captured and after years of physical and mostly mental rehabilitation, Crawford called Graham (who’s now retired and has raised a family) back one more time to help catch Dolarhyde, who’s actually the most quintessential villain of this universe in my opinion, what The Joker is to Batman.

    The most fascinating and dynamic part of the story is Will Graham’s need to consult Hannibal one last time to help catch Francis Dolarhyde (“The Red Dragon”).

    But, since Hannibal wasn’t captured, here are my predictions:

    – Part of season 3 may in fact be about the inevitable capture of Hannibal

    – Graham and Crawford survive
    – Bloom is dead
    – Dolarhyde will be introduced and have a much larger presence throughout the season than them simply going from one killer to the other, it’ll shape up more like a season of Dexter where we spend more time with just the one serial killer
    – Graham and Crawford will try, desperately, to track Dolarhyde down, but being unable to do so, Graham will (somehow – and possible behind Crawford’s back in this new storyline [he originally pushed Will to Hannibal]) seek the advice of Hannibal (I feel this dynamic is too good to lose completely regardless of free reign)

    I think the show will survive the long-run and Clarice won’t be introduced until season 4 or 5, where she’ll team up with Graham (who now has taken Crawford’s position to be placed more in the mentor role) to track down Buffalo Bill.

    My secondary prediction, considering that all original chronology may be totally out the window, is that Clarice comes early to track down Buffalo Bill (with Graham – who I think survives no matter what) because in the arc of a TV series, Dolarhyde could very well be the series finale, so everything else would be fleshed out before that time.

  • John Squires

    It’s very possible that I’m wrong about Will Graham being dead, and the more I’ve thought about it, the more I think he probably is still alive. So you’re probably right about that, thought I would be very surprised if both he and Jack Crawford make it to Season 3. Can’t help but feel like it would take something away from the awesome Season 2 finale, if they both end up surviving.

    Definitely going to be using the downtime between seasons to re-watch all the movies and read all the books, which I’m looking forward to. Perhaps I’ll have much more of a clue as to where things are headed, once I revisit all that stuff.

    That said, part of the fun is not knowing where things are headed, since they’re always free to stray from the source material, so for now it’s just fun to speculate and come up with different possible scenarios. No matter how ya slice it, Season 3 will be very interesting, and I already cannot wait!

  • I’m with you, if absolutely everyone really is dead, that would be fucking amazing, period. As much as I enjoy the Graham character, I love when writers take those kinds of risks.

    Because Dolarhyde is so important however, there’s absolutely 0% chance that he won’t come into the story at some point, it would be pretty fascinating actually to see a different agent, possibly even a completely original agent written just for the show, take him on.

    On your Hannibal Lector binge, I strongly recommend watching Manhunter first or last, keeping it separate from the Anthony Hopkins films because while they’re all quite good, they’re worlds apart in tone.

  • UPDATE (Spoiler Alert)

    http://www.tvguide.com/news/hannibal-season2-finale-postmortem-bryan-fuller-1082245/

    It looks like some of my predictions were right.

    Graham survives and we’ll be seeing Dolarhyde.

    But, we’ll also be treated to a mix of Hannibal’s origin story as well and Fuller has confirmed (not that it was really necessary at this point) that sequentially and story point wise, things can go anywhere counter to the original layout of the books/films.

    Very exciting.