*Warning – Contains Spoilers!
After three seasons, Hannibal has ceased serving. Season 3’s The Wrath of the Lamb is increasingly likely to be the last new episode to air. Elaborate murderers have left Baltimore and slow-motion is no longer in vogue. As small as its fan-base is, it is one of the most loyal. Bryan Fuller’s version served as the back stories characters deserved, especially better than the one Hannibal Rising gave its title character. Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen) became something more terrifying than a psychopath behind glass- an ordinary, but sophisticated, man. Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) got to be more than a troubled profiler- a man haunted by his own brain, trapped in his ability to understand the worst of humanity and ever more tempted by their lifestyles.
Since cancellation, efforts to find a new home have been driven by a perceived need to see more of every character. Now, after the season 3 finale, opinions may be changing.
Each season has been specifically written to provide a series ending. Domestic ratings were never expected to blow the Nielsen system wide open. NBC, cast, crew, and Fuller himself all knew it. If the kitchen were closed prematurely, here’s a quick summary of what we’d have been left stewing over:
Season 1: Were the show to be cancelled, Hannibal’s expert frame-up would have remained successful. Will served perfectly as his scapegoat. Coughing up an ear is rather condemning evidence and everyone else involved in the FBI was willing to believe their friend had succumbed to a cocktail encephalitis and empathy and killed five people. This included Abigail Hobbs (Kacey Rohl), daughter of the serial killer from the pilot and owner of the ear.
Season 2: Everyone died. That’s it. That’s how the whole series would have concluded. One kitchen saw more blood than the elevator from The Shining. Alana Bloom (Caroline Dhavernas) would have died in stylistic rain after an unfortunate run-in with the pavement; Jack Crawford (Laurence Fishburne) would have bled out from glass in the neck; Abigail Hobbs would have also bled out (for real this time, not like the season 1 fake-out) from a nasty slit across her throat and; Will would have also bled out, not faring too well after a knife was tugged across his stomach.
Which brings us onto season 3. It’s fresh, so let’s give it some more attention. After 7 episodes, the 2015 offering finally got to more recognisable territory. Red Dragon has had two films in its honour-one to share the name (from 2002) and the other Michael Mann’s 1989 movie, Manhunter. Of course, it also continued what it has been doing since 2013 and incorporated original ideas.
There were clues scattered across the arc that things would end badly for at least one person. Book readers could guess who it was, and Silence of the Lambs movie (1991) fans could guess it was the one that didn’t make an appearance. As it turns out, TV viewers are not great profilers, because very few, if any, saw what was coming. Especially not after Francis Dolarhyde (Richard Armitage) had so nicely stuck more-or-less to the plot line outlined for him in the 80s novel.
Rumours and speculation flew around message boards and among the faithful on social media. However, nobody toyed with the idea that (spoiler) the two leads die. As there is still the ever so slight possibility of some safety net, ambiguity is lurking thanks to a post-credits add-on.
Rather than focusing on the storyline, which involved a staged suicide and a faked asylum escape-that turned into a real one- there is the matter of how much the closing scene worked.
Heartbreak aside, there was no more suitable way for it to end. After teaming up to kill Dolarhyde, Will was faced with the realisation he had become what he feared. Funnily enough, this epiphany came just after what would be classed as justifiable homicide, rather than some of the legitimate crimes sprinkled in previous seasons. Still, he clearly saw himself being exactly what the antagonist hoped. Killing was going to be easier from that point onwards.
In that moment, clambering to his feet while bleeding profusely from the face and chest, Will made the ultimate decision. Grasping his opposite in the most complicated relationship ever, he then utilised the cliff face they were both on the edge of. There were no bodies, just the camera following their path and looks down onto the black abyss, providing a hauntingly beautiful backdrop to what could possibly be the last credits to appear outside of re-runs or DVDs.
Should there be another network that cannot cope with losing the show, there had better be a solid idea to follow-up with. Too many shows have their overall quality watered down by an extra course that tainted the entire meal. In reality, falling off a cliff is a surefire way to end your life. Unless either of the pair are part flying squirrel, it’s best to have prepared your final thought and make it a good one. But, in this show, people have survived worse.
If there is no film or miniseries years down the line? Closure was provided. They’re most certainly dead. Rights to Clarice Starling were never secured and Graham had effectively outlived his usefulness, as the books only mention him in passing as a drunk with a face only a dog could love. For both the viewers and the characters, there remains the clear message of the series: you can’t beat Dr. Lecter unless you’re willing to destroy yourself.
Bonus: the highlight of the finale was Will doing anything to protect his glass of wine. A madman bursts into the house? He clutched that precious liquid to his chest. His companion/ worst friend ever of three years lay on the ground, shot, ready to be killed by the original otherkin? Appropriate time to nonchalantly sip from his glass. It’s fun to imagine this scene wasn’t planned, but Dancy just remembered he’s English and there was alcohol in his hand.