'Hannibal' Boss on Pulling Out the "Ghost Card" With Latest Death

Hannibal Still - H 2015
Courtesy of NBC

Hannibal Still - H 2015

[Warning: This story contains spoilers from Thursday’s episode of NBC’s Hannibal, “Primavera.”]

It’s official. After two seasons of Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) feeling tormented and guilty over the downfall of Abigail Hobbs (Kacey Rohl), the character met her official demise in Thursday night’s episode of Hannibal.

Following last week’s standalone season three premiere, which picked up in Italy with Hannibal (Mads Mikkelsen) and Bedelia (Gillian Anderson) moonlighting as a married couple, the second episode of the season finally shed more light on what happened following last year’s bloody finale. While it initially appeared as though Abigail made it out of the carnage alive, by the closing moments her body was zipped up in that body bag for good, marking an end to Will’s everlasting guilt.

In the wake of Rohl’s official exit, The Hollywood Reporter caught up with showrunner Bryan Fuller to get his take on pulling out the “ghost card,” Abigail’s death and what it all means for Will.

Why revisit those horrific season two finale scenes?

It felt necessary to remind the audience exactly what Will went through and what he survived. To understand his state of mind, we did revisit that in the second episode and there’s a little bit more of it even in episode four. That’s the episode that takes place immediately after the finale and really answers a lot of questions about where the characters are and what they’ve been going through.

Part of the fun for me in telling that story and holding it off is to get to the center of each of the characters — what they’re experiencing and then understand the steps that got them there later. So you may think one thing is happening and the character is doing things for one reason, but then you understand after episode four that the context has shifted because you are finally let in to events as they’re laid out linearly.

Abigail is indeed dead — did you think about holding off on that reveal?

Yes, there was talk initially about not revealing that she was dead until a few episodes later but part of me felt there was a trick in that. That felt disingenuous to the audience. So we contained it within an episode and made it about Abigail’s presence in an episode about Will Graham dealing with the aftermath of the season two finale.

Is she a coping mechanism or a haunting?

The figment of his imagination that is Abigail was something I didn’t want to answer because part of me really wanted Abigail to be there in earnest. And so when the priest turned and made eye contact with her, and she averts her eyes and he does the same, that was a very intentional move to say there is a presence with Will. And perhaps there is life after death in some way. It posed the question without answering it. It was an interesting addition to the storytelling that we haven’t used yet. So to pull out the ghost card in a very subtle way — that if you blink and you miss it — was also part of honoring the greater mythology of the tale that we’re telling. Is Hannibal Lector a cannibal psychiatrist or is he a fallen angel who’s become smitten with someone amongst the purest of human beings?

Can Will move on from Abigail now?

Yes, that was the point of the story — that Will is able to move on somewhat from Abigail after he realizes how much Hannibal is still there for him. So in a sense the Abigail manifestation in his psychology was a stopgap measure for him to deal with the loss of Hannibal in his life. And once he found Hannibal again, he was able to let her go.

What does that mean for Will’s working relationship with Rinaldo Pazzi?

Really, the relationship we’re going to explore more fully is with Pazzi and Jack Crawford. We hint at a connection with Will and Pazzi, but they’re adversarial in a way. The greater connection comes between Jack Crawford and Rinaldo Pazzi; both are detectives who have lost Hannibal Lector in some form or another in their investigations and are now looking to find him again. The greater part of that story is about connecting to Jack and what those two men as detectives have to learn from each other.

So it’s safe to say Jack made it out of season two fully intact?

In episode three we’ll find out if Jack is alive. It will all become a little bit clearer.

Hannibal airs Thursdays at 10 p.m. on NBC. Do you think everyone else makes it out alive? Sad that Abigail is officially gone? Sound off in the comments, below.

Twitter: @amber_dowling