Comic-Con 2014: ‘Hannibal’ Panel Report

The second season finale of NBC’s “Hannibal” was a bloodbath that left several of the main characters facing death as Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen) escaped despite being exposed as a killer.

While this year’s “Hannibal” panel at Comic-Con International didn’t reveal who survived, it featured at least one surprise resurrection. Or at least a surprise return.

Early in the panel, “Hannibal” executive producer Bryan Fuller brought out Raul Esparza to the stage to announce that he would reprise his role as Dr. Chilton in “Hannibal” Season 3 even after taking a bullet to the face during the second season. Esparaza got a big response from the crowd and he eventually told the room that he always knew that Chilton would survive the second season because he has read Thomas Harris’ original Hannibal novel series.

Unfortunately, the main trio of “Hannibal,” Hugh Dancy, Mads Mikkelsen and Laurence Fishburne weren’t in San Diego this year. However, Mikkelsen did tape a humorous greeting for the crowd.

British comedian and talk show host, Jonathan Ross moderated the “Hannibal” panel, which included Fuller, Esparaza, Caroline Dhavernas, Scott Thompson, Aaron Abrams, executive producer Martha DeLaurentiis, writer Steven Lightfoot and director David Slade, who announced that he will direct more episodes of “Hannibal” during the the third season.

Calling themselves Thomas Harris Remix artists, the “Hannibal” creative team said that the new season will mine both Hannibal and Hannibal Rising for material. Fuller also confirmed the rumor that the third season will begin one year after the events of the second season finale. He even likened the third season premiere to a pilot episode for a new series about Hannibal and his former psychiatrist Bedelia Du Maurier (Gillian Anderson) fully entrenched in their new lives in Europe.

Related: NBC Orders a Third Course of ‘Hannibal’

Fuller added that the other characters will begin to reappear in the second episode of the season and the fourth episode will fill in the one year gap between the seasons. But perhaps the biggest news for fans of Harris’ novels was Fuller’s revelation that Francis Dolarhyde will be introduced in episode 8 of season 3, which will begin the Red Dragon storyline. Lady Murasaki from Hannibal Rising is also slated to appear in the new season.

As for a few seemingly departed characters, Fuller said that Kacey Rohl will be a part of the third season in some way, and they may explore where her character, Abigail Hobbs was in the second season. Fuller also indicated that he is writing a flashback sequence or episode that will allow Eddie Izzard to reprise his role as Dr. Gideon after he was eaten by Hannibal and used to frame Chilton.

Another interesting aspect of the panel was the way that Fuller and DeLaurentiis openly stated their desire to do the Silence of the Lamb storyline with Clarice Starling despite the rights situation that currently has Clarice Starling and Barney Matthews at MGM and almost all of Harris’ other characters with “Hannibal.”

DeLaurentiis suggested that they could partner with MGM for the Silence of the Lamb season and she noted that MGM was pissed that “Hannibal” was released while it was trying to get a Clarice Starling TV series off the ground. DeLaurentiis added that if they can’t use Clarice, they will simply create a new mash-up of that story or create a new character to fill Clarice’s role.

While the audience members offered several compliments to Fuller and the creative team for adding so many women to Harris’ original stories, the issue of Alana Bloom’s romance with Hannibal was brought up more than once. Dhavernas said that it happened because Alana knew Hannibal for years and he was seemingly stable while her friends Jack and Will were acting erratically.

In Alana’s mind, a romance with Hannibal could be an adult relationship that she didn’t have before. Fuller also teased Dhavernas by reminding her how excited she was when he initially told her that Alana would sleep with Hannibal. Dhavernas admitted to it and added that she was a big fan of Mikkelsen’s films.

Of course, the other major romance of “Hannibal” is the complicated relationship between Hannibal and Will. Fuller said that both men have a real love for each other that was not sexual in nature. But that hasn’t stopped fans of the pairing to create their own fan art of Will and Hannibal together, which Fuller said that he was very aware of after spending so much time online. Fuller even called his own version of “Hannibal” a fan fiction of Harris’ original novels.

Fuller closed out the panel with the announcement that “Hannibal” Seasons 1 and 2 will soon get two volume soundtracks which will be out beginning in August. “Hannibal” Season 3 will return to NBC in 2015.