Though the “Hannibal” Season 3 finale ends with the haunting strains of Siouxsie Sioux and Brian Reitzell’s “Love Crime” echoing the lyrics “I will survive,” the show’s series finale leaves the fates of Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) and Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen) up in the air.
The second half of Season 3 has been about the rise and fall of the Great Red Dragon (Richard Armitage), and in a brutal sequence at the end of the finale, Will and Hannibal — newly escaped from the CIA’s clutches with Will’s help — slay their foe.
It’s as violent and beautiful as anything creator Bryan Fuller has shot in the series, and it brings “Hannibal’s” two central characters closer than they’ve ever been. They’ve killed a person together, and though Will suffered a potentially fatal knife wound, he takes the time to note his thoughts to Hannibal.
“This is all I ever wanted for you — for both of us,” Hannibal says. Will responds, “It’s beautiful.”
Will pulls Hannibal in for a hug charged with emotion — Fuller winking to the audience about the relationship, maybe, but also underlining how they can’t survive without the other — before Will pulls Hannibal to him tightly and leans them both off a cliff and into the waters below.
Having the credits roll after viewers see the pair hit the water is a fairly ambiguous ending for a season, but Fuller did worse by seemingly murdering all of his main characters at the end of Season 2. It’s even more ambiguous considering this is the show’s series finale. Fuller has been open about his plans for future seasons of “Hannibal,” and even gave his cast a rundown of what he intended Season 4 to be.
“As we were talking about the way [Season 3] would conclude, he started to describe how he imagined that might play out in a prospective fourth season from point A to point B,” Dancy said at San Diego Comic-Con. “It was such a different place for it to go. What I can tell you is it was almost a kind of amazing inversion and return to the first season.”
One can assume that Fuller did not intend to kill off Hannibal and Will — they’ve come back from worse, after all. But the cliff jump makes an interpretation of the finale where the pair die together fitting; they tried to live without each other earlier in the season, but forever were clashing back into each other. The only way for them to be together at peace was in death.
If there’s one takeaway from “Hannibal’s” three-season run, it’s that these two men could never escape one another, and ultimately needed one another to survive. It’s a trope that plenty of shows have played with — “The Following” tried and failed with its own three seasons — but none quite so artistically as “Hannibal.”
Hannibal and Will were soulmates, for better or worse, and whether they died in the finale or they lived for 10 more seasons that wouldn’t have changed. Their love story, if you will, was the core of “Hannibal.” Its vague ending where they at least ended up together is a somewhat happy one, even if the finale might have been more masterfully formed had Fuller realized the story would not continue after.
As for the Bedelia Du Maurier (Gillian Anderson) tag after the credits, that seems to hint that whether or not he lived, the ghost of Hannibal will haunt the rest of the series’ characters even if they never see him again.