Now that Hannibal is back on NBC and blowing audiences’ minds with its lush change in direction with a (sadly temporary) new setting, it’s easier to see how showrunner Bryan Fuller’s mind is working as far as the future of the show is concerned. But something fans will presumably never stop wondering until it happens is whether or not the iconic heroine Clarice Starling will pop up at some point. And while Fuller has been partially against the idea for different reasons in the past, he now seems to be considering it a little more.
While the first two seasons of Hannibal played more like procedural dramas caught up in lucid dreamstates, Fuller’s approach to Season 3 will split its focus into one Italy-based half and a second half, which will focus on the Red Dragon storyline. As far as Season 4 will go, Fuller spoke with IGN about his thoughts behind the approaching Silence of the Lambs arc.
The way the seasons are breaking out now, the fourth season idea is a pretty radical departure from what we’ve been doing in the first three seasons altogether. It doesn’t involve Clarice at that stage. There may be a version where you do this radical departure for the first half and then do Silence of the Lambs for the second half, but that is all contingent on the rights for Clarice. The further and further away we get from procedurals, it’s hard to imagine returning to the FBI to tell more stories unless we do have Clarice to really freshen up that world.
I have to admit that as much as I love Clarice as a character, I’m intrigued by any and every direction Fuller wants to take this show, and I won’t be downtrodden or brokenhearted if the rights issues over the character stay muddled. Every character that Fuller has been able to bring to the small screen has been superb, from previously established characters like Will Graham to new creations like Bedelia Du Maurier, so I’m perfectly willing to watch whatever new leading characters he may have lined up for future seasons.
That said, should the rights to Clarice get cleared up and allow her to enter the TV series with few strings attached, I’m willing to bet the new take on the character would easily rival Jodie Foster’s turn in Jonathan Demme’s highly acclaimed 1991 feature. (While Julianne Moore’s take on Clarice was fine in the film Hannibal, that’s not even in contention.) I expect only a top-notch actress would fill the role, and her journey would be extraordinarily complex and deeply thought-out. Fuller has proven time and again that he excels with female leads, so we can expect nothing less with Clarice.
Any way it goes, really, we’re going to get greatness out of Hannibal in the future. But we just have to make sure enough people are watching that NBC feels confident giving it more seasons.