Who Is Rutina Wesley Playing On 'Hannibal'? The Show Is Getting A Dose Of 'True Blood'

As if NBC's serial killer drama wasn't already bloody enough... This week, True Blood star Rutina Wesley joins the cast of Hannibal . The 35-year-old actress played Sookie Stackhouse's best friend Tara Thornton for all seven seasons of that HBO vampire melodrama — although (spoiler alert!) she was unceremoniously killed off in the opening minutes of the Season 7 premiere when the stakes were raised (pun very much intended) for the show's final season. Now that Wesley has joined another copiously bloody drama based on a series of books, it's prudent to wonder whether she's about to meet the same fate again.

There's certainly reason to be concerned. Wesley — who made her onscreen debut in the 2007 step-dancing drama How She Move (which, fun fact, also featured a pre-Vampire Diaries Nina Dobrev as "Tall Girl In The Bathroom") — is joining the show in an episode titled "And The Woman Clothed With The Sun..." That's the second half of the title of a famous painting by English poet/painter William Blake, completing last week's "The Great Red Dragon." That's the painting that gives the Thomas Harris novel Red Dragon its name, and the image that serial killer Francis Dolarhyde is so obsessed by — the one he has tattooed on his back.

In Blake's image, the imposing dragon has its tail coiled sinuously around the body of a woman lying prone before him... which certainly doesn't bode well for Wesley's character. Indeed, she'll be playing a character from the novel named Reba McClane, a blind coworker of Dolarhyde's who falls under his enigmatic spell. The role was previously played by Joan Allen in Michael Mann's Manhunter and by Emily Watson in Brett Ratner's Red Dragon. Surely things can't end well for someone dating a sadistic serial killer, right? Should we start preparing ourselves now for her inevitable demise?

Actually, if showrunner Bryan Fuller plans to follow the events of the novel, then Reba may be one of the safest characters on the show. While things certainly aren't going to go well for Dolarhyde or Will or Freddie Lounds, Reba at least survives the carnage wrought by the Tooth Fairy. In the book's climactic confrontation, Dolarhyde sets his own house on fire with himself and Reba inside, and then shoots himself. Reba feels his dead body before fleeing the burning wreckage of the home. Sure, it turns out that Dolarhyde is very much alive, having tricked blind Reba with another victim's corpse — but at least the innocent young woman manages to escape unscathed... physically, at least.

Of course, all of this is a moot point if Fuller decides to go off-script from Harris' novel. The showrunner has played fast and loose with the source material for three seasons now, and with his show sadly headed for cancellation, he may have decided to throw his audience some curveballs before the final curtain. No matter how Season 3 of Hannibal ends, it will be a pleasure just to see Wesley in her first onscreen role since True Blood wrapped last year.

Get a first look at Reba in action in Hannibal's Comic Con preview:

Images: Brooke Palmer (2), Screengrab/NBC