One of the best network dramas (and certainly the bloodiest) arrives at its thrilling (temporary) conclusion friday night. NBC's Hannibal Season 2 finale is here after the series has teased us throughout the season with the prospect that the titular cannibal will finally be brought to justice. Thanks to that epic Hannibal season premiere flashforward, we already know that Dr. Lecter won't be going down without a fight. So now the only question that remains is: How many more people will die before Hannibal is apprehended?
Hannibal has already seen its fair share of shocking and memorable deaths. Who can forget poor Beverly Katz sliced into a dozen perfect pieces like a lab specimen? Or Detective Pascal, shot in the head right in front of an unsuspecting Freddie Lounds? Or George Madchen, who burned to death in her own hyperbaric chamber, thanks to a wayward spark of static electricity? Or Dr. Chilton, who took a bullet in the face thanks to a traumatized young woman brainwashed by Hannibal into thinking that Chilton was her abductor? Whichever unfortunate character gets the dubious honor of kicking the bucket in tonight's episode (titled "Mizumono" after a traditional Japanese dessert), you can bet your bottom dollar it will be an unforgettable send-off.
Who is about to be dispatched to the pearly gates of television heaven? Let's rank the candidates from least to most likely.
There's always the outside chance that all of this speculation is for naught and everyone will make it out of the finale alive. After all, the latest trend in television seems to be subverting expectations by not killing a major character in your season finale. The Walking Dead and Grey's Anatomy, two of TV's most fatal shows, featured zero significant deaths in their respective finales this year. Shonda Rhimes showed surprising restraint by sending departing character Cristina Yang to Switzerland instead of killing her off in a terrorist attack/plane crash/shooting spree/ferry accident/train derailment. Maybe Season 2 of Hannibal will shock us by ending with all its characters intact and breathing, enjoying a pleasant dinner party together.
Then again... Who are we kidding? This is Hannibal we're talking about. Someone is gonna die.
8. Hannibal Lecter/Will Graham
It certainly would be the most surprising decision showrunner Bryan Fuller could make. The series has shown signs of departing from its source material, and killing off one of its two main characters would certainly be memorable.
Then again... Oh, come on.
7. Mason Verger/Margot Verger
These dysfunctional siblings are too entangled with Hannibal Lecter to emerge from the season unscathed.
Then again... Mason is already pretty scathed, after gruesomely carving off his own face, feeding it to Will's dogs, eating his own nose, and having his neck broken by Hannibal in last week's episode. And the Vergers are prominent figures in Hannibal, the final book in Thomas Harris' trilogy, so you can count on them sticking around. In fact, Fuller has confirmed that the Verger storyline will be a large part of Season 3.
6. Freddie Lounds
Nobody likes a nosy tabloid journalist. She's already tried to sabotage Will's career by outing him as mentally unbalanced, so the FBI profiler wouldn't particularly care if Freddie were in mortal danger. And once Hannibal finds out that she's alive and helping the FBI hunt him, she'll have a big ol' target on her back.
Then again... We already had one Freddie "death" this season. Surely they wouldn't bring the character back from the dead only to kill her off two episodes later. Freddie is an important character in Red Dragon, and now that she's alive again, you can expect her to stick around until the show reaches that point in the books — and then all bets are off.
5. Jimmy Price/Brian Zeller
These two goofy, bickering crime scene investigators are without a doubt the most dispensable of the show's core cast of characters. Will one of them end up on the wrong end of Dr. Lecter's wrath as the FBI starts closing in on the serial killer?
Then again... Hannibal has already killed off one investigator this season. (RIP, Beverly.) And the death of either Jimmy or Brian wouldn't have much of a finale-worthy emotional impact. (They're so unimportant I actually had to look up their names for this post.) Plus, this often brutal show would sorely miss their occasional comedic relief.
4. Bella Crawford
Jack's wife has been dying of cancer for two seasons now. Is it finally time for her to give up the ghost? The last time we saw Bella, she was recovering in a hospital after attempting suicide in Hannibal's office. There are a plethora of ways in which the writers could kill this character: dying of cancer, successfully committing suicide, or being killed by Hannibal as retaliation against her husband. And her murder would be the perfect catalyst for sending Jack into a furious revenge spiral.
Then again... There are no indications that actress Gina Torres is appearing in "Mizumono." However, this doesn't mean that we couldn't learn that Bella had succumbed to her cancer offscreen.
3. Jack Crawford
That season-opening fight to the death between Jack and Hannibal ended with blood spurting out of Jack's neck after Hannibal shoved a shard of glass into it. Add to that the fact that actor Laurence Fishburne is producing and starring in a new show on ABC this fall (the comedy Black-ish), and things aren't looking too good for the Agent-in-Charge of the Behavioral Science Unit.
Then again... Given that gaping neck wound, why is Jack not our Number 1 choice with a bullet? Precisely because it seems too obvious. Why would the writers give away the big finale death in the opening minutes of the season? Seems suspicious. It's far more likely that Jack's "death" is a red herring meant to make the real finale death even more surprising. After all, Jack Crawford is an integral character in Harris' trilogy (especially Red Dragon and The Silence of the Lambs). He's pretty much the only character to appear in all three books other than Hannibal himself. Fuller has already departed from the novels by killing Chilton — would he really go so far as to bump off Jack, too? Given that Hannibal has short-for-network 13-episode seasons, it's not inconceivable that Fishburne could juggle both Black-ish and Hannibal.
2. Bedelia Du Maurier
Hannibal already tried to kill his former therapist once this season, but luckily she skipped town before he arrived in her house in his horrifying plastic murder suit. Dr. Lecter has had it out for Dr. Du Maurier ever since she revealed to him that she suspected his true nature and then visited Will Graham in the mental ward to tell him that she believed him. Jack brought Bedelia out of hiding to help him bring down Hannibal once and for all. But will her efforts result in her own death at the hands of a cornered cannibal?
Then again... Fuller has to know that Gillian Anderson's performance as the coolly enigmatic Dr. Du Maurier is a fan favorite. And her other NBC show Crisis was just canceled, which would give the actress plenty of time to join Season 3 in an even bigger role. While her death seems likely, we're crossing our fingers that she makes it out of the season in one piece.
1. Alana Bloom
If we're right about this one, expect fans to be in a tizzy come tomorrow morning. While we're hoping we're wrong, our hunch is that Jack's mortal wound is disguising the show's real fatality: Alana. We know from the promo for the episode that Will's former crush/Hannibal's current squeeze arrives in Hannibal's home in the middle of his brawl with Jack... and she's got a gun pointed squarely at her lover. Remember what happened the last time someone realized what Hannibal truly was and pointed a gun at him? Didn't end so well that time, either. If Alana is unable to pull the trigger on the man she fell into bed with, rest assured that Hannibal won't harbor the same reservations.
Then again... You can use the argument that Dr. Bloom is also a character in the novels, but it doesn't hold as much water as the argument in favor of Jack's survival. After all, Alan Bloom is a peripheral character at best in the books, and he bears very little resemblance to his television counterpart. But the real question is, can Hannibal afford to lose another kick-ass female character? Fans were furious when Beverly met her maker earlier this season, so it feels like ratings suicide to kill off Alana. But it's hard to deny that her death wouldn't have a compelling dramatic impact on the show, since she's intimately connected to both main characters and arguably the only person Will truly loves. Of all the characters on this list, Alana's death would open up the most intriguing possibilities for a vengeance-fueled Season 3.
Will it be Alana, Jack, or nobody? Kill time before tonight's finale by coming up with your own theories and watching this infuriatingly vague teaser:
Images: NBC (10)