The imagery surrounding Hannibal Lecter is some of the most iconic not just in genres of horror and psychological thrillers, but of film in general. Silence of the Lambs is such a logical point of reference for so many works, it's actually kind of boring. That's why it's so impressive that Bryan Fuller's Hannibal has cultivated its own distinct style that shines in the shadow of the movies that preceded the show.
Hannibal is a strange product however, for it is at once dense and frivolous. Single episodes can blow through giant plot points, while the episode following it could present no repercussions other than characters looking a little bit worried. With Season 3 premiering in June, the issue could arise that Hannibal has made itself a closed off show that isn't exactly accessible for newcomers. Think about someone watching the trailer for Hannibal Season 3 and asking why Will Graham is confronting a now married Hannibal in spooky European catacombs. Those answers might be a little complex.
What could Bryan Fuller do to make Hannibal Season 3, and all seasons to follow a little more enticing to potential new fans?
Hannibal Season 3 with Villain of the Week Stories!
I don't suspect this suggestion to be very popular at all. Hannibal Season 2 gradually ditched the killer of the week format to focus purely on the character driven mind games between Will Graham and Mads Mikkelsen's titular cannibal. I may have been the sole viewer who genuinely liked the the crazy serial killers that were forced into individual episodes of seasons 1 and 2. There's one guy who turns people into instruments and another who dresses up in a bear suit and hunts people. If you ditch those kinds of vibrant ideas from your show, then it's the show that's at a loss.
A fail safe Hannibal Season 3 has against going stagnant is the fact it's on the move, and has characters participating in something close to a chase film. Getting to see how crazed villains and new characters could fit into this more energetic format would certainly attract new viewers. Speaking of new characters...
Yes, this veers dangerously close to simply pillaging Silence of the Lambs for all that juicy recognisable iconography, but I believe there is a genuine curiosity to see what an alternate view of this character would be like. Clarice Starling would be a slightly different protagonist to Will Graham, and certainly wouldn't be as susceptible to Hannibal's nonsense. She wouldn't even have to play alongside the events of Silence of the Lambs. Hannibal Season 3 is delving into such new territory, there's no reason why this character can't be changed around a little.
Unfortunately, it seems Bryan Fuller has had different plans for Clarice right from the start. He allegedly plans to see Season 5 of Hannibal revolve around Silence of the Lambs, with 6 adapting the events of the book simply entitled Hannibal. I certainly have faith that Fuller will do something interesting with the character (let's just say the brain eating scene from 2001's Hannibal is a little different in the book), but it seems that waiting for Season 5 is a little ambitious. There are also the issues with getting the rights to the character from MGM. We may well see Clarice Starling in further seasons of Hannibal, just perhaps not in the form we're used to.
Let Will Graham FINALLY Capture Hannibal!
Hannibal is a prequel to Thomas Harris' novel, Red Dragon, but that book is not the ultimate goal of the TV show. I'm inclined to think Bryan Fuller chose to set the show before any established stories simply for the sake of artistic freedom. I understand the desire to play around in an area of the timeline that is semi-canon, but it could result in the show simply toeing water until audiences lose interest. We've already encountered Mason Verger and the rather unfortunate things to happen to his face, so why can't Hannibal Season 3 dig into some other part of the meaty source material?
Having Hannibal captured would change both the structure of the show and the characters within it. I really REALLY want to see how Mads Mikkelsen would play a defeated yet still scheming Hannibal, and see how he and Hugh Dancy would play off each other with the show thrown into an entirely different format.
What decisions Hannibal Season 3 makes to move the story along will have to wait until it's premiere on June 4th!