SDCC 2014: HANNIBAL Season 3 Scoop From The Panel!

We learned some major news about the brilliant show's third season.

I just got out of the Hannibal panel at Comic-Con, and though unfortunately neither Mads Mikkelsen nor Hugh Dancy could be there (both actors are filming overseas, and sent in video messages to the fans), showrunner Bryan Fuller, producers Steven Lightfoot and Martha De Laurentiis, director David Slade and stars Caroline Dhavernas (Alana Bloom), Aaron Abrams and Scott Thompson (the lab scientists Zeller and Price) all gave us a really incredible panel. They brought prizes for everyone who asked a question! (Including Wonderfalls wax lions and Pushing Daisies gifts for fans of Fuller's previous two, equally fantastic series.) And we learned that FOUR VOLUMES of the astonishing music from the show (scored by Brian Reitzell) will be released - the first two on August 5th, and the last two on September 7th.

Okay, after this, it's Season 3 spoiler city, so read at your own risk!

There was one more guest on the panel - the great Raul Esparza! Yes, Fuller confirmed, we'll be seeing lots more of Dr. Chilton in Seasons 3 and 4, gunshot to the face or no. We also learned that Kacey Rohl (Abigail Hobbs) and Eddie Izzard (Abel Gideon) will return next flashback form. Fuller said he'd love to do an entire episode explaining where Abigail was for much of Season 2.

Characters from the novels we can expect to see in Season 3: Lady Murasaki is showing up in the third episode ("I think Murasaki's going to kick all sorts of ass," said Fuller) and Francis Dolarhyde will appear in the eighth episode, leading into the events of Red Dragon! As for Clarice Starling and the events of Silence of the Lambs, they're still working on getting the rights from MGM, and Fuller said they might "have to wrestle MGM to the ground on that one." If they can't get the rights? "We'll do Schmarice Schmarling."

Season 1's episode titles were all named after French cuisine courses, and Season 2 was all Japanese. Season 3 will be Italian...and Fuller confirmed that's a hint as to where we can expect to see Hannibal and Bedelia in the third season.

We also learned that Season 3 will take place a year after the events of the second season, in order to give the survivors of Hannibal's bloody massacre time to heal and become active again, and to give Hannibal and Bedelia time to get settled. The first half of the third season will be "very FBI-light," according to Fuller. Only one in seven episodes will feature the FBI, as most will focus on the pursuit of Hannibal.

Other tidbits not related to the third season: an audience member asked everyone onstage about their favorite corpse tableaux to date. Raul Esparza likes the Season 1 angel wing guy "because that was the point when I thought 'they're fucking doing this on network television.'" Aaron Abrams liked the "lady horse baby thing" (Fuller corrected him that she's called "the turducken"), and Scott Thompson dug the mushroom man. Caroline Dhavernas: "I like the tree man. He was oddly beautiful. He looked so proud and generous." Steve Lightfoot was pro-totem pole, David Slade liked the "hiding from God" death and De Laurentiis loved the "eye of God melange." And Fuller? He likes the human cello, "and I'm also personally a fan of Michael Pitt slicing off his own face and feeding it to the dog." Amen!

A couple other great things - on Will's bevy of mutts, Fuller spoke passionately about how fulfilling it is to rescue a mutt and urged everyone in the audience who can to do so. As a mutt rescuer myself, I loved this. He also talked about the male characters from the books that he cast as women: "I can't think of genitals when writing characters. I think of people." Dhavernas chimed in, "I applaud Bryan so much for this. It would be sad if the only women on the show were victims." I love these guys, Fuller in particular. The man's a genius, but he's also a mensch. A rare combination.

We ended the panel with a clip from the Season 2 blooper reel, which will be available on the Blu-ray/DVD (on shelves in September). It was fun seeing Mikkelsen struggle with one of those ubiquitous Windsor knots and Dancy drink from a prison mug with his pinky held high. For all of its profundity and gruesomeness, Hannibal seems like one hell of a fun show behind the scenes.

(You can read more from the panel on my Twitter.)