Controversial ‘Hannibal’ episode gets sliced into webisodes

Senior Television Writer
04.25.13 60 Comments


As we discussed last week, NBC is skipping the fourth episode of “Hannibal,” and will jump straight to episode 5 tonight at 10. The official version of the story is that Bryan Fuller approached NBC and said he felt episode 4 – whose main plot involves Molly Shannon as a woman who trains children to kill other children – was inappropriate after the Boston bombings, though as Deadline pointed out, NBC had announced the scheduling change before the bombings, suggesting a pre-existing unease with the episode. (It’s the only one of the first 6 that critics weren’t sent in advance.) And as you’ll see in the first video embedded below, Fuller says that the episode will be available in its entirety in other countries, but not America.

I have no idea what happened here, particularly since the episode airing tonight has some of the most disturbing, graphic imagery of the entire series, even if it doesn’t involve dead children.

But as I noted when the decision was made, my concern was mainly about “Hannibal” as an serialized narrative, and about the parts of the episode unrelated to Molly Shannon, bridging what happened in episode 3 and what’s to come in the one airing tonight. And to deal with that problem, NBC has put all of those scenes – most of them involving Abigail Hobbs, who was the center of episode 3 – online as six webisodes, which you can watch below.

There are a couple of instances in these scenes where characters are clearly impacted by what was happening in the Shannon plot – in particularly a conversation between Jack Crawford and his wife, who’s a major part of tonight’s episode – but what’s most interesting about these scenes is how easy it was to apply Dr. Lecter’s carving knife to them and separate them from the parts no one wanted to air. “Hannibal” tries to balance between the ongoing Graham/Lecter/Crawford material and some standalone cases like the mushroom killer in episode 2, or the one from tonight’s episode, but the serialized material is by far the more important, interesting part of the show. Some of the Killer of the Week material is affected by what the characters are going through overall (like Will’s showdown with the mushroom man not long after he killed Abigail’s father), but these webisodes demonstrate just how easy it can be to dispose of them and still have a very compelling series.

So here are the six parts of “Ceuf” that are available to watch (if you live in the U.S., anyway), and I’ll have at least a short post up tonight to discuss episode 5.

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