The fourth episode of Hannibal, set to air April 25th, has been pulled from the schedule as a result of the Boston bombings. Showrunner Bryan Fuller contacted NBC personally after learning of the attacks and voiced his concerns about airing the upcoming episode given the current climate and any perceived insensitivity. The episode concerns a Mother (Molly Shannon) who trains her own children to murder other children, making it the darkest episode yet and one already likely to attract attention.
Fuller spoke to Variety, stating: “Whenever you write a story and look at the sensational aspects of storytelling, you think, ‘This is interesting metaphorically, and this is interesting as social commentary.’ With this episode, it wasn’t about the graphic imagery or violence. It was the associations that came with the subject matter that I felt would inhibit the enjoyment of the overall episode. It was my own sensitivity.”
Film and television being postponed in the wake of real world tragedies is not particularly uncommon, with ABC’s Castle being a recent example and Django Unchained being pushed back due to the Sandy Hook shooting incident. Due to Hannibal’s serialised nature Fuller has however taken the unusual step of, rather than skipping an episode and leaving viewers confused, compiling a package of non-violent scenes from the upcoming episode and releasing them online as a package – a sort of condensed version, featuring all the character moments from the episode and none of the potentially offensive material.
“This is also a great opportunity to provide another platform for the show that can draw audiences to social media and give them original content that’s not just a behind-the-scenes special, but a webisode featuring the primary cast, which is a rare thing to get on the net.”
The episode will still air outside of America, but otherwise the next episode, airing May 2nd, will be episode five and continue on from there.