'Hannibal' Season 1 spoilers: 10 things to expect in the next four episodes

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hannibal-hugh-dancy-mads-mikkelsen-episode-3-potage-nbc.jpgNow that TV fans have a chance to invite Hannibal Lecter into their homes every week, we thought you might appreciate a little head's up on what to expect from the not-so-good Dr. Lecter.

NBC's "Hannibal" got off to a so-so start in last week's ratings, but critics have been kind and Zap2it readers were overwhelmingly supportive in our series premiere poll. There are already signs a cult following may be building around this unique take on an iconic character from film and literature, as redefined for television by idiosyncratic showrunner Bryan Fuller ("Pushing Daisies," "Wonderfalls").

The next few episodes will be critical to deciding the series' fate (Will the audience shrink or grow? And will NBC order a second season?). So, to whet your appetite, we've prepared a few tasty teasers from the four additional episodes NBC made available to the press.

hannibal-freddie-lounds-lara-jean-chorostecki-nbc.jpg A major character arrives in episode 2: Crime reporter Freddie Lounds and her website Tattlecrime.com were only referenced in the pilot, but she becomes a flesh and blood character in episode 2 (played by Lara Jean Chorostecki of "Camelot") and immediately stirs up trouble.

Hannibal counsels Will on sleepwalking: While we know their relationship has to take a turn at some point, Will and Hannibal are nothing but professional in this first half of the season. Dr. Lecter even helps Will with his sleepwalking problems -- but we're not so sure he has the best intentions with that.

The Hobbs copycat crime haunts Will: Even though Will shot and killed Garret Hobbs ( Vladimir Cubrt) in the series premiere, the unresolved issue of who committed the copycat murder will linger. Hannibal takes a special interest in the crime, but did he do it? Or is he just a fan of whoever did?

hannibal-kacey-rohl-nbc.jpg As does the mystery of Abigail Hobbs (Kacey Rohl): Garret's daughter survived his bloody exit, but how much does she know about his crimes? Episode 3 answers some key questions, while introducing even more.

Hannibal isn't done intervening in crimes: Mads Mikkelsen's elegantly controlled performance is especially chilling in episode 3, when we see Hannibal's killer instincts kick into action.

The violence gets even more extreme: Episode 4 has the most stomach-churning crime scenes yet, and perhaps not coincidentally was directed by Guillermo del Toro's go-to cinematographer Guillermo Navarro.

Say hello to Mrs. Crawford: Jack Crawford's wife, Phyllis, debuts in episode 4 and she's played by Laurence Fishburne's real-life wife Gina Torres (who also guest starred on Fuller's "Pushing Daisies"). It turns out Phyllis has some secrets of her own, including a connection to Hannibal that will surprise Jack.

hannibal-laurence-fishburne-mads-mikkelsen-dinner-nbc.jpg Hannibal has a softer side: During dinner with Jack and Phyllis, Hannibal reveals he "employ[s] an ethical butcher." What a thoughtful guy.

The "serial killer mythology" deepens in episode 5: A more probing look into the past of both Jack and Hannibal coincides with the arrival of guest stars Eddie Izzard (as a prisoner who confesses to a ghastly series of murders), Raul Esparza (as Dr. Frederick Chilton -- memorably played by Anthony Heald in "The Silence of the Lambs") and Anna Chlumsky (as an eager FBI trainee mentored by Jack).

Will's sanity comes into question, repeatedly: How long can Will last before he cracks? Between sleepwalking, hallucinations, the psychological burden of the Hobbs case and Crawford pushing him harder and harder, Will is living on the edge. "Hannibal" fans may start asking themselves a tantalizing question: Who goes completely crazy first -- Hannibal or Will?

As an added bonus, here's NBC's official sneak peek at what's ahead this season on "Hannibal," including a look at Gillian Anderson's guest role as Hannibal's psychiatrist (!)...

Photo/Video credit: NBC