'Hannibal' Season 2: Raul Esparza Joins 'Law & Order: SVU' as Regular, No More Chilton?

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The first 'Hannibal' season finale "Savoureux" certainly made it appear as if we'd be spending quite a bit of time in the Baltimore State Hospital next season, but it seems one of the staff might enjoy a temporary sabbatical. Actor Raul Esparza has officially been upgraded to series regular from his recurring role on 'Law & Order: SVU' as ADA Rafael Barba, so might we be seeing less of Dr. Frederick Chilton?

The news comes from Deadline, where current 'Law & Order' boss Warren Leight explained "Making him a series regular is a small way of acknowledging his enormous contribution to our show." Esparza had guested beginning with the most recent 14th season, while the series will embark on a 15th this fall, with series staple Mariska Hargitay maintaining her iconic role as Olivia Benson.

As a 'Law & Order' regular shooting in New York, Esparza would have a difficult time appearing on the Vancouver-based 'Hannibal,' despite the recent finale setting up Will as an inmate at the hospital Esparza's character runs. In addition to the character's established psychiatric interest in Will Graham, series creator Bryan Fuller recently told TVGuide he intended to feature "a lot more of Raul Esparza" in season 2. That said, the state we last saw Chilton in could conveniently explain an extended absence for the character.

Fuller himself has yet to respond to any inquiries for comment, but it's possible the matter will be addressed at the upcoming 'Hannibal' Comic-Con 2013 panel. What do you think? Will 'Hannibal' season 2 prove as delectable if Dr. Chilton only makes occasional appearances?

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