You are probably not watching this. The latest re-conceptualization of one of the most iconic characters of TV and fiction, Hannibal Lecter, Hannibal sets off two years prior to the events of Thomas Harris’ Red Dragon, with FBI special investigator, Will Graham being called back in the field by FBI agent, Jack Crawford, to investigate a streak of missing persons cases. Afflicted by an empathy disorder and therefore, capable of assuming anybody’s point-of-view, psychological and emotional, Will Graham is an ace criminal profiler, an advantage that contrarily proves detrimental to his own mental health. Hallucinations, anxiety, somnambulism–the whole package. On this account, Jack Crawford assigns Hannibal Lecter as Will Graham’s psychiatrist so he doesn’t lose his marbles all over the crime-scene, but considering where everybody ended up, in hindsight it was probably not the best idea.
Two seasons in and not forgetting the epic bloodbath that was the season 2 finale which left almost every main character gutted and bleeding in Hannibal Lecter’s home, the body count is definitely high. With the season three teaser out, here is a quick encapsulation of what makes this reimagining a cult favourite.
When he is not out chopping rude people in elaborate ways, Hannibal is a culinary maestro of Hell’s Kitchen. Yeah, own it Ramsey. Giving Masterchef a run for its money, the show has garnered acclaim for its cinematography. Smooth camera pans gliding over the ceramic and silver and a remarkable eye for detail and colour, one cannot fathom that it is human flesh served and garnished. An interesting bit of trivia– The episode titles of season 1 are a reference to courses of French cuisine multi-course meal while season 2 makes a similar allusion to Japanese cuisine.
A running joke in the show, simultaneously hilarious and disturbing, is that of Jack and Will being invited by Hannibal hosting dinner on several occasions, not realizing that they are eating the very people they are trying to save.
Jack Crawford: What am I about to put in my mouth?
Hannibal Lecter: Rabbit.
Jack Crawford: He should have hopped faster.
Hannibal: Yes, he should have. [cut to a clip of a man running frantic through the woods]
Warning: Do not, under any circumstances, watch this show while eating. I say this from experience, it is liable to ruin a perfectly good meal.
A majority of the psychopaths in Hannibal display a propensity to exhibit their handiwork.
Some are composers.
Some are inspired by Michelangelo.
The representation of graphic violence in an array of artful disguises is a style the show is distinctly known for. Commenting on the level of violence, creator Bryan Fuller told Collider – “To a certain point, we have to honor the genre and deliver certain elements of the genre…I don’t think we could do a Hannibal that was too soft because it would have no business being on network television.” Some sequences are utterly appalling (the totem pole of bodies in ‘Trou Normand’), some downright revolting (a character slicing his face off and feeding the pieces to Will Graham’s dogs in ‘Tome-wan’) and then there are those arousing a kind of morbid fascination at the grotesque beauty wherein exactly the show revels. In ‘Amuse-Bouche’, the killer buries his victims alive in a catatonic state covered in fungi to support the growth of mushrooms. As Will Graham profiles him, wanting to be understood, he is fascinated by the botanical nature of fungi to connect the way human minds cannot. It’s a slam poetry session of the mad and tortured and while our moral compass is constantly fluctuating we are left in unapologetic admiration.
But what lies at the throbbing, bleeding heart of Hannibal is the catastrophic love affair of Will Graham and Hannibal Lecter making Syd and Nancy look like your regular next-door domestic dispute. While not overtly romantic in nature (though a large faction of ‘Hannigram’ shippers would disagree), Bryan Fuller admitted that “they have a genuine love for each other”. You know, when they are not busy trying to kill, plot against or psychologically destroy each other. That’s love right there. Bound together as they are with what I like to call ‘a perfectly aware psychosis’ and the coffee-table camaraderie of one psychopath to another, their relationship is the most intriguing aspect of the show. The theme here calls for madness, and madness alone, the foundation on which this relationship forms and later finds itself unravelling. Most importantly, it is altogether credited to excellent writing, original interpretation of the characters and the palpable chemistry between Hugh Dancy and Mads Mikkelson that makes permissible sympathy―for redemption it will never be―to the horrific monstrosity of Hannibal Lecter.
Tune in right friggin’ away.
By Mahima Verma