TV Review: “Hannibal” – A Most Delicious Feast

Written by Spencer Sterritt May 23, 2014

Hannibal, Will Graham

The 10:00 time slot on a Friday night is normally where shows go to die. Maybe they didn’t perform well out of the gate so they get shoved their for the last half of the season, or the studio has decided to cancel the show but has to air the episode. Amid this wasteland is “Hannibal,” Bryan Fuller and NBC’s incredibly stylish and avant-garde prequel to Thomas Harris’ “Red Dragon.” This upcoming Friday marks the end of “Hannibal’s” second season, where the show has grown from an incredibly cool genre show to one of the most riveting shows in recent memory.

Season one introduced us to Hannibal Lecter long before he was captured, and Will Graham, the FBI profiler who had a connection with Lecter long before Clarice Starling ever walked up to his cell. Season two picks up right where the first left off, with Will accused of Hannibal’s crimes, and put behind bars in the same institution and under the same care that Lecter will eventually receive. The whole season is an extended cat and mouse game between Will and Hannibal that sees Will become more of a killer than he had ever thought possible.

“He is the devil, Mr. Graham. He is smoke. You’ll never catch the ripper. He won’t be caught. If you want him you’ll have to kill him. “

The most immediately striking aspect of “Hannibal” is it’s style. This is a series shot and produced by people who love art. Every frame is a painting, heavily saturated to make every color stand out and create some truly vivid images. Each episode usually has several different murder scenes, and each one is inventively staged, nothing like the routine killings/stabbings/rapings that you would see on CSI or Law and Order. Victims are stabbed upon antler horns, lobotomized and filled with honey combs, or dissected and placed upon fossils in a museum. Really the only flaw in “Hannibal’s” second season is that it does make it seem like serial killers and psychopaths are a dime a dozen.


“Hannibal” gets around this by involving the titular psychopath in each crime scene, usually by having the perpetrator be a former victim who has been manipulated by Hannibal. The show also takes place in such a surreal and heightened reality that it does not become too much of an issue. Each staging is a metaphor for that particular episode, and half the fun of watching “Hannibal” is seeing how Will and Hannibal analyze the scene and dive into the various references left by the killer, all the while hinting and toying with each other.

“I’ve always found the idea of death comforting. The thought that my life could end at any moment frees me to fully appreciate the beauty and art and horror of everything this world has to offer. “

The writers, lead by Bryan Fuller (of “Pushing Daisies,” and “Dead Like Me” fame), have a fun time toying with the audience as well. “Hannibal” is less a prequel to Thomas Harris’ works and more of a retelling, taking the relationship between Will and Hannibal to incredible new places. There are references galore to the original texts, everything from a quote to a very specific death involved fire and a wheelchair. Normally I am not one for prequels, since we know what happens after, but “Hannibal” doesn’t take the books as canon, meaning anyone can die at any moment. That is how we get the season opening scene which has FBI Beahavioral Director Jack Crawford (Laurence Fishburn) and Hannibal Lector facing off in one of the coolest fights I’ve ever seen:

Everything great about “Hannibal” is contained within this season’s opening scene. Jack Crawford is crucial to later books, but since the show is going in its own direction there is legitimate tension as to whether or not he could die. It looks amazing, highlighting the heavy saturation of color that was mentioned earlier, and also makes great use of different kitchen utensils to be a very unique fight scene. Also seeing Jack Crawford grab Hannibal around the neck and throw him over his shoulder to the ground is bad ass.

“And the conclusion that I’ve drawn is that you are dangerous.”

Since “Hannibal” is so gory and surreal it’s understandable why it airs late night on Friday, and the heightened reality and operatic nature of the show may not be to everyone’s taste, but it’s a shame that more people don’t watch it. It’s been a real treat to watch Will Graham and Hannibal Lecter play mind games with each other while Bryan Fuller messes with our heads, all staged in one of the most visually impressive and stylish shows I’ve ever seen. Thankfully “Hannibal” has been renewed for a third season for everyone who wants to try a bite.

My Rating: 9.5/10



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About Spencer Sterritt

Spencer Sterritt

Spencer Sterritt: former Editor-In-Chief for We Eat Films, future President of the Men With Beards Club, and hopefully candidate for ruler of the world.

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