Hannibal has become one of my absolute must-watch TV shows, and with series two they have really ratcheted up the tension levels, moving away from the episodic procedural format of the first series to something altogether more sinister. Let’s not mince our words here- Hannibal is DARK, and certainly not for the squeamish, but there is also a certain subtlety to this second season which is making it compelling viewing.
The real beauty of Hannibal is it is a gorgeous looking, exceptionally well crafted TV show- a piece of televisual art. The costumes, the set design, the lighting, each element comes together to make a beautiful, macabre spectacle. Even the more morbid elements of the show are beautifully put together and shot with a love and care that Hannibal himself would be proud of. This week’s episode was also punctuated by a visceral soundtrack, reminiscent of blood flowing and hearts beating, all adding to the cold brutality.
No, the dialogue isn’t as readily quotable as the likes of ‘True Detective’, but Bryan Fuller and team have managed to take iconic characters who were past their prime (‘Hannibal Rising’, anyone?) and had made them vital again.
Poor Beverly. We all knew she wouldn’t be able to escape Hannibal’s clutches, but to see her split apart, Damian Hirst-style and displayed in multiple glass cabinets (‘Mukozuke’ is a sliced sashimi dish incidentally), was quite something to behold. At least Hannibal had treated her with a certain odd level of respect, and had turned her into a work of art, all in keeping with the character’s peculiar code of conduct.
Hetienne Park, who played Beverly wrote an excellent piece about her on-screen death, racism and sexism here, for those interested.
There were plenty more nods to the literary incarnation of Hannibal too, with him growling “That’s just rude” at Freddie Lounds as she door-stepped him outside the psychiatric centre (is everyone else waiting to see if she’ll meet her end a la Red Dragon?), the mask Will is forced to wear when he leaves the psychiatric centre as well as a few more nods to Silence of the Lambs. Notably one comes from Will’s new partner in crime, the hospital orderly, who advises on not handing over anything other than soft paper. Indeed, at some points this felt like the Thomas Harris homage episode, and an attempt to get back to the meat, human or otherwise, of the main story.
It was also a very welcome return to the wonderful Eddie Izzard as Hannibal’s fellow psychiatrist Abel Gideon, who is still, it seems, firmly on Team Hannibal as he betrays Will’s plans for murder to Jack Crawford.
Hannibal meanwhile, was shown to be fallible, something which we had not been shown before. Having no inkling of what was coming, Will’s fan (Jonathan Tucker) managed to catch Hannibal off guard in the swimming pool, and before he knew it he was strung-up, Christ-like, bleeding and with a noose around his neck against the marbled interior of the gym.
Yet more striking visuals and great acting from the Hannibal crew this week then, but what I want to know is what was it Beverly saw down there in Hannibal’s basement?
Mads Mikkelsen in his trunks, because…