Dr Hannibal Lecter requests the pleasure of your company for dinner
Season two of Hannibal came to a heart-stopping conclusion last night, leaving me in floods of tears, yelling at the TV and covered in goose-bumps. It was a physical and emotional blood-bath. Rarely does a television show become pure art, but Bryan Fuller and his team have created something truly spectacular in this pitch black tale.
We all knew the showdown with Jack Crawford (Laurence Fishburne) was coming, having been treated to a glimpse at the start of episode one. Boy, has it been a bumpy ride reaching this finale though, with the twisted tale becoming more and more tangled with every episode. Had Will (Hugh Dancy) really embraced his dark side? Was he playing Jack off against Hannibal (Mads Mikkelson)? Surely his friendship and respect for Hannibal was real? Did Hannibal suspect?
The episode opened with another of the team’s favourite juxtaposed/parallel scenes with Will by-turns talking to Hannibal then Jack, but whose side was he really on? With one sniff of Freddie Lounds’ (Lara Jean Chorostecki) perfume on Will’s hair (what a great moment of suggested sexual tension, too) Hannibal had made his mind up and the terrifying final act was set in motion.
What intrigued me about this final episode was the increased visibility of the women in Hannibal’s world. Not only did FBI senior officer Kade Prurnell (Cynthia Nixon, resplendent in one of the show’s key colours, orange) take control of Jack and Will’s frankly hare-brained entrapment scheme, adding a dose of reality, but Alana Bloom (Caroline Dhavernas) started to take matters into her own hands as she realised she had been played like Hannibal’s harpsichord.
“Reality doesn’t go away because you stop believing in it. It’s stubborn like that”- Kade Prurnell
Jack’s wife, Bella (Gina Torres) also gave us a stark reminder of Hannibal’s cruelty as he watched her slowly dying from lung cancer. Then, of course, there were the two surprise appearances, from Abigail Hobbs (Kacey Rohl) and Dr Du Maurier (Gillian Anderson) reminding us that not only is Hannibal a master manipulator, but he is also very charming with an odd sense of gallantry (not to mention Mads Mikkelson not being hard on the eyes). The women proved to be Hannibal’s saviours, while the men circled him like vultures. Perhaps women will prove to be his undoing as well. Where is Clarice when you need her?
The relationship between Will and Hannibal remains utterly fascinating, with Hannibal’s statement “We couldn’t leave without you” seemingly suggesting that Will would have been the missing piece in Hannibal and Abigail’s dysfunctional family. Will, too, seems to have an ongoing love and respect for Hannibal with his pleading “You were supposed to leave” just prior to the most tender/vindictive (attempted?) murder you are ever likely to see. For the first time we also saw Hannibal looking truly rattled, and on the verge of tears, as he talks to Will about forgiveness, before performing the act he knew would hurt Will the most, taking his surrogate daughter away from him for the second time.
“All our destinies, flying and swimming in blood and emptiness”
Both Will and Hannibal are characters who are reaching out for love an companionship in a world that seems to offer them very few kindred spirits. Will gathers his dogs around him, at first shunning the emotional darkness of the world outside his remote home. Hannibal keeps order in his life but reaches out by sharing good meals with those he respects (and indeed those he doesn’t). Seeing the two men become so close and then feel so betrayed made this episode feel like the world’s most traumatic break-up. We’ve all been there, boys.
“All the exchanges. Petty irritations. Deadly revelations. Flat announcements of disaster”
Aside from the visceral emotional impact of the narrative, the soundtrack was stunning too, from the urgent ticking of the clock and dripping rhythms through the first half, to the gorgeous delicate melodies as the rain fell on to the now-fading Alana. Every note was carefully considered and helped punch further holes in the chest of the viewer.
As I discussed in my previous chat about Hannibal, the series has well and truly broken with Thomas Harris‘ original narrative, but has kept to the spirit of the characters, which has kept it compelling viewing. We now know that anything goes in this Hannibal universe, and no-one is safe.
The whole season, and this final episode in particular, have managed to balance horror and beauty, the grotesque and the beautiful, perfectly. It may be a controversial view, (sorry Breaking Bad) but I believe it may just be the best thing on TV.
“Now that you know me, see me. I gave you a rare gift, and you didn’t want it”