I had a hard time getting into this critically acclaimed show but the payoff for having persisted is huge. The eternally elusive and gourmand Hannibal Lecteur (the future Hannibal the Cannibal of The Silence of the Lambs) is played with delicacy and brutality by Mats Mikkelsen and the dangerously empathetic Will Graham is played with startling immediacy by Hugh Dancy. This is, without doubt, the most graphically violent show ever on network television – and yet what surprises the viewer is the macabre beauty with which it is shot. Perhaps that is what draws audiences to this hideous and darkly evil character, his refinement (music, art, culinary expertise) and the contrasting violence with which he is capable. It was fascinating to see Hannibal composing music on his harpsichord and the dual composition on the theremin (I didn’t even know this instrument existed) by Hannibal and Alana and the freakout Hannibal we see when he gets down to brass tacks with victims. I have to be careful here because nearly anything I write will be a spoiler as there are so many twists and turns in the story that it quickly becomes deeply enthralling. What I can say is that the two seasons dovetail nicely into each other as the Will Graham character has more layers of depth added to him. I appreciated the constant uncertainty about Will but also the ambiguity of all of the relationships to Hannibal. The storytelling technique was rather unique as well – sometimes it was a sort of murder of the week show and others it was more of an epic drama. The cinematic quality of the camerawork is always fascinating and keep me engaged in the story even when the violence was nearly impossible to watch or process. I think this is a unique piece of television and now completely understand why it is a critic’s favourite despite its terrifying nature. I am really curious to see where they go with the story in Season 3.
Have you dined with Hannibal over its first two seasons? If so, let me know in the comments.