Entertainment

Hannibal Season 2 Review: Do Not Watch This Alone

The new golden age of television continues to turn out gems in the unlikeliest of places. The NBC series ‘Hannibal’ just finished, with a season two finale that left me pulling up the covers to my chin (Sixth Sense-style), my mouth agape, and will surely have viewers salivating for more. If you have not seen this show yet, please do yourself a favor and catch up on Hulu.

I would like to think that I am a smart person, but I must admit that a lot of times this show confuses me. There is a lot of rewinding, and full-blown episode reviewing, just so I can try to keep up with the complex plot. It seems like a simple enough premise: Hannibal Lector is a serial killer who is so smart and good at his job that no one knows it. He’s also a classically trained psychiatrist that is able to control and manipulate other serial killers. That’s not hard to follow, right?

Fact is, this show is very thrilling, suspenseful, and a stickler for detail which makes it akin to a well-written novel: You have to turn on your “thinking cap” to get full satisfaction. After a thrilling season one, season two promised to be even better according to NBC:

Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) is locked in a mental asylum accused of Hannibal Lecter’s crimes (Mads Mikkelsen). Now that Will sees Hannibal for what he truly is, he faces a fight to prove his own sanity and convince those closest to him he is innocent of murder… The deadly dance between these characters continues to turn in startling and unexpected ways, in a season that will show that nothing can ever be the same again. – NBC.com

That last sentence turned out to be the truest statement of all. The season two finale “Mizumono showed us that the Hannibal Lector character has seemingly picked up where Charlie Sheen famously left off. Is there any character on television that is winning more than Hannibal? The way he handled his friends (so-called) and (actual) foes would make even the great Michael Corleone envious. Hannibal didn’t just get one of his enemies, he seemingly GOT THEM ALL… WINNING!

After finally getting out of the professional mental institution we will call jail (for time purposes), Will cooked up a plan with Jack (Laurence Fishburne) to trap the elusive Hannibal. The plan included faking the death of writer Freddie Lounds (Lara Jean Chorostecki) under the guise that Will had killed her. Will had recently had a conversation with Lounds who was in hiding at an apparent FBI safe house facility (or something) and the keen Hannibal Lector later smelled her scent on Will… yes smelled her on him. That was the beginning of the end for the “plan,” and possibly the lives of Alana (Caroline Dhavernas), Abagail (Kacey Rohl), Jack, and Will (we don’t know who will make it, as each of them were left hopelessly clinging to life in the finale).

So who will make it out alive? Honestly, I do not know. If I had to guess, Abagail and Jack are goners, Will and Alana will pull through. Abagail’s death seemed to be the most instantaneously fatal, and Jack’s injuries seem to speak to death in an inescapable manner. I think Will might pull through because, well, it’s Will. He is the co-star of the show and I am not sure how the show runners would be able to replace this characters contribution going forward. It wouldn’t be the first time a show killed off one of its main characters though. All of these people had their good points and didn’t deserve to die; most of them wanted Hannibal to pay for his crimes. The only person that I think truly may have deserved their fate is Alana.

I know that I am not the only one who was screaming at the television set watching Alana first not believe Will, then ultimately get into a relationship with Hannibal? She is supposedly this super-intelligent doctor, but she couldn’t stop for one second to weigh some of the things Will was trying to tell her? She’s kissing a man in the mouth (Hannibal) who earlier that day probably ate someone’s spleen, and for most of the season she was blissfully ignorant. At one time she was a budding love interest of Will’s, and only a short time later she is rolling around in the bed with Hannibal? Her misjudgment and utter stupidity may have cost her the ultimately penance: Her life.

The finale ended by showing Hannibal on a plane, sitting next to his old psychiatrist Dr. Du Maurier, (Gillian Anderson) but this didn’t alarm me too much as she looked stoically terrified of him. I am sure she is there under some sort of duress.

By the way, some of the best performances of the season was turned in by actors other than the main cast. For instance, Michael Pitt really showed how great of an actor he is with his role as sadistic rich guy Mason Verger. Couple this role with his role as Jimmy, in seasons one and two of ‘Boardwalk Empire,’ and he now has some outstanding work to hang his hat on. The same can be said for ‘Law & Order: Special Victims Unit’ alum Raúl Esparza who played Dr. Chilton. His demeanor and facial expressions were priceless, as his character was (also) set up by Hannibal to be the Chesapeake Ripper.

There is one question that has bugged me for the entirety of this series: What can’t Hannibal do? I mean, he’s a world class chef, an expert in various different combat techniques, and a damn good psychiatrist. On top of all of that, he’s the most ruthless and diabolical serial killer the Western world has perhaps ever seen. Where does this man find the time to master all of these activities? Although I personally think some of his meals look inedible (and not just because they may or may not have contained human body parts), they are five-star caliber, and he takes unbelievable time and care to make sure it is absolutely perfect. The way some of the victims were posed seemed to be very time consuming as well, so how exactly is he able to do all this, and still have time for so many social calls?

We don’t even get to talk about the people like Abagail Hobbs and Miriam Lass (Anna Chlumsky) that Hannibal held captive and managed to find time to brainwash. Hannibal also was able to carry on a pretty hot-and-heavy love affair with Alana while keeping at least a part-time slate of psychiatric patients and consulting for the F.B.I. On top of that, Hannibal has been the “manager” for a dozen or so other killers who he took under his wing for a spell for various reasons. WHERE DOES THIS GUY FIND THE TIME??!!??

I have grown a little tired of villains like Hannibal Lector given super-human powers, including strength and intellect. The movie industry is notorious for turning supposed dullards like Freddy Krueger (‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’) and Jason Voorhees (‘Friday the 13th’) into Einstein-ian centaurs who defeat innocent people with brains and brawn… it is ridiculous. This ‘Hannibal’ television show takes this fad even further, leaving little weaknesses for would-be heroes to exploit. Hannibal is an animal. I don’t find him likeable in any way.

He’s not an anti-hero like Tony Soprano, Dexter or Nicholas Brody – they all at least had some redeeming qualities that viewers could latch on to. Hannibal is the anti-Christ, like Charles Manson, Ted Bundy, and Jeffrey Dahmer. There’s nothing redeeming about them.

Anyway, this show seems like it deserves short seasons (13 episodes like seasons one and two) and a short lifespan (3-5 seasons) to really max out its potential. Entertainment Weekly has already reported that Hannibal will be back for a season 3. How the plot will shake out will depend solely on how closely the showrunners want to follow the book/movie franchise. In an interview for indiewire.com, showrunner Bryan Fuller talked about his struggles with MGM to get permission to use the Clarice Starling character:

MGM isn’t just going to let us use the character without them profiting from it in some way. Nor should they, actually. It’s just business. But I would love for those two studios to work out some way for us to have “Hannibal” be the all-inclusion, canonical adaptation of the literature.

No matter what happens behind the scenes, the on-screen product will be terrific. I will be waiting to find out who survived the mayhem.

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Jack Gotta

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