Hannibal Season 2 Review: Do Not Watch This Alone

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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?

[adinserter block=”1″]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.

[adinserter block=”2″]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.

3 COMMENTS

  1. I actually find Hannibal to be extremely likable and fascinating, and I disagree that he’s flaw-free. His main weakness in the show is his pride, and it nearly got him this season – Will and Jack were successfully fooling him (according to a Fuller interview) up until he smelled Freddie on Will. He was so absorbed in his handiwork that was the ‘new’ Will Graham that it became a blind spot for him. A lot of fans felt this made him too idiotic! I think Hannibal’s almost-mystical quality makes him terrifying and interesting, I love how Mads and Bryan interpreted him for the show.

    And wow, so much hatred for Alana this season. It’s odd because I felt nothing but sympathy for her, personally. Why wouldn’t she trust Hannibal, who’s been a close friend and mentor to her for years, since they were at Johns Hopkins? Why should she believe a mentally unstable convicted murderer instead? She turned Will down in S1 for good reason, and Hannibal/Alana had already been flirting in S1, so it wasn’t sudden at all. If anyone else were to be in her shoes, I wonder if they would have fared better. As Hannibal said to her, “I worked very hard to blind you.” She’s been treated horribly by both the characters in the show and the viewers this season. She didn’t deserve any of that…

    • WOW ponpon! Did I harm you in another life? You seem very knowledgeable on the Hannibal story… that’s great!

      OK. First, I never said Hannibal or anyone is without flaws. I was particularly speaking to the way he ends “battles.” He was fooled for a time but he always wins in the end. That is consistent throughout this show, the movies, the books. He’s only down for a little bit, then he is right back on top.

      Of course his “mystical quality” makes him terrifying. That is why the show/story is so good. His do-it-all, know-it-all, and apparently smell-it-all persona just irks me sometimes.

      Second, I just felt like Alana should have been smart enough to suspect everything. She didn’t have to believe Will, but she could have allowed herself the opportunity to doubt Hannibal. She’s a trained professional and knew both men. Will wasn’t convicted yet of anything btw.

      I’m sorry you didn’t like my takes. That’s cool. Nothing wrong with opposite opinions. Healthy debate is good. Thanks for reading.

      • Haha I hope I didn’t come across as offended or forceful or anything, that was totally not my intention! (I tend to ramble a lot online) And don’t be deceived, I’m not a longtime Lecter fan at all; I got into the character through the show last year! I happened to read a lot of discussion on him by other more experienced fans, as well as the summaries of the books and movies.

        It’s totally true, what you said about Hannibal always winning. But as you said, it’s just how it’s always been through the entirety of the canon – I think that’s what a lot of fans actually like about the character. I guess it’s down to personal preference? (same goes for his apparent mystical perfection) I’m hoping we might see a different side of him in S3, considering how obviously affected he was by Will’s betrayal.

        With Alana, it looks like it’s probably down to our opinions again, heh. I think the fact that she knew Hannibal so well – or thought she did – was what actually blinded her, and Hannibal showed her nothing but his absolute best, for years on end. I still don’t think she had any reason to doubt Hannibal, especially after Will proved himself untrustworthy from her point of view by trying to have her good friend and mentor killed. At that point Will was still the only one pointing a finger at Hannibal, wasn’t he? (was Will not convicted of several murders when he was imprisoned? I have zero knowledge of law haha)

        Your takes were completely valid! I agree, it’s always nice to talk in a civilized manner about differences in opinion 🙂

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