End of Season Report – Hannibal, Season 1

5 Jul

Listen to the music Marge! He's evil!

Right from the beginning, I described Hannibal as dark.  It’s dark in its plot and it’s sensibility but also simply in its look; lots of shadow and lots and lots of blood and guts.  This isn’t your grandmother’s show about serial killers.  There’s some gimmickry, but none of the flash and glamour that surround solving crimes on the big crime procedurals.  No, the crimes committed by the serial killers in Hannibal are disgusting and horrific and there’s no getting away from that.  So much so that main character Will Graham is constantly haunted by the crimes, as he gets way too close in his mental exercises to find the killers.    Sometimes it was even to dark for NBC.  There was an episode where a woman kidnapped kids and convinced them to kill their families, which was yanked from the schedule in the wake of, I’m not sure, just because, well, it’s shocking that this is even on NBC to begin with.

Point being, I knew the show was dark.  But the ending of the season even outdid my reasonably dark expectations.  How many first seasons end with their protagonist in an insane asylum?  One for the criminally insane, I might add; this is a special loony bin for the most depraved.  Yes, that’s what happens.  Cannibal and psychopath Hannibal Lecter, who at this point in our story is a revered psychoanalyst assisting the FBI, frames agent Will Graham, who also happens to have a very serious neurological condition called encephalitis which basically interferes with his very ability to deal with reality.  Just about every character thinks by the end of the season that Will Graham is responsible for a slew of murders including one of the girl who was the daughter of a serial killer and whom he has been mentoring for the entire season.

Of course, this is every so slightly lightened by the fact we know eventually Hannibal Lecter is going to wind up in that loony bin himself, with Graham on the outside, assuming creator Bryon Fuller doesn’t totally decide to throw the source material into the garbage can.  Plus, there’s only so much Graham can do from inside the mental asylum.  You’d have to think merely for plot purposes he’d get out sooner or later.  Still, this is a pretty rough stretch for Graham.  How he worms his way out of this, picks up on Lecter’s guilt, and convinces anyone else should be an interesting journey for the next season.

I complimented Bryon Fuller on this early on in the season but again I think plaudits are in order for his ability to take source material we know and make it fresh again. This is doubly so because it revolves around the tension of a free Hannibal, who we all know is a killer, screwing up the FBI and our protagonist even while we want to shout out, come on, he’s evil, have you guys never seen Silence of the Lambs?.

This is a serial show that would normally be a procedural.  I could imagine this show produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and it would be an extremely different show.  Watching the first few episodes, I kept expecting it to break out in a full procedural with a new killer every episode and little hints and bits of continued serial plot just to keep us interested in not missing an episode.  But that’s not what happened at all.  Instead it played by its own schedule, weaving seamlessly between new killers and the existing long term serial plots.  The one continued strain was the general unraveling of Will Graham’s mental state.  A slower episode would be followed with a faster episode, an high action episode with an more patient psychological pot boiler.

This show isn’t covering new territory.  We see the FBI and police catching murderers all over TV.  Will is a savant, a character, we see in different forms throughout TV and movies as well.  What we don’t see as often is the downside to savant-dom.  Usually the heroes of killer-catching movies and TV shows are one sided; they may have tragic pasts but they rarely have tragic presents.  With Will, there’s a cost of doing what he’s the best at.  Watching Will slip slowly deeper into the bounds of mental instability is both difficult to watch and captivating at the same time and is what makes Will a  much more interesting character than most versions of this stock model.

It’s gorgeous, it’s dark and it’s compelling.  If you don’t like excessive gore, it’s not for you, but otherwise it is.  It’s not a brilliant revelatory show like Mad Men or Breaking Bad, but there isn’t any other show on TV quite like it.

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One Response to “End of Season Report – Hannibal, Season 1”

  1. casio edifice 価格 November 3, 2013 at 9:01 pm #

    seiko タイムキーパー

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