Dee Discusses: Hannibal Season One Recap

Posted: September 20, 2013 by Dee in Dee, General Media, Hannibal, Television
Tags: , , , , , , ,

This is otherwise known as the “you should be watching this show” post. I have a long list of why, but instead I’ll just focus on the show so far. There will be spoilers in this, but I assume you know that considering you clicked on a recap. Also because I spoil everything for everyone. Hannibal is based on the best selling novels by Thomas Harris. I’ve read all of them, and I’m a big fan. I’m also a big fan of Silence of the Lambs, and slightly less of one of the movie Hannibal and Red Dragon. They were okay, I ended up mostly shrugging. Although Red Dragon is important, because it introduced the character of Will Graham, who is the main character in the TV show. Played by Edward Norton there, and by the lovely Hugh Dancy here. I much prefer Dancy’s version, but I’ll get there in a bit. This show is a prequel to the movies, because  Hannibal Lecter is still a psychiatrist working with the FBI, and no one knows yet that he’s a serial killer. In Red Dragon they established that Will Graham was a good friend of his who eventually figured out what Hannibal was, and he brought him in, although he nearly died doing it. I was a little skeptical going in for a few reasons. We all know the end result so I wasn’t entirely sure the tension would work. I was skeptical of anyone playing Hannibal Lecter other than Anthony Hopkins.  And I wondered about the lasting power of the show considering how grim and different it would be, and typically that means an early death. It nearly did die after the first season, but luckily got picked up for some more. By then I was hooked so I went PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE NBC! The biggest selling point to me was the cast and Bryan Fuller, the show runner, who has been one of my favorite people in TV for a long time. He’s also sort of the death of a lot of shows, because he’s too creative and his vision costs a lot of money. I can see why he doesn’t appeal to a lot of viewers, especially the mainstream, so this show is going to have trouble. But I love it.

Will Graham is an empath. A very, very intense one. That means someone who is able to get an emotional connection to other people, often putting himself into the shoes of the killers and sensing his way through what they might do. It’s a little bit higher than a typical profiler, who can intellectually redo crime scenes. No, Will feels his way through them, but it leaves him open and vulnerable to the darkness of what he sees. Alana Bloom (Caroline Dhavernas) is a profiler and psychiatrist who works around Will, and very early on she notes that while he can get the cases done, he’s fragile. He is valuable to the FBI, who brings him in on the case of a serial killer, and Jack Crawford (Laurence Fishburne) decides making him unstable is worth closing the cases. This becomes important later. He finds the serial killer, Garrett Jacob Hobbs, and kills him. It’s his first kill, and this is after Hobbs has murdered his wife and slit the throat of his daughter Abigail Hobbs (Kacey Rohl).  Will managed to save her. Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelson) is a psychiatrist for the FBI, also known well to Bloom who used to be his student, and he’s taken an interest in Will. He calls Hobbs to warn him that the police were coming, and he was there watching Will try and save Abigail. Hannibal does like to play with people and see how it goes. He starts doing murders in order to get Will to see them and then figure out clues for the next killer, it’s complicated. Basically Hannibal is doing it completely wrong so Will can get the right answer and see more clearly into the new serial killers. Meanwhile Hannibal’s gaining a reputation as the Chesapeake Ripper. Right under their nose!

Hannibal - Season 1

The show has a murder of the week, plus the addition of the Chesapeake Ripper cases, but it also has an overarching theme about Will’s steady decline into mental illness and Hannibal’s games with the whole cast. Jack and Alana trust Hannibal implicitly, and he manipulates that,  showing himself to be brilliant and ruthless. He also cooks food for them every episode, with the audience knowing they’re eating his victims. Jeeeez. Alana, Hannibal, and Will grow very close to Abigail for a variety of reasons. Will feels guilty for killing her father. Alana is her psychiatrist and wants to protect her. Hannibal sees a protege, especially when he finds out she helped her father catch the girls in order to save her own life. Hannibal grows much closer to Will, finding in him a project that fascinates him, and also his version of a friend. He speaks with his own therapist Dr. Du Maurier (Gillian Anderson) about their friendship, and it’s implied she lives in seclusion and may very well know what Hannibal is. Alana and Will start to have feelings for one another, but she rejects him saying he’s far too unstable for it to be healthy. Yeowch. Insult to injury. Will gets sicker by the week and we find out he has Encephalitis. Hannibal and a doctor see this in a brain scan, so Hannibal murders the doctor and keeps it to himself. He wants to see how far he can push Will before he loses it. A consistent storyline with Hannibal throughout all of his material is he’s seeking someone to partner with him. Clarice Starling eventually becomes that in the books, but not in the movies. Yes, in the books she becomes a serial killer too. But he’s grooming both Will and Abigail throughout this series.

In the end of the season, Hannibal realizes Will’s illness is actually getting him closer to figuring out the truth, so he kills Abigail and frames Will for her and all of his murders. The FBI and Jack are fairly certain it’s true, although Alana’s suspicious at least of the latter murders. She also correctly diagnoses him with Encephalitis, but by then it’s too late. Will figures out the truth about Hannibal but he’s shot in the arm and then taken into custody. Hannibal approaches him at the end at the Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane. The very place Hannibal is jailed at years later. Maybe even the same cell! So that leaves us off for season two, where Will is now framed for the murders, and who knows what’s going to happen next. Apparently there was a deleted scene with Will and Alana, which may come into play later on. It’s possible she does know that he’s at least being framed, although it’s hard to say. Will did think he was sick and killed Abigail, but now he knows better. It’s exciting to try and figure out what twists and turns this show will go for next, but I’m excited.


Good things: the cast is amazing. I’ll admit I am all right with Mikkelson’s performance as Hannibal. He does play the role brilliantly. I do prefer Hopkins, but that’s the grumpy person in me. He was my original and I’ll always love him. But Mikkelson does do a great job and I enjoy watching him on the screen. I can say with certainty every person in the cast worked for me, as did all of the guest stars. Eddie Izzard played a murderer in a multi-arc too, that was great. Alana Bloom may have climbed up to one of my very favorite women on television right now. She’s intelligent, compassionate, analytical, and I find her relationship with everyone interesting. Her turn at the end of the season though,  with her yelling at Jack and taking Will’s dogs, ugh. Also this show is all about Hugh Dancy, and bravo man. Will is a complicated character, both empathic and completely cut off from humanity. His slow descent into mental illness is acted so acutely well, and it’s tough not to wish happiness for him. Happiness he’ll never have. The visuals in this show are AMAZING. This is obvious for a Bryan Fuller work. He basically makes artwork, just look at Pushing Daisies. This is no exception. It is gory and disgusting in many ways, but somehow he makes it eerily beautiful at the same time. The plot was done very well. They stretched it out so the tension was always there, with great weekly cases underneath the big one. I was invested in each episode and it was tough to tear my eyes away. Although I did cringe at some of the scenes. It emotionally really got to me too, in a variety of ways for a bunch of different reasons, but it just means the show is offering more than your typical horror-drama.

Bad things: Honestly, for me, I can’t think of one. This show is absolutely everything I love. It hits all the things that makes me enjoy television. However for other people, I’d say it’s probably too dark and violent. The murders and the bodies found, they can really make you go ahhhhhh. That’ll stick in your head for awhile. It’s tough to watch Will break apart and the sadistic Hannibal pushing him. People may get irritated he’s not getting caught if the show goes on too long. So yes, I’d say if you have a weak stomach and you’re not too interested in the genre, it’s probably not for you. But anyone else? I really suggest you give it a try, at least a few episodes. It’s a show unlike anything I’ve seen on TV for a long time, and Bryan Fuller continues to make amazing work without enough credit. As usual critics love this show, but they can’t get a strong viewership. Fight for Hannibal! Well not for the actual Hannibal … just the show. Hannibal Lecter’s a psychopath. With excellent taste in wine and music.

Hannibal is coming back in 2014, date undetermined, for another thirteen episodes. Kudos to NBC for giving this a second shot, and I hope it pays off. The DVD comes out in a few weeks.


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