With the fifth episode of Hannibal’s second season airing soon after this article is written, I must say I have great optimism for the future of this show. Or maybe it’s my desperate need for it to carry on long enough for show creator Bryan Fuller’s vision to be realized.
But more of that later.
I have to talk briefly about the broad implications of the first four episodes. First scene, first episode. Jack visits Hannibal at home and after a few seconds of cinematic suggestions of potential violence, shit just goes wild. Hannibal and Jack have a Matrix-esque throw-down in Hannibal’s kitchen that lasts a full two and a half minutes of screen time. Which is insane. The scene ends unresolved, the next scene setting us back twelve weeks, to where the season begins for the rest of the characters.
It starts off with a tone of instability. Will is in the Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane, awaiting trial. Jack Crawford and the BAU feel shocked that Will would or could do such unspeakable things, and off-balance because he did it under their noses and they didn’t know or do anything to stop him. Jack is also grappling with his home life and Bella’s recent cancer revelation.
Will himself is struggling with reality and grasping for any proof that he isn’t the killer. He’s also processing the possible betrayal by Dr Lecter, and trying to regain memories from his periods of lost time due to his encephalitis. Compounding all of this is, while locked up, the BAU are still secretly consulting him on cases.
Hannibal’s waters are no less muddy. He complies with and encourages the FBI in their investigation of him, in order to free himself of suspicion. Will, whom he considers a friend, is locked up and accusing Hannibal of framing him. In Will’s Absence, Hannibal is asked to directly consult with the BAU, essentially filling Will’s shoes.
The first few episodes establish the direction that the season is most likely headed. Will’s arc will see him fighting for exoneration and trying to bring Hannibal to justice as he regains not only his memories, but also his mental stability. Jack and the FBI set out assuming Hannibal is innocent, and an ally of the team. Of course these beliefs will be heavily challenged as the season progresses. Hannibal wants to help Will, and appears to be sabotaging Will’s prosecution while maintaining his own innocence. All of this, of course, will culminate with whatever the result of the epic battle between Jack Crawford and Hannibal which began the season.
If you want my prediction, based on the first four episodes: Hannibal is setting up Jack Crawford as a copycat killer to free Will and take Jack down. I have no idea what’s going to come of that fight, or where Will is when it’s going on, but I can’t wait to find out.
Now, addressing the title of this article. Why Hannibal MUST Endure. I have two very compelling arguments.
First, it’s such incredible television. There are individual lines in this show that rival the dramatic impact of full episodes of other shows.
In ‘Kaiseki’ when Will says, “It’s a color palette.” Just four words, but they delivered the twisted vision of a serial killer, and the revulsion of Will at knowing and understanding such a sick mind. It added the necessary depth that just the image from the top of the grain silo could never deliver. In this case, four words were worth a thousand pictures. The opening scene of ‘Kaiseki’ was pitch perfect. A show that contains such consistent, emotionally-detached violence and brutality, starts the first episode of its second season with a fight between two well-acquainted people. It’s such personal and intimate violence. It’s a perfect contrast to what we’ve come to expect of the show. It tells us that we can expect more from season two than just “more of the same”.
A perfect example of this is the final seconds of episode four, ‘Takiawase’. Agent Katz, in shock of seeing something off-screen, slowly turns to see Lecter standing behind her across the room. In a flash, he kills the lights and turns to run in the darkness, while Katz opens fire. It all happens in what feels like a heartbeat. Darkness. Gunfire. A shot of floorboards under the kitchen table and a bullet-hole. Credits.
Chilling, masterful, suspenseful work. I cannot get enough of this series.
Thankfully, it looks like there’s a lot more in store, which brings me to my second reason. Bryan Fuller has designs on doing as many as seven or more seasons, the first three being his own content. Season four being Red Dragon, five being Silence of the Lambs, six being Hannibal, and the seventh season resolving the cliffhanger of the Hannibal book.
In my opinion, Mads Mikkelsen has done with Hannibal Lecter what Heath Ledger did with the Joker in The Dark Knight. All due praise to Anthony Hopkins, but I don’t want to live in a world where we don’t get to see Mads as Hannibal for this seven season arc, playing out the Hannibal of the three books. He’s elevated the character to something entirely different.
That’s why Hannibal must endure.
Robb Olson is one half of the Booked. Podcast team. If you enjoyed his column, please consider clicking through to our Amazon Affiliate links and buying The Booked Anthology. If you do you’ll help keep the This Is Horror ship afloat with some very welcome remuneration.