It was about five weeks into the first season of NBC’s Hannibal before a colleague recommended that I start watching. I was apprehensive. The trailers before the season began looked brutal and downright horrifying. I was never a big fan or follower of the books or movie series so I really didn’t see the point but my co-worker was so enthusiastic in his recommendation that I figured “What the heck. Why not?” I downloaded the first five weeks from on-demand and started recording the new episodes. It was after the week 6 episode that I finally gave it a shot. I would like to go into my experiences in viewing but I think its more effective to just say that I didn’t leave my couch for the next six hours.
Captivating is a word tossed around in the TV and movie business in almost every commercial break but with Hannibal, I truly felt a hold being taken over me. There is something about the way the characters and the events are presented in this show that make you wonder if your pupils will ever un-dilate. The crime scenes in this show are designed in such an incredibly bizarre way and with such imagination that you hardly have time to be disgusted. The things these creators are coming up with to do to the human body are so far outside even my wild imagination that you can really spend a significant amount of effort trying to move past what you are looking at. And this is where the beauty of this show comes in.
The show centers around a man named Will Graham (played by Hugh Dancy) who has a unique, but not supernatural, ability; partially due to a particularly high functioning form of autism, to empathize completely with a murderer. He can walk into an active crime scene and pull it and everything all the way back in time to the moments before the event. He sees himself as the killer and he walks himself through not only the exact crime being committed but also the feelings and motives that were guiding the actions. This rare ability does not come without significant consequences though. The toll that these crime scenes and the use of his type of profiling take on Will create a need for some serious psychological assistance.
Enter Hannibal Lecter. A man who is truly mesmerizing with his combination of high-fashion and grandeur overlaid by a personality that is so outstandingly confident and resolute, neither the characters in the show nor the viewers in their homes are able to do anything but hang on his every word. Mads Mikkelsen (Le Chiffre in Casino Royale) is the actor who plays Hannibal and there is something about his rough and foreign features and accent that makes you feel like you should never risk turning your back on this man. He successfully wears an attire that Michael Irvin or Barry Melrose couldn’t pull off. Everything about this man is over the top and this makes it all that more impactful when you get to hear the things he says or see the man he really is inside.
Speaking of the things this man says brings me to the salient point of what I am trying to say here and the conclusion of this article. There is something that happens when you are listening to a man, who can only be described as evil incarnate, when he starts speaking, with what appears to be genuine honesty and compassion, to his nemesis about how much he cares about his well being. Hannibal is pulling all the strings all the time and what happens when he decides to join his puppets on the stage is something that I have never seen in any other show. Watching a man that we are supposed to believe is just another brand of serial killer show the emotions that we are supposed to believe serial killers are unable to produce creates a kind of terrifying that is really hard not to come upon again later on in your dreams.
NBC’s Hannibal is not just a thinking man’s show, it is a grand performance meant for opera halls that the viewers are lucky enough to experience for 12 weeks a year on Friday nights at 9pm. The first season is up on Amazon Instant Prime free to subscribers and the second season is wrapping up tonight. I urge you not to miss out on a life-affirming and unforgettable experience that only comes for a few weeks a year. It makes me so happy and pleased to have recently learned that the show will return in 2015 for its third season. I am anxious for the new year already.