“This is my design.”Some of you may be familiar with this quote from the critically acclaimed NBC show, Hannibal, which aired its first episode last year. The show, which is adapted from the novel Red Dragon, follows FBI special agent Will Graham in his quest to expose the vicious and heinous crimes being carried out by the psychopathic cannibal, Dr Hannibal Lecter. But don’t let this nicely packaged synopsis fool you – the show certainly isn’t a simple cat-and-mouse game. It is full of twists and turns and has some of the most deliciously frustrating plotlines and cliff-hangers I’ve ever come across in the world of television.
Speaking of plotlines, Hannibal has some of the most compelling writing and structure I have ever seen – not only with the storylines and themes, but the script itself is a work of genius; innuendos, hidden clues, subtext, foreshadowing – all of this and more can be found woven into the strategically intricate words that are exchanged throughout the show. The efficacy of this tremendous writing boils down to two major components – the writers being the obvious one, but the actors then come a close second when it comes to doing the writing justice and delivering convincing performances. Hugh Dancy, who plays the autistic and empathetic Will Graham, delivers a spellbinding performance as the special agent, managing to tug at our heartstrings with his vulnerability and goodness, and then winning our support later on in the show when his desperate attempts to make people see the truth about Hannibal are thwarted time and time again. Also, he has a really big soft spot for animals, and he takes in dogs from the street and adopts them as his own and it’s the gosh darn cutest thing I’ve ever seen.
Will isn’t the only great protagonist in the show, however – I simply must take a moment to talk about Hannibal himself, played by the captivating Mads Mikkelsen. Never before have I seen such an arrogant and pretentious character played so well – and yet, I cannot seem to give him the amount of intense loathing that he deserves. Don’t get me wrong – I think his actions are utterly sick and deserving of punishment – but somehow, there is still a part of me that guiltily indulges in his grandeur and smugness; the way he almost mocks Will, teasing him with hints and throw-away lines that may seem meaningless but are in actual fact laced with more bait than a fisherman’s hook.
The characters of Will and Hannibal are flanked by a brilliant supporting cast, too – Jack Crawford, the head of behavioural sciences at the FBI, and his colleagues all make for a wonderful team, with some comic relief supplied by the forensics team, which ensures that the show isn’t too weighed down by the morbidity of it all.
I must take a moment here to really reinforce the brilliance of the storytelling throughout season one and what has been released of season two – never before has a show made me so utterly livid, to the point where I have had to scream into a pillow multiple times because I am so exasperated and tense and worried and GAH. This is part of what makes the show so addictive, though – once you get started, you simply cannot stop due to the burning desire to know what happens next.
Another winning aspect of NBC’s Hannibal is the technicality behind it all, and in particular, the cinematography – everything from the lighting to the most miniscule details in the background of a scene is all so purposeful and never without reason, and this not only makes Hannibal aesthetically pleasing, but also adds an air of cleverness to an already intelligent show, which only makes it all the more captivating.
Essentially, what I’m trying to say is that this is, by far, one of the most spectacular shows I have ever had the fortune to stumble across, and I think you should all put aside a few days and marathon season one and the current episodes of season two [perhaps with a friend for emotional support] – trust me, once you get a taste for this show, you’ll be craving it with an almost insatiable hunger.
5/5 – Absolutely magnificent.