The Prospect Of Death Drives Us To Greatness: Hannibal – Series 2

Rating: 7.5 out of 10.

You can find the review for Hannibal – Series 1 here, and, as usual, there will be SPOILERS

Well well well. After a stodgy series 1, Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) and his psychiatrist Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikklesen) return for a second, and I have to say my hopes were high. Were expectations met? Or brutally slaughtered? Read on, dear friend.

For those of you that don’t know about Hannibal, it’s exactly what it sounds like: a series version of, not the classic The Silence of the Lambs, but the characters from follow up film Red Dragon. Lengthened and padded out, this season we saw Will framed and imprisoned for Hannibal’s crimes, working out his perpetuator, and doing all he can to provide justice – but not necessarily for the most moral reasons, or in the most moral way.

In advance, I’d like to apologise for anyone who despises Hannibal Lecter, or the world where most of the films are set, or in fact, just the films themselves. I know I’ve been doing a lot of reviews around it – The Silence of the Lambs, Manhunter, Hannibal (the series) – but I’ve really been sucked in by the thrill of it, and currently it’s clutching me by the scruff of the neck. I’m sure I’ll be free soon, but at this current moment, I’m at gunpoint.

Wow. I said I hoped the first, slow burning series had the done the hard work so the second could thrive, and as we started series 2, that was definitely the case. We flew out the blocks with a fight between Jack and Hannibal. Completely off guard and no idea what was going on, I was very grateful it was a flashforward and I hadn’t pressed on the series 3 finale accidentally. We had a few engrossing and dramatic twists and turns, including the murder of Beverly Katz (Hettienne Park), the horrifying eyeless man who was still goddamn alive – lordy lord, it was disgusting – and Will’s court case. If there’s ever a lawyer who should get his own spin off show, it’s Leonard Brauner (Shawn Doyle).

And then I think it started to go downhill around episode 8, with introduction of the Vergers. I don’t know who the casting director is, but apart from Mads Mikkelsen and Laurence Fishburne, every choice has odd. Joe Anderson is quite honestly horrible as Mason. In the second half of the series, we focused more on the growing relationship between Hannibal and Will. At first it was interesting, but they dragged it out far too long. Even worse was the whole Freddie Lounds situation, which was both preposterous and predictable.

And then there was the finale which I don’t want to even talk about. It was as if the writers had made a bet about how many characters they could kill off in 20 minutes. Suddenly, Abigail appeared and was killing people too. It’s frustrating to watch, and quite frankly insulting to the audience. If she survives another slit neck, and has a third resurrection, I don’t think I’ll be able to take anymore. The same applies if I hear ‘Garret Jacob Hobbs’ muttered one more time. I assume Will will survive, and the third will be based around him chasing down Hannibal. I also hope Jack survives, because Laurence Fishburne really has been one of the best things the show has to offer.

I criticised Hugh Dancy for his performance in the first series, where I thought he could be at fault for overplaying. I’m glad to say that wasn’t the case second time round. It seems Will Graham finally found some tranquility and peace within himself – and all it required was to be locked up in a high security prison for the criminally insane. After being put under so much pressure from Hannibal, Will turns bad. And suddenly, a lot more interesting. The dynamic between the two suddenly clicked, when I wasn’t really feeling it before, and was far more Clarice and Hannibal. And that’s one the most important parts of the show – credit where credit’s due, Hannibal gets it right.

Dr Chilton was seemingly killed, which was a shame, because I was actually warming to the actor, rather than the character. I say seemingly, because in The Silence of the Lambs Dr Chilton plays a pretty big role. The chronologicality (if that’s a word) of the whole Dr Lecter story is a little confusing, but I’m wondering if Hannibal is not trying to complete part of the puzzle, but rather recreate it and give a different version of events. I had always innocently assumed that the show’s ending would be Hannibal being arrested, but perhaps that won’t be the case. We’ll have to wait and see.

However, I struggle to understand why people like Hannibal so much. It seems like the only show that could make a cannibalistic serial killer boring. In all honesty, I can’t even promise that I’ll review the third series. It’s dragging out, and although I’m going to try and finish the programme, I don’t feel compelled to write anything about it. I’m praying that maybe, finally, Hannibal will come good. But unlike at the end of series 1, I was hopeful – now, I just want it to end.

Hannibal – 7.5 out of 10

18 thoughts on “The Prospect Of Death Drives Us To Greatness: Hannibal – Series 2

  1. It’s always a problem with any series – how much time do the writers have to spend at the start building up characters and introducing slow burns that might have a pay off in ep 7 or whatever or even in the second series. Sometimes I don’t think they do the chronoligicality (great word you invented) too well and it’s hard to work out what’s going on. But if the characters have enough of a hook it will keep interest going. I got fed up with the Cuckoo’s Nest spinoff and gave up quite quickly but we’ve had so many different variations of the Lecter legend from the movies that somehow it has more breathing space.

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    1. I think your characters point is right – more often than not I’ve found myself uninterested in the people put before me in this series. Mads is a great actor, but his take on Lecter compared to Cox and Hopkins is far more refined, elegant and classy. While in both Manhunter and SotL I felt my skin crawl, I just feel feel uninspired by his performance. I’m definitely not hooked.

      Usually, I love a slow burn – Breaking Bad being an example – but only if the pay off is good so they time I spent getting immersed in this world was worth it. And so far, we haven’t even had a pay off in Hannibal. I guess there’s only so long I can’t wait before I grow bored.

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        1. Brian, my patience may have reached the end of its string. I haven’t watched in a week or so now, and it looks like I’m on pastures anew. I feel like I should watch it, because everyone seems to think it’s so good, but I think I may have finally given up. Part of me is very glad.

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  2. I’ve made a point of not reading Alex’s blog for over a year now, and it’s easily the best way to tackle it.

    If they went down the Mason Verger line here, then they sold the Hannibal idea out much as Harris did. I guess coming up with something new wasn’t posible, but it’s not easy finding central plot material to keep Hannibal off-stage, on-ice and interesting…

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    1. Nothing much is original in Hannibal (the series). There’s a few things, but it basically takes events from the other films and incorporates them into Lecter’s life before he went to prison. What confuses me is why they chose most events from Hannibal (the film) instead of SotL, for example, which is far better. I’m not a fan. There’s just too much Hannibal, and it’s not interesting, I’m afraid.

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  3. I got kind of bored with this series, as with any series, because the build-up of characters took far long and I lost interest. But maybe I should get back into this again .. here’s hoping

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    1. I wouldn’t if I were you. I’m thoroughly bored with it, and the third series isn’t much better. The start of the second was good, but then their were some atrocious episodes towards the end. Not worth it in my humble opinion. What really bugs me is the build up of characters did, indeed, take a long time, but when they were built, if you know what I mean, they are pretty dull anyway.

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    1. Agree in terms of the relationship – I found it fascinating too, and I probably should have praised it more – but there were too many episodes based around it for my liking. The start was incredible, and I really enjoyed it, you’re definitely right about that, but as the series wore on, it became dull. Unfortunately, I don’t think we’re going to agree much on this series…

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    1. If you can’t get enough of the films, then I would certainly recommend this. Perhaps it’s not my personal cup of tea, but I know many have to enjoyed it, so definitely give it a try.

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