TV Talk with Breanna #10: Feast Your Eyes on Hannibal


When it is revealed that a well-known series is getting a new television adaptation, no one can ever be quite sure what will come of it. On the one hand, there’s the advantage of having characters that many people are already familiar with, but on the other, there will always be that comparison to the original or to the other adaptations that will weigh the show down — but either way, we always know where the story will end. This hasn’t stopped Sherlock Holmes from having two critically-acclaimed television adaptations on the air at the same time, though, so why shouldn’t Hannibal Lecter be able to join in on the fun?

NBC’s Hannibal has done just that, but instead of creating another adaption of the famous story Silence of the Lambs, it has brought a twist to the series. The show has instead started at the beginning of the story, and expands on the ideas written about in Red Dragon, the first novel about the famous cannibal by Thomas Harris.

Hannibal, which began its second season in late February, follows Will Graham (Hugh Dancy), an FBI agent with a unique ability to empathize with the murderers he pursues by actually visualizing himself committing the crime. While this gift helps Will catch many dangerous killers, it weighs heavily on him and damages his mental health. When Graham begins an investigation into the serial killer known as the Minnesota Shrike, his boss, Agent Jack Crawford (Laurence Fishburne), starts to worry about the effect it is having on him and decides to have Will supervised by psychiatrist Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen). However, the team has no idea that Hannibal is actually a serial killer himself, one known as the Chesapeake Ripper, who has been killing for years. The psychiatrist uses his new position to his advantage, closely following the case to find out which direction the FBI is going, and gaining Will’s trust to continue to manipulate him. Now it’s only a matter of time until the man who can think like a serial killer catches the one in the FBI’s midst, and the game begins — how many people can Hannibal kill before Will catches on?

Needless to say, Hannibal is certainly not for those with weak stomachs, but the show is still able to shock viewers who love dark and gory storylines, with disturbing cases and psychological twists that will leave them craving more. However, this doesn’t mean that the show is only full of disgusting murder cases, and while one may expect that the storyline would focus mostly on Lecter’s cannibalism, it’s never really explicitly discussed. Instead, Hannibal focuses more on Will and his struggle to separate his mind from those of the killers’ that he “channels” through his investigations. As Hannibal progresses, it takes a deeper look at the psychological effects of Will’s job and how constantly seeing through the eyes of killers makes him unstable.  

Although the show is very dark (and may have you covering your eyes several times per episode), this doesn’t stop it from being visually stunning, with some of the best cinematography I’ve ever seen on the small screen. The acting is also phenomenal, as Dancy’s portrayal of the disturbed Will could not be more real; likewise, Mikkelsen’s Lecter is absolutely bone-chilling, and even slightly charming. The show even has a romantic element, as Will and psychology professor Alana Bloom (Caroline Dhavernas) have a very real relationship that deals with the struggles of Will’s mental health and their status as colleagues and friends. Even though it may be unexpected, Hannibal can also be quite funny at times, especially when Dr. Lecter has his colleagues over for a meal and claims that “it’s always nice to have an old friend for dinner” — a reference to both his guests… and the food itself.

Hannibal may not be for everyone, but for those who love beautiful horror, their appetites will certainly be quelled. The show already has a huge, dedicated fanbase, one that constantly gets #EatTheRude to trend on Twitter during the episodes, so why not join in? Besides, you don’t want to be eaten! Be sure to tune into NBC on Fridays at 10PM to catch the newest episodes of Hannibal. Bon appetit.