My brother isn’t a big fan of TV shows. He travels a lot and he loves his work. And because of that, he doesn’t have much time to spend on time-absorbing series (you can watch Breaking Bad and/or House of Cards -of which I’ll be speaking some other time-), so I was quite surprised when, after getting home for the first time in a couple of months, he told me to watch this “new series which absolutely conflicts with my don’t-watch-any-series point of view”. The show, he said, was called Hannibal, about whom I had been sort of curious for a long time -never a chance to read the book until some months ago, though- and, according to him (haven’t checked it yet) the average age for the show’s viewer span is 35-ish. Weird.
He told me Dr. Hannibal Lecter was played by Mags Mikelsen, whose name didn’t ring a bell at first, but you might know him from his role playing the villain on Daniel Craig’s 007 Casino Royale. After seeing a picture of him I got more and more curious, and I downloaded (don’t tell mom) the first episode of the show. No trailers, no teasers, nothing: I for one enjoy being as ignorant as I can when starting a new show. So, down it went (in HD, just in case the catch was on the graphic side) and after finding some valid subs, I started watching it.
And oh God, I couldn’t stop watching it. My non-existent cat could have died, my cactus could have dried up – I just couldn’t have cared less. The episode was absorbing, from beginning to end. Light and colors are dealt supremely. It’s all about pauses and camera angles, and about Mags deep, yet jumpy voice -and his accent just intensifies this. So, foreplay is over, let’s start with the plot.
At the beginning, when Will does his thing (you’ll know what I mean), you could say it looks like some shows like The Mentalist, but it’s not even close. You’ll see Will Graham getting inside someone’s skin; recreating a murder and understanding its cause. It’s more than crime solving, it’s crime comprehension, justification and, of course, it gets Will Graham on the verge of psycho break. This is Hannibal Lecter’s cue.
Dr. Hannibal Lecter is a well-renowned psychiatrist. He also has a surgical background and, from the looks of his house, we can say his job is at least very highly paid. He is an artist, in several forms: music, portraits, writing, and also a great cook (and the show will constantly remind you of that with close shots, darkened light and vivacious colours). He’s got a psychiatrist of his own, with whom he meets every once in a while (frequency is never specified), although he seems to be a very calm person.
So, when Will’s “boss” (Will just collaborates with the FBI, he’s not really an agent) sends him to visit Dr. Lecter, one can tell the series is about to start, about to define itself. Both have very strong characters. There’s a big difference, though, which will mark the whole season: Will is Hannibal’s patient, and never otherwise. Hannibal is cold, still, stable, he asks the right questions and never shows any pinch of emotion, whereas Will is a bunch of nerves, he’s falling apart, doesn’t know who he is sometimes and is having a very hard time coping with himself. Therefore, Hannibal will always have the upper hand, not only because of his apparent catatonia, but because of his doctor status. And he will play his cards ruthlessly.
The show gets twisted from here: as one may already have figured, Hannibal is a cannibal (bet you weren’t expecting that!), and he is a much of a cannibal as he is of an amazing cook. Which, combined, can and will make you wish you could eat the smallest bit of the lung Hannibal is cooking at the moment. Not happy with cooking for himself, Dr. Lecter will often invite people for dinner. Jack Crawford and Ms. Crawford, Will Graham, some of his dinner dishes…. who, as innocent as they are, will eat and enjoy the food, and even compliment the chef on the food, which often comes from the cases Will and the FBI are working on.
As the show advances, Will’s stability problems slowly evolve towards dementia, hallucinations, even severe perception distortion, all casualy accompanied by Dr. Lecter’s swift hand. Will’s behaviour becomes more and more erratic, in contraption to Hannibal’s cook skills deployment. Meanwhile, Jack Crawford is going through serious issues with his wife.
And these are only the first episodes! It just gets better from there. Season 2 is already out (seventh episode at the time of this review’s writing) and, although it doesn’t have the constant Will-Hannibal dispute, it gets richer with the intervention of previously forgotten characters.
So, if you’re not a food maniac, if you despise psychos, if you don’t think slow, well-plotted shows are the thing now, and mostly, if you are not ready to lose several hours of your lifetime, you should really, really, not watch this. Serouisly. You will hate it. Don’t watch it.
But if you end up watching it, don’t come at me for consuming hours of your life!