Gone Too Soon: Hannibal

For sheer production value, acting, and aesthetic I am tempted to say that this week’s Gone Too Soon is the best show that I have covered thus far, but that would be undercutting the brilliance of shows that aren’t as serious. I would put Galavant in this discussion too, far too often shows that aren’t “serious” are dismissed as frivolity, which undercuts their importance and ability to be seen as “great” television. All that being said, this week’s Gone Too Soon is Hannibal, a show so genre bending, that it’s hard to classify what it is.

It’s a psychological horror thriller? I haven’t ever seen any other show like it. It’s artsy and kind of pretentious, with great storytelling and even more interesting characters. Despite it’s glowing reviews from critics, it only lasted three seasons, and it was lucky to last that long. 

The Gist 

FBI profiler Will Graham (Hugh Dancy, Ella Enchanted) has the ability to embody the mindset of serial killers. He slips into a trancelike state during investigation and can decipher what the killer did and why he did it. Jack Crawford (Laurence Fishburne, The Matrix) the head of the FBI , Behavior Analysis Unit uses Will to catch killers, but he doesn’t entirely trust his mental state. Enter Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen, Doctor Strange) a psychiatrist, who is, unbeknownst to everyone, also a cannibalistic serial killer.What follows is a fascinating game of psychological cat and mouse, with Hannibal drawing Will farther and farther into his twisted world.  

Also in this game is Alana Bloom (Caroline Dhavernas, Mary Kills People) a colleague who isn’t quite sure who is capable of what, Bedelia Du Maurier (Gillian Anderson, The X Files) Hannibal’s psychiatrist, and Abigail Hobbs (Kacey Rohl, The Magicians) the daughter of a serial killer. 

The show also stars Scott Thompson (The Kids in the Hall), Aaron Abrams (Blindspot),Hettienne Park (The Outsider), Lara Jean Chorostecki (Designated Survivor), Raúl Esparza (Law & Order: SVU), Katharine Isabelle (Ginger Snaps) Eddie Izzard (Ocean’s Thirteen), Richard Armitage (The Hobbit), Gina Torres (Suits), Joe Anderson (Across the Universe), and Rutina Wesley (True Blood).

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Hannibal ran for three seasons on NBC.

Should You Watch It

There are a lot of qualifiers here. Hannibal is a great show, with wonderful writing, acting, and directing. It was visually interesting and had many great actors at the top of their game, using their unique chemistry to create a tense atmospheric television show. It is riveting television. It’s also hard to stomach, dark, and grotesque. 

This show isn’t for everyone. You have to be willing to watch something that is truly dark and disturbing and quite frankly gross. The show is psychological and horrifying. It’s intense and does not play around. It originally aired on NBC, and I can’t believe that it ever saw the light of day. The faint of heart need not watch. 

That’s not to say that the show is all doom and gloom. It can be funny and ludicrous. It’s equal parts a character drama and a horror show, though I would argue that the best horror is when it focuses on the trauma the characters are suffering rather than jump scares. 

Usually this is the section where I say that if  you are a fan of these other shows then you will like this one, but I can’t think of a single show to compare it to. Stylistically, though it is aesthetically different, the closest companion to this show is another Gone Too Soon that I will be getting to, Pushing Daisies, also created by Bryan Fuller. He does a remarkable job of setting the tone of the series from the get-go, from the colors to the shots, everything has a signature style. 

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Hannibal ran for three seasons on NBC.

Stand Out Moment

Well that depends on what you mean by stand out moment. If you mean the kind of moment that haunts your dreams periodically, then take your pick. I watched this show during its original run and have not rewatched it until I did so for this story. Despite that I still have intrusive thoughts about an episode in season one in which a human body is turned into a cello. I have been unable to get the image out of my head for years. There’s also the episode in which Hannibal cuts someone’s legs off and forces him to eat his legs as well as watch Hannibal eat the legs. It’s gross and disturbing and still gives me nightmares. Lest we forget the episode where Hannibal convinces one of his patients to cut off his own face and eat it. This show isn’t for the faint of heart. 

If we are talking about acting, directing, and cinematography then the season two finale wins. It is one of the best hours in television. Two seasons worth of storytelling and place setting culminates in one of the most tense standoffs I have ever seen. For two seasons Hannibal has been an intense, psychological game of cat and mouse. It plays out beautifully over this hour and could have made for a poetic final episode, but I’m so glad it didn’t.

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Hannibal ran for three seasons on NBC.

Sunken Ships

Okay so now it’s time to really get into it. For the most part I try not to begrudge people their ships. I may not get all of them, but few actually worry me. Hannibal and Will (Hannigram) worry me. I recognize that by saying this I am alienating the majority of the Fanibals, but after everything that Hannibal put Will through I cannot fathom wanting them to get together. Wanting Hannibal and Will together is wanting Will to give in to his darker nature and truly become the killer that Hannibal wants for him to be. Hannibal put Will through literal hell. He played mind games and used Will as a puppet. Will Graham deserves better than that. I know that by the end he is a willing participant, but if he would have never met Hannibal then he would have never become a murderer. 

You can cite that Hannibal is a love story and I would agree, but Hannibal does not and cannot truly love Will. He is obsessed with him, fascinated by him, like he’s a doll or a plaything, but not as an actual person. Hannibal is completely incapable of actual love. All Will wanted was to teach his classes and be left alone with his dogs, and he was dragged into the field by Jack Crawford and, in turn right, into Hannibal’s grasp. Hannibal was given a new toy, an unknown that he could manipulate and play with. He doesn’t care about Will, or anyone else for that matter. He looks at people as something that he can deconstruct. Just like Will says, he does things because he wanted to know what would happen. 

Hannibal ruins people’s lives and creates a toxic, co-dependent relationship with Will. I don’t understand why people can ship this in good conscience, or maybe if I loved Will or Hugh Dancy a little less I could ship Hannigram easier. I have rooted for a few toxic relationships, I’m not going to lie, but I cannot think of any other ship that is nearly as bad as Hannigram. I do want to recognize that fans of this ship are steadily keeping the Hannibal fandom alive though, so great job guys. Seriously if there were ever to be a hope for a season four, then the Hannigram shippers would be the reason that it happened. 

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Hannibal ran for three seasons on NBC.

Caution: Cliffhanger

Sometimes I think we use the word cliffhanger too often. Sometimes the best ending isn’t one that wraps everything up. The best example that I have is the season five finale of Supernatural, I know, I know the series didn’t end there, but it was the planned ending. To my mind it was the perfect ending to that show (I still watch so I didn’t quit then), but it was a fantastic cap to a great five season arc and didn’t have every character riding off into the sunset like so many finales are want to do. 

Think of the finale of Hannibal like that. Bryan Fuller planned every season finale as if it were the end of the series. Sure there is a clear path to follow if they were ever given another season, but the finale is a poetic ending to this three season story. The characters are given ends which fit the development of their arcs and sometimes it’s better to leave a few things open ended.

Personally I like the ending. It leaves things to the imagination which is perfect for a show as dream-like as Hannibal is.

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Hannibal ran for three seasons on NBC.

Where to Watch

The main reason that I decided to cover Hannibal this week is because it was just added to Netflix! Hopefully this will lead to the show finding a whole new audience. You can also find the show on Amazon Prime, so there are two ways to watch. 

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Hannibal ran for three seasons on NBC.

What do you think about Hannibal? Check out these shows Gone Too Soon: No Tomorrow, Class, Dallas, Jericho, Deception, Take Two, Deadly Class, Whiskey Cavalier, Hap and Leonard, Ravenswood, iZombie, Daybreak, Stitchers, Eye Candy.

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