Whilst aimlessly roaming various television networks seeking to find something to fill that hole AMC’s The Walking Dead has left, the Hannibal season finale was stumbled upon via Hulu; being late to the party meant doing some homework afterward and then loving it; the whole series, that is. Not to mention the entire finale itself which featured gore galore and buckets of blood and mentally challenging set pieces that could, if followed too closely, make sleep a long time coming later this evening.
Catching the show once before on the advice of an existing fan, the episode watched (mostly sideways squinting through fingers like a child watching a horror film) was the previous episode Tome-Wan. Somewhat like the old advertisements on “really scary” cinematic offerings, which told the viewer to remember it was “only a movie;” the question that runs through newcomer’s mind while watching is, “This is on NBC?”
Hannibal with its lashings of blood, gore and intricacies of plots/sub-plots seems to really belong on a cable network like CW or FX, not a standard “old fashioned” production forum like NBC. Considering that most of the three letter “old boy” networks drastically cut down films, changing swear words into nonsensical and “non offensive” phrases so as not to offend and censoring too much sex and violence, it is unbelievable that this show was ever made at all.
Of course, it should be noted that all the pain and butchery is done with nary an offensive epithet by anyone. It does make a bit of sense that with such an erudite and cultured figure as Hannibal, that even the season finale would contain little in the way of swear words. Coming late to the party of this series based on the cannibal exploits of the good doctor, and loving it totally, makes it now mandatory to “binge-watch” the entire first two seasons back to back.
Luckily fans of Mads Mikkelsen, who has gone from being Denmark’s top actor to playing a Bond villain against the newest 007 Daniel Craig, can delight in his weekly performances of the small screen Hannibal Lector made famous by Sir Anthony Hopkins. Mikkelsen, like most superb actors, has made the role his own with hardly a drop of sweat expended in making the character as spellbinding as the English powerhouse who stole the show in Silence of the Lambs.
It must be noted that even knowing little about the players in Mizumono apart from the fact that Laurence Fishburne, as FBI man Jack Crawford, is caught up in his own madness, just as much as “undercover” FBI agent Will Graham is, takes nothing from the show. Graham dances the fine line between serving two masters brilliantly as is shown in the opening of this episode.
The peripheral characters, such as Cynthia Nixon who as Kade Purnell decides to not only pull Crawford off the Lector case, but Graham as well and arrest them both, affect the plot massively and there is no need to understand anything about Purnell apart from that act.
The Hannibal season finale starts rolling on toward its bloody end and despite being late to the party, the show holds the new viewer’s attention easily. This fine blend of sophistication, blood letting, gallons of gore, and loving it, has upped the bar on serial killer television shows. Mikkelsen, Fishburne, Dancy and company have all combined to make enthralling, captivating television that may require viewers to cring-watch the more horrid bits while applauding the show’s brilliance. Rock on to season three.
By Michael Smith