Category Archives: Hannibal

From SALVATION to HANNIBAL to OUTLANDER: One Man’s View of Men in Film & Television

Warning: Conclusion May Contain Triggers
(Some Film Spoilers in Post)

UnknownLast week, my life-partner Tom and I watched Salvation, the Danish tribute to Sergio Leone’s classic spaghetti Westerns, with Mads Mikkelsen as the iconic “loner” whose wife is raped then killed, along with their young son, in the early scenes, and who then searches for vengeance.

images-4Salvation is also a tribute to the iconic Western “lone, good man,” defending the rest of the town, as in High Noon and Firecreek, although no one else in the place stands up with the “hero” to fight evil until the hero reluctantly fights back against the vicious gang himself.

images-2Salvation is a pretty interesting take on the iconic Western: Mads’ character is an immigrant rather than a stranger, and has already settled and prospered enough to bring his wife and son over. Salvation is also a fair tribute to the “Man with No Name” series as well as to the “good man as reluctant defender” Western icon.

Mads’ character does have a name — John — and is a more realistic shot than the character Clint Eastwood made famous in Leone’s films (i.e., it always takes John several shots to kill someone). John is first rescued from the gang by his brother, and then eventually joined by “The Princess” (Eva Green), who appears to have been the captive “wife” of one of the rapists/murderers and who had her tongue cut out by Indians when she was kidnapped as a young girl. The Princess comes to John’s aid in fighting the gang members after they kill John’s brother, and only one other town member lends his aid: a boy whose grandmother was killed by the gang. At first, John refuses the boy’s help, telling him, “You’re just a kid.” He replies, “I’m almost 16.” John then accepts his offer. The young boy dies helping John. At the end, the Princess leaves the town with John (from which I inferred that no one in the town had ever protected her from the gang members).

This post is not a review of Salvation. Instead, it is about a discussion that ensued after my partner Tom made a surprising comment about Mads’ looks in the film, which led me to an epiphany about how one man — my man — judges male actors’ looks in films and television.

Unknown“Mads is actually quite good-looking, isn’t he?” said Tom in the middle of an important scene.

I was shocked. I’d never heard him say something like that before. Not about a male actor’s looks. At first, I thought it was because we were watching a Western, one of Tom’s favorite genres. Then I thought it might be because John was already seeking “justice” by killing the bad guys. But Tom said it when Mads’ character John wasn’t actually looking his best (above). Not classically handsome or anything. So I wondered what had suddenly made Tom comment on a male actor’s looks: something he’s never done in our 22 years together, but which he constantly does about female actors if he finds them attractive. (I don’t know what female actors he finds unattractive because he doesn’t make comments like that.)

images-1“You just noticed that Mads is good-looking?” I said.

“I guess.”

“You didn’t think he was attractive in Hannibal?”images-21“He was a serial killer and a cannibal,” said Tom, as if he had watched more than the final season of Hannibal, which, by the way, he was really watching for Gillian Anderson, whom he continually called “stunning” and “gorgeous.”images-10“You never commented on Mads’ looks before.”

“I guess I never noticed.”

“You didn’t comment on him in King Arthur.”

“Mads was in King Arthur?” said Tom. “He wasn’t that pretty boy, was he?”

“What ‘pretty boy’?”

“The one with two swords.”

“That was Lancelot (Ioan Gruffudd) with the two swords. Mads played Tristan.”

images-14“Which one was Tristan?”

“The one with the hawk.”

Unknown-2“Oh, that was Mads? He was cool. He fought Stellan [Skarsgård, who played Saxon invader Cerdic] at the end.”

images-13“Tristan got killed.”

“Stellan looked over at Clive [Owen, who was King Arthur] to make sure he was watching before he killed Tristan.”

I was stunned that Tom remembered that detail, despite the number of times we’ve watched the film, which is one of our favorites.

“The actor who played Galahad in King Arthur was in Hannibal, too.”

“Which one was Galahad?”

“Hugh Dancy.”

images-7“Oh, that boy,” said Tom after I found a picture. “Who was he in Hannibal?”

“He played the special FBI agent, Will Graham,” I said, showing him another photo. “He was trying to help catch Hannibal.”

images copy 2“I remember that boy now,” said Tom. “They were trying to make it seem like he and Hannibal loved each other, but without their being homosexual.”

By that time, I noticed that Tom was consistently making a distinction between “men” and “boys,” though all the actors we were discussing are grown men. Even if they were playing warrior knights, such as Lancelot and Galahad in King Arthur, Tom was referring to some of them as “boys.” Before I had a chance to ask about this distinction, he made an even more startling comment.

“That boy in Hannibal was about the same as that red-head boy.”

“What red-head boy?”

“That red-head husband in the past.”

By now, I was most sincerely confused, since we were watching Salvation and The Princess’ husband had been dark-haired, and he’d only been killed by Mads’ character a few days before.

“What red-head husband in the past?” I said.

“The red-head husband in the show with the woman who fell through the rocks.”

images-32“You mean Outlander?”

“If that’s the one where the woman has two husbands,” said Tom, “one in the past and one in the future.”

Did Tom really just make a comment about Outlander?

My Tom?

He’d only watched the show twice — the final two episodes — though he knew the premise, vaguely, and had caught a couple of glimpses of Caitriona Balfe (Claire) and Sam Heughan (Jamie) when they were nude (as he was passing through the room where I was watching Outlander, to return to the room where he was watching sports).

“You mean Jamie, the Scottish husband?”images-10“Is he the boy who got his hand nailed to the table by that ugly man in the prison?”

“He’s the man who got his hand spiked…”

“The boy who got raped by that ugly man.”

“His name’s Jamie,” I said. “And he’s the man who got raped by Black Jack Randall.”

“The ugly guy who threatened to rape the red-head boy’s wife?”

images-32“Black Jack Randall,” I said, certain now that we were, indeed, discussing Outlander.

“That’s the guy who raped the boy?” said Tom, persisting in using the word “boy” to describe Sam Heughan’s character.

“Black Jack Randall raped Jamie.”

“That ugly guy,” said Tom, “who raped that boy and then tried to make it look like some kind of love scene or something.”images-8“They were probably only doing what the writers and director told them to do. I think I read that they were trying to make one of the scenes between the two actors look like Michelangelo’s Pietà.

images“That statue of Jesus after they took him off the cross and his mother was holding him?”

“They might have been trying to make Jamie a symbolic Christ figure… I don’t know. It didn’t work for me.”

“None of it worked for me,” said Tom. “It was disgusting and horrible, what that vicious ugly man did to that poor boy.”

images-36He kept calling Tobias Menzies (Black Jack Randall) “ugly,” and he kept referring to Sam Heughan (Jamie) as a “boy.” I thought I was beginning to understand what Tom was unconsciously saying, but I wasn’t sure.

“You know that the actor who played Black Jack Randall also played Claire’s other husband, right?”

“What did he look like?” said Tom.

images-23“It was the same actor,” I said. “Only his name was Frank when he was her husband in 1945.”

“That’s not the same man,” said Tom after looking at the photo above.

“It’s the same actor,” I said, showing him another view. “Honest.”

images-29“That’s not the same guy.”

“It is the same guy.”

images-33“No, it’s not,” said Tom, looking at the picture (above) with Tobias and Cait. “That guy is not ugly.”

“Is he good-looking?” I said. “Like Mads?”

Tom stared at the photo of Cait and Tobias, as Claire and Frank on their second honeymoon in Scotland, before Claire was transported through the stones at Craigh na Dun to Scotland two hundred years in the past.

“No. He’s not good-looking. Just average. But he’s certainly not ugly like the guy who raped the boy.”

“I swear to you, it’s the same actor,” I said. “Tobias Menzies.”images-43After looking at the side-by-side photo (above) for a while, he said, “How’d they make him look so ugly then?”

“All they did, as far as I know, was put a wig or hair-extensions on him,” I said. “And he acted like he had a facial tick.”

“He is not a good-looking man,” said Tom, handing back the picture of Tobias. “He’s ugly. In fact, he’s extremely ugly.”

“Even as Frank? Her husband in the future.”

Unknown-13“Then he’s just average. Unremarkable.”

“Why not good-looking? When he’s Frank, I mean.”

“Because he didn’t save his wife when he heard her calling at the stones. He just cried like a baby.”

images-47Now I was really caught off-guard. When had Tom seen that? Before the final two episodes, which he watched to be morally supportive of me in case I got triggered since I’d heard there were torture and rape scenes in them, I wasn’t aware that Tom had seen anything substantial in Outlander. 

I knew he’d caught a glimpse of nude Sam in the water because Tom said, “You know men didn’t look like that back then, don’t you? Men don’t look like that now unless they work out at a gym all the time.”

images-36I knew he’d gotten a good long look at nude Cait in one of the sex-scenes with Sam because he was standing there staring until the scene ended, when he said, “Her breasts look better when she’s lying down” before walking away.

I guess he’d also seen Frank weeping at the rocks and heard Claire calling to him, though I’d never realized Tom knew what was going on in the show. I never discussed it with him because he doesn’t like fantasy and thought the premise was silly, and he rarely reads my blogs. (I don’t mind: he reads my books, which is a much bigger commitment, and he knows what I blog about.) I was still confused about Tom’s association between Will and Jamie, however.

“Why did you say that Will Graham in Hannibal was just like Jamie in Outlander?”

“Because one didn’t stop a serial killer and the other didn’t kill the ugly bastard that raped him.”

“You think Will should have killed Hannibal?”

“Of course, he should have.”

“He pushed Hannibal off a cliff,” I said.

“No, he hugged him off a cliff and they both fell together, like they were lovers about to have sex or something. And they probably survived for another season. So it was just stupid.”

I was starting to understand this film world-view. A male character’s being “stupid” can make the actor playing him a “boy.” A male character not killing another male character he knows to be a serial killer can make the former one a “boy.” A male character’s not killing his rapist can make him a “boy.” After all, the first time Tom ever remarked about Sam Heughan as Jamie, when he saw him nude in the water, he referred to him as a “man,” saying that “men” didn’t have bodies like that back then. After Jamie was raped by Black Jack Randall, he and the actor playing him became a “boy.”

I wondered what “boys” were —  attractive, unremarkable, or ugly — in the world according to Tom.

“Do you think Jamie’s good-looking?” I said.

“Which one’s Jamie?”

“The red-head husband in the past.”

“The one who gets tortured and raped.”

“Right.”

“He’s a boy.”

“But is he good-looking?”

“He’s a boy,” said Tom. “With a weight-machine body.”

“Is he ‘average,’ like her husband Frank. Or ‘ugly,’ like Black Jack Randall?”

“He’s just a kid,” said Tom.

So, no comments or judgment on a boy’s looks, even if the “boy” is an adult male actor.

“But you think Mads is attractive.”

“He’s a good-looking man,” said Tom.

“But you never thought he was good-looking in Hannibal,” I said. “I even asked you about it.”

“I said I didn’t notice.”

“What about Mads in this picture?” I said.

images-20“He looks good in glasses. He’s very manly.”

“It’s from The Hunt.”

“What’s that about?” said Tom.

“See the little girl? She’s one of his Kindergarten students who says that he molested and raped her. The whole town…”

“Is he guilty?”

“What?”

“Did he hurt the little girl?”

“No,” I said. “She doesn’t even realize what’s she’s saying about him.”

“How can she not realize that?”

I explained that her older brother and his friend had been watching porn on their tablets, and showed it to her in passing, as a joke, saying something like, “Look at that big ugly cock.” Later, the little girl, who was unconsciously jealous that she wasn’t getting enough of her belovèd teacher’s attention, told one of the administrators at the school that she didn’t want to see “Lucas’ (Mads) big ugly cock anymore.”

“So Mads didn’t ever do anything to the little girl?” said Tom.

“No. Never. But everyone assumed she was telling the truth because of what she said.”

“But he was really innocent.”

“Totally.”

“I’ll have to watch that some time,” said Tom. “And he does look very handsome in the glasses.”

Unknown-11

This is our 22nd year together; we love films and watch them all the time, yet I never realized that Tom judges a male actor’s looks by what his character does in a role. Tom’s only one man, so I’m not saying that he’s representative of all men, but he’s my man, and that makes this an important revelation to me. Whether Tom consciously realizes these distinctions he’s making about a male actor’s looks — and I’m guessing that he does not — this is what they seem to be.

If a male actor’s character sexually assaults or otherwise tortures or physically brutalizes children, women, or other men, he’s “ugly.” If the violence does not happen on-screen and the other parts of the story-line are compelling, then, at the very least, Tom doesn’t seem to notice any physical attractiveness or ugliness in the male actor, as with Mads in Hannibal. He played a serial killer but Tom rarely saw any on-screen violence because he only watched parts of the final season, i.e., the episodes containing Gillian Anderson.

If the male actors’ characters don’t save their women — even if it’s because they cannot go through the stones at Craigh na Dun themselves — they’re just average-looking, plain, or unremarkable.

But the most important — and saddest — part of the distinction Tom (unconsciously) seems to be making between male actors as “men” or “boys” is this: if the male actors’ characters are raped (as Tom was, repeatedly, when he was a six-year-old boy, by his father’s best friend), then the actors, no matter their age, are “boys.”

And boys need to be protected from “ugly men” (as my poor Tom was not protected by his own father, though Tom told him, and others, what was happening).

Women, too, need to be protected from “ugly men,” and the women don’t have to be “stunning” or “gorgeous” to need such protection.

They can be ordinary women like me.

That’s why Tom watched the final two episodes of Outlander with me: because when I was a child, I was repeatedly tortured, molested, and raped (by my father, step-father, and mother, the last of whom raped me with implements when I was 11, causing so much internal damage that I could never have children). Tom feared that the scenes of torture and rape in Outlander, though they were happening to a man, would “trigger” me. Just as the horrific rape scenes in Casualties of War or The Accused “trigger” me. (In fact, I’ve never actually seen more than a few seconds of either of the rape scenes in either film: I can’t even listen to them.)

Tom was there to protect me, even if it was from a film or a television show.

He protects me now, in any way he can, because no one protected me when I was younger.

Just as no one protected him when he was a boy.

When I finally realized what Tom was saying during our talk after his comment about Mads’ being “actually quite good-looking” in Salvation, I went into the other room and wept with grief.

For both of us.

Unknown-10Epilogue

As I mentioned in the original post of this topic (above), Tom has long since stopped reading my blogs, though he always asks what I’m writing on. Always. For every single post. When I showed him some of the remarks and responses I was getting to this original post, and told him that it had gotten over 60K unique reads in less than 24 hours, he seemed confused.

“Why does everyone in your Facebook Outlander groups and on Twitter keep saying I’m sweet?” said Tom. “Why do they say the blog is ‘heartbreaking’? I thought you said it was on my view of men in some films and a couple television shows.”

“It is, based on the fact that you commented, for the first time ever, on a male actor’s being ‘actually being quite attractive’. Mads. In Salvation.”

“Mads is good-looking,” said Tom.

You never said Mads was attractive when he was in Hannibal. I mentioned that in the blog. Then I put in the things you said about Jamie… the red-head husband in Outlander… about his being a boy.”

“He is a boy,” said Tom. “He couldn’t protect or defend himself from being raped, just like I couldn’t defend myself when I was raped as a little boy. And no one helped the red-head husband. Like nobody helped me. So he is a boy.”

“Some of the very thoughtful readers who responded wanted you to know that the character, Jamie, heals and becomes more of a man in the later Outlander books,” I said. “They don’t know what will happen in the show, of course…”

“He’s a man already. Or he was before the rape,” said Tom. “Now he’s a boy. And no matter how much healing he does, or how much of a man he becomes, that wounded, damaged little boy will always be inside him.”

“So you intentionally called him a ‘boy’?”

“Did I call him a ‘boy’?” said Tom.

“You did. Consistently. I thought you might be doing it unconsciously.”

“I guess I was, since I don’t remember it. But he is a boy if he gets his hand nailed to a table and gets raped over and over by another man,” said Tom. “He can’t protect himself. He can’t fight.”

“Then you really didn’t expect Jamie to just jump up afterward and kill Black Jack Randall?”

“He was in a prison. In the dungeon. How was he going to get out? He couldn’t have killed that guy,” said Tom.

“Why’d you say that he should have killed the rapist then?”

Tom was silent for a while.

“I guess I said that because I wanted to kill my dad’s friend every single day of my life,” said Tom. “Right up until the day he died. And you know how I feel about my dad never protecting me. Same as you feel about all the people you told, the ones who never saved or protected you.”

Because he’d mentioned me, but I’d never heard him call any female actors “girls,” I asked about Claire’s character in Outlander.

“What about Claire… the red-head’s wife… what if Black Jack Randall had raped her?”

“Look,” said Tom, “there would have been nothing she could have done about it. If she didn’t manage to run away before he caught her, then she couldn’t have stopped it. Rapists are despicable. You can’t fight them. You don’t know if they’re just vicious, disgusting people, or if they’re pedophiles, or if they’re serial rapists, or if they’re serial rapists about to flip over into serial killers. If you fight too hard, you might die.”

“What I wanted to know is this: would she have become a ‘girl’ if she’d been raped, instead of a woman?”

“She’d be a woman, just like you,” said Tom, “with that permanently damaged little girl inside her. That wounded little girl will always be in you, no matter how fierce or independent or sweet or loving or protective you are. That raped little boy will always be in her red-head husband. Same as he’s in me. Even if nobody else knows about it. You can’t go back and make it never happen.”

“So, you were unconsciously calling the red-head husband a ‘boy’. Just like you called the Special FBI Agent in Hannibal a boy, and he didn’t get raped.”images-15“He couldn’t kill Hannibal, even though Hannibal was obsessed with him,” said Tom. “Maybe if he’d snuck up behind him as soon as he’d figured out Hannibal was a serial killer and cold-cocked him, he might have had a chance to cut his throat before Hannibal gutted him like a fish. But you don’t have any chance with serial killers. Hannibal would have killed and eaten that boy eventually.”

“I guess the part that annoyed you, then, was how the shows tried to make the rapes like love scenes, or a serial killer relationship like a love story.”

images-16“Hannibal might have wanted something from that boy, but he didn’t love him,” said Tom. “He had sex with Gillian. But he didn’t love her. Even she said she knew he’d end up killing and eating her. You can’t change serial killers. You can’t change serial rapists or pedophiles. The only thing they love is themselves and hurting other people. You know that. Your own mother was one.”

I sat for a moment, thinking about everything he’d said, and how he’d called the victims “boys” unconsciously, because, in the 22 years we’ve been together, Tom has never come right out and admitted that his father’s friend repeatedly raped him when he was a little boy. He always said he was “only molested” and “performed fellatio” — forced fellatio — on his rapist.

images-31“By the way, be sure to tell them I’m sorry,” said Tom. “The people in those Outlander groups.”

“About what?”

“I know they really like that red-head husband. I’m sorry if they got upset because I said he was a ‘boy’. The actor’s a guy. Even if he kinda looks like a kid.”

“Someone wrote in comments that she thought they might have purposely cast that actor because of his boyish looks.”

“Then they knew he was going to become a boy, too. Because of the torture and rape.”

“Maybe,” I said. “They might have just thought he was pretty.”

“Pretty doesn’t make you a ‘boy’.”

“The actor who played the Special Agent in Hannibal is boy-ish.”

“When a serial killer’s got you in his sights,” said Tom, “or the writers of Hannibal make him act like he loves you, you’re a boy because he’s gonna get you eventually. There’s nothing you can do except run away as fast as you can. If you can’t do that… well, you know… It’s the same as when you were a kid. If nobody listens to you, and no one protects you, you’re gonna get hurt. Bad. And that kind of damage never goes away. Not completely.”

I kissed him on the cheek.

“The person who said you were ‘a good, good man’ meant that you were sweet for watching Outlander’s last two episodes with me, knowing they contained rape and torture, in case they triggered me.”

maxresdefault“You’d do the same for me,” he said, putting his arm around my shoulders. “You’re my Eva and my Claire.”

Unknown

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A Cliffhanger on a Cliff: The Series Finale of HANNIBAL

Warning:
Bloody Spoilers

images-2Unfortunately, the highly touted and much anticipated season/series finale to Bryan Fuller’s Hannibal, creatively adapted from Thomas Harris’ bestselling novels — Red Dragon, The Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal, and Hannibal Rising — was both predictable and disappointing.

Predictable if you’ve read any of the books or seen the movie concerning Francis Dolarhyde (Richard Armitage), who is attempting to “become” the Red Dragon.

images-14Disappointing since the final scene was unrealistic and even fictionally unbelievable, despite its uniting Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) and Hannibal (Mads Mikkelsen) in an attempt to defeat Dolarhyde.

imagesThe episode began with Dolarhyde attempting to kill his kidnapped girlfriend Reba (excellently portrayed by Rutina Wesley), who, though blind, managed to escape the burning house.images-8Then the FBI, meaning Jack Crawford (Laurence Fishburne), Dr. Alana Bloom (Caroline Dhavernas), and Will Graham — the last two are no longer even associated with the FBI in any capacity — arranged to have Hannibal “fake” an escape, with Will accompanying him.

UnknownSome reviewers have suggested that this highly improbably plan was inserted to show the immorality of all the characters on the show, even those who are supposedly on the side of law and order.

I’d suggest that, instead, it showed the completely unrealistic, fantasy approach Hannibal has taken to (even fictional) serial killer(s)– in this last, disappointing season — as opposed to how real serial killers are regarded and treated by anyone with an ounce of brains in his head.

images-1Furthermore, anyone who’s seen the show in previous seasons and who remembers Abel Gideon (Eddie Izzard) and his escape,

imageswould have anticipated that Hannibal — who is far more clever and resourceful than Gideon, or than anyone else on the show, for that matter — would successfully manage to escape, no matter his restraints, fetters, guards, etc.Untitled-33

Before the FBI put this ludicrous and predictable bound-to-fail plan into effect, however, there were several scenes of characters warning other characters that Hannibal was “getting out,” and of other characters predicting what would happen should Hannibal really escape during his faux escape. images-18Danger, Will Robinson, Danger, Dr. Chilton (Raul Esparza) might have been saying, but no one would have been able to understand him, given the fact that Dolarhyde bit off his lips and tongue, then set fire to him.images-6After Will informed Dr. Bedelia du Maurier (Gillian Anderson) — Hannibal’s former psychiatrist and lover — of the silly plan, she turned to Will and said, “You righteous, reckless, twitchy little man.”

images-26Twitchy.

It gave me one of the best laughs of the series that didn’t come from something Hannibal himself said or did.images-3Hannibal himself warned former colleague and lover Dr. Alana Bloom (Caroline Dhavernas) that he’d come after her, her wife Margot (Katherine Isabelle), and child, but the two women were later shown escaping to safety, their son in tow.

images-17

So, of course, in case you hadn’t guessed it, during the faux escape, Hannibal escaped, taking Will with him to some house on a cliff.

But Dolarhyde, good little dragon that he is, did manage to follow the two, i.e., “take the bait,” and arrive in all his dragon-splendor on the cliff to fight Will and Hannibal.images-9

It was a gruesome and bloody fight, with lots of phallic penetrations of weapons, leading ultimately to Dolarhyde’s metaphorically “fiery” death,

images-19followed by yet another “erotic” embrace between Hannibal and Will, climaxing with their “spiritual” joining.

images-5

Will (of the blood, recalling a previous statement by Hannibal to Will): It really does look black in the moonlight.

Hannibal: See? This is all I ever wanted for you, Will. For both of us.

Will: It’s beautiful.

And then Will, his arms wrapped around Hannibal, and Hannibal’s around him, thrust himself forward, sending Hannibal and Will over the cliff.

A cliffhanger — for a series that will not likely be renewed by being picked up by any other network or company, given the disappointingly poor quality of its final season — on a cliff.

Off a cliff.

Over a cliff.

From a cliff.

Whatever.

A cliffhanger on a cliff.

Seriously?

If the series hadn’t been cancelled before, it would’ve been axed after the finale.

But wait, there’s more.

images-7Cut, after the credits, to Bedelia, in a gorgeous gown, sitting at the head of a table set for three, with a strange “roast” on the table.

images-13Pull back to show Bedelia with her left leg — I mean, the stump of her left leg — revealed as she sits in the formal gown at the table.

Waiting.

Luring Hannibal — and Will, I guess, since the table was set for three — back to her.

Creep-o-la to the max, my fellow Fannibals.

And sad.

The first two seasons of Hannibal were brilliant re-imaginings of one of the most notorious, intriguing, and frightening literary characters in the 20th century: Hannibal “The Cannibal” Lecter.

The final season looked like something — lots of things, actually — just thrown together after creator-writer Bryan Fuller already knew the show was being cancelled.

The finale was an insult to the faithful viewers.

Ah, well, all the actors and the creator have bid us farewell — Mads sent us Fannibals a “bittersweet goodbye” and a kiss in a video.

I suppose we faithful viewers must bid Hannibal farewell, too.

images-12

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The Cannibalization of HANNIBAL

Unknown-1On 4 April 2013, when creator-writer Bryan Fuller first brought his vision of Thomas Harris’ serial killer Hannibal Lecter — from the novels Red Dragon, Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal, and Hannibal Rising — to prime-time network television, Fuller brought 4.36M viewers a stunning and unique interpretation of a well known literary and film character.

Mads Mikkelsen’s subtle and nuanced performance as Hannibal, combined with skilled performances of his co-stars, and the imaginative “filling in the blanks” of Hannibal’s story before the books took place, were all exciting and intriguing while staying true to the Hannibal in Harris’ books.

That’s unusual in book-to-screen adaptations.

This year, however, the ratings are falling faster than autumn leaves in a wind-storm.

What on earth happened to Hannibal?


Hannibal & Bedelia

UnknownAt the end of season 2, after Hannibal (Mads, above) escaped from his furious assault on virtually everyone else in the show, and flew away with his former psychiatrist Dr. Bedelia du Maurier (Gillian Anderson, below) — which appeared after the season 2 Finale’s end credits — viewers and critics were almost deliriously excited about where the show would go in season 3.

images-5The ratings for the premiere of season 3, while not as strong as those for the initial episode of season 1 of the series — 2.57M — were still higher than the ratings for the finales of seasons 1 and 2 (1.98M and 2.35M, respectively).

05HANNIBALRECAP1-blog480The premiere of season 3 was a visual and dramatic departure from the first two seasons, taking Hannibal and Bedelia from Maryland to Florence, and involving them in a “romantic” and sexual relationship, despite the fact that Bedelia knew exactly what Hannibal was, as well as what he’d done.

images-12I was one of those who raved about the first three episodes of the third season. The chemistry between Gillian and Mads was as riveting as the chemistry between Bedelia and Hannibal.

“Erotic” was a mild term for their interactions, whether Hannibal was washing Bedelia’s hair,

Unknownor just standing there behind her, bare-chested, before he kissed her, making it very clear that their relationship was much more than platonic.

Even when they were killing someone and serving him to their dinner guests (Bedelia ate oysters instead of the main course), the chemistry between the two was striking.

images-2The scenery was lush;

images-15the environs were exotic.

images-20


Season 3,

Espisodes 1-3

Yet, true to the books and the show’s characters, at the start of Hannibal Season 3, the threat of violence always bubbled just under the surface. Some characters — like Tony the poet (Tom Wisdom, below, R) — noticed Hannibal’s and Bedelia’s name change from Paris to Florence, and lost his life for his loose tongue,

while other characters, like Sogliato (Rinaldo Rocco, below) resented “Dr. Fells” (Hannibal’s victim and new persona) appointment, and was killed for his constant complaints,

images-11as FBI officials like Will Graham (Hugh Dancy, below) searched for traces of Hannibal’s whereabouts.

imagesOften, the dialogue was snappy and funny in a horrifying way, like when Hannibal stabbed Sogliato (Rinaldo Rocco) in the temple with an ice-pick and Bedelia, tiring of the victim’s giggling-rambling monologue, yanked it out, “technically killing” him herself (as Hannibal pointed out to her when she chastized him for killing two victims from the same place).

Unknown-2


Bedelia’s Secret

This season, we’ve learned lots of secrets, like what Hannibal’s hold over Bedelia was: she’d killed her patient, and Hannibal had helped her clean up the mess and “protect” her after making her ask for his help.

images-23


Abigail’s Complicity

We’ve learned what happened to Abigail (Kacey Rohl), daughter of serial killer Garret Jacob Hobbs, and subsequently the “surrogate daughter” of both Will Graham and Hannibal Lecter. Abigail was supposed dead — “murdered” by Will Graham, who’d “eaten” then vomited up her ear. We were treated to a scene where Hannibal staged her death, and showed her complicity — which looked a lot like excitement — in it.

images-3


Pazzi & Il Monstro

We’ve been introduced to Inspector Pazzi (Fortunato Cerlino), who’s been hunting Hannibal for years, knowing him as “Il Monstro,”

images-1and who attempted to sell Hannibal to Hannibal’s victim Mason Verger, only to be killed by Hannibal himself.

images-31


Chiyo

We’ve been introduced to Chiyo (Tao Okamato),

images-8who was keeping one of the men who killed and ate Hannibal’s little sister Mischa prisoner in the basement of Castle Lecter.

images-2After killing the prisoner, following Will to Florence and shooting him, Chiyo seemed to disappear.


Mason, Margot, & Alana

We’ve been through the story of Mason Verger (Joe Anderson, replacing Michael Pitt, who played the character in s2), post-cutting off his face and feeding it to Will’s dogs, per Dr. Lecter’s instructions,

images-30and his sister Margot (Katherine Isabelle), who endured a forced hysterectomy because her brother didn’t want a Mason heir who would take away his fortune.

images-42But Margot became sexually involved with Hannibal’s former lover Dr.  Alana Bloom (Caroline Dhavernas), who had a child with Margot, a Verger heir, after Hannibal helped the two women “milk” Mason’s sperm in return for helping Hannibal escape from Mason and his pigs.

images-43


The Tooth Fairy
& the Red Dragon

Facially deformed Francis Dolarhyde (Richard Armitage), dubbed “The Tooth Fairy” by tabloids, who is “becoming” the “Red Dragon” has been in several episodes,

and last night, after Francis took his blind co-worker Reba (Rutina Wesley) to see a tiger, Francis and Reba had sexual relations. More than once.

images-53


Will Graham

Will now has his own family, complete with wife Molly (Nina Arianda) and son,

images-57yet he’s been drawn back to Hannibal in order to stop Francis Dolarhyde’s next “full moon” killing of another family.

images-63What?

Was that a photo of Will Graham talking to Hannibal Lecter in jail?

Yes, yes it was.

Because in the middle of the season, Hannibal surrendered.


Hannibal, Not Rising

images-59

If Hannibal surrendered, which seems completely out of character, then all forward momentum of the show disappears.

With Hannibal in jail, he’s not much of a threat.

And, frankly, he’s not very interesting.

Despite putative rumors about a “show-down” between Francis Dolarhyde and Hannibal Lecter in this season’s finale, the show has deteriorated to the point where it has lost millions of viewers.

Literally.

Ratings are down more than 50% since the beginning of the third season: 2.57M for the premiere to 1.05M viewers last week.

Compare those numbers with the season 1 premiere: 4.36M viewers down to 1.05M.

Ouch.

It’s not the fault of the actors, who seem to be doing the best they can given the fact that, after Hannibal surrendered, he doesn’t have too much to do, so everyone sits or stands around talking about him, or to him, as the situation requires.

What a dreadful waste of talent.

Worse, it’s downright dull.

It’s so dull, it’s soporific.

And I think it was intentional on Bryan Fuller’s part.


Bryan Fuller

UnknownThere have been moments of true artistry this season: the scenes in Florence, the interactions between Hannibal and Bedelia, the sexual relations between Alana and Margot.

There have been instances of serious threat and foreboding: the scenes at Castle Lecter, Chiyo’s stalking of Will and Hannibal, Hannibal’s planned feast of Will’s brain for Will and Jack Crawford (Laurence Fishburne), Mason’s capture of Hannibal and Will.

But there’s nothing really staggeringly new and exciting about Hannibal any longer.

How could there be?

Halfway through the season, Hannibal was in jail.

There’s no more threat.

There’s no more Urgency.

There’s no more… spark.

Even Bryan Fuller said, of season 3 of Hannibal, “it’s actually a 6-episode Red Dragon mini-series.”

images-54I find that story-line one of the weakest in the series of novels, though I know it has its fans.

Apparently, those Dolarhyde-fans are not watching the show.

It seems to me that Bryan Fuller simply lost interest in his own version of Hannibal’s story and character.


Farewell, Hanniba
l

images-62I know there are fans who are still hoping for another season of Hannibal, but I don’t believe Fuller ever planned more than three. He only had a 3-year contract with NBC. His cramming so many story-lines into this final season, along with the fact that he’s already signed to do another show (though he claims that he’d stay “involved” in Hannibal were it picked up by another network) would seem to indicate that he never intended to be with Hannibal beyond this third season.

images-60Instead of giving loyal viewers — and brilliant actors — a riveting, engrossing, award-winning “final” season, we’ve been given a show that has declined so miserably in its writing and story-lines that ratings are falling faster than Hannibal’s victims were in the first two seasons.

How unfair.

How very disappointing for the fans.

How sad that we must say “farewell” to Hannibal against our will.

hannibal

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When the Betrayed becomes the Betrayer: NBC’s HANNIBAL, S3E3 “Secondo”

Warning: Spoilers & Graphic Images

Bedelia: Are you the betrayer or the betrayed?
Hannibal: I’m vague on those details.images-21

NBC’s Hannibal is glamorous, luxurious, elegant, violent, bloody, viciously cruel. What is it that makes this show so captivating? Multi-dimensional characters, brilliant dialogue, devastating plot, stunning special effects, and absolutely delish irony. Viewers were treated to all of this show’s best in last night’s episode “Secondo” (which some reviewers are listing as “Secundo”).

Castle Lecter

UnknownWill (Hugh Dancy), describing his gutting by Hannibal as being “left with a smiley face” on his abdomen, went to Hannibal’s ancestral home in Lithuania, which features prominently only in Thomas Harris’s novel Hannibal Rising, about Hannibal’s childhood trauma during World War II, the fate of his sister Mischa, and Hannibal’s “Becoming” as he hunts down the men who destroyed his family and looted their castle. It was appropriately gothic and haunting in last night’s episode.

images copyIn Lithuania, on the grounds of Castle Lecter, Will found an Asian woman named Chiyo (Tao Okamato), hunting in the forest for pheasant, viewing Will through the rifle’s sights, though she did not shoot at him. Later, we saw Chiyo caressing the carcass of the game-bird, plucking it, and preparing it for roasting (alternating, for the viewers, with scenes of Hannibal cutting the hand off a severed arm, and preparing it for roasting and dinner).images-1Chiyo claimed that Hannibal had left her there to guard a man responsible for the death of Hannibal’s little sister Mischa, whom he has already mentioned to Will. In a previous season, Will asked if Hannibal had ever been a father or if he’d ever had a child, or something to that effect, and Hannibal mentioned his sister Mischa. (Even those who have not read Hannibal Rising would have eventually figured out Mischa’s fate in last night’s episode, but I don’t want to spoil it for you yet.)

When Will showed his abdominal scar to Chiyo — it being the only scar he could reveal since the remainder of Will’s scars from Hannibal are psychological — she said, “All sorrows can be borne if you put them in a story.”

Despite this, Will did not deign to relate his story to Chiyo.

imagesWill found the man who was being guarded in a basement dungeon, being starved to death (which confused me about the show’s timeline, since this man was supposed to have hurt Mischa during World War II, and Will et al seem to be in the 1970s or 1980s: Hannibal certainly doesn’t seem to be in a contemporary time period, so I’m not sure when this show is set).

When Will accused Chiyo of keeping the man “like an animal,” Chiyo responded that she “wouldn’t do this to an animal.” Will released the man, gave him clothes, then took him into the woods, instructing him to run away.

He didn’t.

He returned to his dungeon cage.

But the door was unlocked. images-2So when Chiyo came down again to the dungeon, the imprisoned man, who was never named, leapt out and attacked her. She killed him, in self-defense it would seem.

But then the strangeness happened: Will became Hannibal by saying he’d wanted to see what Chiyo would do.

Wait: isn’t that something Hannibal would say?

And then Will made a weird angel-moth-fetish of the man and hung him from the ceiling.

Isn’t that something some of the other serial killers Will has been hunting in the previous season have done: making angels, totem-poles, etc out of victims?

Either Will has lost his mind, or he has, indeed, become Hannibal.

Will as Dr. Hannibal Graham

images-10There was another bizarre instance of Will behaving as Hannibal: the two are sitting (in Will’s or Hannibal’s imagination) as they used to during Will’s psycho-analysis, only Will is asking the questions of Hannibal. The question and answer scene was filmed or edited in some fancy-schmancy fashion that made it seem as if we were viewing them through shards of broken glass, fit back together in some imperfect puzzle.

It was beautifully symbolic, not only of how much of Hannibal has infiltrated Will’s personality, but of how much Will was already like Hannibal before Hannibal encouraged him to “Become” more like him.

The initial similarity between the two men, I assume, is what drew Hannibal to Will originally, and what is drawing Will to Hannibal now.

They do love each other — that much is obvious, and I don’t mean in a sexual way, though they could have erotic feelings of arousal without their love being sexual.

Perhaps Will and Hannibal love each other for the parts of themselves they see in the other one.

Now, the question is this: do Will and Hannibal love each other for the good they find in the other, or for the evil?

Bedelia: Gone Girl

images-14Bedelia (Gillian Anderson) is, like… wow… suddenly cray-cray über-confident in her relationship with Hannibal.

She’s really starting to scare me silly.

She initiates the conversation on being betrayed and on forgiveness, telling Hannibal, as if she’s still his psychotherapist and as if she still retains some of his respect or still has some authority over him, that it takes two to forgive: the betrayer and the betrayed.

Casually, while sipping wine, she asks which Hannibal is: the Betrayed or the Betrayer?

He tells her he’s vague on that.images copy 2Then Bedelia, who’s already killed one man herself  (the patient who attacked her) as we discovered in the flashback in “Antipasto” S3E1,

images-23become like Abigail (Kacey Rohl) after killing the brother of one of her father’s victims by asking Hannibal for help and protection afterward (becoming, in effect, like a slave or a voluntarily indentured servant for life),

images-12“participated” in another killing (this time in Florence, of Tony the poet, who was going to reveal that Hannibal and Bedelia were not Dr. and Mrs. Fell, as they are claiming to be),

images-24all the while knowing that Hannibal is still killing people and serving his victims to their dinners guests as food,

Unknown-2Bedelia then virtually taunted Hannibal, claiming she was confident that she could “navigate her way out of what she’s gotten herself into.”

With Hannibal.

With Hannibal.

Gone is the frightened, disoriented woman who begged Hannibal to protect her after she killed the patient who attacked her.

Gone is the girl who sat in the train station being “surveilled” just as she was being watched by Hannibal.

Gone is the terrified girl who was going to run away, who was running away, just as Hannibal opened the apartment door with Tony the Poet behind him.

Yes, that Bedelia seems to have vanished.

She’s gone.

This girl, she’s giving me the shivers.

The Hannibal & Bedelia Show

images-11Yes, some critics have expressed concern that Hannibal is becoming the Hannibal and Bedelia Show, but I find Bedelia’s relationship with Hannibal fascinating, even though I’m scared to death for her.  After inviting his nemesis Sogliato (Rinaldo Rocco) for dinner, Hannibal stabbed him in the temple with an ice-pick.

Sogliato continued laughing and talking weirdly, though not really moving much. So he was alive after Hannibal skewered him.

That is, he was alive until Bedelia got up from the table and, annoyed by his incoherent gabbling about his not being able to see anything or his inane giggling, I suppose, yanked the ice-pick out of his temple, causing him to pitch forward, blood gushing from the wound, onto the dinner table.

She turned to Hannibal and said something like, “Now that’s two you’ve killed from the Palazzo Caponé.”

To which Hannibal responded, “For the record, technically, you killed him.”

images-6Bedelia knows that Hannibal kills and eats people. She doesn’t eat the people-entrées when they’re served to guests. Tony the poet commented on her “different diet.” That avoidance of eating Hannibal’s victims was shown again last night, while Bedelia was again eating oysters, which the guests were not being served, and Bedelia was clearly uneasy about the guests’ expressions and exclamations of pleasure over the food.

images-2Yet Bedelia was, in effect, scolding Hannibal after she yanked the ice-pick out of Sogliato?

I guess that means the girl never sleeps.

But then, when has Hannibal ever killed any his victims while they were sleeping?

Hannibal likes them to know he’s coming.

Apparently, so does Bedelia.

Cruella-du-Bedelia

UnknownIn an ironically erotic scene, Hannibal was washing Bedelia’s hair while she was in the tub discussing little Mischa and her fate, letting viewers know that Bedelia knows all about Hannibal’s sister and what the Nazis (or pseudo-Nazis) did to her and his family during the War. This linking of sexual arousal and killing is exactly what real serial killers unconsciously do. The writers of Hannibal did it by linking the erotic nature of Hannibal’s washing Bedelia’s hair, camera focused continuously on the weaving and entangling of his long fingers through her hair, while she asked things about his past that involve murder and cannibalism.

Things like: “What happened to you in Lithuania?”

To which Hannibal replied, “Nothing happened to me. I happened.”

Then Bedelia, wicked little girl that she’s become, casually asked, “How did your sister taste when you ate her?”

Hannibal knelt there, motionless, his soapy hands and fingers mid-air, staring, as Cruella-Bedelia sank slowly — almost luxuriously — into the tub, rinsing her hair — and herself — clean of the filth of that question.

imagesThe teacup has once again been broken.

images-17Only this time, Bedelia and Will, in different scenes, are the ones who have knocked it from its secure place, both of them betraying and intentionally hurting Hannibal.

You’d think they’d know by now that the teacup, once shattered, cannot be put back together again.

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Filed under Actors, Hannibal, Movies/Television, Serial Killers, Violence