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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).

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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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Hannibal Lurker: NBC’s HANNIBAL S3E2, “Primavera”

Warning: Bloody Spoilers
& Graphic Images

NUP_166105_0396.0.0After the glorious and sublime departure from the usual expectations of a show about serial killers in the premiere of NBC’s Hannibal season 3, “Antipasto,” the show took a curious and unpredictable U-turn into flashbacks that contained much that viewers already knew. Instead of moving the story forward in its new landscape of Florence, Italy, where Hannibal (Mads Mikkelsen) “has found a kind of peace” that he’d “like to preserve” since he’s “hardly killed anybody” while he and his “wife” — his former psychiatrist —  Bedelia du Maurier (Gillian Anderson) have been in Europe, episode 2, “Primavera,” took viewers back to the finale of Season 2. It was a strange. images-15

The Flashbacks

It was an unnecessary flashback — even if we did get to see just how gracefully Mads, formerly a dancer, can move. First of all, anyone who hadn’t seen Seasons 1 or 2 would not be likely to begin Hannibal with season 3 episode 2. For all of us who have seen those previous seasons, “Primavera” contained an unnecessary flashback of the season 2 finale. More important in artistic terms, however, was the fact that instead of viewers’ getting any new information in E2’s flashbacks — as we did in episode 1, “Antipasto,” where we learned Bedelia’s secret about her attack by a patient and Hannibal’s role in “saving” her” — we got no new plot information or character development in this episode’s flashback.

I do agree with some of my readers, however, in comments, that viewers had a long #HeAteUs of about 12-18 months, and so they might have appreciated the flashbacks of the S2 finale. (I watched both seasons on DVD, and recently, several times, so the flashbacks were fresh in my mind. However, I stand by my assertion that any flashback, in any artistic medium which allows it, must always provide new information in order to be relevant and not become repetitious: see my sample details in the reply to Dannibal Lecter’s comments below.)

images-9I’m at the head of the line applauding last season’s finale, which was an absolute tour de force: the acting, writing, character development, and choreography were magnificent beyond description. It left everyone covered with blood, even Hannibal.UnknownAll his victims were mortally wounded and bleeding out: Will Graham (Hugh Dancy), filleted like the fish he loved to catch himself; and Abigail (Kacey Rohl), beside Will on Hannibal’s kitchen floor, with her throat slit as her own serial killer father Garret Jacob Hobbs had originally attempted to do before Will shot him dead.

images-2Dr. Alana Bloom (Caroline Dhavernas), after having been given a choice by her lover Hannibal “to walk away,” sobbing in grief and betrayal, attempted to “do her job” and shoot him. No bullets in the gun. Hannibal had removed them while she slept.

images-2 Following Hannibal’s instructions (before he slit her throat), young Abigail pushed Alana out the window of the second floor.

images-6Department Chief Jack Crawford (Laurence Fishburne), despite his larger girth, was simply no match for Hannibal’s savagery, skill at using multiple instruments to kill, and his physical speed and agility. (I mean, the man leapt over a kitchen counter, for heaven’s sake.)

imagesMaybe they just wanted viewers to see the artistry of that scene once again, even if it was only in “flashbacks” — which, to be effective in art, should always provide new information, not information that the viewers (readers) already know; otherwise, it’s just repetition.

And, perhaps, as one of my readers suggested, they wanted to make up for the long break between seasons 2 & 3.

May I suggest that, in the future, if there is going to be a long #HeAteUs between seasons of Hannibal, NBC show re-runs before the premiere of the new season, as cable channels do, and that the writers still include new information in the flashbacks, as they did so expertly in S3E1 with Bedelia’s secret.

Will  & Abigail

images-2Despite the severity of Will’s and Abigail’s wounds, despite the massive amount of blood on Hannibal’s kitchen floor around them, they both seemed to have survived. Imagine my surprise.

Despite Abigail’s claim that Hannibal knew “just how to cut them so they would survive,” I still found it bizarre that both of them lived. Hannibal is a killer — a serial killer. And yet, these two survived?

I found the survival of both of them neither probable nor believable — even though I guessed that Will would survive, not only because he does in the Thomas Harris books on which the show is based, but because the trailers showed Hugh Dancy discussing what his character and Hannibal… (thank you very much for all the Spoilers, NBC-guys).

I turned off the trailer.

So, in episode 2, I found that, apparently, both Abigail and Will had survived mortal wounds.

willseason3ep2-2As if that weren’t disappointing enough because of its unreality, I found their dialogue in the Florentine church dull, uninspired, and uninteresting. They sat and talked on the altar steps in front of dismembered, inside-out, headless body of Tony the poet, who discovered Hannibal and Bedelia as imposters in S3E1 because they were posing as Dr. and Mrs. Fells, and Tony had been Fells’ TA. Hannibal was forced to kill Tony the poet.

I didn’t understand Hannibal’s arrangement of the body, I admit, until Will said, to Abigail, of Hannibal, “He left us his broken heart.”

imagesI admit, I totally missed the fact that the body was supposed to look like a giant, mounted heart.

So… unlike all serial killers in reality, Hannibal can not only have a heart, he can have a “broken heart.”

Sculpted out of another human being’s body, but… all right, I’ll play along.

Still in the church despite the amount of time it would have taken Will to get from the US to Italy? No, it was probably an hallucination, or a memory from the crime photos.

Beyond that, considering the fact that this is an artistic portrayal of a serial killer, I think I can see how Will broke Hannibal’s “heart,” but I’m not sure how Abigail broke it. By recognizing Hannibal for what he really is: a serial killer and not a surrogate father-figure?

Yet Hannibal seems more comfortable when people see him as he is, e.g., Bedelia is well aware of exactly who and what he is without his person-suit, and Hannibal said he’s been feeling a sort of peace, living in Paris and Florence with her as his “wife.”

Did Abigail and Will “break Hannibal’s heart” by not “living up to their potential” and becoming serial killers like him? It wasn’t clear to me, and it’s still not.

Will & … Will

Unknown-1Then we discover that Abigail, despite the theological and philosophical discussions with Will in the Florentine church, did not survive the attack. That confused me even more. I know Will has the so-called “empathy disorder” (a common trope in serial killer novels) where he can see both the victims and the killers at the crime-scenes so that he can “re-create” the scenes. I know that when he was afflicted with auto-immune encephalitis, he was having delusions and hallucinations, which Hannibal encouraged him to view as “reality,” if only to see how far Will would go with his own murderous impulses.

Since when does Will hallucinate when his AIE has been cured? When he’s in the hospital recovering from his wounds? Okay, those could have been pain-drug-induced. But when he’s in the Florentine church? So all his conversations with Abigail about Hannibal were hallucinations?

Or were they just his thoughts with himself?

Why didn’t he hallucinate Hannibal himself then? Or is Abigail supposed to be Hannibal’s spokesperson for Will at this time, right after he’s recovered from his wounds? Her responses do sound an awful lot like Hannibal’s philosophy.

So, who, exactly, is Will having these philosophical conversations with?

Inspector Pazzi

NUP_166105_0335.0Episode 2 introduced us to Inspector Pazzi (Fortunato Cerlino), an Italian homicide detective from the Harris novels who was unable to capture an Italian serial killer known as Il Monstro, who modeled his murdered couples in tableaux after Boticcelli’s Renaissance paintings, especially Primavera. While I can usually understand most accents within a minute or two, I found it virtually impossible to understand Mr. Cerlino, who was attempting to tell Will who Il Monstro was.

images-1He produced a sketch of Mads-as-Hannibal as a young man, saying he was still an active killer. Of course, Will recognized Hannibal immediately. But the endlessly talky scenes with Pazzi delayed the forward momentum of the show, making it drag.

Hannibal as Lurker

hannibal-primavera-850x560-2One of the most exciting scenes in “Primavera” was seeing Hannibal appear above the church cloister looking down on Will. I thought we were going to have a major encounter between the two.

Or at least a really good chase.

When Will went down into the catacombs with Pazzi, and then began roaming about by himself, talking about Hannibal, and we saw that Hannibal was down there with Will, I was sure the momentum of the show was back on track.

Yes, Hannibal was there, presumably all the time that Will had been there — both in the church and in the catacombs. He was either stalking Will or attempting to avoid meeting him. In any event, that made the tension, which was largely absent in the episode, begin to build.

Hannibal as Lurker.

Despite the fact that the season 2 finale had Hannibal saying to his victims, “Now that you know me, see me.”

Very interesting play, making Hannibal lurk about the church while Will is there.

Then Will raised his face to the ceiling of the catacombs, as if he were raising it to the heavens, and said, “I forgive you, Hannibal.”

Unknown

(Pan to Hannibal’s silent visage, pensive.)

Forgiveness

04-hannibal-set-04.w529.h352I don’t know what the whole forgiveness theme is about in Hannibal because most of us would not forgive a serial killer who had killed one of our loved ones. Most of us would even be angry at law enforcement who didn’t catch the serial killer, and thus stop him, earlier.

But if we were an actual victim of a serial killer and we had survived? I think our PTSD would take years of therapy to control; I don’t know if we’d ever feel safe enough to “forgive” a serial killer, whom we know has no empathy and who, furthermore, gets sexually aroused by torturing, raping, and killing his victims. Especially by killing them.

(Serial rapists who kill in order not to be identified, for example, report no arousal by the actual killing, whereas serial killers in captivity who have been interviewed extensively by the FBI do admit that the killing itself it what excites them the most. In fact, many of them don’t get sexually aroused until after the killing.)

The true empathy disorder is the inability to empathize with the suffering of another, even if the victim’s suffering is caused by the one with the empathy disorder. So despite the serial-killer-fiction trope of the investigator with an “empathy disorder,” it is, in reality, serial killers who have an empathy disorder. Still, the show’s based on the books which use that trope, so I’ve been going along with it, even though it’s nothing new (or realistic).

But what’s with this forgiveness theme?

In last year’s finale, Hannibal told Will, “I forgive you. Can you forgive me?” But there are multiple things Hannibal could have been referring to.

  • I forgive you for trying to kill me. Can you forgive me for trying to kill you?
  • I forgive you for trying to arrest me and take me into custody. Can you forgive me for defending myself?
  • I forgive you for being so blind and not seeing my true nature. Can you forgive me for attempting to force you to see me as I really am?
  • I forgive you for not becoming like me. Can you forgive me for trying to make you more like me by not telling you about your auto-immune encephalitis, for trying to frame you for murders, and for hiding my own serial killings so expertly?

Or was it as simple as this:

I forgive you for not loving me. Can you forgive me for everything I did to you?

images-7

I don’t know what Hannibal meant when he said it to Will.

I don’t know what Will meant when he said it at the end of S3E2.

I do know that I don’t want to listen to Bryan Fuller’s interpretation of what Will meant because, brilliant and innovative as Bryan is, his interpretation is only one of many that are available. I don’t want to hear how the actors interpreted it either, for the same reason.

I want to know how other viewers interpreted it.

What is Hannibal forgiving Will, et al, for?

What is Will forgiving Hannibal for?

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Filed under Actors, Movies/Television, Serial Killers, the show