Unfortunately, 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.
Disappointing 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.
The 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.Then 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.
Some 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.
Furthermore, anyone who’s seen the show in previous seasons and who remembers Abel Gideon (Eddie Izzard) and his escape,
would 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.
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. Danger, 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.After 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.”
It gave me one of the best laughs of the series that didn’t come from something Hannibal himself said or did.Hannibal 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.
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.
It was a gruesome and bloody fight, with lots of phallic penetrations of weapons, leading ultimately to Dolarhyde’s metaphorically “fiery” death,
followed by yet another “erotic” embrace between Hannibal and Will, climaxing with their “spiritual” joining.
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.
A cliffhanger on a cliff.
If the series hadn’t been cancelled before, it would’ve been axed after the finale.
But wait, there’s more.
Cut, 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.
Pull 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.
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.
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.
If you’ve read my previous blogs on NBC’s amazing and daring series Hannibal, you know I was catching up on Seasons 1 & 2, and so intentionally did not reveal any spoilers or important plot lines in case there were other viewers like me who had never seen the show. (For one thing, I’m rarely awake @ 10p.m., being an early riser, and for another, the local network here delays Hannibal by an additional hour beyond the 2-hour time-zone difference, but that’s another source of irritation and rudeness that I’ll have to address with them.) From now on, my Hannibal blogs will include some spoilers, but they are not merely plot summaries. That’s not my style.
That being said, I have to say Bravo! to the writers of the Premiere episode of S3: “Antipasto,” and not just for going back to names of dishes that I can pronounce and understand as episode titles. The premiere of Season 3 was a bold and brilliant departure from the previous seasons’ premieres, as well as from the seasons themselves. It was symbolic of the manner in which Hannibal (Mads Mikkelsen, above) and his former psychiatrist, Bedelia du Maurier (Gillian Anderson), who are now posing as husband and wife in Paris and Florence, are attempting to re-invent themselves.
Season Two’s Finale
The extremely violent, excellently acted, brilliantly choreographed, and almost — dare I say, erotic — finale from season 2, left us with Hannibal being “recognized” for who and what he is by many of the characters in the show. Of course, Hannibal did not go quietly into that dark night. No, he raged against the dying of his light. His gutting of Will (Hugh Dancy) while holding him like a lover (above) was blatantly erotic and showed just how much Hannibal had come to care for Will Graham.
And by “caring for Will,” I mean as much as a serial killer can care for anyone other than himself, and only because Hannibal believed Will could become more like Hannibal himself.
Throughout the first two seasons, Hannibal has been drawn to patients who seem to have some criminal, especially murderous, leanings, and has pushed them to “see” and to “become” — a common theme in the Thomas Harris novels on which the show is based — and to honor their true natures. In fact, one of Hannibal’s lines in last season’s finale was, “Now that you know me, see me.”
His warning to his lover Dr. Alana Bloom (Caroline Dhavernas) — that she had a choice to walk away, after she confronted him, weapon drawn, weeping at her own blindness and at his “betrayal” — surprised me. I thought he might find her pulling a gun on him “rude,” and we all know how Hannibal feels about rudeness. I wasn’t surprised that he’d emptied her gun while she slept in his bed beside him a few days earlier, or that he went after her when she pulled the trigger.
He had warned her, after all.
His confrontation with Jack Crawford (Laurence Fishburne, above R), who seems to believe that “might makes right,” was one of the saddest in terms of Jack’s inability to outmaneuver Hannibal psychologically or physically. It was also one of the most beautifully choreographed.
You could see Mads’ dancing background in virtually every move, but especially in his jump over the counter when he went after Jack (above). I don’t know if Mads was wearing a harness to help him leap over that counter, but even it he was, it was still a jeté magnifique.
Despite Jack’s most valiant efforts to defend himself and take down Hannibal, however, Jack was simply no match for Hannibal’s physical agility and determination. Jack was left locked in the pantry, bleeding out, desperately trying to reach his dying wife on the phone to say good-bye.
Most shocking in the S2 finale was the reappearance of Abigail (Kacey Rohl, above L, below R), whom both Will and Hannibal had begun to view as a “daughter-figure.” Will did so after he shot her father Garret Jacob Hobbs when the FBI, i.e., Will and Hannibal, were attempting to apprehend Hobbs for a string of murders. During that showdown, Hobbs had already killed his wife, pushed her, dying, out the front door, and was threatening to slice open his daughter’s throat. He did. Will shot him dead. Will became the “protective” father-figure. Hannibal became a “father-figure” after he caught her killing the brother of one of her father’s victims. Hannibal realized then that Abigail had been a willing participant in her father’s killings of the girls — she was the bait — despite her protestations to the contrary. Hannibal realized her potential to “become,” and told her he could protect her, as long as she asked for his help. Hannibal became the “teaching” father-figure.
In S1, Abigail came to realize that Hannibal was a serial killer, and viewers were given the impression that Hannibal had killed her, however reluctantly it might have seemed at the moment he first tenderly touched her face after she had seen beyond his “person-suit.”
Hannibal framed Will for her murder by forcing Abigail’s ear through a feeding-tube into a relatively unconscious Will, who vomited it back up along with his medications. Although Will didn’t recall killing Abigail, he believed it might be possible since he could find no logical explanation for vomiting up her whole ear, un-chewed and without apparent bite-marks. (Viewers didn’t know how the ear had gotten into his stomach until the premiere of S2, when Hannibal’s force-feeding was shown.)
Abigail reappeared in the S2 finale, upstairs, with a crying, bewildered, and obviously disoriented Alana Bloom, and pushed her out a second-story window, leaving her broken on the stone doorstep below, in the pouring rain. She then went down to Hannibal, where he then proceeded to slice her throat open as her father had originally unsuccessfully did.
Will and Abigail lay side-by-side, both bleeding out, with Will vainly attempting to reach her and stop her bleeding as he had done so long ago in her father’s kitchen.
The final, pre-credit scene, showed Hannibal stepping out into the rain. In this metaphorical baptism, Hannibal is re-born.
Having finally been seen for exactly what he is, Hannibal can now become himself most fully.
If you were foolish enough to turn off the S2 finale before all the credits rolled, then you missed the most startling moment of all: Hannibal, drinking champagne aboard a jet, with his companion, the lovely Dr. Bedelia du Maurier.
Hannibal’s “Kind of Peace”
Season 3 begins in Paris, where Anthony Dimmond (Tom Wisdom, above L), a former Teaching Assistant (TA) of a Dr. Fell, makes Hannibal’s acquaintance, meeting Hannibal as “Boris Yakov” and sans the ubiquitous plaid suits and sans the laquered hair.
They later discuss a few things at a party, mainly some poet’s “bad writing,” before Hannibal leaves to follow an older gentleman at that party home, where he kills him and eats his liver, greeting the man’s wife-now-widow with a pleasant Bon soir when she enters the apartment.
Later in the S3 premiere, no longer in Paris but in Florence, viewers learn that the beautiful Bedelia, played by Gillian Anderson, is living with Hannibal as man and wife. We are treated, too briefly, to a dancing scene, where Hannibal gives us a glimpse of a smile. When the dance ends, he gazes down at Bedelia and murmurs, “Bellisima,” to which she softly responds, “Grazie.”
(Emily Nussbaum of The New Yorker wittily mused on Gillian Anderson’s gorgeousity —
I usually try not to talk about looks this way, but wtf kind of supergoats has Gillian Anderson sacrificed to the dark gods to look so good?
I think it’s the wardrobe change, or perhaps Bedelia’s bathing in Hannibal’s victims’ blood, but it may be Gillian’s physical proximity to Mads that has her glowing.)
In any event, Hannibal wants to “preserve the kind of peace” he’s found in this new life, where he’s “hardly killed anybody.”
Yes, let it be a fairy tale, then…
Not That Kind of Party
Between flashbacks containing Abel Gideon (Eddie Izzard) and Hannibal, as Hannibal is slowly chopping off bits of Gideon’s body and feeding them to him while they discuss the definition and morality of cannibalism, Hannibal is posing, in his new life in Florence, as Dr. Fell, whom he murdered to “vacate” the faculty position he held, making it available to himself. Bedelia is aware of this. She is posing as Mrs. Fells.
Alas, Dr. Fells’ former TA Dimmond appears in Florence, too, meets Hannibal again, who is now calling himself Dr. Fells instead of Boris Yakov. Dimmond’s no fool, or so it seems, and though he casually and repeatedly tells people that he knows Dr. Fells well, and hints at the “stories he could tell” were he not “such a good friend,” Hannibal invites him to dinner.
There, Dimmond comments on Bedelia’s diet, and the exchange which follows, involving what the Romans fed animals to ensure their unique taste, and ending with “It’s not that kind of party,” is too exquisite for me to ruin it for you here. You have to see it to catch all the nuances, the sexual innuendo, the chemistry between Bedelia and Hannibal (and between Gillian and Mads).
Quite the couple, they make.
Alas, all is not well in Bedelia-Land.
Though Hannibal claims to have found a sort of peace, Bedelia is clearly uneasy, anxious, and increasingly frightened.
The scene of her waiting for the train — to what destination, we are not told, since she walked to the market — while gazing up at the surveillance cameras, serves as a metaphor for Bedelia’s life with Hannibal. She is more than uneasy, in fact: she is terrified because she is constantly being watched.
We also learn where Hannibal went immediately after the carnage in S2’s Finale — to Bedelia’s house. When she entered, she discovered him taking a shower in her master bath. He came out of the shower to find her sitting on the bed, with a loaded pistol in one hand, and a drink in the other. After asking if he could get dressed, he told her he’d taken off his person-suit.
She asked how that felt.
He told her she was in no position to ask such a question.
Now, in Florence, living with Hannibal as his wife, Bedelia’s trips to the market do nothing to quiet her.
Her attendance at Hannibal-as-Dr.-Fells’ lecture on Dante is apparently required, because she is obviously uncomfortable, and she bolts as soon as she catches a glimpse of the former TA Dimmond, leaving Hannibal to gaze upon her empty chair.
Scurrying home to their elegant Florentine apartment, she packs, and is just about out the door when Hannibal opens it, followed by the big-mouthed Dimmond, whom Hannibal must deal with.
Hannibal’s and Bedelia’s ensuing conversation about “participation vs observation” open other, symbolic, doors: into how much Bedelia knows about Hannibal, how long she’s known it, and the secret Bedelia and Hannibal have never revealed about the time she was attacked by a former patient of Hannibal’s, who was killed, and Hannibal’s role in that.
It is this secret that has apparently bound Bedelia to Hannibal, even when she tried to “retire” from clinical psychiatry.
No other major characters appeared in the premiere, so their fates are as yet unknown. I have intentionally avoided viewing any Season 3 trailers which might reveal who survived and who didn’t, and I have not included them here.
Meanwhile, I say Bravisimo to Bryan Fuller and the others who have changed the entire approach to Hannibal.
Because, after all, now that he has been seen, he can become.
There are so many ways to look at crime in films, from the perspectives of the victims, of the law enforcement officials, to that of the criminals themselves. Early films tended to concentrate on the perspective of the crime-fighters, saving the stories of the criminals for short, factual documentaries. With one of the most famous crime films ever, Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather, based on the novel by Mario Puzo, that focus changed, virtually creating a genre where criminals and those who were involved with evil doings, either voluntarily or against their will, were presented in a more empathetic and sympathetic light. In any event, whether you feel any emotional connection with the criminals in this genre of crime film, it’s created some of the most interesting and complex characters, played by some of the greatest actors in their best roles, and made some ground-breaking films.
The Godfather Part One
Virtually ignored by Hollywood during production, The Godfather was one of the earliest films that examined crime entirely from the perspective of the criminals. Based on the bestselling novel by Mario Puzo — and the Oscar-winning screenplay by Puzo and director Francis Ford Coppola — the story centers on a fictional New York Mafia family, the Corleones, led by its patriarch Don Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando, in an Oscar-winning role), who’s attempting to groom his eldest son, Santino [Sonny] (James Caan) to take over the “family business,” while providing for his weaker middle son, Fredo (John Cazale), and his adopted son, Tom (Robert Duvall), and trying to keep his youngest son, Michael (Al Pacino) who’s graduated from college and served his country during the War, out of the “family business” altogether.
As you can imagine, that’s a formula for disaster when everyone in the family and everyone with whom it does business is a criminal — and violent ones, at that. Filled with big name stars, peppered with memorable lines (“Luca Brasi sleeps with the fishes”), awarded with Oscars and multiple nominations, The Godfather set the standard for crime films from the criminals’ perspective.
The Godfather Part Two
One of the first sequels that was actually as good as, if not better than, the original film, Part Two of The Godfather Trilogy — also written by Mario Puzo and director Francis Ford Coppola — reunited most of the characters from the first film while interweaving their continuing story with the “flashback” story of Don Vito Corelone, this time played by Robert DeNiro (Oscar winner for Best Supporting Actor), who had the monumental task of imitating the magnificently original, complex, and tortured criminal played by Marlon Brando — only at a younger age. Showing the development of both Vito’s and Michael’s forays into the criminal world, both men are as sympathetic as they are vicious, as family-oriented as they are ruthless, as interesting as they are complex.
Many viewers who’ve seen all three of The Godfather films can’t decide if they like Part One or Part Two better, and it was a toss-up for me which is best since they’re so different yet both so excellent. The Godfather, Part Two couldn’t exist without Part One, but they’re equally good. Sometimes, channels show The Godfather Trilogy in “chronological” order according to the storyline within the movies, so excerpts of Part Two are shown before Part One, but I don’t recommend watching the films like that, as you lose all the nuances of Part Two, including those in the storyline, the irony, and the actors’ performances.
King of New York
Directed by Abel Ferrara, whose work often explores the human side of criminals and organized crime, King of New York stars Ferrara’s “perfect gangster actor” Christopher Walken as Frank White. Coming out of prison after seven years, White is trying to get back in the game, and it involves drugs. Aided by loyal underlings like Jimmy Jump (Laurence Fishburne), Test Tube (Steve Buscemi), and Lance (Giancarlo Esposito), Frank White delves into the drug scene as it’s developed while he was “paying for his crimes,” and tries to do something good that he’ll be remembered for. Most specifically, he wants to fund a hospital for the poorer section of New York where he operates. The fact that he’s out of jail, still alive and operating, galls the New York detectives who hound him: Bishop (Victor Argo), Dennis (David Caruso), and Flanigan (Wesley Snipes), trying desperately to either indict or kill White.
At the premiere, some viewers — including director Ferrara’s wife — were outraged at the multi-layered, sympathetic portrayal of the criminals, especially that of Frank White (Walken), who tells the lead detective Bishop, “I’m not your problem: I’m just a businessman.” With most viewers, King of New York has become a cult classic and is consistently highly praised critically.
Also directed by Abel Ferrara and starring many of his favorite actors, this film, set in New York in 1939, concentrates on one family, but a small one, consisting of three brothers and their wives (or fianceés), as well as their co-horts and colleagues. Led by the eldest brother Raimundo [Ray] Tempio (Christopher Walken), who’s aided mostly by his brother Cesarino [Chez] (Chris Penn, Best Supporting Actor, Venice Film Festival), the story begins with the death of their youngest brother Giovanni [Johnny] (Vincent Gallo) and their attempts to find his killer.
The eldest brothers’ wives, played by Annabella Sciorra and Isabella Rossellini, respectively, serve as the moral counterweights to these men, and attempt to be guiding lights to the the youngest brother’s grieving fianceé (Gretchen Mol). While Ray (Walken) says things like, “If I do something wrong, it’s ’cause God didn’t give me the grace to do what’s right,” his wife (Sciorra) tells the murdered brother’s fianceé, “They’re criminals: there’s nothing romantic about it.” It may not be “romantic,” but it’s intense and fierce, and has memorable performances by everyone involved, including the one by rival gangster Gaspare Spoglia (Benicio Del Toro) as one of the “suspects” in the brother’s death. With its disturbingly unexpected ending, The Funeral is one of the classics in this genre.
Quentin Tarantino’s writing & directorial debut, Reservoir Dogs shows the tentative, sometimes humorous, “before” and the intense “after” of a diamond heist by a group of professional thieves who do not know each other, but suspect, during the crime itself, that one of them is a “snitch” since the police arrived during the commission of the crime. Assembled by Joe (Lawrence Tierney) and his son Nice Guy Eddie (Chris Penn), the criminals are given pseudonyms and firmly instructed not to share any personal details with each other, including any crimes previously committed or places of incarceration.
Quentin Tarantino has a cameo role as Mr. Brown, but the film pivots on Mr. White (Harvey Keitel), Mr. Orange (Tim Roth), Mr. Pink (Steve Buscemi, who objects to his name in a hilarious scene), Mr. Blonde (Michael Madsen). The nonlinear storyline, a hallmark of Tarantino’s films, puts the viewer in the same position as the other criminals: unaware if there even is a snitch, let alone who it might be. Brilliant performances by the top-billed actors, including one of the scariest “dance scenes” ever by Mr. Blonde (Madsen) just before “interrogating” a hostage policeman, Reservoir Dogs was an instant critical success and has attained cult status.
Things to Do in Denver When You’re Dead
The title of this neo-noir crime film alone gets most people’s attention. Things to Do in Denver When You’re Dead actually came from a song by Warren Zevon, and he allowed the filmmakers to use it on the condition that his original song be played during the end-credits. In the film, the protagonist, Jimmy the Saint (Andy Garcia) is a former hitman attempting to go straight. Unfortunately, his non-criminal life doesn’t pay as well, and his former boss, The Man with the Plan (Christopher Walken), has paid off his debts and now wants Jimmy, along with any crew he wishes to hire, to do “an action” not a “piece of work,” the latter of which apparently includes murder.
Gathering a rag-tag group of criminal associates — Pieces (Christopher Lloyd), Franchise (William Forsythe), Easy Wind (Bill Nunn), and Critical Bill (Treat Williams, in his career-best performance) — Jimmy is supposed to scare away a boyfriend of the ex-girlfriend of The Man with the Plan’s pedophile son Bernard (Michael Nicolosi): The Man with the Plan blames Bernard’s attempt to kidnap a 7-year-old girl from a playground in broad daylight on his despair over losing the former girlfriend.
Because Walken’s character, confined to a wheelchair after an assassination attempt, repeatedly emphasizes that this is only an “action” — wherein the new boyfriend is to be scared away so the girlfriend will ostensibly come back to Bernard — and not a “piece of work — where the new boyfriend would be killed — the viewer knows that something is bound to go very wrong. This film achieves much of its power from its creative vocabulary: the criminals are to do “an action,” not a “piece of work.” They all long to retire to a life of “boat-drinks,” but are threatened with “Buckwheats” instead. Even their nicknames — Pieces and Critical Bill, for example — come from their characters or former behavior. Rounded out by Dagney (Gabrielle Anwar) as Jimmy’s love interest, Lucinda (Fairuza Balk) as the prostitute he tries to protect and reform, Joe the Diner-Narrator (Jack Warden) attempting to pass on the story of Jimmy the Saint’s “rep” to the next generation, and the involvement of the outside hitman Mr. Shush (Steve Buscemi), this neo-noir classic has been called, by one critic, a “clone” of Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction. That critic needs to watch the film again, and much more attentively, because Things to Do in Denver When You’re Dead is unique and far too powerful to be any other film’s clone.
The Usual Suspects
After all its Oscar nominations and wins — for Christopher McQuarrie’s original screenplay and for Kevin Spacey’s role as Verbal Kint — it’s difficult to believe that, initially, no major studios wanted to finance The Usual Suspects. Executives believed it was too complex for audiences (always an insult to sophisticated audiences), had too much dialogue, and too many characters. Boy, were they ever wrong. This neo-noir crime film begins with “five known felons” in a line-up after a truck of guns goes missing. While in lock-up, McManus (Stephen Baldwin, in the best, and perhaps only dramatic, role of his mostly stoner-comedy career) and his partner Fenster (Benicio Del Toro) tell the others — Hockney (Kevin Pollack), Keaton (Gabriel Byrne), and “the gimp” Roger “Verbal” Kint (Kevin Spacey) — about another high-scoring job. Keaton agrees to “one job,” though he has ostensibly “gone straight.”
Complications arise, however, and things spiral out of control for these career criminals, especially when the mysterious “Keyser Söze” becomes involved, represented by his lawyer, Mr. Kobayashi (Pete Postlethwaite). The interrogation scenes between Special Agent Kujan (Chazz Palminteri) and Verbal (Spacey) make up some of the best scenes, with the greatest dialogue ever. Brilliant, intense, humorous, violent, sophisticated, and with one of the most “definitive and popular plot twists” in the history of the genre, The Usual Suspects is worth watching dozens of times. Just to see all the clues you missed the first time.
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