Director: David Slade
Created by: Bryan Fuller
Starring: Hugh Dancy, Mads Mikkelsen, Laurence Fishburne, Caroline Dhavernas
Before I started watching this television series I had never even watched ‘Silence of the Lambs’ (1991) at all. I knew about the character Hannibal Lecter but I had not yet experienced how this character had been portrayed before. Knowing full well who Hannibal is, and what he does, of course I had to watch one of my favourite actors portray him. In this show created by Bryan Fuller, Mads Mikkelsen (Casino Royale, Doctor Strange) portrays the killer Hannibal Lecter.
In true crime drama style, of course the first scenes of the first episode start off with a gruesome crime scene. It’s always good when you’re thrown right into the drama straight away rather than waiting around for it. Straight away we join our main character Will Graham (Hugh Dancy)- a quiet, likeable character- investigating this crime scene. Dancy serves up a spectacular opening segment as he re-enacts exactly how this murder took place. In ‘Hannibal’, Will Graham has the ‘gift’ of being able to understand killers and comprehend what is going through their minds. In this scene, we get an inside view on what Graham imagines in his mind, we see him imagine these brutal murders as if he himself is the one who has committed them. This ability of Will’s is why the police, especially Jack Crawford (Laurence Fishburne), need him to help with their murder cases.
This ability of his comes with a price as it puts a great strain on his mental state. Witnessing such horrific crime scenes leads to him experiencing vivid nightmares as a result and he later begins to question his grip on reality. Already in this opening episode we as an audience are torn over Will’s situation as pressures mount on him to assist the police with their murder investigations. Will becomes increasingly vulnerable throughout the episodes yet that doesn’t stop Jack Crawford from getting his justice. For example, later in this episode we witness a confrontational scene between Jack and Will as Jack questions whether or not Will will be able to handle the stress of everything. In this scene Jack is loud, direct and to the point- you really get the impression that Jack Crawford is not a guy to be messed with. Determined to catch the killer, Jack is already exploiting Will in order to get justice, regardless of Will’s mental deterioration. Already pushing Will to the edge and beyond his capabilities, what matters to Jack the most- justice or his friend?
After waiting in suspense we are finally introduced to Hannibal Lecter, around the half way point of this episode. Now even though we have to wait most of the episode for his reveal, what a glorious reveal it is. The first shot we see of the mysterious Hannibal is of him eating (how fitting). If you continue to watch Hannibal through the seasons I guarantee that every scene you see of Hannibal eating food, you will wonder whether or not it’s a person he’s eating! Whilst the introduction to Hannibal is delayed in this opening episode, it is definitely worth the suspense. Hannibal is presented as smart and collected but nevertheless his manner resonates evil. Throughout the rest of the season you will enjoy his calm, mysterious manner with many of his subtle hints at murder and cannibalism. You would have thought that Jack Crawford or someone would have picked up on them. This tv series presents no hidden killer to the audience, we all know who Hannibal Lecter is and what he does.
What is marvellous about this show is how it portrays Hannibal Lecter operating as this ‘hidden killer’. Besides the fact that Hannibal is a well known character and most people know what he does, I think this show is marvellous in how it shows him as a killer operating behind police lines. We see how tiresome Jack and Will are by searching for the cannibal and all the while the killer is working alongside them. Watch this TV show and watch Hannibal as he works alongside the Will, Jack and everyone else as no one suspects him. It’s truly superb watching Mads Mikkelsen be so cunning and infiltrate the police. From the start Hannibal manipulates everyone and is literally hiding in plain sight, and Jack Crawford is too dumb to even notice.
“Everyone has thought about killing someone, one way or another, be it your own hand or the hand of God”.- Will Graham.
From this episode onwards expect some gruesome murders as ‘Hannibal’ does not hold back. Throughout episodes to come, this crime drama is brought to life through it’s haunting soundtrack, brutal crime scenes and beautiful imagery. The superb camera shots and striking colours eerily make the horrific scenes seem beautiful. Overall, as far as first episodes go this one definitely is an exhilarating packed full experience. With the same creator who brilliantly made ‘Pushing Daisies’ (2007-2009) you will be left bewildered at how he can create both of these shows. There is such a huge contrast between the bright, loving comedy of Pushing Daisies to the death-filled, bloody, traumatic experience that is ‘Hannibal’. In my opinion this is not a show to miss.
Best bit: The crime re-enactments and cookery shots are masterpieces.
Worst bit: Having to wait in suspense for half the episode to see Hannibal.
Take note: This isn’t a show for people who don’t like blood and gore, because this one has lots of it.