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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Hannibal -- Season Two (Review)

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Hannibal
2014 NBC
Season Two
Score: 8/10


Hannibal's second season picks up right where season one left off. This review has picked up alarmingly generically.
The Gist: Will Graham has been unjustly imprisoned for the sick crimes committed by the cannibalistic psychiatrist, Dr. Hannibal Lecter. Graham, consumed with hatred for Lecter and a desire to clear his on name, searches for justice. Meanwhile, Lecter slides into Graham's former life, assisting the FBI with the most grotesque murder cases imaginable, and romancing fellow psychiatrist, Dr. Alana Bloom.
The Bad: This show is still disgusting. The creators still do not believe in the Hitchcockian approach. What you do not see is still not scarier than what you do see because you still do not not see anything. The effects of every sick and twisted serial killing are still shown for far more than just a lingering glance: piles of naked bodies chemically bonded together, people vivisected sideways, fed to pigs, gutted and left to bleed out on top of other people gutted and left to bleed out. I still don't know who is coming up with this stuff, but it's still gross, and I still can't believe NBC has allowed these images to be shown on television.
Also, Hannibal makes a rare misstep in style this season. All of the previously mentioned gore is done in the show's usually gorgeous, sensual style (yeah, that made me feel weird, too), but a late-season plot-line overrides the show's usual art-project tone for campy goofiness.
I am talking about the Verger storyline, featuring Michael Pitt as The Penguin and Katherine Isabelle as Poison Ivy. Okay, maybe those aren't their names, but the Verger twins might as well be Batman villains, particularly Pitt, with his wildly stylized hair and over-the-top mannerisms. Before the Vergers, only the show's gore was ridiculous, but Pitt's campiness takes Hannibal into a realm it hadn't previous explored, and probably shouldn't. Pitt's final confusing appearance would be right at home in a Joel Schumacher film, and I hope the show does not go further in that direction in its upcoming season. Showrunner Bryan Fuller's comments that Hannibal is actually "a love story" between Lecter and Graham, two heterosexual characters who hate each other, doesn't give me much hope, but I will still watch because
The Good: Despite everything I just said, Hannibal is still a very good show. Mads Mikkelsen, Hugh Dancy, and Laurence Fishburne continue to turn in incredible performances as the cat, the mouse, and the guy who owns the mouse. Dancy and Mikkelsen's intense mental battle of good vs evil is incredible to behold, as, for most of the season, the audience is forced to draw their own assumptions as to whether Dancy's Graham has crossed the line into Lecter's world, or is simply stringing Lecter along. This battle is spellbinding to the last bloody end, and no strange detours into the bizarre can derail it. The art department continues to earn whatever NBC is paying it by making the most brutal, disgusting images breathtakingly beautiful.
The Conclusion: So Hannibal's second season is a small step behind the first due to the show getting a bit too zany at points, but great acting, art, and the portrayal of the difficulty of staying good when battling unimaginable evil keep the show in the top tier of broadcast offerings.

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