Starring: Mads Mikkelsen, Hugh Dancy, Laurence Fishburne, Gillian Anderson, Caroline Dhavernas
Summary: Will Graham has a killer new partner.
Genre(s): Horror, Drama
Want to know more about the infamous Hannibal Lecter and get a glimpse of what he was like prior to his conviction? Now you have the chance to get into the mind of one of the most terrifying cannibalistic psychopaths in cinema’s history. Hannibal is a fantastic horror show with an aesthetic that turns the series in a true work of art. With amazing twists and turns, the anti-hero seems to always find a way to escape, even when everyone knows he’s a sadistic serial killer. All the while the actual hero continues to be tormented by his ability to empathize with the most horrifying serial killers in America.
Hannibal is the prequel to the wildly popular movies Silence of the Lambs and Hannibal. It tells the story of Dr. Hannibal Lecter before he was convicted as cannibalistic serial killer. He is a forensic psychiatrist who starts working with FBI special investigator Will Graham. Little does Will know that his new friend is actual a sadistic serial killer. Will is tasked by FBI agent Jack Crawford to investigate the disappearance of several young girls across the state of Minnesota. Because Will is known to have some psychiatric issues, Jack asks Hannibal to supervise him, without knowing that Hannibal himself is responsible for a number of killings.
During the first season, Will is trying to find the Chesapeake Ripper who has kidnaped eight women, but he is confronted with his own issues concerning psychopaths. He is able to closely empathize with the killers and he has a tendency to go too far in certain high stress situations. Hannibal is asked to keep him in check, but he has his own plans for his new friend. With epic imaginary, the show transforms itself from a standard procedural into a true work of art.
The show was developed by Bryan Fuller after Thomas Harris’ novel ‘Red Dragon’. It premiered on NBC in 2013 to critical acclaim. Its third season is set to premiere this June.
Will Graham is a criminal profiler who prefers to teach and spend his free time at his secluded home in Minnesota alongside several stray dogs. He is asked by FBI agent Jack Crawford to start investigating a series of disappearances. Eight similar looking young women have been gone missing from several parts of the state and most of them have turned up dead. The FBI thinks a serial killer is responsible. Will has a special understanding when it comes to gruesome murders. He is able to visualize the way the murder was committed and even empathizes with the killer. Because of that, he sometimes blacks out and can’t remember what happened.
Concerned by his fragile state of mind, his friend Dr. Alana Bloom, a professor of psychiatry, urges Crawford to convince psychoanalyst Hannibal Lecter to keep an eye on Will and assist him whenever he needs it. Thus a budding friendship develops between the damaged Will and the seemingly cool Hannibal. However, there’s a catch: Hannibal is actually a cannibalistic serial killer.
The duo starts investigating the series of murders that were seemingly conducted by a man dubbed the Chesapeake Ripper. Will and Hannibal manage to identify him and even rescue his latest victim, his daughter Abigail. But, right before the killer is caught, Hannibal calls him and warns him. Finally, Will shoots the Ripper and saves Abigail. However, a copycat soon emerges and nobody can track him down.
As Will and Hannibal help the FBI solve other cases, Will starts to confide in his new friend as he is trying to help Abigail recover. The cases pile up and Will starts to sleep walk, haunted by the gruesome murders he has to deal with at work. We soon find out that the real Chesapeake Ripper is actually Hannibal and the man Will shot in the pilot was the copycat. What is more, Abigail quickly realizes the same thing, but decides to keep Hannibal’s secret.
Will’s state of mind deteriorates quickly and during a hallucination he deduces that Abigail played an active role in her father’s murders. Scared, she runs to Hannibal who confesses to her that he has killed many more people than her father. In the season finale Will is arrested, after Abigail’s ear is found in his kitchen and her blood under his fingernails. His friend Alana is convinced that he is innocent and that there is an underlying cause of his dementia. The FBI finds DNA evidence from all the victims of the copycat killer, but Will manages to escape custody while he is transferred. He goes to Hannibal for help, who, in turn, convinces him that it is perfectly plausible that he could be the copycat killer.
Both of them go back to the Chesapeake Ripper’s house where Will realizes that Hannibal was the one who warned the killer and that he has been manipulating him since the beginning. He tries to kill him, but Crawford arrives just in time and shoots Will in the arm. While hospitalized, doctors discover that Will has encephalitis and put him in an induced coma. In the end, he is transferred to the Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane, where Hannibal visits him one last time.
The second season begins with Will still locked in the asylum and Alana trying everything that she can to get him free.
Meanwhile, Hannibal takes Will’s place with the FBI and starts investigating murders. Will’s trial begins; with the evidence against him it looks like he’ll be convicted. But when the judge is found dead in the courtroom, Will’s case is declared a mistrial.
One of the detectives in Crawford’s team, Beverly Katz, reexamines an old case and realizes that Hannibal might have something to do with the killing. She breaks into his house and discovers his murder dungeon. However, Hannibal catches her, and soon her body is found displayed in another gruesome tableau.
Will is brought to examine the crime scene and he is sure that Katz was killed by the Chesapeake Ripper and the copycat, who he thinks are one and the same. Will is also convinced that the killer is Hannibal and he theorizes that he only kills in groups of three or four, because he eats parts of the victims’ body and he has to consume the meat before it spoils. Will tries to convince Crawford of his beliefs, but the FBI agent can’t prove his theory.
New evidence comes to light in the Chesapeake Ripper’s case which exonerates Will and he is released from the asylum. With more and more evidence piling up against Hannibal, he manages to frame the administrator of the asylum, Dr. Frederick Chilton, for the Chesapeake Ripper’s murders. Will resumes his therapy with Hannibal and goes back to work with the FBI. The two continue to solve murders together.
However, Will and Crawford work in secrecy in order to prove that Hannibal is the real killer. Alana thinks that the two of them are hiding something and confronts them. Horrified, she realizes that Hannibal is the actual Chesapeake Ripper and agrees to help Will and Crawford. When the FBI agent tries to arrest Hannibal, a fight ensues at the home of the latter. Crawford is injured and he barricades himself in the pantry. That is when Alana suddenly arrives at Hannibal’s. She holds him at gunpoint and tries to shoot him, but the gun is empty. She runs upstairs in order to reload the gun, but she discovers there’s someone else there – Abigail Hobbs. She apologizes and pushes Alana out the window.
Will arrives at Hannibal’s house shortly after, finds Alana seriously injured on the pavement, and phones for help. He enters the house where he finds Abigail. She tells him that she had to obey Hannibal. What is more, Hannibal stabs Will, while telling him that sparing Abigail was a surprise for him. Hannibal also tells Will that he forgives him for betraying his trust and he cuts Abigail’s throat.
The season ends with Hannibal boarding a plane bound for France with his own therapist, Dr. Bedelia Du Maurier.
Our Critic Review
Hannibal successfully manages to elevate the horror genre to a whole new level. Though most scenes are not for the faint-hearted, the cinematography is a true work of art. That doesn’t mean the actual plot is not just as brilliant. Hannibal is the perfect anti-hero who, despite killing countless of people, eating their organs, and even serving them to his friends, always gets away scot free. It is almost impossible not to root for him.
All the while, the actual hero, Will, is tormented by his “gift” of being able to envision the way killers attack their victims. And if that’s not enough, he sees his best friend, Alana, for whom he clearly has feelings for, falling in love with his nemesis, Hannibal. The tumultuous relationship between the two main characters is so complex and always changing that you never really know for whom to root for. Every single character is complex and deeply flawed: from Crawford, who is so blinded by the murders he’s investigating he can’t see that his own wife is terminally ill and she’s confiding in an actual killer, to Hannibal’s therapist, Dr. Du Maurier who, despite being terrified by her patient, still helps him.
With such a daring concept, it’s no surprise that the show is not afraid to take chances, even with its main characters. How else would you explain the fact that most of them were seen severely injured at the end of season two? Except for Hannibal, of course, who was on his way to France. Will he be able to escape the FBI and, most importantly, will he be able to get used to the French cuisine? The third season can’t come soon enough!
VIDEO: Watch the season 3 Trailer!
Hannibal has always been beautiful, and that’s still the case. It’s also always featured dialogue and plots that stay just on the right side of being too pretentious, and that remains the case. If there are any notable steps up from season one, it’s both in the tension that mounts thanks to the great game played between Will and Hannibal and in the better use of the show’s supporting cast. Read Full ReviewTodd Van Der Werff, The A.V. Club
It’s the thinking man’s serial-killer drama, a twisted tale that never trolls for cheap scares but is plenty terrifying. Read Full ReviewLori Racki, Chicago Sun-Times
Hannibal was lauded last season for its stylized look, which is on display here. Fishburne, as usual, is solid, and I like Dancy’s interpretation of Graham (just the right amount of despair without descending into self-pity). Read Full ReviewMichael Starr, New York Post