If Hannibal Lecter invites you over for dinner, assuming you are fully aware of his eating habits, how do you proceed? Do you say no and risk being put on his ‘Future Dinners to be Made of the Rude’ list? “Maybe next time” will probably work once or twice, but this excuse will only last for so long if you keep getting asked (which if you are well-acquainted enough to be invited in the first place, will probably happen). You could also say yes and claim to be a vegetarian, because it’s pretty much a guarantee that your lettuce won’t be made of people. But then you run the risk of accidentally consuming long pig that he’s cleverly hidden somewhere in your artfully prepared salad — at least if he gives you steak you know exactly where it came from (if not who it came from) and therefore know to avoid it. However, the man is a gourmet (people) chef, and telling him you’re a vegetarian is just inviting him to get creative with how he hides undesirables into your food. He’s also pretty classy, and I can’t imagine him buying Thousand Island dressing in the super market with the rest of us peasants (meaning his salad dressing is probably homemade). At least the wine might be safe… but then again, it could also be people.
This deeply important philosophical question is just one of the many reasons why you should watch NBC’s Hannibal, a show where everyone is tricked into eating their fellow man at least once. It’s not like they can help it; not only are all of the characters unaware that their pâté hasn’t come from the usual suspects (animal liver) but when the food looks like this,
and the cannibal in question looks like this,
how can they be expected to say ‘no’? When the Most Interesting Man in the World offers you a beer, you take the beer (unless you suspect that it’s not actually beer, in which case you find out a way to bow out gracefully — which brings us back to the crucially important question above). I guess you could always call the FBI as soon as your first “maybe next time” excuse has been accepted, but when the FBI are the ones being invited over to eat all the evidence, and your opponent happens to be a brilliant psychiatrist, you have reached the heart of the problem. Welcome to NBC’s Hannibal.
Part of the reason why this show is so amazing, aside from its appeal as a psychological thriller-horror show and the appeal the name Hannibal alone engenders, is its focus on the relationships between the characters, particularly between Hannibal and Will Graham. Will Graham, for those of you who haven’t read Red Dragon or seen any of the Hannibal films, is a criminal profiler who loves dogs and could probably use about a million warms hugs. He has an unusual ability to put himself into a killer’s mindset and perspective, thus allowing him to visualize a crime exactly how it happened. Naturally, this makes him invaluable to the FBI, and an irresistible curiosity to Dr. Lecter, who really just wants to figure out how Will Graham works.
Brilliantly portrayed by Hugh Dancy, this pre-film Will Graham is as haunted as he is adorable. Even if you haven’t seen the show yet, you’ve probably run into a few pictures and gifs from the show online, in which case you are probably under the impression that he’s being stalked by a stag (which isn’t entirely inaccurate). Confused? Don’t worry about it; just watch the show to answer all your questions. Deer aside, at this point you’ve probably put two-and-two together and realized that with an ability to get into serial killers’ heads and a curious Hannibal in the mix, Will Graham is probably not okay. You would be right.
As for Hannibal, since the show takes place before he is exposed as a cannibal, creator Bryan Fuller has been able to take Hannibal back to a time before the full extent of his savage viciousness is revealed, leaving in its wake a more sophisticated and sinister cannibal. Mads Mikkelsen has been more than able to fill the large shoes left behind by Anthony Hopkins. This new Hannibal is charming, witty, just as dangerous as his predecessor, and disturbingly easy to like. His open cooperation with the FBI and quiet manipulations make even the most basic interactions between the other characters and Hannibal a roller coaster of feeling and stress as you flail your arms over all the things that aren’t said (I can’t be the only one who does this).
Obviously my focus has been on Will Graham and Hannibal, arguably the two main stars of the show, but the other characters are far from neglected. Their struggles to keep the wash of serial killers at bay and against the nameless, faceless killer always hiding just beyond their periphery only add a level of depth and suspense to an already delicious story (see what I did there?). Jack Crawford (Laurence Fishburne), Dr. Alana Bloom (Caroline Dhavernas), and Beverly Katz (Hettienne Park) are all regulars on the show, whose characters are just as compelling as they are important.
With an amazing cast and fascinating characters, a great soundtrack, and beautiful editing, NBC’s Hannibal, which airs every Friday at 10, is a show you definitely want to watch.