Thoughts on Hannibal, Two Seasons In #CatchingUpOnHannibal

 

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Gorgeous artwork by Loakenshield (Girl of Gisborne) celebrating Richard Armitage casting for serial killer Francis Dolarhyde (“The Red Dragon”) in NBC’s Hannibal, Season 3.

I thought it was time to update my progress in the NBC’s Hannibal realm. For obvious reasons, namely the casting of Richard Armitage as the serial killer Francis Dolarhyde for the last 6 episodes of the upcoming third season, I’ve been immersing myself in the dark and terrifying world in which Armitage is probably even now creating a memorable space for himself.

I averaged about 2 episodes per night, and for the most part, Hubby stuck around.  He would sit on the couch and browse his phone a bit, and I did notice that he intentionally kept his eyes on that phone for all the most gruesomely horrific parts, but he nonetheless managed to follow along pretty well with occasional sardonic comments such as “Remind me why you’re subjecting me to this horrorgasm?”  And “What are we doing watching this sick, sick show?  Oh, right, so we’ll be ready when Richard shows his Blessed Face…” However, I did notice that when I turned the TV off after the penultimate episode of season 2, Hubby was rather disgruntled.  “Well, we’ve come this far!  You’re stopping short of the finale?”  And I noticed he was pretty quick to hustle the kids off to bed the following evening so we could get the finale over with! I think he did get drawn in, almost despite his better judgment.

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Here is another artwork by Loakenshield (Girl of Gisborne) depicting Richard Armitage as Francis Dolarhyde, aka The Tooth Fairy.

I, on the other hand, got to the point where I was quite invested in the story line and the characters. The psychological games are what I find interesting. While I have always been ok with graphic violence, and I generally enjoy well-done police procedurals, Hannibal on NBC is really a different kettle of fish from the other shows I watch, and it took time to grow on me. I don’t know if I would have ever gotten around to watching the show, or stuck with it long enough to become invested, if it weren’t for Richard Armitage’s upcoming involvement, but regardless of what might have been, at this point, even if RA announced tomorrow that he was pulling out of the series, I’d be looking forward to this summer, when they are scheduled to air season 3. Richard’s involvement will therefore be just icing on the cake, in my mind.

Quick break here to give a shout out to a very talented artist in our ranks, Loakenshield. Highly recommend you check out her Pinterest page featuring Armitage related manips, cartoons, sketches, digital artwork and featuring many chaRActers!

* * * Spoilers, Disturbing Topics and Graphic Images, below this point! * * *

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Hannibal seated at the harpsichord, composing. I love the interior design of his home, the music, the atmosphere…

The show is really quite beautifully done.  I love the interior set designs, cinematography, scenery, the classical music, just the overall feel of this production.

To be fair, I have to admit that there are more than a few eye-rolling moments for me, though they don’t make me want to turn it off and not come back. Hannibal can be completely unrealistic… ridiculous for instance how long it took them to catch on to the fact that Abigail was, indeed, bait for her father. Though they speculated about that early on, it took forever for the FBI to come up with what turned out to be pretty easily proven evidence that she accompanied him on his killing missions, under the guise of visiting potential college campuses on the dates the victims from those college campuses disappeared. Many of the killing methods defy scientific logic or explanation, no matter how cool they look. And the show doesn’t really work at all as an FBI procedural, because there are too many intuitive leaps.

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I guess it takes me back to old childhood phobias, but the episode where the killer was under the bed did make my toes curl.

But back to the reasons that I found myself identifying with the Fannibals. The series does have wonderful suspense, and it can literally cause me to curl my toes and want to hide my eyes during certain episodes. That rarely happens for me (I don’t usually go for the horror genre, in general, but when these toes of mine do curl, I score one for the production team!) I was completely unsettled during the episode that featured the age-old monster lurking under the bed, and I had to avert my eyes when the creepy acupuncturist-lady began removing eyeballs on her paralyzed but wide-awake patient. No, those episodes weren’t among my favorites, but they left an impression. For me, it’s more about the psychological terrors, the mind games, and ok, let’s face it, the wardrobe.

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This is a classic look for Dr. Hannibal Lecter. Photo from an Esquire magazine article discussing the wardrobe.

Although I’ve seen a few comments to the effect that they thought Hannibal dressed too outrageously to “stay under the radar”, I completely disagree. In my view, the wardrobe team couldn’t have done a more spectacular job, particularly with Hannibal. Costume designer Christopher Hargadon’s work was phenomenal. A little research online revealed that a tailor local to Toronto, Garrison Bespoke, was recruited to create Hannibal’s suits. Not only was Hannibal’s wardrobe visually stunning to look at, featuring most often a two or three-piece suit, spread collars, and wide, carefully knotted, intricately patterned silk paisley ties, but it was clear that the producers were almost using the wardrobe to explore deeper thematic elements of the show and the character’s psyches. Contrast Dr. Hannibal Lecter’s meticulously elegant look, with Will Graham’s hodgepodge of t-shirts, flannels and non-put-together looks, and it’s a nice metaphor for their psychological mindsets.

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A collage of Hannibal Lecter’s suit and tie combinations. Found at thecatsred.tumblr.com

I’d almost like to watch the series again just so I could screen grab Hannibal’s every sophisticated outfit, and make a collage of all those beautiful male fashion looks.  I can’t think that I have ever been as aware of any particular man’s wardrobe as I was for this character in this series. Then I went looking for some examples, and low and behold, one of the Fannibals already did that for me! I can’t help but hope that the costume team will dress Francis Dolarhyde with their characteristic flair.

Mads Mikkelsen’s performance has really made me a fan of this actor, and made me want to go find other movies and shows he’s done. Hannibal had a bizarre effect on me. I love the contrast between his thoughtful, polite, sophisticated, reserved persona- a man of incredibly refined manners and tastes- with the savage that lies beneath. I loved his low-key sardonic humor. “Eat your nose, then.”  I loved how my stomach would curl, as he would be seen calmly slicing and dicing God-knows-what in his kitchen, even though everything is the very picture of class and sophistication.  When we have the rare glimpses of his sadistic side in action, he shows such a startlingly swift and aggressive athleticism. Can you believe that one-handed kitchen counter vault in the season 2 finale?

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After he sends a killer after Hannibal from within his prison cell, Will has a vision in which his back sprouts raven-antlers of his own. Love this sort of dark imagery. Gif from hearme-roar.skyrock.com

 

Hugh Dancy gives another very compelling performance as Will Graham. Graham is the very damaged protagonist, and he battles inner demons and a fragile mental state, with Dr. Lecter’s influence becoming ever more sinister in his life.  The closer he becomes to Hannibal, the darker his own actions become. Almost from the beginning of his relationship with Hannibal, Will begins having visions of a raven stag, an ominous but beautiful creature that represents Hannibal Lecter in his life, although it doesn’t become clear to Will that the stag is connected to Hannibal for quite some time. Late in season 2, Will vows that the only way to catch Hannibal is to draw even closer to him and make him believe that Will is embracing the psychopathic lifestyle, but they do it in such a way that not even the viewer is really certain whether Will has gone over the edge.

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Sex Scene, Season 2, Episode 10. How weird was that?

There was a sex scene later in the second season that sort of simultaneously showed Hannibal with Alana and will with Verger’s sister, though at least in Will’s mind, he was the one with Alana, even though he seemed to know on some level that she was making love to Hannibal. This scene was filmed so artistically and creatively, I found it almost hypnotic. Quite simply one of the most unique and interesting sex scenes, though not really arousing to me, that I have ever seen. I noticed that Hubby had nodded off during that episode, and when I woke him up after the show was over, I notified him that he’d happened to miss the Weirdest Sex Scene Ever.

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Loved when Hannibal looked down upon the killer muralist from the top of the grain silo and offered his compliments. “I love your work.”

Some of the death scenes could be artistically almost pleasing to look at. For instance, the mural of bodies that Hannibal found in the grain silo was pretty cool to look at. If the artist were a photographer and just posing nude models of every skin tone, it would have actually appealed to me. Of course, this is Hannibal, so naturally the artist was a killer, and his gruesome medium was dead bodies.

There are moments when I find myself almost in disbelief that this show is from network TV. It really has more the feel of something I’m used to seeing on HBO or other cable television, and I can see why it’s viewed as something of a feather in NBC’s cap. I did find it interesting that I was unable to watch more than 2 episodes in any one sitting. Usually when I really like a show, and it’s available as an entire season, I will tend to binge-watch. Not so with Hannibal. Perhaps my psyche can only take so much gore and disturbing mental concepts at one time. Nonetheless, I’m really looking forward to this summer with great anticipation. One episode per week will suit me just fine, and I have every confidence that Richard Armitage as Francis Dolarhyde will scare my pants off.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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11 comments

  1. sparkhouse1 · February 1, 2015

    That was a great read, thanks. I was so amabivalent before about watching the previous two seasons and had just thought I would only watch the RA episodes. I am definitely going to go to the library now and see if they have any DVD’s of season one and two. Thanks for your thoughts on Hannibal.

    Like

    • jholland · February 1, 2015

      Let me know what you think! It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, I’m sure, but then, nothing ever is. =)

      Like

  2. sparkhouse1 · February 1, 2015

    Looks like I will be waiting a while, all four copies are out. The way you described the beauty of aspects of the show intrigue me along with the headgames shall we say? I plucked up the nerve to read The Red Dragon book and am almost finished and it didn’t make me too squeamish at all.

    Like

    • jholland · February 2, 2015

      Well, I guess we have plenty of time before season 3 comes along. The headgames are great, the writing is well done, with interesting dialogue and many plays on words, etc, as a key part of these psychological games between Hannibal and his colleagues, Hannibal and Will, Hannibal and other killers. And it’s aesthetically very fine to look at, except when it gets gory, and even then it sometimes is. I’m going to delve into The Red Dragon in audio format when I finish my current audiobook, probably later this week. From what I’ve been reading, it sounds as if it will be a good read, and hopefully whet my appetite for Dolarhyde’s debut! =)

      Like

  3. Perry · February 2, 2015

    My reaction to the series has been very similar to yours ( and I’m planning to post on it, as well). I think the key points for our fellow fans are (1) if a fan is so inclined, it is doable, even if you usually hate this sort of thing ( depends what you hate about these sorts of things) and (2) it is likely that if you get through the first few episodes, there is a good chance you’ll want to see more – if for nothing else, to find out what happens. And, it’s a lot less scary than the book.

    Like

    • jholland · February 2, 2015

      Can’t wait to hear your take on it, Perry. I agree, it’s well worth at least giving it a try, as there’s much to appreciate about the series, even if you’re like me, and it isn’t your usual fare. Nothing to say you can’t stop watching, or watch it loosely, as Hubby did, and you may find it has a way of growing on you, especially as the dynamics between the major characters develop.

      Like

  4. Loakenshield (Girl of Gisborne) · February 3, 2015

    Enjoyed reading this Jholland!! Thank you so much for sharing my artworks as well. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • jholland · February 3, 2015

      Thank YOU so much for letting me use them! They’re very enticing… which is disturbing. Lol

      Liked by 2 people

      • Loakenshield (Girl of Gisborne) · February 4, 2015

        You’re most welcome! Anytime. 😉

        Like

  5. SH · February 3, 2015

    I love reading articles like this that give me confidence that I can watch this 🙂 I usually don’t mind spoilers as far as the suspense goes, but I didn’t read these, mostly so I don’t think it over too long before I actually get a chance to watch… will probably be closer to summer before I take the time. Thanks for the great article, and love GoG’s art 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • jholland · February 3, 2015

      You’ll have to let me know what you think when you get a chance to watch it. I love her art, too!

      Liked by 1 person

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