Hungry? An Overview And Primer For "Hannibal"´s Season 3

There will be spoilers in this article, so fair warning to those who have not yet had the pleasure to book an appointment with the Good Doctor. In the meantime, sharpen your cutlery, whet those palettes and try not to be rude. Rudeness is most unbecoming.

I want to lick those cheekbones. Seriously.
With the glorious return of Hannibals' third season peeking its head around the corner, I wanted to take this opportunity to rewind back over the first two seasons as a means of catch-up and as a lead in to the fact that when season three hits, like the Beast, Zombievictim and Lord Gremlin, I will be reviewing each individual episode, so consider this as the first part to a two-part project. 

Note: Although the series still retains the very essential elements of Thomas Harris' best-seller crime series, the show has its own differences and story arc. Think of it how Game of Thrones still has the key ingredients to Martins' A Song Of Ice And Fire novels yet has its own liberties.

The Story

If I had to narrow down what type of show Hannibal is in due respect, it would be the murderous art-house step-sibling of Twin Peaks caught in bed with Tarsem Singhs' The Cell skewering crime procedural dramas such as Silent Witness with some old school prime time suspense of Profiler... with a dash of Home Cooking Channel on the side. With cheekbones. Epic, beautiful cheekbones.

Season one, which serves as our introductions and origins to the main players, quickly gets us involved with the gifted yet cursed FBI profiler Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) who has an astounding if not frightening ability of empathy, an empathy which also extends to the minds of the serial killers he helps hunt down as well as being able to reconstruct crime scenes with intricate detail.

Most of the season involves Will attempting to piece together the grisly jigsaw of complex crime scenes that his quarries leaves behind and gradually; the process eats (no pun intended) away at Grahams' psyche. All the while, he finds himself connecting with the young Doctor Alana Bloom, a former student of Doctor Hannibal Lecter a famed forensic psychiatrist. Meanwhile, Lecter takes an unhealthy interest in Graham and the two form a fascinating, frightening and (therefore slashfic-worthy in the minds of fangirls) relationship.

On the surface, Lecter begins ingratiate himself into Wills' life as his psychiatrist, but under the surface boils a diabolical plot cooked up by Lecter to see just how far Graham is willing to go to get what he wants. It truly is the genesis of a genuine predator and prey relationship and it's so, so good. How does the season end? It ends as you might expect, but this tale has only just begun.

Nope, can't see why this relationship is 'a thing'.

When season two picks up, it is very much after where one left off, but with higher stakes. Lecter has steadily been manipulating Will due to his keen interest in the man and it has resulted in not only Graham becoming institutionalized, but has also caused Grahams' colleagues questioning Wills' mental fortitude, and for good reason. Although Lecters' manipulation occurred to Will a little too late, the profiler decides to pursue him by allowing the Good Doctor to resume their treatment sessions.

In between cooking and serving up trouble, Lecter himself begins to consult the services of another psychiatrist, Doctor Bedelia Du Maurier (the Holy See, Gillian Anderson) and commences a highly tenuous relationship with the persistent tabloids punter, Fredericka 'Freddie' Lounds who is able to sniff bullshit from a mile away. There is a storm brewing and by the end of the season, there will be no shelter for the weak.

That's all I am gonna say about the previous seasons, so I guess you will have to watch them for yourselves, yes? ;)

The Cast/Characters

Lordy, what a bunch. Heavily diverse with unique talent and incisive of the material, the mainlining cast and supporting players for the most part have been nothing but exemplary. While it would take far too bloody long to distinguish each and every cast member, allow me to outline some of the prime highlights that left an impression on me consistently.

Hugh Dancy as Will Graham. Hugh pulls off a flawless American accent for his role as the superbly intelligent and incredibly socially awkward Will Graham and uses his highly expressive eyes to detail every thought that is going through his head. When he psychologically steps into the role of the psychopaths he hunts down, you can literally see a change in his face when he assumes those personas.

Gillian Anderson as Doctor Bedelia Du Maurier. Enigmatic and cool, she is Hannibals' psychiatrist who has a real knack of attracting danger... perhaps intentionally.

How dare you be so stunning?
Laurence Fishburne as Jack Crawford. Although his role and bearing is authoritative, he still maintains a sense of personal accessibility, something that shows when he is having personal interactions with Will as well as his wife, Bella (Fishs' real life partner Gina Torres). That cool voice of his can sound mellow and rational one minute and brash and barking the next. I have heard some criticism leveled at Crawford for being too presumptuous, but I feel that may have been an intentional factor from the writers and Fishs' own interpretation of the character. Mileage may vary.

Michael Pitt as Mason Verger, the degenerate millionaire and disfigured in every sense of the word. Although Pitt became difficult to work with on set that resulted in him being booted from the cast in favor of another actor in the upcoming third season, his interactions with Lecter are among some of the best given Vergers' capacity for obnoxious behavior.

Katherine Isabelle as Margot, Mason's fraternal twin (well, if there was any motivation for the Beast to watch this series, there it is! [Editor's Note: I'm down]). She is both icy and vulnerable due to years of relentless physical and mental abuse by her brother. When she consults Hannibal, her plight is enough to cement the Good Doctors' will to teach Mason a very strong lesson.

Scott Thompson as Jimmy Price and Aaron Abrams as Brian Zeller. Oh my God, despite mostly being a straight forward psych-fest, the conjoined quirky comedic performances of Thompson and Abrams act as nice little reprieves among the mire of lunacy. The characters could have easily been the typical Derpy Duo, but both actors rise to the task and imbue their roles with enough humanity to remain relatable.

Kacey Rohl as Abigail Hobbs, the daughter of a serial killer who Hannibal rapidly takes under his wing after the traumatic experience of seeing her father shot ten times by Will Graham in a desperate bid to save her from the same fate as her mother at her fathers' hands. A quiet, contemplative girl who is intelligent but at the same time displays an abstract understanding of her late fathers' murderous ways.

Eddie Izzard as Doctor Abel Gideon. Although a guest star, he left a huge impression on me with his performance as the demented former surgeon who went ape on his family and ended up killing them. Needless to say, his acts attract the attention of Lecter and lets' just say there is leg room for a simultaneously frightening and hilarious exchanges between he and Gideon.

Lara Jean Chorostecki as Freddie Lounds. Oh Lord, despite the fact she is one of the more sane people in this show, she is perfectly enraging in her persistent push to get her story. Headlining the blogging initiative of TattleCrime, there really is nothing she won't do to get her story and the subsequent glory including subterfuge, manipulation and shameless deception.

The Stagman. An omen of evil, hatred and ambiguity. Of all of the visual motifs throughout the series, the Stagman is the most startling and one of the most disturbing. Imposing and frightening yet at the same time compulsive and stunning, He's so awesome I have a Pop! figure of him. Be jealous.

And finally, Mads Mikkelsen as Lecter. Brilliant. Pun Master. Intellectual. Unconventional Foodie. BEAST. On the outside, Lecter displays nothing but good manners with the fashion sense of a modern dandy with glorious, delectable cheekbones, but lurking underneath it, waiting to breach is a malevolent leviathan of the depths. Hannibal has been given nothing but the best throughout his life (though if any of you have read the Harris novels you will know better than that), but the fact of the matter is, right now, Lecter lives the good life and yet he finds his true pleasure in not only testing those who intrigue him, but also disposing of 'the rude' and making them into some seriously delicious looking meals.

And on that note . . .

The Food

Oh my stars and garters.

GET. IN. MAI. BELLY. Top artistic culinarian Janice Poon was hired to prepare and present all of the . . . uh, let's say interesting foods that Hannibal serves his guests throughout the show and damn it; I don't care if that is people, grab the de-fibber I'm going in. Half of the appeal of the television show is presenting the nature of the transgressive in an aesthetic light and the foods the characters consume are of no exception.

The beauty of art lies in the preparation rather than the result and the breathtaking dishes you watch Hannibal lovingly prepare with slaver gushing from your mouth is no exception. It is said that there are three stages that the stomach goes through while watching this show, allow me to illustrate in the below diagram:

For me. it has always been the Osso Buco With Saffron Risotto stage

Trivia: Each episode of the first season is named after an element of French cuisine, the season two titles are named after the different elements of Japanese haute, and the first seven of season three's episodes are named after Italian cuisine, while the remaining six are named after William Blake's Red Dragon paintings. Foreshadowing, mayhap?

The Murders

Life imitates art and art imitates madness. The cosmetic beauty of the horrible scenes of murder and mayhem left for Will to piece together are splendiferous in their design and compositions. Symbolism, mental psychosis and a steady eye for detail helps give Hannibal a distinctly individual air of guilty opulence. While you know you are indeed bearing witness to a grisly demise of (mostly) undeserving individuals, you can't help but marvel at how the show is able to aesthetically link itself to the fine art that Hannibal Lecter is a passionate disciple of.

Set designers Patti Podesta and Jaro Dick deserve every accolade they attract for their impeccable approach to creating worlds within worlds be it Hannibals' elegant horror film lairs, to scenes of unspeakable horror and places of the mundane. Truly extraordinary work which visually makes the show jump out of the screen and kindly introduce you to its fist. I also must commend the show for pushing the gore envelope without tilting the entire series into yet another excuse to shamelessly show gore for the sake of it.

The Symbolism

Symbolism is always a hefty prospect because presenting visual allegories for anything can be construed as being pretentious and trite as tripe, but the risk-taking in Hannibal lends a welcome advantage. Given this show is about insanity, violence and going beyond the veil of human decency under the visage of propriety, I feel that gives the series far more lee-way than other television shows these days have.

Be it Grahams' extensive reconstruction of a crime scene and his nightmares to the omnipotent presence of the Stagman to the mental wanderings of Will and Lecter, there is never a loss of creativity when it comes to showing the pitch-black side of the mind and it's tendencies. It's like being part of an cerebral, dreamy porno.
You didn't think I was being figurative, did you?

Behind The Scenes

A show really is nothing without a great bunch of writers to steer the ship and Hannibals' vessel of treacherous delights is no different. Bryan Fuller, the show-runner was very specific in how he wanted the story arcs in the series thus far to go. Every episode really does feel like it came out of a Thomas Harris novel while still maintaining a sense of freshness and intrigue that never fails to draw you deeper into its nauseating web.

While on the surface it seems like a police procedural the show isn't content to halt its aspirations there because the characters never cease in their journeys. Arguably some of the finest story-telling comes from the exchanges between Hannibal and Will, there is something so hypnotically melodic and menacing about them that I could watch them on loop over and over.

In addition to the writing, the entire show looks so damn scrumptous that you could take a still of any moment and make it your computer wallpaper. I don't recall seeing one awful scene composition thus far. On top of looking insanely stunning the music and use of sound serves as yet another layer and another character in of itself. Never over-bearing but always looming like a shadow in the background, what your ears hear can be just as effective as what your eyes can see and what your mind can conjure. This is one sensory-heavy sexy show and it's made possible by a bunch of sexy-minded people and they aren't afraid to share the luuuuurve.

Note: You also may not have imagined it, but there is some legitimately great gallows humor in this show, be it from Price and Zeller to Hannibals' shameless cannibalistic-based puns. 

With the season three premiere of Hannibal only days away, it doesn't look like the show is in any hurry to lose steam, and imperative to thrill, shock and perturb with a combination of the old cast and new blood to deliver what will surely be yet another strong installment. Take a seat, grab some cutlery, put on some chamber music and let the saliva flow; nothing on this menu is vegetarian.

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Fallen Botticelli Angel/Elightened Eldritch/Lunatic Fringe
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