Review: Hannibal Pilot Episode

Posted: April 4, 2013 in Review, Scary Stuff
Tags: , , ,

I’ve got a thing for serial killers–the fictional kind, not the ones that actually kill people. And with The Following, Bates Motel, and the second season of AHS, you’d think I’d be pretty satisfied right now. But no, I’m more excited for Hannibal, the prequel TV series to the first Hannibal Lecter novel, Red Dragon (with all the prequel TV series based on famous fictional killers these days, I’m hoping someone will do a prequel to Nightmare on Elm Street, but I digress). In fact, I’ve been geeking out about this show since I heard it was being made. And tonight, I made some popcorn, sat down in front of the TV, rocking back and forth like a hyperactive kid who had too much ice cream.

I walked away very intrigued, similar to the feeling I get when I’m working with an interesting story and an interesting main character. Here’s why:

First off, there’s Will Graham, the profiler who tackled Lecter before Clarice Starling was even out of high school, and there’s Hannibal the Cannibal himself. Hugh Dancy plays Graham, the third actor to play the character. This incarnation though is different: whereas other versions have only hinted at how troubled they are by their gifts to find and figure out serial killers, Dancy’s Graham is almost reminiscent of Sheldon Cooper, brilliant, but with annoying quirks that help him keep strangers away but force him to struggle to keep the people he likes close to him. As he himself states early in the pilot episode, “I’m more Asperger’s and autism than narcissistic and psychopathic.” Instead of being a physics genius in love with himself, Graham is gifted and cursed with the ability to emphasize with any person, even killers, and the degree to which he does that scares him.

Contrast that with Dr. Lecter, played this time by Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen. This incarnation of the man-eating doctor shows him as a stoic, detached gentlemen, soft-spoken and not one bit creepy…unless we see him cooking or eating. We already know that he’s a cannibal and active at it too, as opposed to the other characters of the show, who believe he’s just a brilliant psychiatrist, and Mikkelsen does a damn good job of making us almost believe that. In fact, I think it’s going to be a long wait before we see any definitive proof that the doctor is the killer, and while we wait, we’ll be preoccupied with Graham and Lecter’s relationship. You see despite a rocky start, both men are connecting to each other on some level…and that’s where this show’s emotional conflict will come from.

There’s no music in this show except during very drama-filled moments, giving the show a very life-like quality. The special effects mostly come from Graham seeing what he thinks as he reconstructs crime scenes and solves puzzles in his head, mostly in the form of a neon-green light rewinding the crime scene to its pre-crime state, and dreams he has that reveal the killer’s thinking to him. And there’s an air to the show that mystifies me, an air created by the show’s creators. It’s saying, “We’re not trying to entertain you…we’re trying to tell you a story that’s never been told before.” Which is the truth, and it all in turn intrigues me.

I’m giving this episode a 4.6 out of 5. Let’s hope they can keep this going, keep me intrigued, and maybe we’ll see not only the stunning but inevitable conclusion to this first season, but we’ll see the appearance of another famous killer as well…

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