I’m a big fan of the fictional world of Hannibal Lector. Thomas Harris’ original trilogy are modern masterpieces. Ditto for the Silence of the Lambs movie. I even enjoy the not so great Hannibal stories (***cough*** the prequel novel) [***cough*** the movie Hannibal].
When I first heard about the TV series Hannibal though I was sceptical about the whole idea. It was on network TV and I thought it would be tame and uninteresting. I figured that the dark edges of the story would be missing.
Eventually, I caught the first couple of episodes though and I was hooked. The series was dark and disturbing. The acting was great. The plot was arresting. The tone and the acting were enough for me to keep watching the show even as some of the murderers, lets just say, stretched the bounds of credibility.
The finale of the first season, with Will Graham being sent to prison for Hannibal’s crimes, set season 2 up as a barn burner.
Sending the hero to jail was a gutsy move. It obviously subverts the dynamic of the Silence of the Lambs and puts the good guy in a pretty appalling position to boot. More than this though it does something that many good stories do. It takes a strong character, one who was already under pressure, and gives them a push.
Seeing how the mentally unstable and innocent Will Graham reacts the gravity (I like puns) of his incarceration whilst the titular Hannibal goes about planning more ‘dinner parties’ is both stomach churning and potential story gold.
Three episodes into season two though and I am worried that the writers are not up to the task they have set themselves. Like the poor judge in Will’s trial they are blind.
Shot after shot of Will Graham mentally fishing is wearing my patience thin. The writers have made a big mistake in showing Will Graham’s trial. It would have been more dramatically interesting to either skip forward in time or to just have Graham declared insane and avoid a costly trial.
Regardless as the story currently stands with Will Graham in prison the tension of the cat and mouse duel between the two is grinding to a halt. The scenario worked when Hannibal is in prison because, the sense of physical and mental menace the character exudes.
As a good guy Will Graham isn’t so mesmeric to watch when he’s caged plus since he is locked up in the equivalent of Arkham the character’s ability to do anything is severely restricted. This is doing nothing good for the story line.
The writers need to bring some sort of ticking clock into proceedings. The previous season hinted that Hannibal had his own special attraction to Dr Alana Bloom. Maybe the show could ratchet up the tension but having Hannibal turn his attentions onto her. Give Will Graham something to strive for.
Maybe the show could begin to make more use of the Freddy Lounds character. Why not have her interview Will Graham in prison. Will could use her to uncover the truth. Hannibal could take precautionary measures.
Failing that you need a killer who can force Will and Hannibal to work together. I got excited in episode one when I mistakenly thought that the Buffalo Bill was about to enter into the narrative. Do something to inject some pace into things. Anything
As it is the writers are currently ‘injecting’ pace into proceedings by amping up the yuck factor. The first season was not shy about killing people in ‘inventive’ ways but the story was so strong that the show got away with it. As the plot stagnates though and the killings become ever more theatrical the series is starting to resemble something Eli Roth would direct. For the record that is not good.
Hannibal needs to step up its game. It it is already airing on Friday nights. It can’t afford to be anything less than great.