Note: This time I actually had a reason for the delay.
…Okay, I’ve put this subject off for long enough. Those of you who know me only from my blog, or Twitter, Tumblr, or my pretty much defunct YouTube channel probably haven’t been asking yourselves this, but my friends and family have so I’ll address it here. It’s been about two years after all.
Why Do I Like Hannibal?
Also, I was up all night working on this. You’re welcome.
WARNING: SPOILERS FOR THE ENTIRE HANNIBAL LECTER FRANCHISE
Seriously, you should really go watch the series cause it’s awesome. Lots of people have told you it’s great and for good reason. I’ll be spoiling the books, movies, and show as well as drawing on ideas from some essays and maybe some metas people have created regarding the franchise and the series in particular. If you haven’t seen the series by now, the entire thing is on both Amazon Instant (as much as I loath them) and ITunes and you can buy it on DVD and Blu Ray if that’s more your thing. If you don’t wanna spend money on it…rent it from your local library, borrow it from a friend, I don’t know. Just watch it legally somehow! It’s the best!
This is your final spoiler warning.
Okay? Okay. This is a long one. Sorry.
The Hannibal Lecter series was written by Thomas Harris, an American former investigative journalist who hates publicity and loves cooking almost as much as his character does, from 1981 to 2006 totalling in four books which became five movies made between 1986 and 2007 and a television series that lasted from 2013 to 2016 with the hope for more in the foreseeable future. More on that later. Dr. Lecter himself is based off an upper class Mexican doctor Harris met during his investigations in the 60s who was convicted of killing and mutilating the body of his male lover (and possibly several hitchhikers, it was never proven). Initially sentenced to death for his crimes, he was later released in 1981 and, before his death in 2009, was apparently aware he was the inspiration for fiction’s most famous serial killer.
The books, minus the last one which he didn’t want to write anyway and was basically blackmailed into doing, were all very well received and, as with all successful books, got turned into movies. Admittedly, the way they were all made is a bit skewed. The original adaption for the first book, ‘Red Dragon’, was renamed Manhunter for some reason that made a producer happy but everyone else agreed was a really stupid idea and didn’t do very well when it was first released (though today it’s considered a cult classic along the lines of The Thing as well as being the inspiration for CSI whose main character was played by Manhunter’s lead, William Peterson). Thus the series was remade with a new cast for the adaptation of the sequel, ‘The Silence of the Lambs’, five years later. This one you all know about. The 1991 film starring Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins is considered to be one of the greatest films ever made and went on to win all four of the major Academy Award categories, only the third and latest to do so.
The success of the film led to (in my opinion) both a sequel book and an adaptation of said sequel, Hannibal. The book was great, perhaps even better than the first two. The film not so much, however I personally consider it to be underrated as I actually liked it. There are changes from the book, especially the ending which I had issues with anyway due to the clear brainwashing and stockholm syndrome, and thus subsequent rape, of the female lead, but for the most part the story was kept in tact and it was mainly certain characters and Lecter’s backstory (which, again, is sad, but isn’t great) taken out to make a really dark book, at the time, filmable. Even then, it was still dark enough to scare away Jodie Foster and caused Julianne Moore to take her place. However, Hannibal did make money and that led to a remake of ‘Red Dragon’ a year later, with the proper title this time because the producers weren’t idiots. It’s not as good as Manhunter and Ed Norton, like his performance as Bruce Banner, isn’t as good as the other guy in the role, but I personally think Ralph Fiennes and a final return by Anthony Hopkins makes it watchable.
The same cannot be said about Hannibal Rising, a film Harris never wanted based off a book he was forced to make for fear of losing the ability to tell Lecter’s backstory. How bad was it? So bad that Harris states at the beginning of the book that we should ignore it. Hannibal Rising is the only film/ book in the series I’ve never seen/ read and for good reason. However, I’m more inclined to watch the film rather than read the book if only because it’d take less time. If nothing else, I could probably let my flatmates convince me into drunk hate watching it. Though that might make it worse in hindsight. For four years, that was the end of the franchise until 2011 when the then CEO of Gaumont International Television, Katie O’Connell, asked her friend Bryan Fuller to write a pilot script for a contemporary prequel reboot of the franchise taking place years prior to both the events of ‘Red Dragon’ and Lecter’s arrest when he was a psychiatrist working with both the FBI and profiler Will Graham, the man who would eventually capture him. Two years later, the series Hannibal was aired.
There, now you know what the series was built upon. Now, let’s talk about why I like this show.
This show is very much Bryan Fuller’s baby. Fuller, who got his start writing for Star Trek DS9 and Voyager, unfortunately suffers from, what I like to call, “Joss Whedon Syndrome”. He’s a very creative guy who makes fantastic shows with very passionate fanbases that sadly get cancelled before their time. Hannibal is probably Fuller’s equivalent of Whedon’s Buffy The Vampire Slayer in that it’s the show that lasted the longest and has had the most impact. (If we’re talking about the cult fanbase, Hannibal’s might be more akin to Firefly’s.) All of Fuller’s previous shows, such as Pushing Daisies and Dead Like Me, have only ever lasted a season or two, at best. Hell, Mockingbird Lane didn’t even get that. Before Hannibal, Dead Like Me probably made it the farthest with 29 episodes over 2 seasons and a direct to DVD movie five years after cancellation (sort of like Serenity for Firefly, but with less of a budget), though Fuller had left the series during season 1 due to creative differences (one of which was the lead’s dad was supposed to be having an affair with a male student, but this was changed…because (>“>) |__|).
Here though? Fuller is calling all the shots. He wrote, or at least contributed to, most scripts and even when he wasn’t involved, they still had to get his approval. He was friends with much of the crew, all of whom respected him and followed his vision for the show, and he was heavily involved in all aspects of the show’s production.
Alongside him is the executive producer and head of the De Laurentiis Company Martha De Laurentiis, the owner of most of the film rights to the Hannibal Lecter franchise’. The exceptions being the characters of ‘Silence of the Lambs’ (Those belong to MGM (which is why there’s no Clarice Starling which I’ll get into later)) and those introduced in ‘Hannibal’, owned by Thomas Harris (I think?), though she and Fuller have a better relationship with him then they do MGM as they’re able to rent those characters on a by episode basis. The ‘Hannibal Rising’ rights don’t matter since, as Fuller changed the one character from it who was going to appear in the show to someone new and the actor who was supposed to play Lecter’s uncle is now dead (Rest In Peace David Bowie), those characters aren’t important to the show. De Laurentiis fully supported Fuller’s idea for the series which is why he was able to have as much control as he was.
Also in the mix is David Slade, the director of the pilot episode as well as other important episodes throughout the first two seasons, including both season finales. You have him to blame for the pain and agony inducing feels and blood drenched rip in the gut that was ‘Mizumono’. He worked with Fuller closely on the pilot episode as well as the casting of the leads and doing research into what would become the visual tone for the show: ie the dream images a la David Lynch (we’ll come back to that), the light pendulum in Will’s mind, the darkened blood that let them get away with anything so long as they didn’t show butt cracks (…yes, seriously), and, of course, the consequence of the violence shown on the show. People get hurt and they die when they are killed…so long as you can see the body.
Fuller and his crew introduced many unique elements to the franchise not previously seen, some more obvious than others. A notable example of that being….
With very few exceptions, the cast of the Hannibal Lecter franchise are predominately straight white males (mostly the first two). In the films, again with exceptions, those who don’t fall into that category are removed from the story (the erasure of Margot and her subplot from the Hannibal film, for example). Fuller sought to correct that in this series.
For example, he brought Margot back into the franchise with few changes (she’s not a bodybuilder here, but that was more to move her away from the butch and trauma stereotype), Crawford is now African-American, as is his wife (who are married in real life), Beverly Katz was now Asian-American, and Freddie Lounds and Dr. Bloom are now women. Bloom was actually introduced as a love interest for Will and Hannibal before different sexualities and stories came into play and we got a break from the norm. Yes, in addition to (finally) including Margot, Alana Bloom was made bisexual and a badass, Hannibal was made omnisexual, and Will queer curious (all of which I’ll get into more later).
Similarly, new female characters were also introduced: Abigail Hobbs (mentioned without name in ‘Red Dragon’ so technically a new character), Dr. Bedelia du Maurier and Miriam Lass (aka the Clarice/Pre-book Will stand in) in season 1 and Chiyo in season 3 with Chiyo being Japanese. I argue he could have used more people of colour (and could definitely use at least one transgender person to establish a difference between them and Buffalo Bill), but we did get many good female characters (except for Freddie, but everyone hates Freddie) as well as some non-straight. None of these characters are there to be ‘the woman’ or ‘the minority’ or ‘the gay’. They all have their own character arcs, stories, and motivations that make sense…Bedelia’s is a bit fuzzy at times, but I think it’s curiosity and psychiatric interest. None of them are stereotypes. They’re just people with thoughts and feelings.
This, of course, is helped by…
Of course, we have to talk about the two leads: Hugh ‘I Look Twelve if You Shave Me’ Dancy and Mads ‘I Haven’t Aged Since I Started Acting’ Mikkelsen. (Seriously, Google image them. It’s kinda scary) Having met and befriended one another 9 years prior on the set of King Arthur, where they played two of the Knights of the Round Table, both Dancy and Mikkelsen have incredible chemistry together. You can believe their characters are friends, despite everything that happens. The two work so well off each other and are always looking for different ways of exploring their characters’ relationship. Most of the Hannigram stuff came from Dancy and Mikkelsen with Fuller adding more of it into future scripts because of how well they pull it off. It was actually Dancy that helped encourage the creators to go with Mikkelsen as Hannibal. They’re part of what makes Hannibal so incredible and both are pushing for another season. Mikkelsen has even said he won’t do anymore TV unless it’s Hannibal. I could gush on and on about these two and their interviews and how Dancy is the sneakiest thing ever, going all “Oh, it’s platonic.” or “[Insert Cliff Metaphor Here]”, or how he apparently sends Mikkelsen Hannigram fan fiction, but we’d be here all day and there are other actors to talk about.
Laurence Fishburne, probably best known as Morpheus in The Matrix films, plays the first version of Jack Crawford to add in his wife and her cancer and how it affects him. It’s also the first to address how her cancer affects her. In ‘Silence’ we only ever see how Bella’s cancer affects Jack as she catatonic the whole time. Here? We see her fighting. She knows the cancer’s too far gone to stop, but she wants to die on her own terms. Her cancer, however, (And I speak as someone who likes Jack’s “USE THE LADIES ROOM!” line, which was Laurence’s decision to shout that) does end up making her husband’s attitude towards Will harsher and makes me not like Jack much. However, his stress is relatable and makes him sympathetic, even when you want to smack him for not listening to reason. Though what really sells it is the relationship between the two actors, who, again, are in fact married in real life. That’s Gina Torres, who played Zoe in Firefly. Yeah, badass second in command of Serenity. That’s awesome. Torres knows what it’s like to lose someone to cancer. She knows what it looks like to be slipping away and uses that to her advantage here.
Caroline Dhavernas, the lead from Fuller’s Wonderfalls series, makes the amazing progression over three seasons from support to love interest to victim to survivor to ruler in her own right. Everything they do with this woman is conveyed so well because they allow the character to develop beyond what she would normally have for a story arc in a lesser show. Dhavernas has described her character as the heart of the show and that’s very much true. She’s a pillar of stability for Will. She’s the pinnacle of humanity for Hannibal. She’s a sense of safety for Abigail. And she’s the voice of reason for Jack which he promptly ignores. While the others are off not thinking of consequences of their actions, whether for themselves or others, she’s thinking about them and what that means for them. Abigail’s trauma, Will’s mental health, etc. Her greatest strength is her heart and when that is used against her, she remakes herself and moves forward into her relationship with Margot (which I’ll get into). The fact that Dhavernas is both able and is even given the chance to convey all of that is amazing in and of itself. Several actors from former Fuller shows make a reappearance, sometimes as their own former characters.
All the actors are just amazing: Gillian Anderson as Dr. Du Maurier, Hettienne Park, Scott Thompson, and Aaron Abrams as the Sassy Science Trio, Richard Armitage as Francis Dolarhyde, Eddie Izzard as Anthony Hopkins proxy Abel Gideon, even Lara Jean Chorostecki and Raúl Esparza as the Freds, the characters I despise more than Mason Verger, portray their character perfectly. I’m pretty sure there’s not a bad actor in the bunch. Though with Bryan at the wheel that’s pretty much a guarantee by this point.
Equally as important as the actors is…
The introduction chapter Hello, Dr. Lecter by Joseph Westfall in the book ‘Hannibal Lecter and Philosophy’, which he edited, described the various screen incarnations of Hannibal Lecter in simple terms. Brian Cox was the Psychopath. Gaspard Ulliel was the Anti-Hero (and also the last third of Hopkins in Hannibal, which is partly why people don’t like those books/films). Anthony Hopkins was the Vampire (Dracula, not the sparkle ones). The one from the musical was…crazy. (…Okay, he didn’t mention that one.) Mikkelsen though? Mads Mikkelsen’s performance as Dr. Lecter has been described, not just by Westfall, but by Fuller, Slade, and the actor himself as the Devil. This is the version that permeates the first two thirds of the ‘Hannibal’ book. This is the version that is truly scary and thus is the version that’s in the show. It’s the one that’s the most interesting.
Mikkelsen describes him as a fallen angel, someone above humanity but with a deep love for it and wants them to be, what he sees as, the best of themselves. Any unworthy of this will be elevated to something worthwhile, food and art. That is his gift to them. He is a manipulator, watching the people under his care go down their path to destruction without fear of being caught. This is even stated in the show by Hopkins allegory Abel Gideon: “He is the devil, Mr. Graham. He is smoke.” Graham is of particular interest to Hannibal because his mind is so different and yet so similar to his own. He’s the only one who he sees as an equal above the squabbling masses able to outsmart God.
He’s right. Graham is very much his equal. His empathetic condition allows him to take the perspective of anyone, not just criminals, and that’s made him very isolated from others (with the exception of his dogs which are vitally important to liking Will because according to Dancy, “Otherwise he’s just a prick.”). He’s just as lonely as Hannibal is. While Hannibal is the “social antisocial”, Will is antisocial. He does his best to avoid other people and only lets himself be pushed around by Crawford because he was guilt tripped into working for him at the risk of his own sanity. He is the Persephone to Hannibal’s Hades. The Patroclus to Achilles. They are both alone without the other in a world that doesn’t understand them. That doesn’t mean Will goes along with it. He values his sense of right and wrong. He struggles and fights against what Hannibal calls his true nature as a killer.
This is the one adaptation of ‘Red Dragon’ that gets the book right in terms of Will’s character growth. The films always end with him either minimally scared and happily living with his family or just the latter. Here, Will gets torn up. His family is ripped apart by the events of the story and he’s isolated from everyone. He’s brought the closest to where he was at the end of ‘Red Dragon’, but the difference here is that he’s not alone. He has Hannibal. This is his transformation. This is his becoming.
Transformation is a big theme in Harris’s work and its adaptations. Hannibal is no exception. Almost every character in this show is transformed in some way by the end of the series for better or for worse. Let’s look at our leads for example. Will is transformed into a killer that embraces his instincts and dark side rather than repressing it. Hannibal changed Will, but Will changed Hannibal too. Will has taught Hannibal to personally care about someone other than himself. He understands that his relationship with Will and what he does to him has consequences and not everything can go the way he wants it to. It’s why Will lives at the end of season two. Will taught him to love just as Will embracing his darker side allowed him to love Hannibal.
Fireflies and snails are a big motif in the third season which focuses heavily on transformation. The eating of snails, the use of a firefly imago, natural enemies that need each other to survive, etc. It fits well with the themes in season three which, at that point Fuller admits, had been turned into a pretentious art film.
Of course the thing everyone remembers from this show is the Ravenstag and the Windigo. The Ravenstag was used as a metaphor for Will and Hannibal’s relationship while the Windigo became a representation for Hannibal himself. Windigos, for those who don’t know, are monsters in Algonquian (Native American) folklore associated with cannibalism. Legend states that eating other humans leads one to be in danger of becoming or being possessed by a windigo. It’s shown in one scene in season two that Will is in danger of becoming just that through his seduction of Hannibal. (That’s what they call it, I swear)
Fuller has described the show along the lines of “Hannibal Lecter as done by David Lynch.” and that’s a very apt description. There are many parts of the show that are influenced by Lynch’s work. Notably the dream sequences are reminiscent of Twin Peaks, Lynch’s famous and short lived series. They’re a big part of the show that give insight into the minds of various characters: from Will’s fracturing psyche and further delving into Hannibal’s mind to Alana’s world crumbling around her and Bedelia losing herself to the monster.
Other influences you can see in various scenes are Francis Bacon, Stanley Kubrick, Alfred Hitchcock and many others. The script also has influences from Shakespeare and Greek and Roman mythology. There’s so many to point out that I can’t really go into it. You need to watch it.
Many people became turned off with the show as seasons went on because it got farther away from the police procedural aspects that made up the show’s first season. I was fine with it because all shows like this start off episodic in order to get viewers interested. Like Gotham, like The Flash, like SHIELD, and now Hannibal. Once the first season is over, you’re allowed to go into more serialised material and I think it was for the better.
And then there is the food. Oh, the food. There’s a reason they call this show Food Porn. The food is beautiful and looks so good that you honestly forget that it’s supposed to be people. The food stylist, Janice Poon, is amazing in making everything the characters eat look amazing and if you want more you can read her blog Feeding Hannibal. There’s great insight into how she makes everything and even includes recipes for versions of what she’s made (without human meat I assume) which will probably be added into the cookbook she’s releasing in October. The fans are going to eat that up. Pun intended.
The Fan Base
We Fannibals are a strong and mighty bunch. We flood Tumblr with headcannons, metas, and fantheories. We live tweet mass rewatches of the series. We post fanart on DeviantArt and fan fiction on AO3. We adorn our heads with beautiful blood stained flower crowns (antlers optional). And, of course, we make hilarious cannibal jokes on the internet that make everyone else both freaked out and charmed by us. We’re very polite about it. After all, we Eat The Rude.
We’ve long been called a fandom that came out of nowhere. That we suddenly popped into existence in July of 2013 when we started listening the hell out of Welcome to Night Vale in our clamour for something similar to Hannibal (of which there is disappointingly not much). I’m not joking, we’ve been called by the creators of Night Vale part of the reason it got so popular. Our voices are loud because our love for this unique show is so large. We love the characters, we love their struggles, we love the beautiful violence, we love that Fuller stays away from rape (thank you for that by the way), and we love what he has done with our boys.
We are more than a fandom. We are a family. The cast loves us. The crew loves us. They love interacting with us and it’s because of us that the show will live on. May NBC rue the day they cancelled us for our Murder Husbands shall live again. Whether that is a new season or in our plethora of fan fiction that continues to be released will come with time.
You all knew this was coming. It’s time to talk about Hannigram.
One of the big complaints people have against this show was the greater focus on a romantic relationship between Will and Hannibal as the series went on. Some stated it was queerbaiting, but that only works if, like in Supernatural, the writers have no plans to cement the relationship as text instead of subtext while Hannibal did eventually come out and state the love Will and Lecter had for each other. It just took time, like a relationship should. We have a word for that in the fanfic community. It’s called a Slow Burn.
But what was the reason for Hannigram when there was already a canonical relationship in the books to draw from? While, as I mentioned before, a lot of it did come from the chemistry between Dancy and Mikkelsen, at the end of the day it really comes down to a rights issue. The love interest from the books, Clarice Starling, is owned by MGM and not the De Laurentiis Company. She is the protagonist for most of the books, but since this show takes place far before her introduction, they can get away with not including her for now so for the most part it’s not an issue. Instead of trying to shoehorn in a permanent romance with the now genderswapped Dr. Bloom, Fuller wisely decided to instead go with the other protagonist they had available to them: Will Graham.
The Hannigram relationship is dark and twisted and emotionally abusive in how opposite and yet similar to the two are from one another and that tends to push people away who see it as romanticising abusive relationships. For the most part, they are correct. This is an incredibly unhealthy relationship in real life. At the same time, it’s also the most interesting thing about the show and, and this is what’s important, they end up as equals. It’s still an incredibly unhealthy relationship, but they can’t stand being away from each other. They tried for three years and that just made it worse. That’s why they go over the cliff at the end. Either they live together or die together. The ending hints at the former. This, however, also leads into something that’s been worrying me since I got into the show two years ago.
The Problem of Will
In the books, Will Graham is the main protagonist of ‘Red Dragon’. At the start of the books, he’s living in Florida with his wife and step son and has retired from the FBI following Lecter’s capture. At the end, he’s in the hospital with a scarred up face and it’s heavily implied that his wife will divorce him. While he’s mentioned early in ‘Silence’, as a drunk in Florida with a face that’s hard to look at, for the most part the later books seem to try and forget that Will ever existed. This was fine in ‘Silence’. It introduced Clarice as the new main character while acknowledging the fate of the previous one. If this had been an anthology series with a series of detectives working for Crawford and going after Lecter or the books had stopped at ‘Silence’ like it was possibly intended to (or if the show had never existed), this wouldn’t be an issue.
The problem is that the books leave Will on such an unhappy fate and never have any resolution for it, preferring to remain on Clarice due to the popularity of the 1991 film. It’s especially frustrating in light of the television series. As stated before, the reason Will ended up as the love interest is because MGM refused to relinquish the rights to Clarice Starling. As a result, the main draw of the show isn’t Hannibal. It’s Will and Hannibal’s relationship.
Many Clarice/Hannibal fans were upset about this because of the canon relationship between Clarice and Lecter. I would argue that the so called “canon” relationship is an unhealthy one based on brainwashing and Stockholm Syndrome (and, again, RAPE!) where Hannibal is the one in control while this new one is, yes unhealthy by far, but is one that DOESN’T involve brainwashing and Stockholm Syndrome (or rape) and is between equals. Lecter, at the end of ‘Hannibal’, has control over Clarice while at the end of Hannibal, Will and Hannibal are equals in their control over each other. I understand why people don’t like Hannigram because of the codependency and emotional abuse (on top of other problems), but how come I never hear anything about how unhealthy Clannibal is? Only that it’s the “canon” relationship, left as it is only because Harris has never written another book.
My main issue with the Problem of Will (or perhaps I should call it the Problem of Clarice in this case) is that, should the show be brought back, we are closing in very quickly on the ‘Silence’ story arc. How could it not? It’s the most popular part of the franchise. The issue is that in order to do this arc, they need to either get rid of Will, sideline him, or have him replace another character and I’m scared for how they’re going to do that.
On the one hand, they could have him share Hannibal’s role (interviewed by Clarice while locked up in the asylum only to later escape) and have both believe the other is dead only for them to be reunited at the end of the season. On the other hand, they could kill him, replace him with Clarice, and adapt the other half of ‘Hannibal’ (the part with Clarice and her FBI troubles leading to the brainwashing and rape). The former is the one I hope they go with because otherwise we end up with the book ending just for the sake of the book ending and ignore the relationship that came before and was built up as the thing we should care about the most. To do the later would be spitting in the face of fans who had grown to care about Will like readers of ‘Red Dragon’ had.
Thankfully, we’ve been assured that this would not be the case and Will would remain on the show (instead having him and Clarice work together in possibly the way I described above), but it’s something that’s been bothering me for a long time and who knows what the new production company will say in terms of Will and Hannibal’s relationship and Will’s role on the show. New company. New boss.
With that bit of worrying out of the way, let’s get into something else I like about this series.
After Alana Bloom is made a victim by her relationships with Hannibal and Abigail, and to an extent Will, a lesser show would have had Alana stuck as permanently damaged by her trauma. Instead, the show takes it and makes her stronger. It brings her into her own hunt for Hannibal which, in turn, brings her into contact with Margot Verger. This blossoms into a romance that allows an escape for Margot from her brother and stability for Alana, something she always wanted from Will and Hannibal, but for various reasons never got.
Margot, up to this point, has tried to get away from her brother before, by making a baby with Will and running away, but it’s always ended badly. Her brother’s ‘accident’ (see mutilation) has given her some power back, but for the most part she’s still under her brother’s control. Alana gives her an out. Margot’s life, according to her father’s will, is dependant on either her brother or the next male Verger heir. She needs a son to escape her brother. Alana, having a womb that’s not been ripped out by her brother, is able to give her that.
A lot of people complain that the relationship came out of nowhere: they meet and then they bang. What some don’t realise is that there was a whole half a year that we didn’t see because Alana and Margot aren’t the focus. Will and Hannibal are. Over that half a year, Alana and Margot had the opportunity to get to know each other and fall in love. Yes, fall in love. Margot doesn’t leave Alana when their son is born. They’re married and that’s stated in the show. Even with Hannibal threatening their lives, they are the few LGBT characters in television to get a happy ending. They don’t die. They run away with their son to be safe from Hannibal’s wrath when he escapes. Just this once, everybody lives!
Like Bates Motel, Hannibal is a contemporary prequel reboot of the franchise. It takes place (mostly) before ‘Red Dragon’ and explores the relationships of the characters that were only ever alluded to in previous books and films. Mid Eastern America and Italy are where much of the story takes place and to great effect, especially with the seemingly perpetual fall and winter it seems to be in. Very few pieces of media realise just how eerie snow at night can be like Hannibal does and it pulls it off great. Both locations are beautiful and used to great effect and the use of modern day is…alright honestly for the most part this could be taking place in the late 20th century and no one would bat an eye (except for the LGBT parts I suppose).
I’ve mentioned before that Bates Motel is Hannibal brought to its full conclusion and you can see my thoughts on that here, but that really is the best way I can describe it. Had Hannibal been allowed to reach its sixth season (maybe also a movie, Fuller?), it would have been brought full circle just like Bates Motel: explore the story and relationships of the characters and see how they got into the place they were in their biggest movie. In Hannibal’s case, the last season would have been a fix to the end of the ‘Hannibal’ novel which leaves Hannibal winning, Clarice brainwashed by Hannibal into being his lover and co conspirator, and Will alone on a beach in Florida never to be mentioned again. A revival of the show is desperately needed.
At the time of this writing, it has been exactly one year to the day since the show’s finale after it was cancelled by NBC and, according to the cast and crew, was put on hiatus. While this seems similar to the way Doctor Who was cancelled back in 1989 (calling the cancellation of a famous and popular television series a “hiatus” to avoid death threats from fans), Hannibal actually does have a better shot at coming back.
For one thing, this is the twenty first century. We have more access to information and digital media, including television shows, than ever before. Today we have television sites like Netflix and Hulu which allow shows like Hannibal a second chance at life. Examples of this include Arrested Development, The Mindy Project, Community (also canceled by NBC), and Longmire. While there are some shows that may never see the light of day again (it’s been over ten years since anyone last saw the Serenity crew and the cast and crew seem to have moved on with their lives), some of those have been revived in comic book form. Just look at the aforementioned Serenity or Darkwing Duck. Even the 60s Batman series has been revived in comic book form.
Hannibal is not that old. Hannibal still has a chance and everyone from the creators, to the crew, to the actors, are pushing for the show to come back. Currently, the plan is to let the Amazon streaming rights expire (which is exactly one year from today), which will be around the same time the film rights revert from the studio back to De Laurentiis with hopes to head to MGM for both a production studio and the rights to ‘Silence’. In addition, considering how much we’ve been
bugging asking Netflix to stream the show, there’s a very good chance it’ll end up there. Hell, they were already interested before the show ended, but they wanted to stream the older seasons as well as the new ones and Amazon wouldn’t give up the rights. I’ve complained about Amazon before so I won’t here.
The point is, we live in an age where the voices of the fans are heard more than ever before. In 1969, a massive letter campaign brought back the original Star Trek for an additional season leading to enough episodes for syndication and the birth of a larger franchise that continues to this day. In 2005, massive DVD sales of Firefly led it to return as Serenity as well as several comics. And in 2013, the simple hashtag ‘#6SeasonsandaMovie’ rallied fans together to give Community just that. This is 2016. We can have our future. We just need to fight for it.
Remember my Doctor Who comparison from before? Well, guess what long running series is still running to this day? And that was after a 16 (or 12) year wait. Believe me when I say: Hannibal will have its reckoning and it will be glorious.
One year ago, Hannibal’s third season ended with an ending that was touching, feels inducing, and a culmination of everything the leads had gone through to get to this point, finally together as they were meant to be, but at the same time bittersweet with both their fates (and the fate of the show) left uncertain. There is more to this story yes, but at the same time if the show were to end I would rather it end here than at the end of the previous two seasons. The previous seasons left too many threads dangling for there to not be a continuation. This ties most storylines up neatly while leaving just enough so that a continuation isn’t out of the question and, surprisingly unlike the previous seasons, this was the one where they thought they’d get another season.
Regardless if the show continues in the future or ends here, there’s no denying that Hannibal is a masterpiece. It’s equal parts serious horror thriller, eloquent art film, and dark romantic comedy. It is a love letter remix of the entire franchise into one beautiful series. It goes above and beyond the realms of adaptation into its own story that the books never bothered to tell. It pushed the boundaries of what was acceptable on television, parts of which were already being pushed by children’s shows like Steven Universe (in terms of homosexuality on television) that more “adult” shows are still scared to cross. There’s nothing else like Hannibal and I highly recommend it. Yes, there’s a lot of blood. Yes, the food is people, but you forget all that very quickly. In the end, all that you focus on is these two characters and their relationship. That’s what’s important. That’s what’s unique about it. And in the end, that’s why the show is so good.
If I had any complaint with the show, it would be this: you had your chance to rid us of Freddie Lounds and you blew it. Chilton I understand keeping around, but Lounds? The only pleasure I got out of having to watch either of them was that I had the satisfaction of knowing what happens to them in the end. You blew that for me. Thanks a lot Fuller! I expect full on Murder Husband revenge tactics in the next season. You owe us!
I know things look bleak, especially with the continuation of the show still technically up in the air. but don’t lose hope. We are Fannibals. We are strong. We are many. We are loud and our voice will be heard. We will make it through these dark and difficult times. We will see our beloved Murder Husbands again. After all, there were four seats at Bedelia’s dining table. One was for us.
…You may now proceed to scream “NERD!” at me for the next two weeks.
Happy TWOTL Anniversary! I’ll be taking a break this week to recover from this, but I’ll be back next week with…something a hell of a lot shorter. Imma go to bed now.
Information for this post came from the following:
‘The Art and Making of Hannibal The Television Series’ by Jesse McLean
‘Hannibal Lecter and Philosophy’ edited by Joseph Westfall
Bryan Fuller’s Twitter Account
Hannibal created by Bryan Fuller
Various Interviews and Panels
(Photo via Sony Pictures Television)