Television Review

I Myself Can Not: “Hassun”

imyselfcannot

(in which sometimes you just gotta talk to ’em)

JASON: Say, Kate! Have you been reading Bryan Fuller’s weekly interviews with the AV Club? If you haven’t, I would recommend them: Fuller comes off like a very smart man who knows exactly what he’s doing with the show, which is refreshing and means that we’re TOTALLY right about the folder-passing shot last episode. I mention it this week because the interview following “Hassun” made me realize that not a lot happened in this episode, and that most of it was set-up for episode 5, which apparently is going to be the craziest episode yet.

Hannibal is such an entertaining show that even an episode spent moving pieces around on the board is a joy to watch. Question: has the show gotten funnier since the first season, or has it always been this way? I find myself writing down several lines per episode in my notes, just because I’m surprised at how humorous they are. Will’s lawyer, in particular, had a quip for just about ever situation. I don’t know which is better, his muted reaction when he received an ear in the male, or his line to Alana about “stepping in Young Adult and tracking it into the courtroom.” Also deserving of mention: everything about Chilton and Lounds. I cheer whenever Freddie shows up in any context, and even though I love her and her ridiculously inappropriate church-lady hat, it was sooooo satisfying when Will’s lawyer shut her down with two questions. You’re the real Paul Esparza fan here, so I’ll leave any discussion of that to you, except for two words: dat cane.

And I have to hand it to you, Kate: a week after you point out the show’s use of mirroring (which I had missed until then), Hannibal opens with the most blatant example to date. Well, technically, the episode doesn’t open with Will and Hannibal getting dressed for court, it opens with Will dreaming about pulling the switch on his own execution. I’m wondering if that’s going to get more attention, or if we’re just meant to interpret it as-is. My initial impression was that Will was expressing a latent death wish, wondering whether it would be easier to just let himself be convicted and get out of this whole crazy circus. But nothing in the episode bears this out… unless I missed something.

Come to think of it, I probably did miss something. Until I read that interview, I thought we were still meant to believe that Hannibal was the copycat killer. All those deeply unsettling lines about Will not letting the killer’s love go to waste, coupled with that unexpectedly sad image of Hannibal sitting alone in his office, lead me to believe that the new murders were Hannibal’s way of saving Will’s life, while allowing himself to remain free from suspicion. And yet, Fuller seems to imply that at this point, Will’s admirer is a mystery. What’s going on, Kate? Did I miss something? Seeing Will in that electric chair did nearly drive me into hysterics, but I do believe my delicate Victorian lady composure was restored by the end of the episode.

Something else that disturbed my delicate emotional equilibrium: Jack Crawford. Boy, back in episode one, I hated Jack for refusing to believe Will. When the two of them were speaking in the prison, I was almost looking forward to that fast-approaching moment when Hannibal jams a piece of glass into Jack’s neck — and if you ever had any doubts that I was unqualified for legitimate criticism, well, there you go. But now, I’m more on Jack’s side than I’ve ever been. It wasn’t just his act of professional suicide that doubled as a re-affirmation of his own guilt in what happened to Will, it was the conversation he had afterwards with Hannibal. We haven’t seen Bella in a while, and hearing the details of their life together as she nears her death was like a sucker-punch. The way Jack got teary-eyed and choked up was heartbreaking. I forget how great Laurence Fishburne really is, which is the risk you run when you surround him with people like Mads Mikkelsen and Hugh Dancy.

One last thing about that interview: Fuller mentions later in the season, we’ll be seeing some “other patients” that Hannibal has been “encouraging.” That’s got to be Verger siblings, right? Oh, man, I can’t wait until Mason Verger shows up. No, that doesn’t do it justice. When Mason Verger makes his first appearance, I am going to split the time-stream in half so I can watch that episode with my 15-year-old self and give him a bunch of high-fives. Wait, that may have been too much in the opposite direction. Well, I’m excited, anyway.

Please don't ever change, Freddie.

Please don’t ever change, Freddie.

KATE: It’s good to be excited, Jason! Embrace it! I’m excited for the Verger siblings to show up as well, although I’ve always preferred my Vergers (especially Mason) post-mutilation. Spoilers, readers: Hannibal likes to mess around with his patients. Anyway, I’m sure it’ll be riveting. Look what the show has already done with the Hannibal/Will relationship! I’m not sure if the readers are familiar, but Red Dragon, the first book in the “Hannibal” series, takes place after Hannibal has been caught by Will and put in jail. The TV show is largely working in unexplored material that we as the audience had only previously imagined. I imagine (and hope!) the Verger subplot will be treated the same way. Let’s face it, good back story and prequelization are so hard to pull off successfully. I know “prequelization” isn’t a word, but bear with me. Just look at Hannibal Rising. Actually, please don’t. It’s awful.

My point being that it is difficult to retroactively pull off a background story of a character, particularly one as well known as Hannibal Lecter. There’s almost no way for it to work and it rarely adds anything. I never wanted to know why Darth Vader turned evil. Everything you need to know about him is right there on the surface. I never wanted to know how the Wicked Witch of the West became so wicked. In great stories, your villains can speak for themselves. It’s not just evil characters, either. No one needed to know how Carrie Bradshaw moved to New York and met Samantha.  All of this is just to say that Hannibal is abnormally good at its job and the Verger subplot will hopefully be no exception. There’s very juicy material there, if someone knows how to write it. As much as I love Gary Oldman, I rewatched Hannibal (the movie) the other day and man, it is pretty awful. The story could definitely stand a new approach. Yeesh.

This season does seem to be more humorous than the last. I think the snappy lines and quick jokes are part fan service and part Bryan Fuller. Like any beloved book turned TV series, there are a lot of inside jokes and foreshadowing for the fans. Look at Game of Thrones! Every time the word “wedding” was said during the third season of GoT, the editors could have inserted this cue and saved themselves a lot of time, but they didn’t. Part of that may be storytelling for people who aren’t familiar with the source material, but I think it’s a subtle acknowledgement to the fan base. The hard core fans want to see Chilton be irritatingly pompous because they know what happens to him; the casual fans want to see Chilton be irritatingly pompous because it works towards what will happen. And yes, I do love Raul Esparza. He isn’t the most subtle performer on the show, but that’s what the role calls for. Chilton is intelligent, but he’s mostly snide and self absorbed. Have they shown Chilton with a cane before? Is that related to his kidney issue? I’m almost positive Chilton doesn’t need it, he just likes showing off.

All in all, I think you covered my thoughts on this week’s episode, Jason. I found it to be a little uneventful, save for the dead judge and Freddie’s hat. Every show has its filler and development episodes, so I’m not too worried. Not to mention, we know by now to trust in the wisdom of Bryan Fuller. If he tells me that episode five will be crazy, it will be. So say we all, in the name of Fuller, Dancy and Mikkelsen.

JASON: So say we all!

I Myself Can Not: “Kaiseki”

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(in which Jason and Kate return from hiatus to talk about the season-two premiere of Hannibal, a show that they TOTALLY LIKED BEFORE EVERYONE ELSE, not to be a jerk about it, but come on, give us some credit)

JASON: And we’re back!

You know, Kate, it’s weird to think that just under a year ago, we were looking on the idea of a Hannibal series as if it were the stupidest thing imaginable. Even after the gorgeous, surprising first episode, I still wasn’t totally convinced. Bryan Fuller and his band of merry men won me over as the season went on, even if I was still a little on edge. Looking back on it now, my lack of faith was disgraceful and I should be ashamed. Also, it manifested itself in a lot of weird ways in our reviews. Remember that time I said that the show wanted us to disassociate from our bodies? A little much, don’t you think?

Well, all that is over, now. I put my full trust into the holy trinity of Bryan Fuller, Hugh Dancy and Mads Mikkelsen, along with the many minor deities of Hannibal, from composer Brian Reitzell to cinematographers James Hawkinson and Karim Hussain to every other actor in the show. And the world is on my side, too! Everyone’s got Hannibal fever. With all reservations put aside, I was able to kick back, relax and let the show do its thing, and my first though upon starting the episode was: OH MY GOD I HAVE MISED THS SHOW SO MUCH.

Actually, my first thought was “the big fight scene in season one felt kind of weird but this one is so thrilling and well-choreographed not to mention CRAZY that I have no such reservations.” So, I’ve still got a modicum of critical thought left. Which is good.

Yeah, let’s start off with the fact that Hannibal is apparently going to stab Jack Crawford in the neck. I’m not entirely sold on flash-forwards as a concept, but that one was so engaging that I’m going to let it slide. Plus, it reminds me of how the writers of Breaking Bad would set up flash-forwards without having a plan for getting there, thus giving themselves a goal the were forced to meet. At the very least, we now know that Jack is going to get on Hannibal’s bad side by the end of the season, which will certainly shake things up.

There’s so much to talk about in this episode, I don’t even know where to start. How cool was it to see Will in his new surroundings? I mean, not “cool”, since my heart breaks a little more every time I see him behind bars, but his new attitude is a pleasure to watch. Will is still on-edge to say the least, but he’s no longer on a slippery slope to insanity like he was last season. Now that he’s playing the Hannibal to Hannibal’s Will Graham (huh?), Hugh Dancy gets to show off a new side of Will that still fits with the borderline-autistic murder-genius we’ve all come to love.

Okay, I can’t hold it back anymore: Kate! Will Graham has a memory palace! Granted, it’s not exactly like the thing that Thomas Harris describes in the Hannibal novel—for one thing, it’s just a river in the woods, and for another, it’s Will that goes there, not Hannibal. But it’s close enough to set off my Hannibal Geek Radar.

That radar went off for another reason when Hannibal and Jack sat down to dinner, though, and Hannibal made an off-handed mention of “Aunt Murasaki.” For those of you who know all aspects of the Hannibal mythos—or those of you who love bad novels—that name should be familiar. Would it be melodramatic to say that the idea of Bryan Fuller incorporating Hannibal Rising into the show makes me gag? He’s too smart for that, right? You think maybe he’s just trying to get a rise out of us? Yeah? That’s got to be it, right?

I’m edging out of criticism into pure rambling, so I’m going to pass the baton to you, my more levelheaded co-writer. Please tell me I’m going crazy, and that Hannibal Rising didn’t really happen, and while you’re at it, I guess you can tell me how you felt about the episode. If you need me, I’ll be on the Victorian fainting couch, hand pressed to my forehead.

kaiseki

Classic memory palace.

KATE: Hey Jason! Long time, no see!

So, where do we go from here? The first season of Hannibal was, quite simply, beautiful. The acting was terrific, the plot was detailed but easy to access and the set design…well, I’ve gushed about this before. Frankly, I’m surprised that so many other people liked the show as much as we did! I loved the first season, but I’m somewhat of a Hannibal superfan, for all of its ups and downs over the years. Why would anyone else bother? If I was an average person approaching this show, I’m guessing all I would know is that it’s yet another installment in a long running franchise. My best guess is that people were lured by the idea of another police procedural and were hooked by its particular kookiness. That’s neither here nor there.

Hannibal is back and better than ever…so far. Second seasons are notoriously tricky. Any TV show can put together a stellar first season before they fall off in quality. Can the second season of Hannibal live up to all of the buzz of the past year? If the first episode of season two is any indication, I think it can. I spent most of the episode furiously scribbling notes between freaking out over the on screen visuals. Some of them are insightful, some of them are dumb…all of them are imbued with a certain “HANNIBAL IS BACK, HANNIBAL IS BACK” mania. No worries, there. I’m as pumped for this season as you are.The new Hannibal/Will dynamic is an interesting direction for the show to take. It’s obviously a reversal of what we may know from the earlier movies and novels. For one thing, Will’s cell is almost identical to Hannibal’s from Silence of the Lambs. For another, it gives Will some room to breathe. He isn’t any less crazy, so to speak, but he has gained a new sense of identity. He’s safe behind his creepy plastic jail cell. There aren’t any new killer of the week cases to grab his attention, he isn’t being tricked into eating people’s ears, he’s got a sweet memory palace to escape to… I mean, the situation is looking up!

It will be interesting to see where the show takes Will’s situation throughout the season. Keeping your main character in jail has to chafe the writers a little bit, don’t you think? Of course, it also gives the show more incentive to hang out with other characters, especially Hannibal. Is it just my imagination or did we spend more time with Hannibal this episode than any in season one? He has a lot to do, after all. Hannibal is the new Will Graham over at the FBI, as well as resident psychopath of the DC area…he’s got a lot to keep him busy. (Why does Hannibal work for the FBI now? Is there seriously no one else trained in criminal psychology working at the FBI? Really?) Mads Mikkelson has always been wonderful in this role and it was nice to spend more time with him this week. A particular favorite of mine was the scene between Hannibal and Dr. Du Maurier, as he began to discuss his compulsions towards Will. What is his motivation here? In some strange way, I think Hannibal genuinely cares about Will. Framing him for Abigail’s murder was just an unfortunate by product of an unfortunate situation. Some one had to go to jail, Will just happened to be collateral damage. That’s serial killer logic for you, I guess.

Help me out, Jason. First crazy Hannibal theory of the season: Do you think Dr. Du Maurier knows about Hannibal? She hinted at it heavily in this scene. For example, “Jack Crawford doesn’t know what you’re capable of…” or “You’re putting me in a position to lie…again.” If she does know (or at least suspects), why would Hannibal keep her alive? Does he owe her a debt? (Maybe). Is she secretly Aunt Murasaki? (No.) Am I crazy? (Probably.) I’m not too worried by the random mention of Aunt Murasaki. If Fuller has control over the character, it won’t be too awful. Look at Freddie Lounds. I didn’t find him particularly engaging in the novels and films, but on this show, they’re morphed her into a character that works. I hope…I just really hope  they don’t bring up Mischa as a plot point. Like, ever.

I Myself Can Not: Savoureux

imyselfcannot(in which Jason and Kate finally finish up their season-long look at Hannibal, miraculously getting their final review logged before the second season begins)

JASON: Well, gee, Kate: where do we go from here?

I’ve talked before about my expectations for Hannibal and how they were quickly dashed when the show turned out to be a moody, intelligent, well-shot crime drama with an endearingly dark obsession with death and mutilation. But I formed another set of expectations when Bryan Fuller described the season’s arc as “the story of a man losing his mind” (or something to that effect). I figured Will Graham would slowly drift away from reality, only to be pulled back at the last minute before something really terrible happened. I expected that Hannibal would clean up his mess and move forward with the rest of the world none the wiser to his true nature… and I thought we might end the season with an ironically emotional moment cementing Hannibal as Will’s only true friend.

And that’s sure not what we got!

To recap: after Hannibal force-fed Will a piece of Abigail’s ear, he was able to pin Will for her murder and several other murders that Hannibal himself committed this season. It looks like Will might FINALLY get the medical attention he needs, but due to Hannibal’s meddling, it won’t account for the time he supposedly killed all those people. Will gets locked up in a facility for the criminally insane, but not before he finally realizes that Hannibal isn’t what he appears to be.

Actually, so maybe we should back up a little. We haven’t discussed this show in three weeks, after all.

In a way, these last three episodes all function as one big finale, bringing back characters from previous episodes and tying up their stories. It was especially nice to see Abel Gideon show back, after the show seemingly dropped the Chesapeake Ripper plot, a storyline that impacted all the main characters to some degree. The culmination of Gideon’s storyline was mostly about Graham and his deteriorating mental state, though Jack Crawford’s past failures drove his obsession with the case and informed every action he took, even if we weren’t overtly reminded of it. In fact, the culmination of the entire season ended up being about Will and Dr. Lecter, which is the way it should be… but still, Laurence Fishburne’s version of Jack Crawford was so entertaining, I’m a little disappointed we didn’t get any more from the subplot about his wife’s cancer. I’d like to seen him get even more material next year.

Then there’s Abigail… I guess we should have seen it coming, but it was still chilling to see the walls close in on her like that. Before I throw it to you, Kate, I’d like to say that the final scene of episode 12 was my favorite of the entire season, specifically the moment where Abigail asks the question that we’ve been asking all season: why, Hannibal? What drove you to warn Garret Jacob Hobbs of his impending death and then to become so invested in his daughter’s life? The answer: curiosity. It was the obvious answer, but to hear Dr. Lecter say it so matter-of-factly was chilling.

KATE: I agree. Hannibal seems like such a psychopath that it would be folly to try and hash out his motivations, although many will theoretically try and fail in the episodes to come. And yet…he’s astonishingly simple. Hannibal is a psychiatrist. He’s interested in human behavior and motivation, so why wouldn’t he be curious to see what people do when put into certain scenarios? If you throw in the fact that he’s an avid cannibal and all around psychopath, then it makes almost perfect sense. Of course, that doesn’t make it any less chilling, which is why the show works as a series and why Hannibal is a great character.

Alright, now that I’ve effectively praised the show, who’s in the mood for some crackpot theories? I thought so! I can’t tell you why, but I have a sneaking suspicion that Abigail isn’t dead. Yeah, Will coughed up one of her ears and yeah, the floor of the Hobbes’ house is smeared with a mysterious blood like stain…but that doesn’t mean anything! I’ve always been a firm believer in the TV convention that if the audience doesn’t see a body, the character probably isn’t dead. This show invested so heavily in Abigail, both as a plot device and motivation for the other characters to develop and grow. She wasn’t a one episode guest star like Lance Henriksen or Molly Shannon. Why would they kill her? Pure shock value? If Hannibal was trying to frame Will as the copycat Chesapeake Ripper, wouldn’t he have planted her body somewhere in some ornate, ceremonial fashion? If Hannibal did kill Abigail, do you think he ate her? That seems like something Hannibal would find rude, given their prior relationship. It’s one thing for Hannibal to murder a poorly trained flautist; it’s quite another for him to kill and eat someone he thought of as his daughter.

At any rate, all we know for sure at this point is that Abigail is missing an ear.  On the other hand, I may very well be grasping at straws in a vain attempt to convince myself that Hannibal isn’t over for the next year or so. What are we gonna do, Jason? What are we going to do without Hannibal?

JASON: I’d usually agree with you about the bodies, but in this case, I think we actually DID see a body–it was just in the form of veal! Abigail does seem like a major character to kill off, but I think it was meant to shock. Not a cheap, empty kind of shock, but the shock that comes with the title character of the show murdering his surrogate daughter after we spent the whole season becoming invested in her. I just don’t think there’s any way Hannibal could let her live at that point, and I think he ate her because… well, that’s kind of his thing. It also harkens back to the Hobbs family philosophy of “honoring” every part of the kill, which is something Hannibal could definitely get behind in this situation.

But speaking of crackpot theories, I have one of my own! It actually has to do with something you mentioned a few weeks ago, but I never go the chance to address: the one time Freddie Lounds eats dinner at Hannibal’s, she specifically requests a vegetarian meal. As far as I remember, that makes her the only main character who hasn’t eaten human flesh (inadvertently or otherwise). That’s got to mean something, right? Either it’s a nice bit of irony that the most morally suspect character on the show is the only one not to indulge in cannibalism… or it’s a sign that Freddie Lounds isn’t as sleazy as we think, and that we shouldn’t be so quick to judge her!

It’ll come as no surprise to you that Freddie is my favorite character at this point, but I don’t want to make excuses for her. She’s fucked over more than a few people, and she’s (mostly) responsible for that cop’s death in episode two. Still, there’s something so pure in her self-interest and sleaziness… she’s like that grape Hannibal showed off in one episode–the same all the way through, from the skin down to the core. Hannibal is the exact opposite, a black-hearted villain in a “person suit”. Jack Crawford is awfully shifty in his treatment of Will, Jack’s wife lies about having cancer, Will is honest with others most of the time but never honest with himself, and Alana Bloom… well, I guess Alana’s okay. She IS the reason that Hannibal got involved in the first place, but that’s just because she was wrong, not because she was being dishonest. Maybe this crackpot theory is still more of a crackpot hypothesis.

I don’t know what we’ll do for the next year, Kate, I just don’t know! But what are you most excited about in the second season (besides the fact that it’s actually happening?) The prospect of seeing Mason Verger on television is almost too much to bear, and then there’s this little bit of news that I’m very excited to see play out.

KATE: Well now that you’ve told me that, I think I’m most excited about David Bowie! Will it really happen? Do we really have to wait a whole year to find out?  Have they announced the premiere date of the second season? I need to know how much longer I have to wait, Jason! I need to know!

Where is Mason Verger going to fit into all of this? In the novels, Mason is the only one of Hannibal’s victims to survive (albeit with half of a face). He also plays a vital role in putting Hannibal in jail, so where are they going? It’s actually a somewhat interesting prospect. Will and Mason (in the novels at least) are the two characters that experience Hannibal’s violence first hand while living to tell the tale. That seems like a workable angle for the television show to play off of, but will they really put Hannibal in a jail cell this early? He should be nice and incarcerated by the fourth season premiere, but that’s neither here nor there. I’m also curious as to who they will cast as Mason Verger. I have a hard time picturing Mason Verger as anything but a lipless Gary Oldman attempting a southern accent, but I have my hopes! Of course, they won’t introduce Mason already mangled…or will they?

JASON: I don’t know, Kate. I just don’t know! I guess they might introduce Mason Verger pre-mangled and then have his face-cutting incident happen during the season… boy, that’d be a sight to see on basic cable, wouldn’t it? You raise a good point about the parallels between Mason and Will, which I’m sure will not go unexplored by the show’s writers… although, the way things are going for Mr. Graham, it’s hard to say who comes out of the whole thing worse.

Actually, no, it’s not. Being a faceless pedophile is probably one of the worst things you can be.

No exact return date has been set for Hannibal, but I look forward to it with just as much frothing anticipation as you do, and I hope you’ll join me for another lively discussion sometime next year.

Say goodnight, Kate!

KATE: Goodnight Jason!

I Myself Can Not: “Pilot”

(Kate and I have been friends for a long time, about ten years, give or take, and since 2005 I don’t know if we’ve gone a whole conversation without some reference to the ‘Hannibal’ franchise. So when I decided to write about the new NBC series, it seemed right to invite her along.)

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JASON: Can I say right up front that I thought this would be terrible? When I first heard about Hanibal, I pictured a rote police procedural about an FBI agent and his weeeeeeird partner, with characters from the ‘Hannibal’ franchise slotted into it. I figured there would be the requisite references to the original series, but in the worst, most prequel-y way, with a lot of winks to the audience and clumsy foreshadowing. Basically, I expected Law & Order but one of the characters is constantly making puns about cannibalism.

But Hannibal is not that, and it’s actually really good. At least in the pilot. it’s a visually stunning crime drama more interested in the characters than the serial-killer of the week. Will Graham is probably the least memorable character in the entire ‘Hannibal’ mythos–even though he’s the protagonist of the first book–but I was invested in him from the first scene of the show, thanks to Hugh Darcy’s vulnerable portrayal and the neat trick of having Will live through the actions of the killer he’s investigating. You can see from the start what a terrible strain this talent has on Will, but also how crucial it is to his life. And then there’s the hallucinations…

But before I get too carried away: what about you, Kate? Did you go into this show expecting anything in particular?

KATE:  Yes. I was also expecting it to be terrible, like some unneeded reboot or revision of the original books with the occasional cheesy nod to fans (ha-ha, Hannibal is drawing the Florence Duomo!) And it is a little like that, but like you said, it’s actually good. The characters are recognizable but familiar…the sets are similar to those we’ve seen in other ‘Hannibal’ movies. Anyway, a lot of this is due to the creative edge of Bryan Fuller. He’s all over this show, from the dream sequences to the stylized cinematography. This is very important. Not only has Fuller done a lot of work in TV, he knows how to make something captivating and also slightly off-putting at the same time.

I’m definitely left wanting more. Is this going to be a total reimagining? Or will it have random asides and twists that are familiar to the audience but manage to push the forward in a new direction, a la Battlestar Galactica or Once Upon a Time? Is Hannibal a cannibal yet? Or is the script designed to make us think he is?

You mentioned Hugh Dancy’s performance and I completely agree. (Did they mention he has Asperger’s or did I imagine that? If they did, it’s brilliant and totally works for the character’s obsessive tendencies and skill as a detective.) However, I’d like to point out that the casting of Mads Mikkelsen as Hannibal is one of the best decisions this show could have made. He isn’t creepy, but you know something is off, even if you’ve never heard of Hannibal Lecter. What did you think?

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JASON: You’re right about Mikkelsen. I don’t remember him from Casino Royale, but he’s really bringing his A-game, an absolute necessity when you’re taking over a role that’s been played by Anthony Hopkins, Brian Cox… and let’s not forget Gaspard Ulliel! Actually, let’s do just that.

Mikkelsen isn’t imitating Hopkins, but his Lecter is closer to Silence of the Lambs Lecter than to Manhunter Lecter, with the vaguely European prissiness and calculated use of language. As I remember it, the Hannibal in Manhunter really just sat around and said mean things. Also: no one in the show has remarked upon it thus far, but if you actually met Will and Hannibal at the same time, Will is the one who’d make you really uncomfortable. Hannibal has an undercurrent of menace to everything he says, but Will is constantly, visibly on the verge of a nervous breakdown.

Speaking of Will’s fragile state of mind–and you’re not imagining it, Will mentioned that he was somewhere on the Autism spectrum–the dream sequences in the pilot are fantastic. Since The Sopranos, a lot of shows have utilized dream sequences in interesting ways, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen them done with this much visual panache. Some of that is due to this episode’s director, David Slade–who is coming back several times this season, thankfully–but I hope the rest of the series follows suit. I especially like how the dreams eventually bleed into something like hallucinations, further suggesting how Will’s instability is linked to his intelligence, because it follows the show-don’t-tell rule. That creepy bird-deer hybrid said more about Will than any tossed-off exposition could.

As for the future of the series, Bryan Fuller said that season four would cover the Red Dragon era, which is sort of exciting and sort of scary, because it suggests that Hannibal will go the Smallville route and become more of a re-telling than an origin story… and we all know how that worked out for Smallville. Apparently, Fuller and company are still working out rights issues with MGM, since they own the character of Clarice Starling (and are developing a show based around her, which I had forgotten about). Even if the rights aren’t an issue, there are about a hundred ways this show could go off the rails. Right now, though, I’m excited.

I have two embarrassing things to admit: 1) I didn’t catch the Florence Duomo reference, and 2) this is the first of Bryan Fuller’s work that I have ever seen. I get the feeling that’s not the case for you, so let me ask: how does Hannibal compare to the other show’s he’s worked on?

KATE: I’m filled with both trepidation and hope when the press jacket includes a show runner talking about a 4th season when the pilot hasn’t even aired. I’m not sure that happens with any other show. In one sense, it’s comforting to know that Bryan Fuller has a plan for the show. I absolutely hate a very promising show that spins into mediocrity because writers have no sense of direction or basic storytelling, like Lost or Buffy the Vampire Slayer. (Dear reader, if there is something you must know about Jason and I, it’s that I absolutely hate Lost while Jason regards it as legitimate, good television.) So there’s hope…but also fear. A lot of fear. You are, after all, talking to someone who actually thought Hannibal Rising would be a decent book.

Mads Mikkelsen is fabulous, as I gushed earlier. He’s definitely hitched his cart to the Hopkins style Hannibal, but I do think there are certain portions of Brian Cox’s performance at work as well. In my mind, his Hannibal was straightforward, not mean. He enjoyed his interactions with Will because it worked to underscore just how incompetent he made Will feel, which he fed on. At any rate, Hugh Dancy and Mikkelsen have great chemistry, which I hope they continue to rely on going forward.

Hannibal is more of a visual hallmark of Fuller’s style than anything else. Like I said before, it’s his special effects and cinematography. To be honest, I’ve only seen one or three episodes from each of his previous series, but his panache is obvious, no matter what he touches, much like Joss Whedon or Ronald D. Moore.

Did you not like Smallville? I actually thought it was well done for a WB show, especially one that was solely made to retell something it’s key demographic grew up with. However, this was also before fandom got to the oddly huge Tumblr-esque proportions it’s at today.

I want a new episode. I can’t wait for tomorrow.

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JASON: As far as Smallville goes, I didn’t actually watch past the first season, but from what I had gathered, it went off the rails when Michael Rosenbaum left and the writers started introducing more superheroes while not allowing Clark Kent to actually become Superman. I guess that reveals how willing I am to jump on a hate-filled bandwagon, but I think my point still stands that Hannibal could easily screw up all the elements that make the pilot so fascinating. For instance: what if the show runs long enough to cover the Silence Of The Lambs era? Do we really want to see Mads Mikkelsen glowering at Hugh Dancy (and whatever ersatz Jodie Fisher the casting directors dig up) from behind a glass wall? I’m sure Mikkelsen would be great at that, but can you imagine anything more distracting than watching him re-create one the film’s most famous sequence? Also, what if the show covers the events from the Hannibal film? I’m not sure there’s any way to salvage that material. Same goes for the Hannibal book–they’re both two distinct flavors of awful.

At the same time, it speaks to my interest in this show that I’m actually excited by everything I just mentioned. Sure, the Hannibal novel is terrible–but that just means there’s room for improvement. It feels like heresy to even think this, but: a re-telling of the Clarice Starling Hannibal stories, minus Clarice, could make for interesting television. By the time we got to Season 5, the novel of Silence of the Lambs would be thirty years old. I think that’s more than long enough for a re-interpretation.

But I don’t want to get too ahead of myself. Right now, all we have is surprisingly well-made hour of television full of impressive performances (we didn’t really get to it, but is any actor better at instantly switching from genial to commanding than Laurence Fishburne ?) and promising creative choices… which is no small accomplishment, but it doesn’t guarantee that the rest of the show will be any good. I have high hopes, though, which is more than I had before.

P.S. I can’t believe you brought up Lost so soon, Kate. It’s like you’re trying to sabotage our partnership before it even begins.