Monday, June 24, 2013

HANNIBAL "Savoureux" Fine Dining

Article first published as HANNIBAL "Savoureux" Fine Dining on TheTVKing.

It's immediately apparent from the start that NBC's Hannibal isn't the typical network series. With artistic, sweeping visuals, courtesy of creator Bryan Fuller (Pushing Daisies, Wonderfalls), it is also very edgy with layered, compelling characters and neat twists. While the gruesome subject matter takes a little while to grow on some, the storytelling is top notch from episode one, and it's clear there is an amazing epic tale to be told, should the series get the seven seasons Fuller has in mind.

Season one ends this week with "Savoureux." All the evidence says that Will (Hugh Dancy) has killed Abigail Hobbs (Kacey Rohl, The Killing), and even he believes it himself, though he can't remember it, assuming it is a natural extension of his psychosis. However, when additional clues point to Will having killed four others, two of which died before he started experiencing black outs, Will begins to suspect he's being set up.

A hallmark of a hero is one who continues to fight when all of the odds are against him, even when those closest to him have turned their backs on him. Will's friends all have different ideas about what exactly he has done and why or how he did it, but no one believes his paranoia, save himself and the man who framed him. With Will ending the year sitting in a jail cell, there is still much of his journey ahead of him.

We all know that Will will beat this rap and clear his name, but we don't know when or how this might happen. Stacking the odds so completely against him at this point is wonderful, and it leaves the show at a very good place for the second run. With Fuller not planning on reaching the events of the book Red Dragon until season four, Will still has two more years before he can expose who Hannibal (Mads Mikkelsen) really is.

I do worry that Hannibal won't get to play out the whole course. While critically respected, it's not hugely watched, much like Fuller's previous efforts, which didn't survive long. Hopefully, with word of mouth and binge viewing of repeats, it will gain a larger following by next year. Feeling very much like a dark, award-worthy, boundary-pushing cable show, even without the nudity and vulgarity, which for some reason aren't much missed, it deserves the chance.

The problem with already knowing the events of seasons four through six (which are set to adapt the three books these characters come from) is that most of the major players are not in any real peril. Will can't die in season two, nor can Jack; the central cast is safe. Yet, that doesn't take away at all from the enjoyment of the show because the characters are so well crafted, and we don't know how they are going to get to those points. If the show is smart, it will make some departures from the source material and rewrite the rules. But for now, it's completely great without having to make many changes, aside from switching genders on a couple of players.

As much as it might seem so right now, Will is not the center of Hannibal. That belongs to the titular character. However, it will take multiple seasons to get Hannibal into a position where he can carry the show himself. Currently, his inaccessibility to viewers, the way he hides most of himself from others, and because we don't see much of what he does, prevents him from being front and center. Yet, there are already signs that the show is well-structured enough to move that way eventually, which should be gratifying if it comes to pass.

In "Savoureux," we get to see the emotional side of Hannibal for pretty much the first time. He actually openly weeps in front of his psychiatrist, Dr. Bedelia De Maurier (Gillian Anderson, The X-Files). It could be a front, as we know Hannibal hides things from Bedelia and puts on a face for her, but it doesn't seem so. Hannibal cares about both Will and Abigail, so it's understandable he would grieve for losing the dynamic with the two of them that he has, especially if he plays a hand in destroying those relationships, which "Savoureux" strongly hints at, leaving just enough doubt to know for sure.

Is Hannibal more upset about Will or Abigail? He professes the latter, and that makes sense, since he sees her as someone to nurture and protect. Yet, he also admits in an earlier episode that Will is the first person in awhile he sees as a friend. This seems to indicate that his feelings extend to both, not just one or the other.

Of course, Abigail may not even be dead. Until the body is seen, a little blood and a severed ear don't prove anything conclusively. In fact, the absence of her cadaver seems to indicate the opposite.

I am extremely interested in Bedelia, whom we don't know much about. Dialogue in this finale seem to indicate that she knows that Hannibal is both a killer and a cannibal (the veal he serves her is likely young Abigail, if she's dead) and worries about his activities staying a secret, not wanting him to get caught. Yet, she refuses to have a personal relationship or dine at his house. Also, there's the still-untold story of a patient Hannibal refers to her attacking Bedelia. What exactly is the interplay between them? What is in their past? What are her secrets?

While Hannibal cries, showing humanity, Jack (Laurence Fishburne) turns cold, eschewing it. The signs are there previously in the way that Jack pushes Will to keep working, despite the negative affects that work is having on him, and acts very coldly towards Abigail when he believes her to be a killer. We know Hannibal is the villain and Jack is a hero, but Hannibal is painting the opposite pictures of both. It will be delicious to see how that reverses down the road.

I feel most sorry for Alana Bloom (Caroline Dhavernas). She blames herself for not fighting Jack harder on protecting Will and keeping him safe. She worries more about healing Will than what he has done. While she may be right, there likely isn't much more she could have done for Will, anyway, so hopefully those are emotions she can come to terms with and move past.

Also, if I may plead for one change from the books, please make Alana Will's eventual wife! Their chemistry is fantastic, and I want so badly to see them together. We know Will is married in Red Dragon, so how about get them together in the next year or two? If nothing else, it saves the budget of hiring another main character.

The ending of this episode is perfect, with Hannibal striding through the halls to majestic music and seeing Will in his cell, evoking images from other adaptations of the story, where Hannibal is usually the one behind bars. What a great way to tie this to its fore bearers, and yet, also serve the characters as they have been created here!

"Savoureux" is a masterful pause point, with praise-worthy performances from Dhavernas, Anderson, Fishburne, Mikkelsen, and, as always, Dancy. Some things are concluded, and other plot threads are just getting started. The batch of guest stars in season one is stellar, and it's hard to imagine next year's group will be as good, but one can hope, as excellent talent is definitely drawn to this project. I can't wait to see where Fuller takes us next!

Hannibal will return to NBC sometime in 2014.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.