May 24, 2014

Hannibal: Season 2 Review

            Hannibal from the very beginning has been described as a cable show (both in aesthetic and content) that just happens to be stuck on NBC.  The show’s second season continued to prove this observation as creator Bryan Fuller and company took their Hannibal Lecter prequel series to darker and scarier heights.  There were a few bumps along the way (the season premiere is somewhat of a misstep leaving the show playing catch-up for a few episodes and this season’s storyline can get a tad ridiculous which becomes quite apparent during the darker moments) but season two proves that Hannibal is here to stay as one of the very best programs on television.

            The second season picks up with Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) behind bars after being framed as the Chesapeake Ripper.  Will must now find a way to prevent his sentencing to death while also convincing the world who the real Chesapeake Ripper is, Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen).  Bryan Fuller continues as showrunner for the series while David Slade continues to lead the directing team.

            What made Hannibal so distinctive in its first season were its unique visual style and its meticulously crafted character arcs.  Both of these, for the most part, remain in the second season.  Despite the departure of David Slade in the first half of the season (he returns in the second half of the season to direct a couple episodes including the gorgeously brutal season finale) the series is surprisingly able to retain much of that unique visual style.  This is a massive achievement considering when the director behind such a unique visual style leaves a series the visual style tends to become obnoxious (just look at what happened to Sherlock when Paul McGuigan left the series for its recent third season). 

            Additionally, there is a large increase in logic jumps and questionable character decisions in this season.  This season is certainly more ambitious than the first but some of these mistakes can be quite noticeable.  Luckily, the character arcs set in motion during this season are interesting enough that you are able to overlook most of these mistakes.  Plus, as the relationship between Will and Lecter continue so do the performances behind these characters.  Hugh Dancy perfectly sells a much more dangerous side of Will Graham while Mads Mikkelsen continues to prove that subtlety can add a lot to an already iconic character.

            Hannibal continues to be one of the best shows on television even if faults within the show have become more noticeable.


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