EPISODE 1: Apéritif
THE MENU: Criminal profiler Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) being very good at what he does, is approached by head of the Behavioral Sciences Unit Jack Crawford (Laurence Fishburne) to aid in a case of serial abductions that seem to have the same M.O. Eventually on this journey the moment we're all waiting for arrives, in the fated meeting between Graham, Crawford, and magnetic psychiatrist Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen). Let the psycho-analyzing begin.
THE MAIN COURSE: Woo boy, David Slade the shows producer and director of this pilot did a commendable job, well done sir. Will Graham is billed as a criminal profiler who has an uncanny ability to journey into the mind of the serial killers he hunts, and this element is shown in a brilliantly shot opening sequence that show us he is damn good at what he does. It's this opening sequence hooked me immediately. This brings me to something that surprised me about the episode, which is based on what was presented to us in this episode...this seems to be Hugh Dancy's show folks.
Dancy portrays a Will Graham that seems to hate the natural gift that he's been given to understand if not empathize with the serial killer subjects he studies. His interactions with most around him seem to be painfully awkward, and he likes to "avoid eye contact" as much as possible. This was juxtaposed quite movingly when Will finds a stray dog on the side of the road who eventually allows himself to be fed and bathed, and we see he can interact quite comfortably with canines. The first major praise I can give this series is that Graham is what will keep me coming back for more, the performance is one of the most captivating and intense I've seen in quite a while.
So how did Mikkelsen's Hannibal Lecter fare? The man had a lot to live up to with portraying a character that was pretty much defined by the always effective Anthony Hopkins, I was able to enjoy it enough by going in not expecting that performance to be matched. We weren't introduced to Hannibal till about 30 minutes in, but man his introduction was as great as I could have hoped for, with what one can only assume was his choice of a delectable meal after a choice line from Graham. We later on see a few moments of Lecter cutting up and frying his favorite choice of meat in one of the more cringe inducing moments of the episode.
It gutted the family members I watched it with...pun intended. Mikkelsen is not as devilishly charismatic as Hopkins, but he is well spoken, with a quiet menace that is oozing to the surface and that's something I can work with. I'm less excited about Hannibal as an individual than I am of his interactions with Graham, which got off to a great start. In one scene, Graham admits to Hannibal that as of right now he doesn't find him particularly interesting, to which Hannibal ensures him "you will." Damn right he will you twisted bastard. The strength of the series will definitely live in the scenes that Graham and Lecter are together.
Hannibal definitely delivers the thrills, as far as moments that will potentially make us cringe. We get our buckets of blood, starting from the opening scene. From there we get slit throats, Hannibal taking pleasure in his favorite hobby, and it doesn't spare us the visualization. We even see a body impaled on some deer horns, pretty gory stuff that I'm sure we'll be treated to more of. After all, I don't think you could tackle material such as this without giving us the goods can you? I'm looking forward to not only seeing the good sh*t but more of the stylized presentation we got here, I'm talking slow motion rewinds of some pretty heinous acts (in which Graham "acts out" these crimes as if he's in the killers heads). The cinematography here may just end up being another one of the shows strong points.
DESSERT: Bottom line, Hannibal has given me everything I wanted from it so far. I was taken aback in Graham being the character that captivated me throughout, with Hannibal Lecter being brilliantly teased, can't wait to see more of him. Laurence Fishburne was great as Jack Crawford, he was actually given some meat to chew on in this role (again, pun intended) from the get go. The episode was brilliantly shot, with some absolutely beautiful looking sequences while some truly f*cked up stuff was going on, which I think perfectly catches the spirit of the twisted nature of this source material. Bring on Episode 2 baby, here's a preview of what to expect next week.
RATING ON 10
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