Hannibal Review: A Haunting Premiere

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Graham: What are you smiling at?
Lecter: Peeking behind the curtain, I'm just curious how the FBI goes about its business when it's not kicking in doors. | permalink

That small exchange between Graham and Lecter is an apt summary of Hannibal’s premiere, "Apéritif."

Mads Mikkelson as Hannibal

Hannibal is a brilliantly captivating show, and at times it’s difficult to describe just what is so captivating about it. When everything is boiled down, what’s left is an engaging and smart series that delves into the head spaces of the people who track down criminals and the criminals themselves; at any moment these men and women can easily cross the line. And watching the beginnings of the cat and mouse game between Lecter and Graham is already sharp and thrilling.

These themes are mired in copious amounts of blood and gore and it’s sometimes incredibly difficult to watch and sit through it. Add in some uneasiness as Lecter enjoys some fine dining or trimming a pair of lungs and it’s a wonder how I got through “Aperitif” without the use of antacids or a bucket.

However, the discomfort with the violence is completely necessary. It’s not there just to be there as some crazy, sadistic part of its charm like in The Following. All of the violence plays into Graham’s characterizations and how he empathizes with the victims and their killers. The violence is an outwardly expression of how Graham views his world and the how he’s able to get into the minds of those involved. The violence and gore gives him the complete picture.

Lecter, being the brilliant man he is, is able to pick up on this immediately. Lecter puts on a good show about wanting to help Graham and the FBI, but, like the quote above points out, he’s not there to help he wants to get an idea of how the FBI operates and catches their killers.

Lecter’s “professional courtesy” with the killer is demonstrative of this. He’s purely collecting information right now, and perhaps trying to coax Will’s battered and bruised mentality over to his side.

The rapport Graham and Lecter share is excellent, but also the biggest detractor when they’re not sharing the screen. As much as I love Lawrence Fishburne, at times Crawford and the rest of the periphery characters (particularly Alana) end up taking away from the sophistication that goes on between Graham and Lecter. But with writing so sharp, I’m not particularly worried; if Hannibal can establish Lecter and Graham so well so quickly, it shouldn’t take it long to develop the periphery.

Which brings us to Hannibal’s two biggest risks: being a serialized drama and airing on NBC. While The Walking Dead has shown that serialized dramas can be a huge hit, it’s more the exception than the rule; being on NBC Thursday nights at 10 almost spells certain doom as well. Hopefully Hannibal can break the misfortune.

What did you think of Hannibal’s season premiere? Grade it below!


Editor Rating: 4.2 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.6 / 5.0 (86 Votes)

I'm new to the series (2014, end-of-year binge show watching) so I'll reserve my final judgement. But I agree with the review, the peripheral characters take away too much from Graham and Lecter's interaction. What's with Crawford's obnoxious screaming, e.g. "What kind of crazy!" at Graham in the washroom?! Or the his giant chip on his shoulder? It doesn't lend to the show's development and makes you flinch/want to turn it off whenever you see Fishburne on the screen (too bad, he's a decent actor). Not a good start to bring in new viewers...


I was a bit hesitant when watching this, because I've always been a huge fan of the books and movies, and Anthony Hopkins's Hannibal. After the first episode, I found myself nearly obsessed with the show. There is so much foreshadowing and creativity! This is definitely one of my most favorite shows by now.


Mikkelsen mumbles and you can't understand anything he says!
Utter nonsense......


It was good but I don't know if I'll watch more. The sound editing and special effects bothered me.


Unfortunately, the actor playing Hannibal has NO charisma at all-the show is doomed


I never hoped to see Mads Mikkelsen on television. He is phenomenal, and I'd watch anything with him in it. As Lector, he is sleek, svelt, and smooth as silk. I understood everything he said, a lot better than the characters on Downton Abbey. His look at that used Kleenex revealed more about him than anything, and his dispassionate assessment of the dying girl and Will before deciding to help her is masterful. "They know". AWESOME!!!!


I just had the chance to watch and I loved it...which is saying something since I'm in love with Anthony Hopkins and his portrayal if Hannibal. I'm interested to see how they evolve Will's character in to the one we saw in Red Dragon since this one is just a bit more twitchy. Which brings me to the point of we already know how this show is going to end...with Will figuring Hannibal out, getting stabbed in the gut and shooting him. That's the only thing that might keep me on the fence...this show already has an expiration date. There is only so much you can do with the ending already written.


Well, that's embarrassing. Thanks for pointing out my incorrect form, WatchesTooMuch. It's fixed now.


@Nick: "Lecter: 'Peaking behind the curtain ...'" Was he diddling himself, or did you mean "Peeking"?


I didn't like nor did I dislike it; kind of can't make up my mind. Will give it a few more episodes before deciding. I think part of the problem is that Mads (Hannibal) is hard to understand and rther mumbles so you have to have captions on and high volume and then the rest of the time you are working the remote up and down and missing out because the other people's voices boom out at you. Kind of cheesy, if Will Graham borders on autistic-Asperger side of the chart then what is he doing running around with a gun and killing suspects/killers and driving a car. I am not, in any way, saying people with Aspergers are not high functioning at all, they are just socially awkward, which again, does not reflect on their intelligence. I realize this is nothing more than a TV show but at least make it a little more believable. I much prefer the man next door type of actor, of course you can not beat Anthony Hopkins. Mads is a little too sinister for this role. Where is Clarice when we need her????

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Hannibal Season 1 Episode 1 Quotes

Lecter: What are we looking for?
Graham: At this stage, anything really, but mostly anything peculiar.

Graham: What are you smiling at?
Lecter: Peaking behind the curtain, I'm just curious how the FBI goes about its business when it's not kicking in doors.