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!

Apéritif Review

Editor Rating: 4.2 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.5 / 5.0 (88 Votes)
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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.