London McGuire is a freelance writer and blogger for WeLoveTVMore.com. In addition to the horror and thriller genres, she enjoys writing about sports, great food and anything related to television or movies. Follow her on Twitter @londonmcguire.
It’s official – NBC’s Hannibal has been renewed for a second season despite the ratings and the network. For those of you reading this who might have missed the fun or are just raging crime addicts, let’s talk about season 1 and the story so far…
Will Graham – Our knight in bloody armor
Those of you familiar with the various incarnations of Red Dragon know about Will Graham, but you might not be familiar with this interpretation.
This is Will. He’s the first guy we meet in the first episode of the season, Aperitif. It’s here that we see his true power – an uncanny capacity for empathy. To be more specific, he’s a criminal profiler who really gets into the heads of the bad guys he’s chasing. He doesn’t just surmise and form conjectures – in his head, when he’s about to work, all time stops and he becomes the killer. He visualizes himself violently executing his victims in order to understand the serial killer’s design.
As you might imagine, this can’t be good on Will’s psyche, and that’s where another familiar name comes into play…
Hannibal Lecter – Disarmingly charming cannibal and therapist
Of course, Will doesn’t know Hannibal is a cannibal, not yet – no one does. Hannibal, the eponymous antagonist, is brought in to counsel Will when the work starts to take its toll. He also proves to be an exceptional profiler in his own right, creating a situation where Will and the FBI consult him frequently on the murderers they track.
While it’s true that there’s just no topping Hopkins when it comes to Hannibal, Mads Mikkelsen takes it in a slightly different direction, really making it his own. Hannibal is still a predator – a man-eater in men’s clothing – but he’s quiet and subtle, possessing a quiet intensity and energy about him. When Will starts to slip, he’s there to pick him up…as well as gain privileged insight into FBI activities for his own darker purposes.
A litany of gruesome murders to come
For the most part, season 1 plays like a police procedural although the episodes are a little more tightly-woven together. Amuse-Bouche, the second episode, hits the ground running with a man who basically grows mushrooms on human bodies…while they’re still alive.
Then there’s the fifth episode, Coquilles, which featured a man making angels out of people.
And then, everyone’s favorite, Fromage (episode 8).
That one featured a murder who actually made a violin out of a person. And, yes, in case you were wondering, Will – during one of his profiling fugue states – actually plays the violin. The result is a haunting, vaguely human sound. The point is that the entire first season was about catching these guys and every episode built upon the intensity and terror of the previous.
All the while, Will’s sanity was slowly slipping away as recurring hallucinations and dissociative states threatened to cloud the truth…or enhance it.
The slow and steady fall of Will
After the slaying of the murderous, family-man Hobbs in Aperitif – a confrontation escalated by Hannibal from behind the scenes – Will finds himself slipping with each new case he takes. His mental deterioration becomes one of the core story arcs of the season and poor Will experiences everything from recurring visual hallucinations of Hobbs to a monstrous, black deer.
Will, despite his instability, is not a stupid man and he starts to notice a pattern – perhaps subconsciously – where all these things come back to Hannibal. In season finale climax of Savoureux, Will is gunned down by his colleague Jack (Laurence Fishburne), after trying to take Hannibal into custody. As he fades from consciousness, Will sees Hannibal as the mythical black beast – Wendigo, a creature, according to legend, made manifest through the act of cannibalism.
In the final moments of Savoureux, we see Will taking the rap for most of the murders that were committed by Hannibal throughout the show. It becomes clear that Hannibal, from the beginning, was cooking evidence in a complex conspiracy to have Will incarcerated. And, in a funny poke at fans of the original Red Dragon, we actually see an interesting reversal where it’s Hannibal visiting Will in prison.
So, what happens next? NBC has been pretty tight-lipped about the whole thing. One thing viewers late to the party should probably do is prepare – actually WATCH the first season. There’s just no telling how the second season is going to try and one-up the previous…but you’ll want to be ready.