Hannibal (NBC) - Series Premiere: Synopsis and Review
Thursday the 4th of April NBC aired its newest series; ‘Hannibal’. The series revolves around Will Graham (Hugh Dancy, ‘The Big C’), a criminal profiler who is able to put himself in the minds of the criminals he investigates and see exactly what happened as if he was the one committing the crime, a gift which seems to be a side-effect of his slightly autistic side. He is able to determine how and even why the killer killed his victims by his ability to empathize with them, but his great sense of imagination is accompanied with a lot of fear. It is because of his gift that head of the FBI's Behavioral Science Unit Jack Crawford (Laurence Fishburne, ‘CSI’) asks Graham for help with catching a criminal.
The perpetrator has taken eight young women, one of which only recently. Graham and Crawford conclude that the first seven women are most likely dead, otherwise there would be no need to kidnap others, so they focus on the last victim. They visit her parents, since she was supposed to house-sit for them the weekend she disappeared. As Crawford talks to the parents, Graham deducts she was taken from her parents’ home, even though everybody assumed she’d never arrived there. He asks if he can see her room, and her father shows him where she slept. When her father tries to open the room, Graham tells him he can’t touch anything, to which the father replies they have been going in and out of the room all afternoon. Graham opens the door, and they see the girl lying in her bed, dead. It seems the killer has come back to lay her down where he found her, something which would indicate some form of remorse, as if the killer had tried to fix what he had done to her. This confuses Graham, because it’s not exactly the typical behavior of a psychopath.
As the coroners examine the body of the girl, they find her liver has been removed, but then sewn back into its place. Graham concludes that the killer is eating the victims’ organs, but that something must have been wrong with the victim’s liver because the killer didn’t want to eat it. Indeed, the coroners find that the girl had liver cancer.
The inconsistencies in the killer’s behavior make it hard for Graham to understand him. Crawford realises Graham can’t catch this killer alone, so he enlists the help of dr. Hannibal Lecter, a brilliant psychiatrist. Up until now, we have periodically seen a man in between scenes, dining on what seems to be some debatable types of flesh. Dr. Lecter turns out to be this man. Another scene shows him making a lovely meal from what appear to be human lungs. Coincidentally, a ninth victim had just been found with her lungs missing.
One morning, Lecter visits Graham and they share a breakfast Lecter made. A breakfast containing sausages, which raises some uneasy suspicions about their origin, but of course Graham doesn’t know this. The eighth victim had some metal traces on her clothes, so after their ‘delicious’ meal, Graham and Lecter go to a metal quarry. There, they find the records of a man who may be the killer. As Graham is outside loading the files of all quarry employees into their car, Lecter calls the killer and tells him ‘they know’.
When Graham and Lecter arrive at the house of the killer, the guy is just throwing his wife outside after slitting her throat. Graham tries to help her, but her wounds are too serious and she dies. He then kicks in the door and runs to the kitchen, where the killer is just slitting the throat of his daughter. Graham shoots him, and runs over to help the girl. All the while, Lecter has just been standing there, observing. After Graham has been fumbling trying to help the girl for a while, Lecter steps in and expertly applies pressure on her wound. As the ambulance drives away with the girl and Lecter inside, Graham is seen standing, covered in blood, in shock about what has happened.
I had high expectations about ‘Hannibal’, which may be the reason I’m slightly disappointed. I’m just a little tired of the whole ‘slightly autistic FBI agent/consultant solving crimes like no other person can’. Sure, they made an effort to spin things around in this series, pulling Hannibal Lecter into the picture, but as it is now I really don’t feel like he is adding to the story very much. In fact, it seems his presence is complicating matters in an unnecessary way. For starters, Lecter was not the killer, yet he seemed to be feasting on precisely those organs the killer had been removing. Coincidence? Perhaps. But a strange one at best. Second, I am still not sure why Lecter has been called in by Crawford in the first place. Was it to help with the cases, or to help with Graham, who has noticeably been struggling with working in the field?
Furthermore, apart from the questions surrounding Lecter, I found it impossible to follow the storyline. It started off quite clear, but as the story progressed and Lecter came into the picture, it became impossible to understand what Graham was talking about or how he knew the things he knew. His weird behavior, which I presumed was a consequence of his autism, shifted throughout the series. One moment they put emphasis on his aversion of eye contact, but the next he is looking people in the eye without a problem. His behavior was eccentric, yes, but it wasn’t consistent, making it difficult to grasp his motives.
So if I found the show to be such a disappointment, why did I award it with three stars out of five? To be honest, it was all thanks to what came after the show: a preview, showing what to expect from future episodes. I found that these scenes grabbed my attention, and even though I’m not even sure if I will watch any future episodes, I acknowledge the fact that the preview has made me curious to what will come next. So yes, this premiere disappointed me. But I suspect the series as a whole will deliver those things I have been missing, and will explain those things I don’t understand. However, it doesn’t change the fact that I am so, so very tired of the ‘slightly autistic FBI agent/consultant solving crimes like no other can’ protagonist. Altogether, I started out enjoying this show, then lost track of everything that was happening, got disappointed, but curious after watching the preview. However, the idea of watching another episode which could be as vague as this one is pretty discouraging. Would I recommend this show? If you’re not tired of the same old protagonist and don’t mind a bit of confusion: sure. However, if you like to be able to know what is going on and what the characters are talking about, you may want to try a different series.
Hannibal airs Thursdays at 10/9c on NBC.
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