At the end of Season Two of Hannibal, the titular sociopathic psychiatrist severed the ties (pun intended) with soul mate Will Graham. As intriguingly voyeuristic as that relationship was it had to come to an end; and come to a bloody end it did. The beginning of Season Three finds Hannibal Lecter (Mikkelsen) exploring Europe with his part victim, part intellectual muse Bedelia (Anderson) and continuing his macabre, operatically murderous existence more publicly than ever. Someone is going to notice.
The third and final season of what is undoubtedly one of the most stylish television series ever conceived contains all the elements you’ve grown to love. The stunning beauty of the design is matched only by the glorious locations, with Paris and Florence adding considerable weight to an aesthetic already overflowing with sumptuous splendour. Architecture and art provide a backdrop to something that was missing for large parts of the previous seasons; Hannibal being Hannibal. The darker side of the anti-hero (and who doesn’t love him?) comes to the fore as he slays his victims, with the breathy Bedelia watching on.
Sadly, for the most part, the elements that frustrate also continue in this series. Langorous scene setting and culinary pre-amble at times serve to draw you out of the action and while part of showrunner Bryan Fuller’s vision, become just a little too ponderous. Anyone not entirely enraptured with Hannibal’s narrative style will find themselves blowing out the cheeks on more than one occasion.
The introduction of a new character does add some impetus and gives the lead characters something new to focus on aside from their own psychological duelling. The Tooth Fairy (Armitage) challenges the existing status quo and provides a fitting, highly competent new protagonist. Those familiar with the series source book Red Dragon will be familiar with the story’s arc but the finale is still both shocking and strangely poetic.
If there are to be no more episodes, and the likelihood is that there will not, then Hannibal will be remembered as something unique in this new golden age of television. Police procedural dramas are frustratingly common but none have captured the abhorrent, yet compelling beauty of the serial killer’s art quite like Fuller’s Hannibal. Perhaps too pompous and overwrought at times, perhaps even occasional too slow of pace, Hannibal has never been anything other than a visual feast wrapped around an unpredictable battle of intellect. And rarely will actors so inhabit roles made famous by others to such a degree that any previous incarnations fade in the memory.
Perhaps in the future Hannibal will have plans to call on us again.
HANNIBAL – SEASON 3 / CERT: 18 / CREATOR: BRYAN FULLER / STARRING: MADS MIKKELSEN, HUGH DANCY, LAURENCE FISHBURNE, GILLIAN ANDERSON / RELEASE DATE: OCTOBER 19TH