BLU-RAY REVIEW: HANNIBAL – THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON / CERT: 18 / STARRING: HUGH DANCY, MADS MIKKELSON, CAROLINE DHAVERNAS, LAURENCE FISHBURNE / RELEASE DATE: SEPTEMBER 22ND
One of the best things to come out of television's newfound love affair with horror, Hannibal enters its second season, the good doctor still in session despite Will Graham's best efforts otherwise. The anticipated second season picks up where the first left off, with the troubled criminal mind imprisoned for Lecter's crimes. With Will now up to speed with Hannibal the cannibal's predilections, however, their little game of flirty cat and mouse is much less one sided. The game is afoot. Mmm... Foot.
It's testament to the writing and direction how far we've got already. In spite of the series often feeling slow and glacial, producer Bryan Fuller takes care to ensure that each season finishes in a vastly different place from where it started. Compare this to Dexter, in which the serial killer remained (largely) comfortable in his job and home for a full seven series (dead wife and various stalkers notwithstanding) or Bates Motel, which plays more like a family soap opera than Psycho prequel. Without veering into spoilery territory, Season Two of Hannibal never feels as though it is playing for time or padding things out for the sake of it. On the basis of this ending, Season Three looks like it could be its most interesting yet.
But let's backtrack a little. We open with Graham imprisoned for the murder of Abigail Hobbs, but confident in Lecter's guilt and his own ability to take the man down. An undeterred Hannibal continues to host his dinner parties on an episode-by-episode basis, while poor Crawford finds himself caught in the middle. Add to that the return of Eddie Izzard, emergence of the twisted Verger siblings and various serial killers popping up throughout, and we find Hannibal in rude health. Confident, unremittingly grim and darkly beautiful, it takes everything that worked in the first series and expands upon it tenfold.
Like a bleak version of the Cumberbatch and Freeman double act, Mikkelsen and Dancy are great in their respective roles, both making the characters their own and sharing a weird chemistry that has since spawned a hundred Tumblr blogs. Mikkelsen does particularly well, breaking loose of Sir Anthony's shadow to create a wholly different Hannibal, as magnetic as he is dangerous. Of the supporting cast, Fishburne is a great Jack Crawford, while Michael Pitt is repellent as Mason Verger (a name many will recognise from Ridley Scott's Hannibal). The gruesome tableaux, chilly atmosphere, slow pacing and unlikeable characters will make it hard for everyone to get on board with, but everyone else should adore it. After all, when the alternative is soapy (Bates Motel) or ridiculous (The Walking Dead), intelligent, artistic television such as Hannibal is to be celebrated. As ever, we're left salivating for more upon its end. Delicious.