What Are You Watching?: “Hannibal”

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Hannibal (2013 – 2015, NBC)

Over the summer, I made it my mission to start watching Hannibal. Having heard rave reviews from multiple people, I went in with high expectations, all of which were met and surpassed.

Hannibal is the story of Will Graham (Hugh Dancy), a gifted criminologist who works for the FBI as a profiler. Will has a power that allows him to enter a crime scene and mentally envision how the crime was committed based on blood splatter, body manipulations, and such. Will’s gift takes a mental toll on him — as it would anyone who was surround by death — so Will asks for assistance solving a complicated case of a serial killer. Enter Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen).

The name “Hannibal Lecter” is familiar because it is the name of the psychotic protagonist from the 1991 film Silence of the Lambs. In the film, Dr. Lecter was institutionalized for violent acts of murder and cannibalism. With this echoed in the NBC series, I wondered how long it would be until the character in the series mirrored that of the one in the film… turns out, not long at all.

The show is brilliant for numerous reasons, one in particular is that it wrestles with the concept of insanity. The series establishes Hannibal as a brilliant doctor who is by far one of the most looked up to in his field. He’s also a good person who is working with the FBI on cases to help catch criminals. But Hannibal is also cast as a psychopath who feeds on human organs. It makes the viewer question whether Hannibal is insane or not.

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