As social creatures, human beings have a need to connect to other human beings. We want to emphasize and understand each other on an emotional and personal level. When we can’t connect to someone, we try to understand why. Sometimes we never get that understanding and it bothers us and on some levels disturbs us.
What’s great about well written, well acted t.v. shows and movies (and even well written books) is that they put us in unusual situations and make us try to connect and understand the stories and their characters. And if the actors are good, if the writing’s good, then certain characters can come alive to us: real, disturbing, daring you to try and understand them.
Hannibal is one of those shows. Hannibal and many of the other killers in the show are so above us that their acts disturb and destroy us. Yet we continue to watch it because we want to know why Hannibal does the things he does, watch in sick fascination as he twists and manipulates the very people he’s supposed to help. What happened in his life that makes him thirst for the taste of human flesh?
At the end of season one, we are left with Will Graham locked up behind bars, the most logical fall guy for Hannibal’s crimes. He’s a high functioning sociopath, a man who works for the police force because he can emphasize with the killers and catch them in a timely manner.
In the opening premiere of season 2, “Kaiseki” takes us to the aftermath of Will’s arrest. Dr. Bloom is convinced the investigation is botched because she’s convinced the lead investigator pushed Will too far over the edge until he snapped. Others are in various states of disbelief, but that doesn’t stop one of them going to him to help her with the latest case. Because Will’s convinced of Hannibal’s involvement in the murders, the infamous psychiatrist finds himself under police scrutiny, even for a brief time. Because he’s so well renowned, no one takes the accusation seriously and Hannibal is off the suspect list.
That’s what makes Hannibal scary. He’s well renowned, well liked among his peers. Because of Mads Mikkelsen’s portrayal of Hannibal, you get that added attractiveness and mystery. If you look at a lot of real cases, attractive people who are accused of atrocities are often given light sentences, if at all. Nobody wants to believe that an attractive person can commit such heinous acts. Because of that, Mads Mikkelsen is able to reach another level of horror that Anthony Hopkins probably couldn’t have reached at the time of his filming the original Hannibal movies. Not all psychopaths are older, nor do they all have that look about them that screams out murderer. I can’t accurately make a comparison between Mikkelsen and Hopkins since I’ve never seen the original movies. Nor can I downgrade Hopkins as he has down a superb job as Hannibal (from what I heard). But interpretations of different characters are different to different actors, so is Hannibal between these two diverse actors.
In “Kaiseki,” we get more of the relationships between characters than actual crime scenes. Obviously, we couldn’t go an episode without seeing emaciated dead bodies and this one was no different. But like the previous season, this season of Hannibal is starting out slow, setting the stage for what comes afterward, building up the horror until it reaches its climax.
I can’t say that I “like” Hannibal. Fascinated would be a more accurate word. I’m fascinated by the psychology of it, why Hannibal is acting the way he is, his relationships between Will Graham and all the other characters, his ability to hide his true nature completely. Maybe this is why so many people become psychologists/psychiatrists or even study psychology because people like Hannibal are so disturbing and so exclusive from everyone else that we want to give a reason for it all. And watching shows like Hannibal can only spark discussions and ideas for everybody as to the dynamics of a sociopath.