Hugh Dancy

How ‘Hannibal’ Dropped the Procedural Structure and Became TV’s Most Original Show

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“I’ve taken off my person suit,” Hannibal Lecter flatly informs his former psychiatrist in the third season premiere of his namesake show, airing tonight. What Bedelia du Maurier currently is to Hannibal — hostage? accomplice? voice of reason? — is no longer clear, either to viewers or to Bedelia herself. What’s obvious is the transformation Bryan Fuller’s fever dream has undergone between installments, mirroring that of Hannibal himself. Lecter no longer wears his person suit, and Hannibal no longer wears the guise of a crime procedural based in Baltimore.
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‘Hannibal’ Season 2 Finale Recap: “Mizumono”

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Hannibal cold opens are rarely as self-contained or tightly executed as the introduction to last night’s finale. But true to the rest of the episode, one of the most streamlined in Hannibal‘s history, the first three minutes act as a funnel, narrowing Will’s entire trajectory—or at least what the audience has seen of it—since he left the hospital down to a single split-screen shot. Jack and Hannibal each believe Will is theirs; Jack and Hannibal each think Will is the swing vote in their upcoming confrontation. Technically, Will’s already sided with Jack, but the connection he shares with Hannibal is genuine, however duplicitous. 
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‘Hannibal’ Season 2, Episode 12 Recap: “Tome-Wan”

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After last week’s cliffhanger/reveal, Alana and Freddie are spirited away in the season’s penultimate episode to make room for Bedelia du Maurier. Hannibal’s therapist has been tracked down by the FBI (or rather, Gillian Anderson has been tracked down by Hannibal‘s producers) to provide insight into just how the good doctor works his magic. By the end of “Tome-Wan,” Will Graham witnesses a demonstration of how Hannibal’s “persuasion” translates into the grisly final product. Before all everything’s place for Jack and Hannibal to duke it out, it’s only natural that “Tome-Wan” gives us one of our first examples of Hannibal in action.
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‘Hannibal’ Season 2, Episode 11 Recap: “Ko No Mono”

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First things first: Happy Hannibal renewal, everyone! We may not have Community anymore, but at least NBC has ordered thirteen more episodes of elaborate food porn and charred-corpse-‘n’-body-part shrines. There are just two more episodes left in season two, making “Ko No Mono” the perfect opportunity for Bryan Fuller to reveal his hand, lay out the endgame for this season, and set up the next. Sure enough, this was the episode that snapped the entire back half of season two into focus, letting us know just what the hell has been going on since Will got out of the hospital.
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‘Hannibal’ Season 2, Episode 10 Recap: “Naka-Choko”

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Hannibal loves nothing more than a good visual metaphor, and this week’s brings two long-in-the-works developments together in a single soft-core sex scene. We have the tale of Margot and Mason Verger, in whose family drama Hannibal sees the opportunity for another protegé. And we have the moral deterioration of Will Graham, which now appears to be to season two what his psychological deterioration was to season one. Will reaches several points of no return in “Naka-Choko,” and his newfound kinship is underlined to us in bright red ink (literally) multiple times. Of course, none are more obvious than their intercut encounters with Alana and Margot. The “Will=Hannibal” imagery is there, but it also the relationship between Will and Hannibal supersedes any other on the show, no matter how intimate.
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‘Hannibal’ Season 2, Episode 9 Recap: “Shiizakana”

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Hannibal‘s really been laying it on thick lately in the case-of-the-week-as-metaphor-for-Will-Graham department. This time, “Hannibal unleashing his patients’ inner beast” becomes…Hannibal encouraging his patient to wear his inner beast. And use it to attack people. Randall is the third soldier enlisted into the proxy war currently raging between Will Graham and his therapist, and so far the casualties are three for three: the orderly’s dead, Peter’s in jail, and Randall ends the episode sprawled out on a table in Dr. Lecter’s office. If the point was to show him the casualty he’s inflicted, it fails; his response to Will’s declaration that they’re “Even Steven” with a slight smile is the series’ most black-comic episode ending to date.
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‘Hannibal’ Season 2, Episode 8 Recap: “Su-zakana”

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With four episodes to go until the Jack-Hannibal blowout this season’s opening scene promised, Hannibal has briefly opted to return to its status quo. “Su-zakana” hews the closest to the show’s first-season procedural format than any episode since Will was imprisoned. Our protagonist isn’t just out of prison: he’s back in the field, assisting Jack Crawford, and back in the patient’s chair, consulting with Hannibal. The case of the Chesapeake Ripper is temporarily solved, and Will’s entrapment of the real killer has moved from a high-speed chase to a slower-speed seduction. Conveniently, though, as soon as Will and Hannibal stop duking it out for real, they find a couple of foils—perfect for a proxy war.
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‘Hannibal’ Season 2, Episode 6 Recap: “Futamono”

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A recurring theme in “Futamono” is the paradoxical fact that even though he’s behind bars, Will Graham now has more control than he ever did once he was free. He successfully manipulated Chilton into bringing back Abel Gideon; ditto to the orderly he convinced to do the dirty work of murdering Hannibal. But “Futamono” was the episode where Hannibal regained the upper hand. “Cannibalism is an act of dominance,” Chilton observes, and this was an episode where Hannibal reasserted control: over Alana, over Gideon, and over the narrative of the Chesapeake Ripper.
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