Hannibal Season 3 Review
I love ‘Hannibal’. The show it hits all my bases. Beautiful shots. Great acting. Witty quips. Fascinating characters. Exotic murder scenes. Ugh. Maybe that last one wasn’t one of my ‘bases,’ but this series has almost made it one. ‘Hannibal’ turns murder into art. The show is art.
Season three does not let down this precedent for excellence. It goes in new directions and is not at all afraid.
The season is split into two parts, essentially. The first half is structured around the recovery and response to the bloodbath of Mizumono, the finale of season two. Each character is focused on in a particular episode and shows their growth or changes from the events that transpired. I love how the first few episodes are done this way. It gives a clean and slow introduction; it sets the pieces for the dynamics played out later in the second half’s Red Dragon arc.
I won’t get into that many details as to not spoil, but I really enjoy Will’s recovery, Bedelia in general, and the direction they took with Alana. The moral ambiguity and grayness of the cast gets upped massively. This people are not nice. No one is ‘good’ by any conventional definition. For some shows, this can be tiring. Look, another morally ambiguous anti-hero…but Hannibal isn’t like that. Everyone is kind of crazy and scheming in their own way, but the show is very self-aware with it so it doesn’t feel like they are playing some game of ‘oh are they good or are they bad.’ They just are. They make choices and we judge them.
The acting of these characters, along with the writing, is exceptional.
Special shout out to the new actor of Mason Verger, Joe Anderson, who took over for Michael Pitt. I was worried about the change, because Michael Pitt was so good as the deranged Mason, but Joe does just as good if not better in some respects. The Verger storyline was well executed, woven particularly well with Alana Bloom, who is taken in new places that the actress handles beautifully. I also really enjoyed her new wardrobe, but that is always the case because the show is just so visually enchanting.
Gillian Anderson is great again at the mysterious Bedelia.
More depth is added to her character and she sells it. She is put into new, precarious positions with Hannibal. Bedelia is considered one of the smartest characters on the show and it shows this season.
As for one of the main characters, Will Graham, he is grappling with his love for Hannibal and his rejection of giving into the dark/joining him completely. I’m not doing his arc justice at all by explaining it that way. It is a dark and beautiful thing, the dance of Will Graham and Hannibal Lecter as portrayed in this show.
The latter half of this iconic duo is again portrayed excellently. Mads does it again this season, playing Hannibal better than Anthony Hopkins in my opinion. For season 1 and 2, he played Hannibal in his ‘person’ suit, but this season he is beyond that. We get Hannibal unrestrained, no longer tame. He nails it just as he nailed ‘person’ Hannibal. He also kills the scenes where Hannibal is emotional for lack of a better term.
There is a scene in the last episode of the first half of the season where you can see Hannibal’s heart break in two with only mere micro-expressions. It was especially moving. There are times like that this season where Hannibal shows something like his heart and times where he shows the unrestrained ‘monster’ within himself. They are blended seamlessly.
A newcomer to the cast that demands almost as much recognition is Richard Armitage, who played Thorin in the Hobbit movies. He doesn’t play a slightly misguided hero in this, however. He plays Francis Dolarhyde: the Great Red Dragon and the Tooth Fairy.
Two other actors have played this character. Ralph Fiennes in ‘Red Dragon’ and Tom Noonan in ‘Manhunter.’ I have seen Red Dragon but not Manhunter. I really like Armitage’s take on Dolarhyde. It was both subdued and intense. He was threatening but you could see where the vulnerabilities were. It was tragic and powerful. The ‘Hannibal’ style of CGI-ing in weird creatures/hallucinations really brought to life his delusions. You really thought he thought he was the Red Dragon through the CGI and scenes like the one below.
The Red Dragon story line is entirely the second half of the season, while the first half is catching Hannibal. A time jump takes place between them, but that didn’t mean that all the loose ends of the first half were resolved or arcs completed. It means they are drawn out and more powerful. The ramp up in the second half with Will and Hannibal’s relationship evolving and changing, happens so gracefully along with all the other movements and happenings of the other characters. And the two major threads end, conjoined as one. They were threaded together throughout the narrative and they resolved in one blow.
The finale felt deserved. Everything that had happen culminated in it. It was poetic. It works as a series finale, which it very well might be.
But it also leaves open to more if it does get picked up. I really hope it does get picked up. There are more stories to tell of Hannibal Lecter and Will Graham, especially where it leaves off in Season 3. Season 3 may have slower in the front half, but it was because it took the long-game approach. It seeded itself slowly and delicately so sweet fruits could be reaped in the end. It worked marvelously.
I want more of this type of show.
I want more of this show.