UK TV review: Hannibal Season 2, Episode 1 (Kaiseki)
Jo Bromilow | On 07, May 2014
Ever subtle, ever explosive, the acclaimed TV series Hannibal returns this week to Sky Living HD (and NOW) for a second season.
Given the untold violence bubbling over in the final scenes of Season 1, with the imprisoned empath Dr. Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) face-to-face with his lethal psychiatrist, Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen), it seems both odd and a strange payoff to be treated to a surprisingly violent opener for Season 2. Given how aware we are of Hannibal’s own personal brand of viciousness, though, the only one surprised by his outburst was probably the one upon whom it was inflicted.
The scene is, of course, as per the great tradition of narrative devices, outside the show’s time stream, but we now know, presumably, the course on which the series is heading, with the reckoning promised in the trailer likely to catch up with the sharp-suited Doctor (who would make even Don Draper look drab).
But not before we are treated to more mind-bending mind games and other delights contained within this chocolate box of a programme. If the last season is anything to go by, we are likely to be given time to enjoy the devastating ride to its conclusion; in the Hannibal universe, the pulse slows and the breathing becomes deeper, rather like the habits adopted by Will to get inside the minds of the killers he’s employed to catch. This, he often tells us, is “my design”, and it is that design – and aesthetic – that is the key selling point of Hannibal. Few dramas look so beautiful and its delicious, lingering close ups of Lecter’s divine culinary creations, cut with expansive shots of stunning landscapes and IKEA-catalogue offices, are the star of the menu.
Like Hannibal’s dishes, this is a show of style and substance, shot against a muted, murky colour palette that somehow makes the grisly murders all the more dramatic. As well as the starring role taken by the photography, a healthy and varied course of protagonists from Lawrence Fishburne’s solid Jack Crawford to Gillian Anderson on chilling, Stella-Gibson-like form as Hannibal’s own shrink keep the central power play between him and Will fresh. Hopefully, this season can offer a cameo to match that of Eddie Izzard – a great addition to the first as a similarly charismatic murderer.
Judging from the first episode, Season 2 is not one for the faint-hearted, but those with a healthy appetite for imaginative psychological horror will not be disappointed. Sumptuous and disturbing, Hannibal is a show that lingers after the final bite – and leaves a lasting impression long after the plate is clean.
Hannibal: Season 1 to 3 is available to watch online on Amazon Prime Video as part of a Prime membership or a £5.99 monthly subscription.