TV Review: Hannibal, Apéritif

The premier episode of the new TV series based on Thomas Harris’ most inglorious character Dr Hannibal Lecter might leave you feeling overwhelemed

Sharin Bhatti April 10, 2022
  • Direction
  • Acting
  • Cinematography
  • Script

Lets face it. We love blood and gore, especially when they comes as a superlative to drama. The past few years have only seen our obsession with crime dramas and affairs with serial killers escalate to a maddening degree from “Criminal Minds,” “CSI,” “Dexter,” “House” to now even “The Following.” Even the obscurely brilliant and dark drama series “Breaking Bad” has its share of the red splatter. And while the world is lapping up this mild gore and cerebral murders genre, here in India, our obsession is only just beginning. So when AXN decided to partake in premiering NBC’s newest homage to the greatest serial killer Dr Hannibal Lecter in “Hannibal,” we paused our download and caught the premier on TV.

“Hannibal” is based on Thomas Harris’ first book in his Hannibal series “Red Dragon” and explores the relationship between a nee-psychotic but highly capable criminal profiler Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) and Dr Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikklesen) as they travel around the corrupt American countryside hunting down serial killers. For the uninitiated, “Red Dragon” introduces the character of Dr Lecter, whose cannibalistic intentions are unknown and masked in the guise of a psychiatrist.

In the first episode of the series Apéritif, Graham is hired by FBI agent Dr Jack Crawford (Laurence Fishburne) to help the FBI hunt down a cannibal who has been abducting young women around the county and abandoning their bodies with their organs cut out.

Through the duration of the hour-long episode, relationships between the characters and their own “dark passengers” begin to unravel. Graham’s brilliant analysis stems from his severe psychosis of a deep fear of just everything around him. He wakes up in cold sweats periodically and often has nightmares of the crime scenes he visits. Director David Slade brings that out with beautiful long shots where he brings to life the eerie darkness that haunts Graham. Series creators Bryan Fuller (“Pushing Daises”) makes Graham the central character for the narration of the series. He throws open his back story, his struggles and his phobias in front of the audience and Fuller does it masterfully as frames get more progressively focused on Graham’s thought processes.

When Crawford sees the trauma of the crime scenes plaguing Graham, he enlists the help of Dr Lecter to keep him straight. Mikkelsen (“Quantum Of Solace”) quickly rises to the challenge of channeling Sir Anthony Hopkins’ sinister portrayal in “Silence Of The Lambs” and “Hannibal.” Since no one but the viewer is privy to his tasteful cannibalistic side, Mikkelsen’s portrayal is both restrained yet arrogant of Dr Lecter’s inner desires.

It’s all in the lung-cooking scene that the audience meets Dr Lecter in the eye to reveal who he is really is. The muscular beating of the lungs on a cold, kitchen slab and the marinated cooking of its bits on a slow flame and the ritualistic first bite of his gourmet meal only to be enjoyed with the finest of red wine is immaculate. The nonchalant manner is which Fuller and Slade make the scene seem so normal and desirable to the viewer makes one question what the taste of human lung is. Twisted but relatable.

This is a TV show that ratchets up crime drama’s overstrung and overdone writing and yes the episode left us feeling quite overwhelmed. 

Watch the promo of the second episode

  • The second episode of “Hannibal” will air on Friday, April 12, 2022 at 10 pm on AXN.