There are certain things we have come to expect from primetime slots on big-budget channels: drama is a must, and thus, a healthy handful of deceit and heartbreak is an overdone yet long-adored aspect of all good thrillers. Hannibal has navigated these expectations while balancing its loyalty to the novel series from which it is adapted, concluding in an explosive season finale titled “Mizumono”, where the cast and director David Slade artfully wrapped all the craziness of the earlier episodes into a succinct package, lacing it with unrestrained intimacy.
Picture this: all your heroes are sprawled out and wounded—perhaps fatally—as the antagonist strolls past the decay into the rain, cleansing himself of his sins and entering into a life on the run. Hannibal’s finale was just as manic as it was cautious, bringing in surprise twists with the resurrection of previously believed long-dead characters while still making each micromanipulation entirely plausible. The end of the episode left both the characters and the audience in pieces, particularly as Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen) delivered his final sermon to Will (Hugh Dancy) before gutting him and slicing the throat of the previously believed deceased Abigail (Kacey Rohl). With this, Hannibal shows us his heart, his trust, and his love for Will, then immediately tears it apart by forcing Will out of his life.
Hannibal prides itself on its skill in the visual arts, using dim lighting and blurred camera angles to its constant advantage in creating an eerie, unpredictable atmosphere. One of my first thoughts during the finale was how beautiful and calculated each action was. While season one relied on grandiose images of meals or decaying corpses interspersed with cuts from the forensic lab, season two shifted into subtlety, instead making use of gestures and the interplay of dialogue with action.
The finale was key in showing how far the show had come in terms of visual perspicacity, the most dramatic image being that of Alana (Caroline Dhavernas) lying face-up on the concrete, surrounded by shattered glass and doused by rain. Her eyes swell and her face recoils in terror as the shoes of Dr. Lecter enter the screen just beyond her. The precarious nature of Alana and all the other characters left to die in Dr. Lecter’s house are simultaneously illuminated and pushed to the wayside as the true power of Hannibal is finally revealed. As described by executive producer Bryan Fuller, in that moment, Hannibal essentially “dropped the mic and walked off the stage.”
Moving forward, the direction of the show is unclear, as can only be expected when the majority of the cast is left facing their impending mortality. A third season has been confirmed, and an after-credit teaser left viewers with just enough to chew on without fully tasting what is to come. What I have most enjoyed about Hannibal is its commitment to the books, enough to satisfy long-time “Fannibals” while still allowing for new arcs and bridges to be inserted into the storyline. I had suspected, and interviews with Fuller have confirmed, that some do survive Hannibal’s massacre. Perhaps season three will be a game of cat-and-mouse between Hannibal and the FBI, or maybe we’ll see Will re-emerge to resume his obsession with destroying Dr. Lecter. Whatever season three has in store, it is sure to be bold, bloody, and undoubtedly delectable.