Is it possible for two good friends to get over a major betrayal when someone's life was at stake? What happens when the truth comes out and the bodies start to pile up? That's part of the premise behind NBC's "Hannibal," now in its second season, as it dealt with the consequences from last season's surprising twist arrest of the lead protagonist for a series of crimes that he didn't commit. Sure, the show still wasn't entirely perfect, but it still provided some darkly brutal entertainment if viewers were careful overlook everything that was done about their favorite villain in print and on the big screen.
"Hannibal" followed former criminal profiler Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) locked in an insane asylum for crimes that he knew that he didn't commit. Unfortunately, he wasn't able to prove it because the person that framed him did a very stellar job of covering their tracks. It also didn't help that he was sidelined with a major illness that ruined his ability to remember key details. With continued therapy, Will started to finally realize that his good friend/therapist Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen) was the true culprit and was willing to do anything to maintain the freedom to savor his trophies from his many victims that included eating them in very detailed dishes. While Will paid for Hannibal's crimes, Dr. Lecter was using his freedom to secure Will's old position with the FBI as he helped them out on various cases in his own unique way that allowed him to kill additional victims under a different guise. Sadly, Hannibal didn't anticipate that people would start to believe Will's strong suspicions about the psychiatrist. The first one who did was his old colleague Beverly Katz (Hettienne Park) who ended up being one of Hannibal's victims after getting much too close to the truth. Her brutal murder shocked her co-workers Jimmy Price (Scott Thompson) and Brian Zeller (Aaron Abrams) as they continued to work her murder case. Will's grief and guilt over Beverly's murder led him to make a deal with another devil to punish Hannibal permanently, but his plan for revenge was stopped by Dr. Alana Bloom (Caroline Dhavernas) and Will's former boss Special Agent Jack Crawford (Laurence Fishburne). Will Will be able to get the goods on Hannibal or will he remain in the asylum for the rest of his life?
In terms of questions, the show posed two key ones that will keep viewers guessing until the last possible minute. The first one involved how the season was going to lead up to the season premiere's opening moments when Fisburne's Crawford and Mikkelsen's Hannibal were in a fight to the death that was likely going to leave one survivor. That moment managed to indicate that Hannibal's freedom was coming to an end a lot sooner than the character thought, which would likely lead to some extreme moments to leave viewers with their jaws on the floor. The fight scene foreshadowed that Fisburne's character was going to eventually suspect that Will was innocent and start to believe his theory about Hannibal. An upcoming episode preview suggested as much when Crawford decided to have some food that Hannibal gave him to be tested for its contents. Hopefully, the episodes will catch up to the present soon for viewers to find out what Crawford's fate truly was, since it didn't look too good in the premiere. The other question involved whether the show was going to be around for a third season because NBC shifted the series to Friday nights where the competition was slightly stiffer due to the hit CBS line-up. Let's hope that the show's risky approach will save it for another season. Okay, the show's occasionally quiet pace was something left to be desired but the series has gotten much better now that everything is out in the open and Hannibal's actions definitely speak louder than anything the character ever said. Park's shocking exit didn't disappoint in brutality and emotion from the cast. Fingers crossed that Park's Beverly won't have died in vain.
As for breakout performances, Dancy and Mikkelsen still led the pack as their characters were locked in a dangerous battle that was going to leave them both in total disarray. Both characters have gotten better now that they've both embraced their true dark sides for better or worse. Dancy's Will was no longer a passive character who suffered for his work or through an illness. He has evolved into a character of quiet cunning who pushed to the breaking point someone who he thought he could trust. In the most recent episode, Dancy's Will arranged to meet a copycat killer who started to kill to impress Will. Instead of turning him in, Will used the young man to try to kill Hannibal as a means of punishing him for everything that has happened. The scene was a departure for the character that allowed him to be consumed by his darkest emotions, but let's hope that Dancy's Will won't embrace the darkness for too long. Mikkelsen, on the other hand, had the more challenging task of trying to put his own spin on a very iconic villain without ticking off viewers. He succeeded for the most part by getting viewers to overlook the others who have portrayed Dr. Lecter in the past, but he also allowed viewers to see Hannibal's compassionate side as he decided to save Crawford's dying wife from killing herself. The act didn't end up making him a saint in anyone's eyes because he received a slap in the face for his efforts. Mikkelsen's on-screen reaction was perfect as it demonstrated that Hannibal was trying to show some compassion every so often to make up for his now regular sins. Mikkelsen also had a convincing on-screen rapport with Dancy that was the right mixture of friendship and hate, which will likely get more lethal as the season continued on.
"Hannibal" premiered on February 28th and airs Fridays at 10:00 PM on NBC.
Verdict: The show's risky premise might have served better on a cable network, but its go for broke approach has paid off as the tension gets stronger each week. Let's hope that the network will renew it when the time comes.
TV Score: 4 out of 5 stars
1 Star (Mediocre)
2 Stars (Averagely Entertaining)
3 Stars (Decent Enough to Pass Muster)
4 Stars (Near Perfect)
5 Stars (Gold Standard)