The first season of NBC’s critical darling, Hannibal, is a mixed bag. At times, it can be a genius depiction of the inner workings of a psychopathic mind that refuses to accept itself for what it is. But at other times, it can be a bag of pretention, full of nothing more than fifty shades of red. That said, the conclusion of Hannibal’s freshman season is one of the best twists ever depicted on a pop-culture defining moment ([spoilers for the season 1 finale]Will greeting Dr. Lecter from behind bars, as opposed to the other way around). The hope with the show’s sophomore season is that it would learn from its mistakes of over-pretension and grow into the series much of the critical community claims it to be… and the good news, is that it has.
Opening with one of the most daring teasers ever committed to the medium of television, the second season of Hannibal makes it clear the show’s doing away with many of its season one tropes. No longer will it simply be the procedural of Will Graham: Super Cop with Issues. Now it’s a game of who’s the superior psychopath: Will or Hannibal? Where the first season was merely a depiction of manipulation on the part of Lecter, this season asks the question of what does the subject gain when they become self-aware of their own experiment?
While the show still maintains its signature level of violence, it just now does so in different, perhaps more gut-turning ways. Without saying how, let’s just say the second episode redefines the term: body-modification. What’s gone are the gallons and gallons of blood metaphors. It seems Fuller grew as tired as we did of the red, and opted to get creative with his violence… much like his title character would.
Where season one suffers from various dull moments throughout many of its episodes, mostly due to the need for a case-by-case format, the second season does not. Rather than having episodes occupied by a single-case specific story and minor advancement in the overall arc between Hannibal and Will, episodes in season two are occupied by a slew of threads: Will trying to prove Lecter’s guilt, Lecter trying to convince Will of his false reality, Jack struggling to decide if Will’s guilty or just mentally ill, the killer of the week, Hannibal playing with the killer of the week, Hannibal working to take Will’s place in the F.B.I. while keeping them off his trail… and that’s not even half of it.
Season one of Hannibal was okay, but struggles. Season two of Hannibal hits the ground running, hard. From the first frame, it’s clear what we have now is a show that’s found itself, and is going to do everything in its power to keep us guessing until the very gruesome, bitter end. With the beginning of its second season, Hannibal has taken its rightful place as one of the best series currently airing on television. There’s no denying it anymore, NBC has hit the lottery with its serial killer drama, and there’s chance they’re going to be letting it go anytime soon.
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