Hannibal returns with a slow start. A calm before the storm to introduce the new season.
Hannibal is one of the many recent dramas to have gained popularity with each season through word of mouth. While it may not quite be a Breaking Bad or a Game of Thrones, it is currently toeing the line between fan-favourite and recognized success. This rapid growth in fan base can mostly be attributed to its blow-out second season finale last year, which was non-stop action and revelations, making it into a lot of critics’ best television episodes of the year list.
Now returning for its third series, fans are ready for more blood curdling murders, more hallucinogenic sequences, and, of course, more characters spouting psychological theory at each other. However the premier is miraculous in that it somehow manages to completely reboot the series, yet doesn’t feel alienating at all. It is almost the exact opposite of the finale: slow, calculated, and only really focuses on a couple characters. Yet that is precisely what made this episode so appealing.
In summary, the premier follows Hannibal’s movements after the events of the season 2 finale. While on the run he has now moved to Europe, forging himself a fake socialite lifestyle with a fake wife, Bedelia, previously his therapist. The episode also fills in the blanks from the previous series, such as the fate of Eddie Izzard’s Abel Gideon, via black and white flashbacks. There is little in terms of plot, but it does establish what is to come in the season and is no doubt laying the groundwork for grander and grizzlier things to come.
While the series may be making some drastic changes, some things have remained the same. The visual style, the highlight of many critics, has been pushed to another level. This time not only are the speed and the colour of shots manipulated, but visuals also jump back and forth in time and change in aspect ratio, promising even more brilliant cinematography for the remaining episodes. However, there are moments where this becomes either self-indulgent, or appears to be an attempt to cover up for the lack of plot. There are multiple needless montages throughout, which while looking pretty, should not take up as much time as they do. The tit-for-tat intellectual dialogue is also still there, and is still a crutch for the show, a tool that for the most part seems to be there to confuse you into believing that the plot is less generic then it really is.
As stated the premier is a slow one, which may disappoint fans. However at its heart it’s still the same show, with the usual flaws, as well as the usual strengths.
Hannibal airs on Sky Living on Wednesdays at 10pm.