On the Muse’s Menu: Hannibal


June 24, 2013 by Kira Lyn Blue

I was going to cover several various books and shows that I’ve been feeding the Muse lately, but I started writing this post and it turns out there’s a lot of ground to cover in just one show: Hannibal.

hannibalBefore The Red Dragon

I recently finished watching the entire first season of NBC’s HannibalIt’s basically the prequel to The Red Dragon, and follows FBI profiler Will Graham as he tracks serial killers through his ability to empathize with and understand their motivations and actions and his relationship with his therapist, Dr. Hannibal Lecter who is supposed to be helping him cope with the psychological impacts of his job duties.

Lecter Movie? What Lecter movies?

This show wasn’t at all what I expected it would be, but in a good way. Mads Mikkelsen as everyone’s favorite cannibal is very different from how Dr. Lecter is portrayed by Anthony Hopkins. At first I found it a bit disorienting, but then realized it made sense. This is Dr. Lecter before anyone knows what he really is, before the mask of civility has been ripped away and he is oh so very carefully presenting only that which he chooses to the world around him.

Suspense, Tone, and Internalization

It’s psychological suspense done very, very well. I absolutely loved how almost nothing is explained outright. It’s all subtly implied and forces the viewer to watch carefully to see how each character acts and reacts to each given scenario. Even better, every aspect of the production is carefully crafted to create and amplify suspense and leave the viewer slightly disturbed at all times. The predominant colors in every scene are greys and blues, making things feel very stark, dark, and depressing. The splashes or color they do use come across as garish rather than cheerful or comforting. I even noted a lack of background music in most scenes or just some vague noise that ratcheted up my tension.

Look, they even do the color thing in the publicity photos!

The producers are so very careful to only show beauty and elegance in close relationship with the killers or Hannibal himself, which is just so psychologically brilliant I both admire them and hate them for making “good things” in the show triggers for terror. The most obvious example is Hannibal serving gorgeous culinary delights to his colleagues in just about every episode and every time it happened I was cringing and hiding behind a couch cushion to prevent myself from thinking about how tasty it looked.

AAAAAAACK! No, Jack, don’t do it!

Another very interesting thing they did was the sets and costuming. It’s all designed to be very ambiguous as to what time period the show is set in. At first glance, I thought it might be set in late 70s or early 80s, but then a random cell phone or laptop appears. Modern technology is sparingly used, though, which almost makes me think the creators wanted a series that could be watched decades from now without it appearing dated. Which was a brilliant choice, because this show is so well done I hate to see it forgotten.


It’s not what you might expect. This show is about Will Graham and his mental state more than anything else. There’s nothing more I can say without spoilers and I wouldn’t do that to you.  What I can say is that Hannibal is so very different from anything else on TV right now. I’d highly recommend it for any writer just because it does “Show, don’t tell,” better than anything I’ve seen or read in months.

Kira’s Rating: 5 Freaked Out Squirrels

Any other Hannibal viewers out there? What did you think of it?

3 thoughts on “On the Muse’s Menu: Hannibal

  1. Kira Lyn,
    My daughter and I have watched every episode at least twice. We are truly obsessed. The sets are amazing. Go back and look at the drapes in Dr. Lecter’s office – the bands of color are gorgeous. The woodwork is reminiscent of gothic architecture and the room is ginormous. Have you thought about how big that house must be? The dining room seats 12, the kitchen is huge, and the office is massive.
    What do you think of all the antler images? And why do you think Hannibal dresses the way he does? His ties are knotted in a strange way and his shirts have really big collars. Do you think Will’s psychiatrist friend will get him out of jail in the next season?

    • ***SPOILERY ALERT***
      I know! I so want that office. I may or may not have yelled at the TV when the fight scene took place in there and they made a mess. “Noooo! Don’t break the pretty things!!!! You savages!”

      I was nearly smacking myself in the last couple of episodes when I finally matched the stag in Will’s “dreams” to the statue in Hannibal’s office. I thought it was a brilliant way to show that Will subconsciously knew all along but just couldn’t bring himself to accept it.

      I don’t know about next season, but I can’t believe they ended it the way they did. Then again, I can’t think there was another direction to go and have anything left for a second season. Ooh, I have a random guess for what will happen next season!

      Freddie Lounds will team up with Will to uncover Hannibal’s secrets and reveal he’s the true killer. Why? 1) Because it makes an awesome story for her to tell, so how could she resist? And 2) because I hate her soooo much, so I just know those sneaky writers are going to put her in a position where I have to root for her even though she’s pure evil.

  2. L. Marie says:

    I haven’t seen the show. I did love Anthony Hopkins’s portray of Lecter in Silence of the Lambs. But you mentioned that this Hannibal is different.

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