Monday, December 15, 2014

Penny Thoughts ‘14—Hannibal, season 2 (2014) ****

TV-14, 13 45-min. episodes
Creator: Bryan Fuller

Directors: Tim Hunter, Peter Medak, David Semel, Michael Rymer, Vincenzo Natali, David Slade

Writers: Bryan Fuller, Thomas Harris (characters from novel “Red Dragon”), Steve Lightfoot, Jeff Vlaming, Jason Grote, Scott Nimerfro, Ayanna A. Floyd, Andy Black, Kai Yu Wu, Chris Brancato

Starring: Hugh Dancy, Mad Mikkelsen, Lawrence Fishburne, Caroline Dhavernas, Hettienne Park, Scott Thompson, Aaron Abrams, Raúl Esparza

Guest starring: Gillian Anderson, Cynthia Nixon, Jonathan Tucker, Martin Donovan, Patrick Garrow, Lara Jean Chorostecki, Maria Del Mar, Shawn Doyle, Eddie Izzard, Gina Torres, Kacey Rohl, Amanda Plummer, Anna Chlumsky, Ted Ludzik, Katharine Isabelle, Jeremy Davies, Chris Diamantopoulis, Mark O’Brien, Michael Pitt, Daniel Kash

There was a point about halfway through the second season when I though this series had finally run itself off the rails. It has always skirted on the precipice of going too far off the deep dark end. I’m sure there are some who feel that it started that way. However, the writing has always been incredible on this series. It is about the best written American television show out there. So how was it possible that things could go so wrong with the writing starting with S2E9 “Siizakana”?

I couldn’t have been more wrong, but it takes several episodes for things to progress far enough for the writers to reveal what they were really up to, which was actually quite ingeniously spelled out in the cold intro to that very episode where things started to seem wrong. I am uncomfortable with how the season leaves things, but I’ve finally learned by this point that making me uncomfortable is one of the greatest elements of this series and I don’t need to worry about the writing. It will play out as one of the best-written shows no matter what happens or how uncomfortable those events make me feel. What Bryan Fuller and his staff of writers are doing is taking one of the greatest movie monsters ever created and somehow twisting him into a darker and more fully formed monster than anyone, including Hannibal’s creator novelist Thomas Harris, could’ve ever imagined. Into this twisted darkness Fuller also pulls Will Graham and the entire FBI team chasing Hannibal down into the muck with him. It’s fascinating.

As I began the series—much later than it aired this year—I was amazed once again by the brilliant writing carried over from season one. Although the writing seems to falter at a certain point, the reveal as to why is one of those monumental television series shockers that turns a cult series into a classic. I don’t think “Hannibal” will ever reach the popular status of other current horror titles, like “The Walking Dead”; and that’s a shame. This show should be listed on every critic’s must watch list every year. I only hope that it’s slim ratings don’t mean that NBC will be forced to cancel it before it runs its seven season course. It made a season three cut, which is two more seasons than I feared it would last. 

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