Rooster Recap: ‘Hannibal’ Episode 1: Apéritif

Hey, welcome to Rooster Illusion’s newest Rooster Recap, written by Rooster Illusion himself (that is me, James Melville. I am the Rooster Illusion.) I’ll be posting a recap of NBC’s Hannibal every Saturday. Except this recap, because it’s the first episode and it took me a while, and it’s not like I’m going to do two in one day. That’s just crazy. But episode two is defs going up on Saturday. I mean, the recap is. The show is on Thursdays.

So, America loves serial killers. I’ve never really gotten the appeal, but I do love Mads Mikkelsen, and the idea of Bryan Fuller doing a Hannibal show is delightful. For those of you not in the know, Bryan Fuller is the creator of Pushing Daisies and Wonderfalls, two shows of which I am super fond. He also did Dead Like Me, which I’ve heard great things about. Dude’s got a pretty good batting average for quirky, visually-striking shows about death. Or, in the case of Wonderfalls, talking inanimate objects and post-grad ennui.

Get to the point.

Get to the point.

We’re all pretty familiar with Hannibal Lecter, right? Anthony Hopkins helped make him one of cinema’s most iconic villains in The Silence of the Lambs, and there were some other movies about him too. He’s charming and sophisticated, but he eats people and wears their faces sometimes.

Move over, Clooney. There's a new heartthrob in town.

Move over, Ryan Gosling. There’s a new heartthrob in town.

On to the main course. Or, if we’re going by the episode title, the fancy alcoholic drink preceding the meal. Looking at Hannibal’s IMDB page, I’m pretty sure that the titles for the first season make up a full course fancy-ass meal. I look forward to Googling a lot of French words in the coming months.

Okay, so this show is bloody. I like it. Some of you won’t. It starts off strong, introducing Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) and his empathy superpower, which allows him to place himself totally in the mind of the killer, to the extent that he visualizes himself committing the crime. It’s…pretty detailed. The first scene has him breaking into a house and murdering a husband and wife. Well, he shoots them both, but just paralyzes the woman. “And this,” Will tells us, “is when it gets truly horrifying for Mrs. Marlowe.”

The use of color in these scenes is great. The murders are vibrant, but the real world is drained. It’s an interesting technique. I think it’s meant to reflect Will’s state of mind. He has “difficulty being social,” and however much this ability to empathize with the deranged leaves him feeling shitty all the time, it’s almost like he feels more alive when he’s being somebody else.

Yeah, he's having a great day,

Yeah, he’s having a great day,

Laurence Fishburne’s Special Agent Jack Crawford, head of the Behavioral Science Unit, kicks off the plot by bringing Will out of retirement/teaching to help hunt a serial killer targeting similar-looking college girls. Pretty soon, they’re talking to the most recent girl’s parents, and, oh shit, the killer returns the girl’s body to her room while they’re talking downstairs. Will gets to do his empathy thing, and we get to watch Will strangle a girl. And by “get to,” I mean “this show is intense.”

After that, we get to learn some things about Will. He lives alone. He adopts stray dogs. He has vivid nightmares about the murders he visualizes. Sometimes when he’s awake. Also, McDonald’s has a new McWrap. Thanks, commercials.

Speaking of eating, the good Dr. Lecter (Danish superstar Mads Mikkelsen) is introduced in a nice little misdirect. After Will realizes that the killer is eating his victims, the show cuts to Hannibal listening to classical music and eating some tasty-looking meat. It’s a perfect introduction, capturing everything that makes the character so repellent, yet so captivating.

After yet another commercial break, we see him with a patient, rocking a dapper blue suit. Again, I love Fuller’s visual style. This has a totally different look from anything else he’s done, but it’s as unique and fitting as the modern fairy tale aesthetic of Pushing Daisies. Hannibal isn’t just another crime-of-the week procedural drama. Also, David Slade (Hard Candy, Twilight: Eclipse) directs the shit out of this thing. I hope that the two of them continue to work together, because this show gets downright Kubrickian sometimes.

Not always in subtle ways.

Not always in subtle ways.

Short story short, Jack Crawford seeks out Hannibal on the advice of Dr. Alana Bloom (Caroline Dhavernas!), who is pretty much Will’s only friend. Jack needs Will psychoanalyzed, to make sure that he’ll be stable in the field. I have a feeling that the poor guy won’t be stable for long.

The scene where Will and Hannibal meet is great. Mads is killing it as Dr. Lecter (pun intended). Hannibal is clearly fascinated by Will and his “gift.” He understands that the conflict between Will’s morals and the things he sees in his head is tearing him apart. Hannibal wants to observe Will as he deals with this conflict, and that’s why he agrees to Jack’s request. He’s doing it to satisfy his curiosity. Mads really gets across this combination of detached and perceptive. The reason Hannibal is such an iconic villain is because he seems so complex, even if the complexity is a little superficial at times. He eats people, but Anthony Hopkins is so charming! And scary!

And, it turns out, a little petulant. I love that when Hannibal hears about this other cannibal, he immediately kills a girl and leaves her in a field where she can be easily found. The body’s even arranged like the other victims had been: naked, mounted on deer antlers, and missing a vital organ. In this case, her lungs. Also, we get to see what it looks like when you cook somebody’s lungs! Yaaay!

I could watch Mads Mikkelsen eat all day.

I could watch Mads Mikkelsen eat all day.

The point is, Hannibal has this thing about punishing the “rude.” He’s not just a man of taste who is also a cannibal, he is the best cannibal. But the girl-on-a-stag thing isn’t just about being touchy and mocking the unsophisticated. He’s also doing it to help Will out, providing some contrast to bring the other killings into sharper focus (probably a pun in there somewhere). When the FBI is closing in, Hannibal calls ahead and warns the killer, which at first was kind of WTF-ish. But then I realized it was so that the killer would freak and start murdering his family. It’s all part of Hannibal’s study of Will.

Also, get ready to see some serious throat cuts. Because that’s a thing here.

The episode ends on an interesting note, with Will and Hannibal keeping the killer’s almost-murdered daughter company at the hospital. Will walks in to find Hannibal asleep in a chair next to her bed, holding her hand. Could this be the beginning of a beautiful bromance? I look forward to finding out as the season continues.

So, recap of the Recap: Hannibal is bloody, smart, and visually arresting. The cast are all in fine form—kudos to Laurence Fishburne for pulling off a soul-patch—and the dynamic between Will and Hannibal looks to be an interesting one.

Sorry for the length. I realize that this is kind of review-ish at times. Most of these will be more bite-sized (pun toooootally intended). Anyway, tune in this Saturday for my Rooster Recap of episode 2.

5 thoughts on “Rooster Recap: ‘Hannibal’ Episode 1: Apéritif

  1. Nice recap. I agree with your assessment, although I fell asleep watching the first episode — just tired, not a reflection on the show — but look forward to it tonight. It’s very slick and well done, but seriously disturbing. I’m not really a serial killer kind of gal so I’m not sure I’ll stick with it. But, hey, I can always catch up here if I’m too queasy to watch. BTW, You might like the Danish police drama “the Eagle” which you can find on Netflix. Mads isn’t in it, but it’s good.

  2. Pingback: Rooster Recap: “The Following” Episode 13: Havenport | Rooster Illusion

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