Is it even possible for Mads Mikkelsen not to look like a stone cold pimp in every suit he wears?
This week, we get back to directly addressing the aftermath of Garret Jacob Hobbs' demise, namely his surviving daughter, Abigail. The pre-credits scene with Hobbs and Abigail hunting a deer is exactly the kind of character insight other shows desperately need to focus on. We learn so much about Abigail in just this one scene, and it informs our opinion about her throughout the entire episode. While everyone else is wondering whether or not Abigail was an accomplice to her father's crimes, the audience (and one other person, who I'll get to in a second) knows she's innocent. She had a moral dilemma about shooting and gutting a deer, so she's definitely no murderer. While this might run the risk of making everyone else's deductions about her seem wasted, the writers know how to curb that problem: Lecter knows she's innocent as well. This forces the audience into taking Lecter's view of events as the most informed, and that's wonderfully twisted. This show definitely wants to put the audience into some devilish places (like Will Graham's head!), and I enjoy that kind of storytelling. But, while a show like Dexter makes the protagonist debatably heroic or villainous, Hannibal gives us a lead character (Will Graham) who is definitely on the side of good, but cursed with a dark gift, making him much more interesting than a murderer who fancies himself a bringer of justice. On the other side of that, we get Lecter, who is unquestionably a monster but is so damn charming and intelligent that you can't help but find him extraordinarily compelling.
And Mads Mikkelsen makes Lecter even more enticing. Every shot of him standing by silently would be just another reaction shot in any other show, but here you can see every little machination behind his eyes. You can actually see him processing the information the other characters and surrounding events are providing him, and because this show has been so clever at crafting his character, you can deduce his line of thinking almost instantly. It's almost mind-boggling how, in just three episodes, we are inside of Hannibal's head just as easily as we are Will's.
I'm really enjoying Freddie Lounds as an antagonist to both Will and Hannibal, and I hope she's going to stick around for the whole season. For all intents and purposes, she's actually the villain of this episode, provoking Will into issuing her a veiled threat, and even sicking the brother of Hannibal's victim (who he thinks was killed by Hobbs) on poor traumatized Abigail. I wonder if she'll end up meeting the same fate as her former iterations?
But, the main focus of this episode is Abigail, and it's an interesting (if not entirely exciting) road her character is traveling. She wrestles with the idea if she's as messed up as her dad, and is forced to endure the scorn of her neighbors. Except for her one friend, who is immediately dispatched of after one scene! It was almost laughable how this poor girl showed up to be the one person who believes Abigail is innocent and wants to comfort her, and she gets murdered by Hannibal (in order to blame his victim's brother for his copycat murder) just minutes later. I'm actually a little pleased at this show's willingness to off characters as soon as we meet them. No one's safe, I guess! And now that Abigail and Hannibal are both harboring secrets against each other, I'm hoping Abigail pops back up around series end in order to throw a monkey wrench into Hannibal's attempts at covering up his darker side.
The visual style of this show seems like it's going to be consistent, and that appeases me to no end. The shot of Abigail stroking the deer carcass and then cutting to a hand running through a dead girl's hair is horrifyingly beautiful. This looks like it's going to be a show you could watch muted and still enjoy. Next week's "freak of the week" killer looks to have a ridiculously visual kick where they open up people's backs and style them like angel wings. I love it! It's so gratuitously violent, but passing it off in an artful way. I can't believe NBC even showed that in the preview, and quite extensively. I'm glad they know how to market a show about serial killers and a lead character who eats people.
This show has passed my "three episode" trial period and has hooked me for the entire season. It looks like we'll get a nice helping (it's hard to avoid food puns with this show) of one and done killers and a furthering of the main story arc. I'm fine with that, as long as Mads Mikkelsen gets to wear a new baller suit every week. Not even Anthony Hopkins made cannibalism so damn cool.