HomeOur Obsessions‘Hannibal’: Broken series, broken hearts

‘Hannibal’: Broken series, broken hearts

After three beautiful, savage, and wickedly horny seasons of gourmet cannibalistic delights, Hannibal was cancelled by NBC in June 2015 due to low ratings.

‘Hannibal’: Broken series, broken hearts

After three beautiful, savage, and wickedly horny seasons of gourmet cannibalistic delights, Hannibal was cancelled by NBC in June 2015 due to low ratings.

At that time it seemed there was still hope for the show to flourish elsewhere, even if there were some evident troubles: an initial exclusive streaming deal with Amazon made finding a new distributor difficult, causing Netflix to pass on the series despite showing an interest in it. Bryan Fuller confirmed the show was still being shopped, but that he wanted sufficient time to develop quality scripts – something that complicated his deal with Amazon, who wanted immediate results.

Fuller had even hinted he was exploring the possibility of a feature film, and was planning a Silence of the Lambs plotline for the next stage of the Hannibal narrative. Sadly, it’s been three years and there’s still no sign of that Hannibal revival we all so desperately want.

And we do desperately want it. In our opinion, Hannibal is one of the greatest TV shows of the past decade (possibly ever), a near-flawless horror drama boasting a show as close to perfection as we’re ever likely to see in just about every way.

Looking back, it’s difficult to know where to start in highlighting just how extraordinary the show is. But we’ll begin by dropping our jaw at the phenomenal cast who provided astonishing performances across the board.

Mads Mikkelsen is unnerving and diablocal as Hannibal Lecter, but he’s also impossibly charming and magnetic. The actor draws out the enigmatic appeal of the monstrous character who boasts psychotic volumes of likeableness – one day you’re his friend, the next grilled sirloin.

Hugh Dancy must also be acknowledged for his complex depiction of Will Graham – a man too smart and talented for his own good who also fails to resist the charms of the monster he’s supposed to be taking down.

With a supporting cast that includes such thespian titans as Laurence Fishburne, Caroline Dhavernas, Gillian Anderson, Michael Pitt, and Katharine Isabelle, Hannibal is consistently full of sharp performances with unexpected takes on familiar characters.

But a great deal of what elevates the show (and performances) to such superior heights is how well-crafted every detail of Hannibal is. From the sublime cinematography showcasing poetically assembled body horror, to the decadent cooking sequences that transform a deviant cannibal into a rich sophisticate, Hannibal is a show with a great deal of thought, invention, and artistry behind it.

That isn’t something that can or should be rushed, as Amazon seemed intent on. The first two seasons of Hannibal are staggeringly rich, clearly the result of painstaking patience and development. S3, on the other hand, is easily the weakest of the series. A great deal of that comes down to the highly anticipated Red Dragon season being rushed into being.

This is a great shame, because it comes through in the quality of writing, an aspect of Hannibal otherwise polished and mischievous, providing sneaky surprises, sharp dialogue, and simmering tensions with effortless zeal.

The slow-burn homoerotic tension between Graham and Lecter, for instance, is a nuanced plot point almost impossible to do tastefully or with subtlety between two characters with such a complex psychological and professional dynamic. Yet Hannibal achieves it with a swaggering confidence so casual that throughout S1 fans were asking “Is this really happening? Or is it all in my head? They’re totally hot for each other, right?!”

There’s a reason why Hannigram fans continue to share fanfiction and celebrate the simmering sexual wantonness between the two – and isn’t because we’re just basic bitches who think they look hot together.

It’s because the plotline exploring their dark attraction (and resistance) to each other is unspooled slowly over time so remarkably; their dynamic isn’t a standalone narrative existing just for fanservice. The Hannigram relationship (or lack thereof) helped navigate the direction of every episode and question the boundaries between good and evil and the murky territory between.

In short, Hannibal is like no other show on TV and never has been. It’s understandable the #SaveHannibal hashtag is still so very active on Twitter.

Fans screencap their suggestions to Netflix that S4 of Hannibal is a priority for them to pick up, plot ways they can rally for a revival, and share their favorite quotes and scenes as a reminder the show is a masterpiece that shouldn’t have been axed in the first place. Hell, the fans even have their own festival for the show – the appropriately named Fannibalfest. Based in Toronto, the festival is organized by fans and features special guests from in front of and behind the scenes of Hannibal.

Last year the convention took place in October with a host of special events, including bus tours and Hannibal-themed gourmet dinner parties with some more traditional meat (and vegetarian!) options that Dr. Lecter would never consider. Special guests included actors Hettienne Park, Scott Thompson, and Aaron Abrams will attend, as well as director and storyboard artist Vincenzo Natali, stunt coordinator Ken Quinn, and set decorator Karo Dick.

In short, this show is anything but dead. Hannibal is a show worth maintaining hope for; it seems like Fuller drops a cryptic tease about a potential Hannibal revival every month.

In 2017, Fuller revealed to Post Mortem with Mick Garris that he has a “great idea” about where to take Hannibal nextMentioning that he continues to have conversations with Mikkelsen, Dancy, and executive producer Martha De Laurentiis about the revival, Fuller described that “We’re all excited about the prospect of returning to the story. There [are] some hurdles to get through . . . . I just had a great idea for S4.”

Presumably some of those hurdles may have been the rights to the story of Silence of the Lambs, which Fuller suggested back in 2017. There’s also Mikkelsen and Fuller’s respective stacked schedules to keep in mind too.

However, there’s also a possibility that a Silence of the Lambs narrative could be off the table completely. In 2016, Dancy told Collider that Fuller had pitched his S4 idea to him and “it wasn’t the Clarice / Silence of the Lambs storyline.”

The pitch overview Fuller gave Dancy “took us back to the first season in a very unexpected way, and made total sense of that cliffhanger ending; it seemed justified. It was born out of a part of one of the books so it was still coming out of that universe.”

But there’s certainly nothing to suggest a revival can’t happen at some point in the near future. Perhaps it’s not a case of if at this point, but rather one of when and how – particularly between considering whether Hannibal should return as a feature film or as a limited series.

Either way, we sincerely hope at least some elements of the Silence of the Lambs story are drawn into the future of Hannibal and that we get to see exactly what that looks like soon – possibly with added Hannigram antics.

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Amy Roberts is a freelance writer who occasionally moonlights as a hapless punk musician. She’s written about pop culture for websites like Bustle, i-D, and The Mary Sue, and is the co-creator of Clarissa Explains F*ck All. She likes watching horror movies with her cat and eating too much sugar.

amy@filmdaily.co