This April, Hannibal will begin to tell the back story of FBI criminal profiler Will Graham and the infamous Dr. Hannibal Lecter. What excites me most about Hannibal is the potential perspective it could take. From the trailer it sounds as if the main conflict revolves around Graham’s ability to get into the shoes of the monsters he’s hunting and Dr. Lecter’s ability to help him reach those dark places by secretly being a monster himself. The reason this perspective excites me is because it’s one that I feel a television show has never fully embraced. Showtime’s Dexter, once upon a time, promised to offer us a look into a truly psychopathic mind, a mind completely lacking human empathy. However, over the seasons, Dexter Morgan has slowly become more Batman-esque vigilante than secret monster, which is fine, but it’s not as daring as the place the show began.
It’s hard to blame the creators of Dexter though. It’s difficult to foster empathy for a character who truly lacks that same quality, especially in a drama. Traditionally in television, it seems the monster must become human in some way in order to be palatable as a protagonist or else they just become the villains we see in the countless police procedurals like Law and Order and CSI. Hannibal, however, is already a beloved character because he comes from the horror genre where the monsters are the real heroes. In this case, half the battle is already won. I believe Hannibal will be able to explore the peculiar darkness of sociopathic behavior with the kind of depth and range only a long running television series can.
David Slade is at the helm of this project, which in many ways is a perfect fit. He has dealt with this subject matter before: making his audience empathize with monsters in 2005’s Hard Candy. He’s got an eye for psychological darkness demonstrated by his brief appearance as director in Breaking Bad’s fourth season which produced the memorable montage of Jesse Pinkman’s post-traumatic meltdown brilliantly set to Fever Ray’s “If I Had A Heart.” If the trailer is any indication, Hannibal is going to be a fine looking show, possessing a visual style with all of the morbid flamboyance of Dr. Lecter himself. Despite the prospect that Mads Mikkelson aging into Anthony Hopkins is about as believable as Joseph Gordon-Levitt growing up to be Bruce Willis, the casting looks promising. In short, I’m interested to see where this one is going. Of course, I could be wrong. It could suffer from the cliches of its “serial killer hunt” genre and never quite stand out from the pack. It might be too dark for a network television audience and suffer an early demise, but somehow I think not. I can’t help but feel that the atmosphere is right for Hannibal’s arrival April 4th. Whether it’s with Game of Thrones or Breaking Bad, America is in the middle of a seedy love affair with the darker sides of human character and morality. And Hannibal might just be the darkest stop yet.