This show is a recipe for…..ah, hell, for all of our sakes, I'm going to try my best to keep from using food-puns. I promise.
The first thing that struck me when I watched the pilot episode last week: the look. The visuals of this show are masterfully done, with a surreal, unnerving quality.
The episode intros with our protagonist Will at a shooting range, letting fly rage-fueled bullets towards a paper target that transmogrifies into the serial murderer he gunned down in the pilot: Garret Jacob Hobbs. His lifeless corpse replaces the innocent paper target and comes for Will, even as he fires away, to no avail.
Cut to Graham and Crawford investigating the villain's tasteful, yet murderous antler-decorated cabin. The kill-box, if you will. Crawford wonders if Hobb's DAUGHTER might not have helped her father kill all those girls, while Will believes Hobb did the deeds all by his onesies.
Crawford and Dr. Alana Bloom stop by Will's class to ask him to see a psychiatrist. Well, hell's bells, the show is named after one, so why not see him? Dr. Hannibal "helped out" last episode…but by that I mean he helped out the killer that Will was hunting, by calling him to let loose with a warning that "They know".
Another impressive feature is that while most shows feature a "freak-of-the-week" story roster, this show, at least so far, bounds them together. Yes this week does feature a new freak, but there's more. During the pilot episode, while Will is tracking Hobb, a copycat victim is found. They could have just left this reveal for the second episode, but I appreciate the immediacy of the continuity they are trying to build, creating a chain instead of a series of links.
What impresses me most is that this show, an NBC native, is rather akin to a Cable Television outing. There is some narrowly avoided nudity and they sure play it fast and loose with the blood and gore, which most notably caught my attention as the police investigate a batch of bodies which were discovered by some hiking kids. The victims were buried alive but unconcious and fed nutrients. As Will goes into what I'll call Pendulum-Vision, to empathically recount the crime, he hallucinates that the male victim is Hobbs, but the hallucination is cut short when the actual corpse reveals that it isn't all that corpsey by grabbing onto Will! Lipless corpse guy is alive! …and gross. That thread is cut short though, when he dies on his way to the hospital. So basically it's a jump-scare borrowed from the movie Se7en.
Enter Fredricka "Freddie" Lounds, tabloid blogger, who runs the site TattleCrime.com. You're welcome to call her Freddie, but I just gonna go ahead and call her dinner. This woman is put here specifically to up the body count down the road. All of her shenanigans this episode lead to trouble. She puts Will Graham firmly in the spotlight and into the radar of a killer, and gets a cop not only suspended, but worse.
I don't want to spoil TOO much of the episode, so I'm not going to say much about wrap-up of this episode or the killer. Let's just say he likes mushrooms a bit too much.
One has to wonder if this show is only going to feature killers who have an affinity for food. The first episode had a killer who ate their victims (sound familiar?) and this one uses his victims to grow salad ingredients. I feel like that tact might wear out it's welcome fairly soon.
Let's talk about Hannibal himself. I'm glad that Dr. Lecter is relegated to Will's psychiatrist, since last episode seemed more like a buddy-cop movie, with them both out in the field, and both there when the villain was taken out. I understand that he needed to be in a significant amount of the episode, but I think he's far more effective here, discussing and dismantling Will after the fact. Mads Mikkelsen is growing on me. It's a different take then Sir Anthony Hopkins, but more and more, almost as interesting to watch. I thought his accent got in the way here and there, since I had to rewind to catch what he was saying but he certainly has the presence one needs for the character to be effective.
"Ambush is later….immediately later. Soon-to-now. When Jack arrives, consider yourself ambushed."
The visual shorthand is well done and interesting to watch.
Did I mention that Canadian comedian Scott Thompson has a recurring role? He's a long way from The Kids in the Hall, but I'm glad to see him here, flexing his acting muscles a bit.
Dr. Alana Bloom, so far is window dressing, with no real part to play, other then that of concerned lady who occasional makes with the cute and the quips.
The final say:
This show is off to a grand start, and I can't wait for the next episode. A mesmerizing hour of television.