Hannibal: Tasteful mix of story and gore

Matthew Rietveld / The Watchdog

A lot of TV shows nowadays tend to sacrifice some aspect in order to either cater to their audiences or fit a tight budget. Those that do successfully combine quality acting, visuals, storylines and character development tend to become classics that one wouldn’t mind watching maybe two, three or 80 times. Shows such as “Avatar: The Last Airbender” or “Jewel of the Palace,” a Korean drama which can be claimed as the show that started the K-pop craze across the globe, can be classified as pieces of art that drag their audiences into a new world. Another show that might make that list is “Hannibal,” a crime investigation series with probably the most gorgeous murders and effects out of any murder-mystery drama.

“Hannibal” is a televised version of “Red Dragon,” by Thomas Harris, and its movie counterparts such as “Silence of the Lambs.” The show follows Will Graham, an FBI profiler who helps investigate a series of murders in Minnesota. Because of his autism and ability to think like a psychopath, Graham is carefully supervised and manipulated by Dr. Hannibal Lecter who quickly develops a keen interest in Graham’s skills. In the first season, Lecter toys with the FBI and Graham, throwing them down wild-goose chases and strings of artful murders. These crimes at first seem unrelated and although the FBI does catch a few serial killers, they fail to catch the true mastermind, Lecter.

As the show progresses, however, Lecter’s close relationship with Graham becomes detrimental to his well-being, which spawns a new storyline of the protagonists chasing after Lecter.

For those who have watched past movies and read the books, “Hannibal” might not come as a surprise. Its gory scenes and chilling murders are just loose pieces to determining the true identity of Lecter. However, for those who are new to the ominous plot, don’t be alarmed by the unfamiliar storyline. “Hannibal” has a slow exposition and it’s not until the third or fourth episode where it shows Lecter slicing up a nice pair of lungs for dinner. In addition, the name “Hannibal” is already such a classic that those who’ve never watched or read the stories will already have a sense that the show is about a psychopathic psychologist who likes to kill and eat his victims.

The murders and visuals have to be one of the best reasons why audiences are glued to their screens. Every crime is a work of art. There is one scene where a man is hung up by wings carved from the skin off his back. It sends chills down one’s spine, but, is it wonderful. There’s another murder where the victim, who was part of the FBI’s forensic team, is sliced lengthwise into multiple pieces. Each piece is framed in glass walls and placed one after another, resembling a photo of the human anatomy in science books. It’s absolutely gorgeous.

That’s not all. Lecter doesn’t just bite a piece off his victims like a feral dog. He carefully chooses his victims from a list of call cards and pairs it with a complex recipe, which can range from French to Thai cuisine. No one naturally has a taste for human flesh, but watching Lecter prepare his food may make one’s stomach grumble. Don’t be embarrassed. It’s completely natural.

In addition, these scenes, whether it’s Lecter slicing up someone or Graham analyzing a crime scene are carefully paired with a light, classical pieces. The stark contrast between light, Romantic music and dark, gruesome murders is chillingly intense.

Each season comes with new clues about who the real antagonist is. Through these clues, the audience can see every character develop, placing wrongful trust and blame on irrelevant characters. Soon, the immense dramatic irony of the show can anger viewers, especially when Lecter lets out a small smirk every time the FBI fails to catch him.

The show, however, came to a stop late last year. Regardless, it is a series that everyone should watch as long as they are capable of swallowing the occasional mini vomit that may come up from watching the murders.