TV Review: Hannibal, ‘Hassun’

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Plot: Will Graham’s (Hugh Dancy) trial begins, as those closest to him take sides and Jack Crawford (Laurence Fishburne) is pulled in conflicting directions. Meanwhile, a court bailiff is killed in what appears to be a slaying copied from the crimes Will is accused of committing. Is Hannibal Lechter (Madds Mikelesen) behind it?

Photo Credit: Michael Muller/NBC
Photo Credit: Michael Muller/NBC

Two weeks ago, we reviewed the season premiere of NBC’s Hannibal, and our senior TV writer, Marla Pachter implored you jump on the bandwagon of this amazingly acted, written and produced television series. Yet, the ratings remain criminally low, no thanks in part to a terrible 10pm Friday night airing.

That is why every week, until season’s end, we will be bringing you weekly coverage of the Silence of the Lambs prequel. It is hands down one of the single best shows on television and bar none the best drama on broadcast television. Its acting is second to none, its plot is a mind shanking head scratcher that envelopes you with its mystery every week and it’s shot like a high gloss film noir that could end up in your local cineplex next weekend.

Hannibal is that good. In fact, if you’re feeling a bit of a True Detective hangover, this is the perfect remedy for the post-TD blues. And it’s a shame we even have to make this comparison because Hannibal is perfect on its own merits, but with so few people tuning in, we’re giving it the hard sell people.

“Hassun” really throws a wrench into the story arc of Season 2. Until “Hassun” we’re heading into the trial of Will Graham, who will be convicted for multiple murders — the murders that Hannibal Lecter committed. Out of nowhere, a copy cat killer emerges and which begins to undermine the “slam dunk” nature of Will’s impending guilty verdict. Combine that with the conflicted testimony of Jack Crawford and the waters have definitely been muddied in the trial of Will Graham.

Photo Credit: Michael Muller/NBC
Photo Credit: Michael Muller/NBC

What’s so good about this new serial killer is that you’re never quite convinced of who the actual killer is. Is it Hannibal? It would make the most sense since he is a legit serial killer. But can we really rule out Dr. Alana Bloom (Caroline Dhavernas), who obviously has strong feelings for Will and has intimate knowledge of all his crimes? And let’s not rule out the off chance there’s another psycho kiler out there. Remember, Eddie Izzard’s Dr. Abel is still out there (it was confirmed by creator Bryan Fuller that he did not die last season) and the FBI has already suspected him of committing Hannibal’s crimes. It should be a no-brainer (no pun intended) that Hannibal’s the guy behind the murders, but the writing lays on such an air of doubt and uncertainty that you start second-guessing your thoughts. Kind of like Will himself.

The acting all-around in “Hassun” was excellent. Dancy and Mikelsen deliver their usual richly complex performances but the dramatic dynamo tonight was Fishburne. The scene that exemplified just how good he was in the episode was when he confesses to Hannibal about how his dying wife is trying to stay strong for him and how he should take her to Italy, where they met, so she can pass away. The tears that tumble down Fishburne’s cragged cheeks really show the cracks in Crawford’s formerly impenetrable armor. Fishburne has been such an amazing and oft-overlooked member of this series, but tonight he really got his moment in the sun and now he, like Will Graham and the audience, cannot trust his instincts or even the facts surrounding this case.

Photo Credit: Michael Muller/NBC
Photo Credit: Michael Muller/NBC

One of the great parts of this second season is that Will Graham has taken the spot of the Hannibal Lecter we first met over 20 years ago — locked in a cage, under heavy security and a brilliant psychopath. Seeing Lecter on the outside trying to act like a normal, everyday upstanding citizen is almost comical — and not in a bad way. Hannibal must do everything in his power to conceal his crimes and the reasoning and logic he employs to fool the FBI makes you chuckle in amazement. Just how smooth is this guy? Smoother than silk is the answer. Yet, the most interesting part of Lecter is that he still has genuine love for Will Graham despite the fact he is the one who put Will in jail and letting Will take the fall for his crimes. It’s one of the crazy contradictions of Hannibal that just work so well and make this show just that much more intriguing.

“Hassun” is a tremendous addition to the Hannibal cannon and the way they ended the episode — one of the most shocking things this writer has witnessed on broadcast television. Hannibal continues to amaze with its graphic murders, its complex yet highly accessible plot and the masterful acting. People, we’re serious — this is the show to be watching. There is a reason Netflix, Hulu and iTunes exist.

Bill Bodkin is the owner, editor-in-chief and co-founder of Pop Break. Most importantly, however, he is the proud father of a beautiful daughter, Sophie. He can be seen regularly on the site reviewing The Walking Dead, Doctor Who, and is the host of the site's podcast, The BreakCast. He is a graduate of Rutgers University with a degree in Journalism & English. Follow him on Twitter: @BodkinWrites

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