Horror has never been so bone chilling; the grotesque has never been so beautiful.
Warning: Spoilers ahead.
We’re two episodes in, and if you’re a fan, it’s the best new psychological drama this past television season that’s touted out lukewarm prototypes (Bates Motel and The Following). If you’re not convinced, you might find it confusing or meandering.
I, for one, am hooked.
The new show explores the tightrope of the early relationship between the psychiatrist Dr. Hannibal Lector (of Silence of the Lambs fame), a man with a particular meaty appetite, and his patient Will Graham, a young FBI criminal profiler whose days begin to be haunted with his empathetic nature towards all persons evil and deranged.
Bryan Fuller and his expressionistic take on death has been previously explored; in Dead Like Me, it was an escort; in Pushing Daisies, a reason for love and the adventure it can take you on. In his newest turn, he shares the same vision, albeit with less pie and magic, but continuing to prove Fuller is a visionary amongst a mess of the mundane and regurgitated.
The first two episodes have been the introduction: this is what Will does, this is how it affects him, this is who will be introduced to help him–to be his friend and his foil–now let’s watch their stories unravel.
Mads Mikkelson is a deeply gifted actor and plays with the same effortless serenity that he’s inhabited in his previous roles, except this time there’s something darker lurking beneath the exterior. We know the story, we’ve seen him prepare his meals, eat them and then serve them to his guests without a blink of an eye. He lives in his own quiet madness without believing it to be just that. It’s easy to be charmed by Mikkelson’s portrayal because of the charm he exudes which makes his Hannibal all the more frightening–he’s a man with many masks.
Hugh Dancy however is the true revelation of this show, an actor who’s rarely gotten roles attuned to his actual talents. He’s played the socially awkward before though, and this role goes far and beyond the generalized term of “nerdy” and isolated male character. Yes, he’s independent, and he doesn’t like being around other people, but he also is grim. He isn’t above acts of violence; he is an exposed nerve, never quite being able to shake the images nor escape the demons that everyday life inflict on him.
The supporting cast including Laurence Fishburne and Caroline Dhavernas are solid, but it’s clearly the Mikkelson and Dancy talent hour.
There is something oddly captivating about this show; a captivation that you may be loath to admit because of the gruesome images, and that showcases Fuller’s wonderful imagination–he creates a lasting image.
The images of this show evoke Pan’s Labyrinth feelings. Whether it be the first episode with the girl impaled upon the antlers, Will’s way of escaping into the suspect’s mind, the way color is used expertly to contrast a scene–we will go from a crime scene to the stark kitchen or study of Dr. Lector’s.
There’s the scene that managed to cause you to jump as well as catch your attention, the girls who’d been buried alive to create a continuation of life. There was the poor man shot at the end of episode two, and his blood decorating the journalist’s pale face.
This show is meant to unsettle us, just as Will’s own realizations startle him. We’re thrust into the mindset of a man who understands serial killers, and we’re entertained by a cannibalistic psychiatrist. And it’s all done with the style and grace of which you’d typically find in a classic period piece.
Other serial, criminal, gore lustful shows take note: this is how you do it.
The third episode airs tomorrow night, April 18th at 10 PM ET, make sure to check in as I continue to bring you recaps for the upcoming weeks.
What are your thoughts on the show so far?