Unfortunately, I found Season Two only slightly better than season one, and only because they strayed from the CSI: Virginia series arc. Gone are the near-constant crime scenes. They are replaced with character arcs. This is a good thing, but the plot is still terribly predictable. And that’s all because of an early episode where Will and Jack are ice fishing. If you pay attention to that scene, the end of the season is spoiled. I suppose this tactic would work if we had to wait a week between episodes, but marathoning them, watching one episode every night, my wife and I were able to accurately predict all of the major plot twists. That was disappointing. With that being said, we did enjoy ourselves.
Some of my enjoyment came from the tie-ins with the books. This television series is a perfect example of how to successfully adapt a book into another medium while being unfaithful. Your adaptation doesn’t have to follow the source material word for word, scene by scene, to be good. But it must hit the same notes. I really dug how Mason Verger was added in, and how Will ends up receiving the same wound he speaks about in Red Dragon. I’m not thrilled that it seems Hannibal Lecter will never see his time behind bars, but I dig that Will took on that role for a while. The Chilton subplot was cool, too.
The biggest compliment I can give this series is the fantastic production quality of every episode. The series is gorgeous and visceral. The makeup effects are some of the best in the business, and nowhere is that more obvious than Season Two’s finale.
And the fight scenes… Wow. They are, without a doubt, my favorite part of the show. Bravo.
My biggest problem with the show, once again, is the writing. All the twists and turns of the season finale are phoned in at the beginning of the season. Why this choice was made is beyond me. I was happy to see that there were fewer filler episodes, and that the filler episodes we did have served the plot to a point, but I felt the overall story arc could have been hidden a little better. I know people love the writing, but I don’t think it’s actually the writing they love. I think most people are confusing the fantastic direction and cinematography for writing. When you strip away the amazing production value and the incomparable acting, you have a skeletal tree with terribly thin branches. Any plot that banks on its viewership’s bad memory isn’t a very good plot. This show actually hopes you’ll forget what happened earlier in the season so it can trick you with the finale. Sleight of hand is fun and whatnot, but not when I can see the magician stuffing cards up his sleeve.
I will say this: This show knows its strengths and uses them to its advantage. Whether or not they are using them as a crutch is for you to decide.
In summation: Hannibal is an addictive experience beautifully rendered. The acting, direction, and special FX are mind blowing, the plot is not. Unless of course you suffer from short-term memory loss.
Final Judgment: Easter-eggy goodness.