Saying goodbye is never easy, but all good stories must eventually come to an end. As the final chapter of NBC's Hannibal falls upon us, we are left wondering why such a great show fell flat?
To the disappointment of loyal Fannibals, the NBC series suffered from low ratings that led to its cancellation and it's move from Thursday to Saturday nights. Although the series had positive reviews, its season 3 premiere was only watched by 1.8 million viewers. It's second-to-last episode only had a .20 in the 18-to-40 demographic.
Even though it seems like only hard-core fans continued to tune into its final season, we had high hopes that Hannibal would get the chance to dine with another network or streaming service.
While these dreams were crushed, Bryan Fuller was able to bring the characters from Thomas Harris' novels to life in a way like never before.
Here's why Hannibal is the best horror series many missed out on.
Warning! This article contains some spoilers if you haven't yet caught up with season 3, along with graphic images.
It Satisfied Fans Of The Franchise
It's quite impressive that Fuller and Co. were able to breathe such fresh life into characters that are dated back to the '80s. Because of licensing rights, the show did not exclusively follow the books, but rather focused more on the time before Dr. Hannibal Lecter is caught. This meant that fans got to see the crazed cannibal in a whole new light.
There was an satisfying mix of fresh storylines that were blended in with the events that occurred or were mentioned in the books.
However, since the series did have the rights to the characters in Harris' Red Dragon, this storyline was executed beautifully in season 3, to the delight of fans—which leads us to the acting.
A Bromance To Die For
It seemed almost impossible to come close to Anthony Hopkins' portrayal of the deranged serial killer, but Mads Mikkelsen was able to brilliantly fill his shoes (while wearing those immaculately tailored suits). Evil never looked so good.
While we got to see a younger version of Hannibal the cannibal, this season gave fans what they really wanted to see, Hannibal locked up and in a straight jacket and mask on a gurney—a scene as iconic as seeing Graham wearing that mask in season 2.
— Hannibal (@NBCHannibal) August 23, 2015
Throughout all three seasons, Mikkelsen captivated viewers with his dark and soulless gaze. The character successfully manipulated others, like Francis Dolarhyde this season. With such dark and twisted ways, Hannibal is able to convince The Great Red Dragon to go after Graham and his family, highlighting how easy it was for him urge victims to kill. He is able to test and push people past their boundaries, tapping into the darkest part of their being. In fact, Jack Crawford (seriously, this show had Morpheus, actor Laurence Fishburne, playing Crawford!) calls Hannibal the devil himself. No other example is as fine as what he brings out in Will. Let's face it, he had Graham even eating from the palm of his hands. Hannibal got inside Graham and the series was able to show just how similar the two could be at times, even though Graham knows deep inside he is not this kind of monster.
Hugh Dancy arguably played the best version of FBI profiler Will Graham. Viewers got to see how deeply troubled the character is, as he struggled to stay rooted in reality while chasing after a series of psychopathic killers. With a deeply emotional performance, Dancy was able to explore the Graham's supernatural abilities in a way that hasn't been seen before with this character. While both Mikklesen and Dancy's acting performances were one of the reasons Hannibal was such a great show, it was their characters' bromance that showed us a relationship that was worth dying for. We sat at the edge of our seats when Graham discovers his friend played him like Tobais did the human cello in season 1. Our hearts broke when Hannibal stabbed Graham in the finale of season 2, and felt the harsh breakup between the two after Hannibal rescues and nurses Graham back to life after the Mason extravaganza. Luckily for Graham, with Hannibal turning himself in, he always knows where to find him. And finally in the second to last episode of the series, "The Number of the Beast Is 666...," Graham finally asks, "Is Hannibal in love with me?" Their dysfunctional bromance will surely be missed.
The Murders Were Bloody Amazing
Not everyone has a taste for gore (which is why maybe this series didn't catch on with a wider audience), but if you are a fan of horror and crime series then chances are you were left hungry for more. With its bloody murders, face eating, and lighting people on fire in wheelchairs, it's hard to believe this was cable prime time TV. It's crazy to see how much NBC let Hannibal get away with, especially since the gory scenes made us think this was a show you would see on HBO. Hannibal did have its disturbing moments. Murders like the nurse shish kebab come to mind in "Entrée," the mushroom corpses in "Amuse-Bouche," the tongue murder Gideon finds in "Rôti," that smile in "Buffet Froid," the winged angels in "Coquilles," the human mural in "Sakizuke," and the hanging and disembowelment of Detective Pazzi in "Contorno."
It's the short but shocking moments—like in "The Number of the Beast Is 666..." when The Great Red Dragon pulls a Hannibal on Dr. Frederick Chilton and takes a bite out of his face—that live with us and leave that jaw-dropping, lasting impression. The best part was having Graham get inside the head of the killers, re-enacting the scenes to the delight of fans. We couldn't be happier to see Graham back in action at a crime scene in season 3 in the gory killing done by the Tooth Fairy. "This is my design."
Despite Being Graphic, The Series Was Dreamy
One of the best aspects of the show was the gorgeous art direction. Very cinematic and graphic, we often got to see vivid images moving in slow motion, even in the opening credits. The wide-angle time lapse shots and tighter closeups with such close attention to detail made it so visually compelling. We are taken into a Graham's dream-like state he uses at crime scenes and even when alone, when the lines between reality and fantasy are blurred. Although these should be nightmares, the show presents these scenes like poetry in motion, powerful visuals that stay wth us. Hannibal's cinematographer James Hawkinson plays on the darkness of the character through the dark lighting in the series. Hawkinson revealed that the series references The Shining in many ways, being inspired by Stanley Kubrick in shooting the cold winter scenes and the pop of the color red. Not only is the cinematography poetic, but so is the dialogue that is deep, reflective, and allow fans to see Hannibal's motives and games—such as when Graham goes visit him to find out about The Great Red Dragon. Despite its low ratings, it seemed like this season kept on getting better. And thanks to computer graphics, we got to see Dolarhyde transform into The Great Red Dragon in a way we thought only our imagination could capture.
A wild Red Dragon appears! #Hannibal #SwallowedWhole pic.twitter.com/AYjq0zYywT — Hannibal (@NBCHannibal) August 9, 2015
Hannibal Found A Way To Our Heart—By Using Food
As twisted as it sounds, Fannibals watched Hannibal because we know how much of a monster this character is. And since he is in fact a cannibal, we tuned in week after week to see his skills in action in the kitchen. His killings became his personal masterpieces, as he created meals using his victims' body parts and organs such as lungs, legs, and tongue.
Proving to be an exquisite chef, we sat and cringed as he served body parts to unknowingly foolish dinner guests. Episodes in season 2 were even named within the theme of food!
Still, there was something in way he prepared his meals with such care and attention to the tiniest details, even garnishing the dishes as though they were about to be featured in the top food magazines. Even if we can't stomach the acquired taste Hannibal has, we will always appreciate his ability to throw it down in the kitchen.
As the saying goes, a way to a (wo)man's heart is through (her) his stomach.
Hannibal will serve its final course tonight (Aug. 29) at 10 p.m. EDT on NBC.
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