After spending a few episodes in the margins thanks to his incarceration, Hannibal has slowly been creeping back into the center of the frame, incubating in his prison cell like a monster in a cocoon. “The Wrath of the Lamb” finally lets him break free and stretch his wings.
It also demonstrates how far Hannibal has come. In the beginning, Hannibal was a solitary figure operating alone. The final episode restores Hannibal’s charisma, but he now shares the spotlight with Will because he recognizes how much richer life can be when you have a partner able to appreciate your accomplishments.
After three breathtaking seasons, Hannibal has effectively completed the arc that began in episode one. There are no more loose ends. The characters are familiar to each other, Hannibal is in prison, and the rest of the cast is going back to work. We’ve reached a new status quo, and it makes the spectacular “Digestivo” one of the most incredibly satisfying television hours of the year.
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Nearly every article on TV begins and ends with, “It’s a great time for television right now.”
That’s not untrue, but it’s not groundbreaking news, either. In the ‘70s, the majority of shows airing either revolved around a detective, a police squad, a family, or a hospital. In fact, in 1976, all of the nominees for Best Drama at the Emmys were detective shows. It was rare that a network would bite off a piece of unique programming, letting it sit for a while, before eventually spitting it onto the ground.
Today, however, networks, premium cable channels, and streaming services are venturing into a new battleground for television: arthouse cinema style programming. NBC’s Hannibal and Cinemax’s The Knick are just two examples of nouveau visual storytelling that could only flourish at this moment in time.
Much to the chagrin of horror fans everywhere, NBC has announced that it won’t be renewing Hannibal, the beloved show about the cannibal next door. There are still ten episodes yet to air, but the third season will be the final one appearing on the network.
The news isn’t exactly surprising. Hannibal has pulled dismal ratings for the entirety of its run, recently dipping to a low of 1.7 million, and everyone involved seems to be aware of the cold reality of the situation. Bryan Fuller expressed gratitude for being allowed to make three seasons, while NBC thanked Fuller for delivering some much-needed critical acclaim. That’s why I can’t criticize NBC. The network did everything it could for Hannibal, but there’s only so much that can be reasonably expected.
And yet, I’m strangely optimistic after the cancellation of my favorite show, largely because I just don’t think we’ve seen the last of Hannibal. In fact, I’m confident that it will find a home somewhere else, and that it will happen relatively soon.
With apologies to Game of Thrones and Ramsay Bolton, TV’s most compelling sociopath isn’t on HBO. Bryan Fuller’s Hannibal, which returns to the air on Thursday with the start of season three, is the best thing currently on TV. If you’re not already on board, now is the perfect time to pull up to the table.
So what makes Hannibal so great? For starters, the show has an exceptional cast, with stellar performances from Hugh Dancy as Will Graham and Mads Mikkelsen as the charismatic Hannibal Lecter. Laurence Fishburne’s Jack Crawford serves as a much-needed foil for the stars chewing the scenery, while Gillian Anderson is around to remind us why we all loved The X-Files.