Hannibal, Season 2: TV review

NBC's gorgeously grotesque series following fiction's most famous serial killer continues to be delectable

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Photograph: NBC
Hugh Dancy as Will Graham in Hannibal
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Photograph: NBC
Laurence Fishburne as Jack Crawford in Hannibal
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Photograph: NBC
Mads Mikkelsen as Dr. Hannibal Lecter and Hettienne Park as Beverly Katz in Hannibal
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Photograph: NBC
Hettienne Park as Beverly Katz, Laurence Fishburne as Jack Crawford and Mads Mikkelsen as Dr. Hannibal Lecter in Hannibal
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Photograph: NBC
Fishburne as Jack Crawford in Hannibal
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Photograph: NBC
Laurence Fishburne as Jack Crawford and Mads Mikkelsen as Dr. Hannibal Lecter in Hannibal

Premieres Friday, February 28 at 9pm on NBC.

One of last television season's most delightful surprises was the vibrant and riveting Hannibal. On paper, it looked like another shallow attempt to revive a familiar property in attempt to grab the attention of the Thomas Harris fan, but creator Bryan Fuller re-invented the murder procedural by harnessing the complex relationship between Dr. Hannibal Lecter and FBI profiler Will Graham. After the intense conclusions of the previous season, Hannibal continues to be an intoxicatingly taut thriller, bolstered by lush and beautiful filmmaking.

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When we last left Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) he had been arrested for a series of murders and had only just realized that it was due to being framed by his therapist, Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen). Acting out a creative inversion of the character dynamic set up between Lecter and Clarice Starling in The Silence of the Lambs, Will find himself imprisoned and entertaining visits from his friends at the FBI, who are struggling to understand their own part in allowing Will to become a murderer. Due to a report filed by Alana Bloom (Caroline Dhavernas), Jack Crawford (Laurence Fishburne) is now feeling the heat of an internal investigation that will determine whether he is responsible for Will's turn to the dark side. And, for his part, Will is striving to prove Hannibal's guilt from the confines of his cell.

Everything that made Hannibal's first season addictive and riveting persists as it begins its second year. The first episode begins with an adrenaline-fueled bang before settling us into the new normal of a world where our protagonist is cut off from the outside world. Will's captivity doesn't restrain the show, as his role in the FBI is filled by Hannibal. This, of course, opens up a whole new set of complications for the FBI team, not knowing that they've opened up a whole new world of opportunities for the psychopathic serial killer to practice his art.

In juxtaposing scenes of exquisite and delectable cuisine (that may or may not be made of people) with artfully staged depictions of murder, Hannibal continues to be one of the most visually beautiful shows on television, even in its depictions of death. That being said, if you have a weak stomach, you might not want to be eating while watching the end of this week's episode, or the beginning of next week's. While most murder procedurals treat victims as afterthoughts, Hannibal forces you to take in the reality of their death by composing fascinating tableaus that are impossible to turn away from.

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