Hannibal Season 2 Review “Sakizuki”

Hannibal Season 2 Episode 2 Sakizuki (2)

Due to the subject matter of the series, Hannibal is never going to cultivate a large audience. It’s spooky, graphic, and horrifying in the most “don’t watch with the lights out” kind of ways. Now with the move to Friday nights, there’s even less of a chance for the show to upgrade its audience. That’s really unfortunate because people are missing out on what could be one of the very best shows on television. As crazy as that argument may have seemed prior to its premiere, the 15 episode body of work the show has put together certainly puts it in the discussion. While season one was terrific on many levels, the first two episodes of season two make it seem like the show is making The Leap to television greatness.

One of the things that has raised the show a notch in the early going of season two is the increased stakes. Now with Will Graham behind bars and the season opening fight scene, every scene, every word has an increased level of tension. Everything line suddenly seems more like an underlying threat than “just having conversation”. As fantastic as Hugh Dancy was in season one, his work seems even better when he’s locked in a box. He does more inside of the 100+ square feet he’s been given to work with than most actors do with entire scenes to chew on. He’s been brilliant, and I’m excited to see where Graham’s latest approach to proclaiming his innocence takes us. He’s no longer Hannibal’s instrument, and Hannibal can’t seem to get a good read on him anymore. It’s going to be exciting to see where it goes.

The show has also made very effective use of its guest stars in the early going. While Cynthia Nixon hasn’t been given a ton to do, she seems like the right fit for the government bureaucrat who wants the Graham situation to go away. Her role going forward is obviously going to expand, but it’s good to actually have someone on the screen whose intentions and motives are clear. Aside from Dr. Bloom (another person not getting enough to do), she’s the only person with her cards on the table at the moment. With all of these people who have varying degrees of concern for Graham’s well being, Nixon’s character lack of care for the truth of Will’s story provides an interesting dichotomy with the rest of the characters.

While Nixon has been good, Gillian Anderson’s work as Dr. Du Maurier has been outstanding. Played with this measured coolness, Anderson’s ability to convey what her character knows and feels with little screen time and lines is just terrific. Given Anderson’s various commitments across the television dial, she may be out of focus for awhile if not for good. If this episode was the last we ever see of Dr. Bedelia Du Maurier, then it was a great episode to go out.

Though lots of actors did tremendous work this week, this episode was really a show piece for the work Mads Mikkelsen is doing. Whether it’s walking through a field in a clear bodysuit or pacing towards Gillian Anderson in his office, Mikkelsen always plays Hannibal with this detached coolness that always gives the viewer a glimpse to the monster lying beneath the “stitches of the person suit” he wears. With a character that can so easily devolve into campy nonsense, Mikkelsen has elevated the role of the most famous fictional serial killer of all-time. He may not be Anthony Hopkins in Lecter’s original incarnation, but he’s pretty damn good. It’s one of many reasons why Hannibal is now one of the best shows on television.