Explores the early relationship between the renowned psychiatrist and his patient, a young FBI criminal profiler, who is haunted by his ability to empathize with serial killers.
If the content of the first season of 'Hannibal' didn't make you curious about how the broadcast NBC network got away with airing it, then the graphic, disturbing and even sexual second season will definitely pique that curiosity.
More so than season one, season two of 'Hannibal' reveals more of what creator Bryan Fuller and his brilliant team are up to with this series. Instead of fluidly following the stories established in Thomas Harris' books and in the films 'Manhunter,' 'The Silence of the Lambs,' 'Hannibal,' 'Red Dragon' and 'Hannibal Rising,' the TV series functions as a mash-up, blending events from the different stories. While remaining completely true to the Hannibal Lecter character, themes and tones, the result makes the series absolutely unpredictable – no matter how well you know Harris' source material. There's no telling where the series is going; not a single character is safe. To cite that aspect of the TV series, I'll freely discuss the spoilery elements of season one in this review – but fear not, as I'll tip-toe through season two's surprises.
Season two picks up shortly after season one. After learning that Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen) is the Chesapeake Ripper, Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) tries to explain it to his boss, Jack Crawford (Lawrence Fishburne). Before he can do so, manipulative Hannibal frames Will and the tables are unexpectedly turned. Season one came to close with Will being locked away into the deep, dark, stone cold cell that is so iconic to the Hannibal franchise. What a brilliant and shocking way for the first season to come to a close! That was the first point where Fuller and Co. showed us that this isn't your average Hannibal tale. Now that that's been established, they can really begin the mash-up fun of blending events, characters and elements of the book series in a completely unpredictable manner.
After a dialog-free tease of events to happen in the second season finale, the first shot of season two shows how Will copes with his new detained, confined and misjudged state of being: he daydreams about his favorite pastime – fishing. This shot is a perfect analogy for the concept of season two. Throughout these 13 episodes in this season, fishing symbolism shows up time and time again. It is even explained by Will to others. You see, Will caught Hannibal in season one and, as his analogy goes, once a fish is caught, it's very hard and nearly impossible to catch again. Hannibal isn't going to be an easy fish to catch again, but, as Will says it to reassure Jack, "I'm a very good fisherman."
Season two can be broken into two halves. The first is all about Will's incarceration, how his colleagues and peers respond to it, and how he tries to exonerate himself. The second half is all about what Will is willing to do to catch his fish for a second time, how dark and twisted he'll allow himself to get just to catch Hannibal in the act. For the fans of Harris' work, some very popular fan-favorite surprises lie in this season, characters that you might not expect to meet for a very long time and events so graphic and disturbing that they make even my iron gut queasy. All leads up to one wild, bloody and remarkable finale that's just as surprising and shocking as the first season's send-off, if not more. (If curiosity gets the best of you and you simply cannot wait until season three to see how this cliffhanger pans out, you can watch the 50-minute 'Hannibal' panel and Q&A from San Diego Comic Con here.)
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
'Hannibal: Season Two' has been given a Blu-ray release that's almost identical to that of the first season, the only addition being the inclusion of a nice cardboard slipcover. All three discs in this set are Region A BD-50s. The case itself is a blue Elite one with a hinge are that holds disc two while discs one and three are locked into the front and back insides. Two slips are included, one with an episode breakdown and another with an Ultraviolet code. Disc one contains episodes one through five, disc two contains episodes six through nine, and disc three contains episodes 10 through 13. Disc one kicks off with unskippable FBI warnings, a Lionsgate vanity reel and a commentary disclaimer, as well as skippable trailers for 'Mad Men,' 'Nurse Jackie,' 'Houdini,' Epix and a collection of Lionsgate-distributed TV series. The skippable content does not play on discs two and three.
'Hannibal: Season Two' carries identical qualities to the first season – and it's wonderful. This 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encode is fantastic.
'Hannibal' carries a great amount of detail that can be seen just as much when the picture is dark as when it's bright. Clothing, especially Hannibal's wardrobe, always carry fine textures. Pores, hairs and facial textures are always apparent. Blacks are rich, deep and consistent. There's a perfect clarity to every shot in the series – including the drugged-up and psychedelic ones. Motion flows fluidly and allows for perfect visibility of the its detailed intricacies.
For the most part, colors are desaturated – with the exception of reds. Reds typically stem from blood and carry vibrant weight. Despite appearing the most disturbing scenes, the colorization is so gorgeous that its mesmerizing and appealing. A few dreamy sequences are shown in black & white. Being dreamy, details found in realistic scenes are stripped through its smooth and intended odd filtering.
The only flaws that appear in this season are slight amounts of banding in episodes 202 (found within a blinding flashlight beam) and 212 (in Will's conked head black-out).
Only one audio option is presented, a dynamic and satisfying 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track.
When it comes to vocals, there's a crisp clarity to every spoken word. I imagine that extra love was put into this aspect of the audio in order to keep Mads Mikkelsen's can-be thick accent from leaving his dialog inaudible.
The effects of 'Hannibal' are very effective. They have the ability to take a gross visual scene and make it cringe-worthy. Dripping blood, slicing meat, ripping flesh. All of the graphic content carries equally graphic sound effects that are creatively used in the mix. Smoothly moving imaging effects are used throughout.
There's a blurred line between effects and music. Often times, the music is composed of sound effect elements. The music of 'Hannibal' reminds me of the "ominous tones" that Jason Segel's composer character creates in the movie 'Forgetting Sarah Marshall' - only this creative tooling of sounds is quite impressive, creative and unique. The use of these non-traditional sounds for scoring and rumbly LFE heighten the madness of the series.
I've enjoyed most of the titles in the Hannibal Lecter film series so far, but this television adaptation has turned me into a huge fan. Each episode carries the high quality – in production value, writing and acting – of a strong film. Despite having most of the character's tale already told, 'Hannibal' is able to be absolutely unpredictable and full of surprises by playfully toying with the characters, chronology and events in the book series. Season two is easily just as shocking, twisted and entertaining as the first. It also carries an unbelievable finale that will leave you anxiously hanging until the season three debut in 2015. The season two Blu-ray set carries the same strong video and audio qualities as that of season one, but is loaded with many more high quality special features. 'Hannibal' deserves to be seen and there's no better way to experience it than on Blu-ray. Highly recommended.