Hannibal Series Premiere Review: “Aperitif” (Season 1, Episode 1)

With this fresh and gorgeous reboot, Thomas Harris fans are graced, at long last, with a proper portrait of perhaps literature’s greatest detective, FBI agent Will Graham. Maybe. But either way, Hannibal is promising to be mighty delicious. Mads Mikkelsen will see to that.

Aptly named “Apéritif” (a wine drunk to whet the appetite), Episode 1 spends its time familiarizing us with our daunting environs and the dedicated individuals who populate it (dedicated both for better and for worse). Wasting nary a moment, writers Bryan Fuller and Harris himself introduce us to Will (Hugh Dancy) by accompanying him into a lovely suburban home turned blood-spattered crime scene: a calculated double homicide with mercifully unnamed intentions for the wife.

As Will evaluates the proceedings, they rewind until he stands in the killer’s shoes, then replay as he experiences them through the killer’s perspective, verbalizing each careful action, articulating its intent and outcome with the chilling ratification, “This is my design.”

Will can see it all, a talent elevating him to “legend” in the Behavioral Sciences Unit whom Clarice Starling referred to as “the keenest hound ever to run in Crawford’s pack.” He’s the best of the best at hunting the worst of the worst: the psychopathic serial killer. He’s the one who caught Garrett Hobbs, after all… and Hannibal Lecter as well (but not without incident).

Will’s ability to connect dots mystifies and impresses his colleagues, tantalizes his superiors, concerns his counselors, and utterly torments Will himself. He says he’s just reading evidence that everyone can see, but everyone can see he’s reading evidence in a language not everyone speaks.

But neither, exactly, does Will, and as one might imagine this takes a toll. As evidenced by the fact that the aforementioned mercifully unnamed intentions replay pulls back to reveal the display screen of a lecture hall, with Will the professor recounting the event for the agents in training, the hungry ambitious who have made it all the way to the FBI. Will’s retired from field work, see, as this special talent renders him fragile in certain areas necessary to actually cuffing the bad guy as an ongoing endeavor. It sunk him too deeply into the minds of the monsters, and enough was enough.

But now we have the “Minnesota Shrike” on our hands, an unsavory individual so named for a bird of similar habit, that being to impale the prey and save it for later attention. Crawford needs a stronger eye on this one, and this eye is Will’s. Bureau psychiatrist Dr. Alana Bloom insists that Will be involved only if he remains far removed from the actual action. Will simply cannot get too close; it damages him. Crawford must promise. Crawford does.

Facing a wall of faces, Graham explains to Crawford that despite this string of atrocities, all but one are essentially decoys, supplementary kills designed to mask the identity of the true special quarry. She’s the “Golden Ticket,” the girl who points to the killer. Still, something just isn’t clicking… another perspective is needed. One to assist Will in fleshing out the minds behind the evidence so as to better recognize the people surrounding the victims.

Crawford follows up a recommendation by Dr. Bloom, and recruits the services of a prominent Baltimore psychiatrist, Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen).

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