With the wound left by its cancellation/non-renewal still a little raw, what we can do is take a look back at Hannibal and think about how remarkable it is that a show this dark and daring managed three years on network television. It was so good that we fretted about it getting cancelled after each season.
If Bryan Fuller was worried about NBC pulling the plug, the third season didn’t show it. The first half of the season was murky, gruesome, ponderous and often inaccessible, as Hugh Dancy’s Will journeyed into Hannibal’s (the always brilliant Mads Mikkelsen) past and discovered just how dark his own heart had become.
Separating its leads kept the show fresh, and gave us the brilliant pairing of Lecter and Gillian Anderson’s icy but increasingly terrified Dr Du Maurier as they ate their way through Florence’s high society.
Will’s self-reflection and Hannibal’s dinner parties were matched with the triumphant return of the Vergers, with Joe Anderson making the disfigured, vengeful Mason his own after stepping in for the departed Michael Pitt. Caroline Dhavernas’ Alana Bloom, having been short-changed in Season Two, became one of the show’s most compelling characters, discovering a darkness that was tremendous fun to watch.
The eventual collision of the three storylines was absolutely glorious; a grotesque, hilarious and oddly moving grand guignol that we still can’t believe they got away with.
At the halfway point the show launched into the Red Dragon storyline, with superb performances from Richard Armitage and Rutina Wesley as the Tooth Fairy and Reba McClane, the woman who might be able to save him.
It’s compelling stuff, and Fuller plays with the source material to tremendous effect, although the madness of the first half is occasionally missed.
However, fans can rest assured that the finale works as a fitting farewell to a show that was unarguably the most beautifully made series on television, with one of the most fascinating central relationships we’ve seen in years.
With brilliant performances, fantastic writing, stunning cinematography, and distressingly mouth-watering cannibalism, this is superb television that we miss and can’t wait to revisit.