ByPeter Flynn, writer at
An advocate for understanding the phenomenological wonder of the moving image. Also Tremors is the best.
Peter Flynn

I'll proudly admit this to the Hannibal fandom. It took me quite a while to get into the show. Sure, I could appreciate Bryan Fuller's sumptuous style and languid cinematography. I could enjoy the characters who were as measured as they were absurd, but there was something about the show that just didn't glue together. The disparate scenes had a stiltedness to them, and the seriously irrational behavior of most of the characters was a real hurdle for me. Then comes along Season 3, where the show kicks into gear, and I let out a colossal "OHHHHH!"

Alas, it's all coming too late! While Season 3 has been knocking it out the park, the actual production end of the show has been wandering around looking for a home after its abrupt cancellation a month ago. After the most recent episode, Digestivo, gave us an unprecedented degree of craziness, it's a real shame to see Hannibal suddenly become the best show ever after its death was confirmed. I can't help but wonder just what the show could have done differently to ensure Bryan Fuller's epic seven season plan could have been a reality. How could Bryan Fuller have saved Hannibal from cancellation?

Hannibal should have been crazy from the start

This guy stole Hannibal Season 3!
This guy stole Hannibal Season 3!

Fans of Hannibal will profess their love for the show simply for its absurdity, but that's hard to tell right off the bat in Season 1. The show almost sold itself as a tempered retreading of the Thomas Harris novels, and it's only when visions of Vishnu and stag gods and psychedelic threesomes seep into the show that we realize its a surreptitious weirdness that makes people love Hannibal. That said, should Hannibal have been crazy right from the beginning?

After spending so long as a character-driven slow burn, Hannibal brought us in one fell swoop...

  • Pig pregnancy: Yes. Mason Verger really did impregnate a pig, using his own sister's eggs. I don't even care how biologically improbable that is. It was the most delightfully messed up thing I've seen on TV.
  • Villainous plans: One reason I had for adoring the most recent episode of Hannibal was seeing Will and Hannibal escape from Mason's clutches James Bond style. Better yet, they were escaping from Mason's desire to eat Hannibal while wearing Will Graham's face! Yeah...
  • Villainous breakdowns: The moment the show truly crossed the point of no return was when Alana and Margo teamed up to shove Mason Verger into a tank of eels. An eel then swims down his throat, because that's just what eels do I guess...
  • Hannibal's capture: Perhaps the cleverest thing the most recent episode did was give us Hannibal's capture that we've been waiting for since season 1. In a genius move, the arrest is on Hannibal's terms as a move to stay in Will Graham's life and ensure many other seasons to come... oh wait.

An episodic structure

Will Graham's diary was not a great formula!
Will Graham's diary was not a great formula!

I'm sure many fans would declare this a bad idea, since readopting an episodic structure would harken back to Season 1 when Hannibal hadn't found its feet. Sadly, it's this exact structure which could have ensured consistently higher ratings. I'm not saying that Hannibal should have suddenly become CSI, but a killer of the week format would have allowed for the consistently messed up situations that fans have come to love. Don't get me wrong. I love Hannibal Season 3, but metaphors about snails just don't make for high ratings.

Introduce Red Dragon earlier

The beginning is now the end.
The beginning is now the end.

It's kind of crazy that Hannibal is only now introducing the Red Dragon storyline from the novel that kicked off the entire mythos upon which the show is based. The entire thing will likely seem like an epilogue after the cancellation, and that's a damn tragedy. Sure, introducing Mason Verger from the later Hannibal novel was an attempt to sneak things in earlier, and boy oh boy it paid off! Bryan Fuller is allegedly adapting Thomas Harris' novel as faithfully as possible in the second half of Season 3, so we can only hope that it rekindles a mass interest in Hannibal. Will it be enough just to promise an interpretation of Silence of the Lambs down the line? Probably not.

You can catch my most recent Hannibal recaps right here. As always, if you have any thoughts on the show, you can share them with a post here on MoviePilot, by voting in our poll, or by leaving a comment below!


Did Hannibal ever stand a chance against cancellation?


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