What Hannibal Can Teach Us About Abuse

Television in recent years has excelled in portraying strong emotional bonds between men. From Supernatural to Sherlock, White Collar to Person of Interest, TV is the land of the bromance. It’s a not new thing exactly, most stories from the dawn of time have revolved around men and their relationships with each other, though usually they were based on families or conflict. TV recently has been digging deep into not just friendships, but intimacy in platonic bonds, and now venturing into codependency and dysfunction.

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And it seems it’s come to a glorious head in Bryan Fuller’s Hannibal, a beautiful and indulgent adaptation of Thomas Harris’ Hannibal Lecter books. The first season explores the depth of Hannibal Lecter’s evil through his relationship with FBI investigator Will Graham, a troubled man who uses his heightened empathy to put himself in the shoes of serial killers in order to catch them. Will spends so much time getting in bed with psychopaths, that he never sees the one that is closest to him, or realizes what he’s doing to him. Not in time, anyway.

(Spoilers under the cut for Hannibal and Will’s story arch, but spoilers for the actual overarching plot are minimal)

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A Killer Roundup

Would anyone hold it against if I turned this blog into one about serial killer shows? So much good material! I mean, come on, when you have stories about people that kill people, it’s usually because they have problems with sex and/or women. So I’ve decided to do a little roundup. Maybe it’ll be a regular thing.

The Following

Let’s start with a show we’ve discussed before, which ended it first season this week with a bang, and plenty of commentary on literature and story tropes. As the season was reaching its close, the formerly suave and menacing Joe Carroll was dissolving into a sniveling villain, desperate to have his perfect narrative. Unfortunately, he relies on tired clichés to do this, and the show’s hero, Ryan Hardy, and Claire, Carroll’s ex-wife, are not afraid to call him out on it.

Carroll faces a dilemma in his grand epic when he feels he no longer can understand Hardy’s motivation. He needs to jump start his narrative, and so he relies when of the oldest tricks in the book. Fridge stuffing. By killing Claire, who Hardy loves, Carroll believes Hardy will be “reborn.” This, of course, is a clever way to disguise the fact that Carroll’s efforts to make Claire love him again have extravagantly soured, culminating in her stabbing him. Even Claire can see through it. “It’s tired,” she says. Likewise, Hardy later tells him, “I am so bored of you.”

The Following lost a lot of steam as the season progressed, the complex world of killers vs killers went from intriguing and scary, to kind of ridiculous. However, this is one of the few things that show does right. It takes a metatextual approach to illuminating the depth of its characters. By presenting Joe Carroll’s quest as stereotypical, it reveals the true flaccidity of his conviction and villainy.

Unfortunately, there is an actual event of fridge-stuffing within the episode. Agent Parker, who so far has been a great, powerful female character, is killed when she’s buried alive by Carroll’s followers. The whole sequence frustrated me immensely. I thought it was unnecessary, and I hated the fact that a great character was turned into a device for Hardy to get the next clue in the puzzle. Not to mention, she was in a pine box and not even buried that deep. Kick with both legs, girl.

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