Hannibal: Season 3 Recap

So, it’s over. Let’s talk about the season as a whole, and a little about the show in general.

What about Season 3?

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It’s very good as a whole. The first half suffers from some pacing problems, which is the nice way of saying too much time is spent with Will and Hannibal trying to find each other.

Maybe changing the order – moving episode 4 up, namely – or integrating the Baltimore scenes with those in Europe earlier and more consistently would have helped. Possibly another episode of Hannibal hiding in plain sight, or more of the cat-and-mouse game with him and Bedelia. More of Margot/Alana scheming against Mason. A lot more Cordell. I still very much enjoy these episodes, they just try my patience a little before Jack and Will go after Hannibal.

The second half is very good. Armitage is formidable and more than holds his own, Hannibal remains the center of attention for good reason, and the finale is worthy of the show.

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How would you rank the seasons of the show?

1,3,2. Through this rewatch, I found that I enjoyed S2 more and S3 slightly less than I had initially. They’re both good seasons, though. Even when the show became maddening, it was still intelligent and beautiful.

recap sexy time
Let’s get weird


Before I started these reviews, I ranked the characters. After rewatching these episodes, I probably wouldn’t change the list much. Dolarhyde/D/the Red Dragon would probably be sixth or seventh. I’m a little higher on S3 Will than S1 or S2. And S3 Alana would probably be top-5, her fantastic wardrobe and her unflinching coldness are a dramatic improvement from a character I already liked. The petty, malicious Hannibal in prison may have lost his great suits but his harsh truths and threats were always welcome.

A top 5 Best Dressed list for this season would be

  1. Alana – everyone else was second at best
  2. Bedelia – pure elegance
  3. Hannibal – counting the memory palace suits too
  4. Frederick – under the radar but very well dressed
  5. Margot, probably – some great outfits in limited screen time
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Not nearly enough Freddie Lounds in this season though

What does that epilogue scene mean?
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Silence of the Lambs?

I’d love to see it. Apparently the cast is open to the possibility, and we are in the era of Too Much TV, so it remains a possibility. I’m sure Bryan Fuller would love to do it, and this show’s interpretation of <I>Red Dragon</I> was certainly an effective adaptation of the storyline, a seven-episode adaptation of SotL would probably work well.

There are enough little nods to the continuity of Red Dragon/SotL in this show – I think Fuller and his crew would find a way to present the storyline in their own style but with enough familiarity. And I’d love to see Mads as the SotL Hannibal – his performance in the Red Dragon storyline was very much in that character already.

My only hesitation comes from the effective finale of the TV show – it ended so well that from a storyline perspective, I’m more than okay with leaving things alone.

Fuller has stated that his pick for Clarice Starling would be Ellen Page. (I think she’d be great.) Honestly, if it wouldn’t be wildly distracting, Kacey Rohl would be good in this role too. Your thoughts?

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Final Thoughts

There was never enough of anything here. I think the show had one truly mediocre episode – “Oeuf”, the first season episode with Molly Shannon and her abducted children – and everything else ranged from great to spectacular. A visual spectacle in nearly every episode. Spectacular food and one of the best-dressed shows of all time. Incredible cast. Put Scott Thompson in a serious show and made it work. And I say that as someone who loves Scott Thompson!


Fullerverse Person Suit – there are some good Hannibal pages on this site. The one I’ve linked here talks about clothing, and I’m already sure to spend some time looking at other pages here.

I might do this for another show in the near future, if I find something that strikes me. Thanks to everyone who read these – I appreciate you participating in my design.


25 thoughts on “Hannibal: Season 3 Recap

  1. Oh my god Ellen Page would be perfect. She plays young and could easily play a young trainee, she’s whip smart and tough, and given her film choices of late, she could do with a TV stint to rebuild her brand a bit.

    Make this happen universe. You owe us BIG for Trump.

      1. Damn, that’s good too. Maybe Fuller could go the “That Obscure Object of Desire” route and intercut between two actors each playing the same role.

        1. I have no idea how they’d do Buffalo Bill, though. Maybe retool him into something more….palatable, as they did Margot?

            1. This has nothing to do with SOTL, but as the One Who Was Intended can no longer play Hannibal’s Uncle, Udo Kier has to do it (who cares he isn’t Danish! Hannibal is Lithuanian and Mads sure isn’t).

            2. I’d be more surprised if it wasn’t Lee Pace, honestly.

              Fun Fact: Lee Pace was originally supposed to play Francis Dolarhyde in this show, but couldn’t due to scheduling conflicts with other jobs. Pace recommended Richard Armitage, his S.O. (at the time?), which I think worked out extremely well.

              1. She’s probably a bit too old now to convincingly play a student/trainee, but I also fantasize about a Pushing Daisies reunion, with Pace as Bill, and Anna Friel as Clarice.

              2. Doesn’t Clarice have a PhD? That takes a few years, pretty easily into the late 20s area.

              3. Not according to her character bio. Double major at U of V, and then enrolled at the FBI academy. So I think more like early 20s.

              4. Maybe I am confusing her with Miriam Lass, who has a doctorate in criminology. It’s not necessarily a PhD, but would be the same age range.

      2. Turns out it was harder to watch Rogue One knowing Maslany was going to be the lead that I thought it’d be.

  2. It’s a mess (first half is too long, and could basically lose episode 3 altogether, and the second half might be too short) but it’s a damned beautiful one.

    Many people object to this season mostly because of the super slow and artsy approach of the early episodes, and I will defend those to my grave (save the aforementioned episode 3, which really did push the slo-mo snails too far) as I think they’re wholly appropriate in dealing with the magnitude of what went down in Mizumono. And the batshit payoff is everything you could ask for.

    I’d also argue this version of Red Dragon (while not without missteps, namely giving Mads some of Brian Cox’s lines from Manhunter and missing the mark on the tiger scene) may very well age better than either of it’s predecessors.

  3. It has been quite a while since I watched through the whole series, but I remember season 2 being my favorite of the bunch. The first season is more of an intense slow burn, but sets things up in a very satisfying way. The last season was fun, but I was frustrated by the slow pace of the first 4 episodes, and the endless arthouse shots that were only added for aesthetic’s sake.

    Season 2 was just a goddamn delight from start to finish, and struck the right balance between ridiculous camp and harrowing horror. Fuller started the season premiere with a flash-forward fight scene that it would take an entire season to build to, and the payoff was magnificent! The ‘murderer of the week’ episodes were more memorable than in season one, as well.

  4. Also, the “Post Mortem” episodes, where Scott Thompson interviews the cast and crew, are included as DVD extras. They are fun and worth watching! Sadly, Scott doesn’t interview Lara Jean Chorostecki or Raul Esparza. But I’ll still vouch for them.

    Things I learned from “Post Mortem”:

    -Dear God does Richard Armitage have a delightful voice.
    -Scott is pleasantly bitchy towards Gillian Anderson for taking up so much screen time in S3, and relegating himself and Aaron Abrahms to guest spots.
    -Laurence Fishburne is likeable and extremely casual.
    -Scott has natural chemistry with Aaron Abrahms and Hetienne Park.
    -Mads looks a little out of place in casual clothes but he is delightful. Scott and Mads making fun of Hugh Dancy for being a tiny man is the funniest thing in these segments.
    -Neither part of Caroline Dhavernas’s name is pronounced the way I thought.
    -Caroline and Katherine Isabelle seem like real friends here. Shame we didn’t see more of them together on the show.

    1. fun fact: I’m immortalized on the s3 DVD because I went to the SDCC book signing and my sister and I were next to a Will Graham cosplayer – a picture of them and Hugh Dancy is on the dvd and SO ARE WE. Granted, it’s in the ridiculous masturbatory ‘omg our fans’ segment but shit was /wild/

  5. Not as big a fan of this season as I was of the first 2, but its still pretty good. I wish we had got a Season 4 though.

  6. 3 is probably my least favorite while still ranking among my favorite televisual works of all time, which should give some idea of my esteem for Fuller and co. I had no objection to the glacial pacing and meditative interludes of the early episodes (as others have said, it was a necessary by-product of the earth-shattering Red Dinner), but I did get slightly annoyed with the way everyone and their grandmother started speaking in religious allusions and triple entendres. When it was just Will and Hannibal’s thing, it was intriguing and mildly kinky; when a disproportionate amount of the dialogue sounded that way, it was distracting and, yes, a little pretentious.

    On top of that, one of the things that drew me in with this show was the way it took the germ of an idea (the uncomfortable connection between Graham and Hannibal that rumbled under the surface of Red Dragon) and fashioned out of it something new and unpredictable. Even with such a virtuosic creative crew stepping up to bat, I wasn’t all that excited to stomp over old ground. It didn’t help when Fuller insisted on stuffing Harris’ exact dialogue into the mouths of characters who by now bore little resemblance to their literary inspirations. Then things took a hard left turn in the back half of the season, and I ate my words with some fava beans and a nice Chianti.

    I’ll gladly step up for season 1: yeah, it’s formulaic, but we’d be damn lucky to have more case-of-the-week procedurals of that caliber. I also miss a relatively uncompromised Will. I might have mentioned this before, but one of the things I liked about Will Graham in previous versions was that, vast as his potential for depravity proved to be, his sturdy moral core kept him from ever truly losing himself. As the series went on, it became increasingly apparent that it’s not just his super-empathy that makes him such a good investigator – there really is a fundamental darkness inside of him, waiting to be fed. That’s a valid artistic decision, but I missed having someone to root for.

    Anyway, yeah, season 2 is probably the masterpiece, for reasons that have already been stated better than I could muster (little under the weather). Righteous underdog/jailbird Will best appeals to my plebeian sensibilities, and I’d be surprised if anything on television ever shook me to my core the way that finale did.

    Thanks again for all the time and effort you put into this! Great stuff.

  7. Apparently Scott Thompson initially planned on being a dramatic actor, then KITH happened and he became a mainly comedic one.

    I’d love to see a SOTL season. I wonder how they would handle Will not being in that novel, though (outside of mentions as a cautionary tale, someone whose life was ruined by Lecter and now has a “face like a Picasso”).

  8. Season 3 was incredibly gay. Sure, it had its faults, but jesus christ watching it live and going ‘oh god it’s not in my head it’s REAL’ (I noticed the phallic champagne in the Italy episode and was like ‘is this flirting’ and turns out it actually was) was fucking WILD

    people loved it, people hated it, I got a bunch of messages going ‘HAPPY BIRTHDAY HANNIGRAM IS CANON’ and honestly I was satisfied with the ending in a way I genuinely didn’t expect.

  9. In that stinger with Bedelia she was out of her mind on Lydia Fells Truth Juice, and it was potentially not a chronologically ordered scene, right?

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