Story Time · Thoughts of the Day

Love in the Time of Hannibal

*** when in doubt, aka writer’s block, write what you know. And what I know is Hannibal***

Of all the television that I’ve watched in my day, not a single show has stuck with me the way NBC’s Hannibal (2013) has. For those unfamiliar, Hannibal, based on the characters by Thomas Harris, tells the story of Hannibal Lecter, the renowned psychiatrist and his patient Will Graham, an FBI criminal profiler, who struggles with his ability to empathize with serial killers. However, this isn’t your typical “Hannibal the Cannibal” tale about a man who kills and eats people. In creator Bryan Fuller’s (American Gods, Pushing Daisies) world of Hannibal, it is so much more than that. For you may find, as time goes on, that it’s nearly impossible not to develop an ounce of affection for the one person who truly understand you, regardless of those sticky predilections.

This, instead, is a story of two men trying to make sense of a world in which they cannot redraw their hand. While one lives his life through the lens of pure ego and narcissism, the other lives his life, and is haunted by, the simple fact that his empathy overpowers him. Hannibal Lecter, the sociopath who has no empathy at all and Will Graham, the young profiler who has too much.

In the early episodes of Hannibal, the task is an uncomplicated one: to catch a killer. But in order to do so, we must bring in elements of the complicated. Will Graham (Hugh Dancy), on a good day, is anything but uncomplicated. As a young man who empathizes with serial killers, his job becomes a dangerous one. For fear of getting too close to the cases he’s been brought in to solve, Jack Crawford (Lawrence Fishburne), head of the FBI Behavioral Science Unit, sends Will to see Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelson) with the hope that the good doctor can help ease Will’s stress and therefore help Jack get the job done.

And it works. For a time.

Will and Hannibal’s relationship is one that supersedes the most common notions of what it means to care for another person. Usually, when we have feelings for someone, platonic or otherwise, we find that their best interest also becomes our best interest. We want for them what they want. Happiness, success, joy, comfort, and above all, love. But what happens to a relationship when your deepest desires overpower theirs? And when you can’t help but feel as though they would be much better off doing as you do.

That’s when it happens. That’s when murder happens.

Dr. Hannibal Lecter is anything but ordinary. He’s suave. He’s charismatic. He’s charming. And he’s an exceptionally good cook. But underneath the expensive suits and grandiose language is an overwrought imagination. An imagination that extends far beyond the realm of decency and hope. To Hannibal Lecter, death, is the only significant thing life has to offer.

Hannibal is a man who feels very alone in his extracurricular activities. Yes, there are those out there who seek to emulate him, but there is no one quite like him. And it’s in this isolated state that Hannibal finds himself a tether in one Will Graham. Will’s overwhelming empathy and Hannibal’s lack thereof, makes Will the perfect candidate for sculpting. And sculpt Will Graham, he does. Into the very man Will has always been so terrified of becoming.

If we are to think about love in the time of Hannibal, one thing comes to mind: tolerance.

As the series goes on, the eventual discovery of Hannibal’s true nature comes to light. And it is a bloody discovery. However, the empathetic man that is Will Graham comes to terms with this truth in the only way he knows how.

He tolerates it. He doesn’t sympathize with it. He doesn’t feel compassion towards it. He tolerates it because he understands it. The urges, the impulses, the desires. He sees these inclinations as what truly makes Hannibal, Hannibal. And it’s through this understanding that Hannibal, for all his faults and misdeeds, finds himself enamored. Regardless of whether or not you agree that a sociopath, devoid of all conscience, even has a capacity for love, the show Hannibal reaches out through the dark and pulls you in, making you question everything you ever thought you knew on the subject.

And then twists it into something unrecognizable. And although most relationships are built on trust, in this case, simple truth will do. When you find you can be honest with someone, you find that you can show them your true self. And Hannibal finds that in Will Graham. And by the end of the series, Will Graham, not only sees Hannibal, he finally sees himself. His true nature and what Hannibal has always believed Will has been capable of. And it’s in this discovery of their true selves that they find comfort and solace in each other.

But if love is wont to destroy Hannibal Lecter, Hannibal will not go down without taking Will Graham with him. After all, the deeming of the term “Murder Husbands” does not go without merit.

But whether or not they survive this free fall is a story for another season.

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Open Letters · Thoughts of the Day

An Open Letter to Bryan Fuller

I’ve been in a daze these last few days. I’m somewhere between complete serenity and a glass case of emotion.

All of which is because of you Bryan Fuller and your gut-wreching, tear-jerking, cringeworthy, nothing short of beautiful, masterpiece that is Hannibal.

I’ve come to find that most of my emotional experiences come from the books I’ve read. My imagination is given the ability to take the emotion to heart or leave it on the page. With television, you see the emotion right in front of you. That can either heighten your own emotions or it can lessen them. Words–and their ability to make us feel multiple emotions at once– tend to make me more emotional than the visual I usually see.

However, this wasn’t the case with the series finale of HannibalUnknown-1

The word spoken and their visual affect gave me one of the most visceral experiences I’ve had in a long time. I was thrown all around the emotional spectrum and I’ve just now found my way back. I experienced disgust, pain, self-realization (leading to self-actualization), fear, love and finally understanding. Understanding of the self, others, and the world around us.

The story of the Red Dragon brought out the broad range the human being (and thus its psyche) has the ability to go through. The realization of just how much a person is capable of when put in the right circumstances. Just how far you’re willing to push yourself or let yourself be pushed. How close you can come to the edge and the sudden realization that there isn’t always a way back. And finding acceptance in that inevitability.

Many of my emotions could have come from the basic knowledge that Hannibal is indeed over. Which I sure many of them did. After all, the final course has ended and the table has been cleared. But my cravings are far from subsiding.

When I first started watching Hannibal, my initial focus became about the gruesome and the grotesque. How disturbing what I was watching actually was. But that’s not what has stuck with me through these 3 short years. Instead, Bryan, you’ve given me characters that I can’t get out of my head. The relationships they acquire and develop as the series goes on is what kept me coming back for more.

Will Graham and Hannibal Lector. Two of the most real depictions of the vast range of humanity I’ve seen on tv in a long time. Their individual selves are complicated. But those complications are nothing short of human (whether morality and/or empathy is included in that depends on the individuals thought on what it means to be human). So human, in fact, that when asked to describe their relationship to someone who has never seen the show, I find it to be a massive feat. (Once I obviously stop gushing about the fact that they should immediately stop what they’re doing and watch it).

The Will-Hannibal relationship is at many times indescribable. They love each other and they hate each other. They mistrust their trust in each other. They understand what is commonly misunderstood about each other. They put up walls against each other and yet they are laid raw in front of the other. Their honestly comes in fragments but those truths come together in the end. Because the simple truth is, at the end of the day, they need each other. They need each other, like they need air to breathe. Like Will needs his dogs and Hannibal needs his cutlery. Will and Hannibal are two individuals who have managed the incredible feat of becoming one with another person on multiple levels.

Hannibal has taught me many things about the human condition in the most elegant, bloody and beautiful way possible. We all want to be needed. We all want to be understood. We all want to be accepted. Realizing you need someone isn’t necessarily a bad thing. If this needing leads to self-actualization in some way, maybe it’s the best thing for you.

UnknownBut please don’t misunderstand me Bryan, I have no naive misgivings about what’s really going on here. Will and Hannibal have time and time again destroyed each other. They relationship is nothing short of destructive. Hannibal is a murderer. He’s Hannibal the Cannibal. But Hannibal is also human. A human who has crossed over to the other side and doesn’t have a way back. Although I cannot say that he necessarily wants one. Will Graham is also human and has consistently struggled with his own becoming. As we all do, I suppose.

These men aren’t the role models to seek out. But they represent a struggle that we, as human beings, go through on a daily basis. Discovering an understanding about ourselves in and of itself is difficult. But learning to accept, question, and come to terms with the things we’ve done, what we’re doing, and what we will do is a whole different beast. But this can lead us to who we really are, after it all.

We all have our own journeys to take and Hannibal has taken me on a journey. A journey that I refuse to let end. Hannibal showed us human greatness and let us know that our capabilities are endless.

Thank you, Bryan and your brilliant and effervescent team, for giving me everything I didn’t know I needed. I will continue to savor every second of it.

Daily Post Challenges · Thoughts of the Day

Never Gonna Give You Up

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “The Satisfaction of a List.”

In case anyone was unaware, I watch a lot of television. In this television year alone– Summer ’14 through Summer ’15–I watched/am watching around 40 television shows. That’s not even an exaggeration. Want proof?

In order to keep track of all of these shows and what days they air, I’m constantly making lists with the hope that my brain won’t implode from all the different plots and character arcs.

So here’s just a bunch of lists in regards to the television that is so dear to my heart.

5 shows that have utterly rearranged me:

  1. Hannibal
  2. Orphan Black
  3. Peaky Blinders
  4. The Walking Dead
  5. The Flash

4 Shows whose past seasons have made me say: “Over It”:

  1. Scandal
  2. Pretty Little Liars
  3. Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D
  4. The Mindy Project

3 Summer shows that make me jump up and down in anticipation for:

  1. Hannibal
  2. Teen Wolf
  3. Halt & Catch Fire

2 shows that piss me off (and not in a good way):

  1. Pretty Little Liars
  2. Scandal

1 show that keeps me going when the days are most dark:

  1. Parks and Recreation
Thoughts of the Day

What Television Has Taught Me

In honor of the summer season coming to a much-needed and morosely sweaty close, and the fall line-up being almost within my shaking grasp, I’ve decided to jot down all of the things that I’ve learned so far on my journey through the boob tube, the idiot box, the small screen.

For those that don’t know, television is my 2nd love. My first love being something that often gets neglected and tossed to the side and sullenly thought about days later with head shaking and tiny amounts of regret. However, my love affair with television is one like no other. We’re there for each other when no one else is. (Except in my current case where I don’t actually have a television or cable, we often partake in a menage a trois with something I like to call the internet) Television and I understand each other. We cry together, we laugh together, we grieve together. We even throw flabbergasted tantrums together and judge each other for using a word like flabbergasted in normal conversation.

Now don’t get me wrong, I partake in the outside world. I really do. Especially now that I’m in the beautiful Manhattan and trying to “make it”. But there are times when I just need a little down time and just need a moment to sit back, relax and as they say it: “Enjoy the show”.

So here’s my list of things I’ve learned from the multitude of television that I watch as I prepare my mind (and my computer) for the long haul that is the fall line-up.

*This list does not include any shows about to enter their freshman season or summer shows that are still airing. Those will be saved for another post entirely because, of course, I only love to add to the madness*

Dallas (Mid-season 3 premiere August 18th): At the end of the day, family will always be there for you…with a sharpened knife aimed right at your back.

Doctor Who (season 8 premiere August 23rd): Fish fingers and custard are delicious. No joke.

Sons of Anarchy (7th and final season premiere September 9th): Make sure to always let the water out of the sink. Do not under any circumstances leave water in the sink. You have been warned.

Haven (season 5 premiere September 11th): Never trust a shabby barn. Or people who drastically change their hair and personality.

The Mindy Project (season 3 premiere September 16th): There’s a three strikes policy for falling in the fountain at Lincoln Center.

Sleepy Hollow (season 2 premiere September 22nd): Just because your child turns out to be evil doesn’t mean you’ve failed as a parent.

Awkward (Mid-season 3 premiere September 23? I found this somewhere once but now I can’t find it again, so don’t take my word for it. I could be a total liar): On that note, watch out for compulsive liars. You might become the victim of a baby trap.

Chicago Fire (season 3 premiere September 23rd): Chicago is home to all the firefighters who are hotter than the fires they fight.

Chicago P.D. (season 2 premiere September 24th): All the hot men and women live and serve in Chicago. Maybe I should move back to the Midwest…

Scandal (season 4 premiere September 25th): Everyone has secrets. Our parents may be keeping the biggest ones of all.

Once Upon A Time (season 4 premiere September 28th): Regina Mills is flawless. She has two trendy purses and a super hot, arrow slinging boyfriend. I hear her tiara is ensured for $10,000. I hear she does carriage commercials in Wonderland. Her favorite pastime is casting curses. One time she met The Brother’s Grimm in the Enchanted Forest and they told her she was pretty. One time she punched The Savior in the face. It was awesome.

The Vampire Diaries (season 6 premiere October 2nd): After 5 human years, 35 dog years, 2 high school grades, one freshman year of college, and more time spent in graveyards than classrooms, Bonnie Bennett is still useless as ever.

The Originals (season 2 premiere October 6th): Having an overprotective sibling isn’t always a good thing. Especially when they try and kill you and your immortal boyfriend.

Supernatural (season 10 premiere October 7th): If there’s a key, then there must be a lock.

Arrow (season 3 premiere October 8th): Sometimes the person we’d take an arrow for is behind the bow string.

The Walking Dead (season 5 premiere October 12th): Humanity is just as diseased and rotten as ever. And I’m not talking about the dead.

Parks and Recreation (7th and final season premiere date yet to be announced): When a glorious mustached man asks for all the bacon and eggs you have, you give him all the bacon and eggs you have.

Glee (6th and final season premiere date yet to be announced): Maybe there won’t be marriage, maybe there won’t be sex. But by God, there will be dancing and probably singing. But mostly singing.

Hannibal (season 3 premiere yet to be announced): Life’s tough. Sometimes it can even feel like a blood bath. Like your throats been cut open, your guts are pouring out and you’ve just been pushing through a 3 story window. Might need more than a helmet to combat this one.

*Feel free to rant, ramble and rage about anything and everything far between. I know I do. I would love to hear your thoughts, passions, OTP’s, BROTP’s and outright character hatred. It’s always welcome.*

There are also a number of things that I’ve learned from the movies. That of which you can find right here.

Ciao!

Thoughts of the Day

What We Fear: Death or Humanity?

If there’s one thing that I’ve come to realize over the years is that fear is nothing. Nothing until it comes to understand its full potential. Fear can change you, but only if you let it. Fear can also defeat you. It can tie you up so tight that you can’t even move your arms or legs. It can make you feel as though there is no escape. It can make you into something you’re not. But it can also compel you to do incredible things. Things you would never have even thought of doing. Some people think that it’s better to not show fear. They think that by doing so the fear isn’t real. But not showing fear or pretending it isn’t real does not mean you’ve overcome it.

I come from a generation of desensitized children. We face more death, violence and cruelty than any other generation. It’s everywhere. It’s in everything. It’s right in front of our very eyes. I can’t even count the number of crime shows out there that deal with serial murderers, rapists, child abusers, etc. because there are simply too many. There are plenty of shows out there that basically state in the premise that “violence is the only answer”. They place us in a world that has become “kill or be killed”.

These are the things that we see each and every day. We witness a never ending cycle of murder, violence and abuse. But here’s the kicker. Most of these shows are supposed to depict real life. If that’s the case, then we live in an world that should be one of outright fear. If this is our reality, then it’s not very bright. Is there no light at the end of the tunnel? Or are we just waiting to be consumed by a flesh-eating-formerly-human-monster?

I’ve wondered what these shows are supposed to be teaching us. Are we supposed to be okay with gun violence? Racism? Sexism? Abuse? Murder? Sexual Assault? Or are we simply supposed to be afraid? I’ve been a fan of AMC’s The Walking Dead (created by Frank Darabont) since season 1 and that is one show that simply thrives off fear. Fear of death, dying, defeat, the dead and ultimately what is left of humanity and whether or not there is really anything human left. The Walking Dead, saison 1I’m aware that this show is not a complete depiction of real life and it’s not entirely like what the crime shows deal with. But the fear on that show is very real. No matter what world we’re living in, we fear the same things time and time again. It’s come to a point on the show (particularly this most recent season) that we’ve come to realize that the dead isn’t the only thing to be afraid of. Humanity is just as dangerous, if not more so. In a world without rules or laws, almost every single person is out for blood. Blood they have to spill in order to protect their own.

In the world of crime shows, we fear humanity above all else. The human race is constantly trying to save what has been destroyed. In many of these shows you come across a human being who thinks that killing is the only way to save the greater good. Unmask what is haunting us and we can overcome it. But what happens when we start being haunted by what we see?

A few weeks ago, I made a futile attempt to get into NBC’s Hannibal (created by Bryan Fuller). I got through to the first 5 minutes of season 1, episode 4 and I just could no longer stomach it. I tend to know when things will scare me, but I’m not always sure what. I have refused to watch any of the Hannibal films because I know I’ll be terrified and yet, I somehow thought I could handle the show. Thinking back on it, I wonder where my fear came from upon seeing two humans turned into angels. Was the decimation of another human being too disturbing to witness? Or was it witnessing what humanity is capable of what truly scared me? I’m not entirely sure. And yet, I still have the lingering feeling to go back and try again. To try and make it work.

That being said, why is it much easier for me to keep watching The Walking Dead while I struggle with the desire to watch Hannibal? Is it the idea that Hannibal takes places in the present world, where as The Walking Dead takes place in a possible future? Either way, both shows speak to one major question.

What’s truly more terrifying: the dead or humanity? Is it possible that once we find an answer to that question we’ll simply no longer be afraid?