TV Review: Hannibal Season 3 (USA, 2015)

The third season of Bryan Fuller’s Hannibal sees the crime-procedural-turned-art-film bloom into a full-on romance drama – and the results are nothing short of glorious to behold.

The season’s opening arc concerns itself with the international manhunt for Hannibal kicked off by the end of Season 2. Later episodes tackle the long-awaited arrival of Francis Dolarhyde (Richard Armitage) – The Red Dragon – and his relationship with Hannibal. The shift to expansive and intricately detailed outdoor sets as part of these plots is a noticeable and highly effective one that evolves the show for the better.

While Will (Hugh Dancy) and Hannibal’s (Mads Mikkelsen) relationship has always been the centre of the show, Season 3 takes this to a new level. It explores the tensions that push them apart and the desperate measures they will undergo to recapture or rekindle this unique connection. Where Season 2 saw Will and Hannibal get under each other’s skin, Season 3 concerns itself with the disastrous consequences of this relationship breaking down.

Last season seeded a number of plotlines from the Hannibal book – this season sees these yield fruit with characters like Inspector Pazzi (Fortunato Cerlino), Molly Graham (Nina Arianda) and Reba McClane (Rutina Wesley) making it to the screen. There’s also a lot of fun returning faces from the series past like Chilton (Raúl Esparza) and Abigail Hobbs (Kacey Rohl) who offer up some interesting insights into their actions in previous episodes. Mason Verger (Joe Anderson) also returns, albeit recast.

Former-guest star (and eternal scene-stealer) Gillian Anderson also really comes into her own this time around as Bedelia Du Maurier. Anderson’s presence this time around offers us fascinating insights into the darker sides of both her character and Hannibal’s.

In fact, props to showrunner Bryan Fuller, Season 3 feels like a genuine, constructive and positive response to criticisms it faced with it’s handling of female characters in Season 2. Alana Bloom (Caroline Dhavernas) in particular takes an unexpected turn that, while not entirely ‘earned’ (and slightly undercut by a reliance on offscreen development), ultimately proves to make her a more distinctive and compelling component of the show’s cast.

Though certainly overshadowed by the news that the show isn’t likely to be renewed, Season 3 of Hannibal ensures that things go out on a high note. The direction is sublime, the scoring riveting, the writing complex and the acting nuanced. It strikes true on all fronts and ensures that Hannibal – whether it goes on or not – has earned a place amongst the best that modern television has to offer..

Review Score: FIVE STARS (OUT OF FIVE)

Hannibal Season 3 screens Thursdays 8.30pm AEST in Australia on Showcase.  Season 2 is currently screening on Monday nights on Channel 7, with select episodes available on demand HERE.