Hello, Internet! Before we hop into this horrifically delightful murderparty: welcome to Hannibal: the recap. I will be your weekly doyenne of death and darkness, traversing the epic landscape of NBC's newest series. And it's a brilliant one at that (aka don't f**k it up, ya silly peacocks). It has built-in suspense (outside of the whodunnit 44-minute crime solving of most procedurals) thanks to the knowledge that most viewers have going into the show of what's to come for our leading lads. Hannibal is a cable show on network TV: so of course that means it's going to be a bit bloody for certain sensibilities. But the violence feels necessary rather than excessive — a bit of grounding horror to punctuate the misty dreamlike quality of the rest of the show. But that's because where the show really plays is in your mind, and Will's mind, and Hannibal's mind — and the minds of all these killers. Who better than Bryan Fuller to execute such a feat: in his hands, the iconic tale of our cleverly calculating cannibal brings the mind to life in a myriad of exciting and truly engrossing ways.
Because people are fascinating — something our dear Dr. Hannibal Lecter knows quite well — and none pose more questions to the mind than those killers of the serial variety. Their bloodlust and intrinsic, uncontrollable need to kill is something most of us cannot possibly comprehend, which is probably why there are so many shows about murderpeople out on television today.
Someone who can understand them quite intimately, though, is Will Graham. Played by the masterful Hugh Dancy (Seriously — what are dinners like at the Dancy/Claire Danes household? And their kid! Imagine growing up with Will Graham and Carrie Mathison as your parents.), Will has danced with the devil that lives in his brain after killing Garret Jacob Hobbes: rode hard and put away wet (love a good race horse saying). And with a mind as overactive and unstable as his, the consequences of getting too involved are frighteningly serious. Agent Jack Crawford (Laurence Fishburne) knows he's towing a very thin line with Will out in the field, but he's willing to push him as far as he can — as long as it's mentally sound to do so. Which is why the FBI needs psychiatrist Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen) in their corner: to save their broken pony.
In the second episode of the season, we see a preview — an amuse bouche, perhaps? (See what I did there? The episode title was "Amuse Bouche!" I'm really quite clever.) — of what's in store. First we got the pre-dinner drink (apertif), and now? An amuse bouche, natch: a single, bite-sized hors d'œuvre (like a pig in a blanket but fancy) that is free and completely at the chef's discretion. In this case we have to imagine there are several chefs in the kitchen, and we've gotten a single bite of each of our major players. And man, the ways in which Will is volleyed back and forth between kid glove care and full-blown exposure to the grim and gruesome things in his mind, feels exploitative. He tries so hard to keep his demons at bay — keeping the world at arms length. Described as both a tea cup and a broken pony (Will's definitely at least a colt), Hannibal believes the rest of the world can only understand Will when they make him out to be a fragile but fancy toy.
But first let's get to the new crop of folks that've sprung forth from the earth to greet us. First there is Freddie Louds (whom Thomas Harris fans will recall was previously a man in the books/films) — who runs the blog Tattlecrime.com. Louds is hot on the trail of the Minnesota Shrike, and thanks to a wee tryst with Agent Zeller, she's now quite fascinated with our fair Will Graham, as well. "Takes One To Know One" says the title. Freddie also manipulates situations to get what she wants. But doing so has put her on Hannibal's rude list — and we all know what happens when you end up there. But she's in for the long haul, and won't be going anywhere any time soon.
There's also our mushroom farmer. Oh yes, the fungus among us! A crazy diabetic-coma inducing mushroom farmer, that is. In a storyline that would make even the most iron of stomachs lose their lunch (or at least skip the shitakes), we found pharmacist Eldon Stammitz and his reverence for the fleshy spores. He felt humanity could better connect (always with the connections, this show) if people were buried alive, covered in compost, and pumped with sugar water to grow a couple toadstools on their slowly-decaying skin. It was a gruesome, visually-arresting scene that harkened back to another unsettling horror cult-camp hit: Motel Hell. People giving rise to, essentially, an intricate web of connections that move beyond the physical and mental capacity of the human brain. It's all quite philosphical yet rooted in scientific knowledge. Beautifully haunting, in a way — totally gnarly and disgusting and completely mental in every other possible way. S**t is f**king disturbing. I love it.
Which brings us back to Will. So haunted. He is a walking internal battle divided: one side that liked how it felt to kill Hobbes, the other disgusted by his own feelings. It's revealed that Will has spent hours at Abigail Hobbes' bedside (where we found Hannibal sitting at the end of the pilot) while comatose. Jack believes Abigail may have been Hobbes' accomplice throughout his murders — something Will is none too keen to accept (though previews for next week's episode have us thinking that perhaps he should just get on with that acceptance thing sooner rather than later). But that's because, like the dogs, Graham has adopted her (lucky for his anti-social ass, she's in a coma. Might like her less when she's awake). Another stray. Another maybe muderperson or knowing accomplice.
Will's inability to be socialable and connect with people is ultimately what's saved him up until this point. There's a killer being supressed. We know this because he's haunted by the ease with which he delves into the minds of and empathizes with the killers he encounters at work every day. (And you thought your job had pressures.) But now, it's no longer an imagination: he's killed another human. Welcome to confronting your feelings, my boy! Therapy 101. Feel it. Only, Hannibal uses their newfound bromance as a a way to gain Will's trust (which is proliferated by his rubber-stamping the psych evaluation, only to turn it around to gain personal insight into Will. A big no-no with this one, it seems.) because he feels a connection to Will — they're more alike than different in many ways. It's this need for a connection that drives Hannibal and (so far) the others to kill. A misinterpreted understanding of humanity, relationships, and spirit — or simply just another God complex?
For Hannibal, it seems to be a bit of the latter. It's a tiny thread, but it's there nonetheless, and we need that to understand the man and the mechanics behind him. Every other killer has a motive, a design, a method. Hannibal is not a serial killer with one particular homi-style: he does it in a myriad of ways and for lots of different reasons, as we've seen thus far. But it's so much more than that, too. To Hannibal, death is beauty and connects him to a higher plane of existence — the ultimate expression of power. A psychopath with some smarts, talent, a seemingly good amount of money, and cooking skills no matter how gross? Oh yeah, I can see why he's a dangerous and tricky fella.
"Killing must feel good to God, too — he does it all the time. And are we not created in his own image?" It's a chilling quote and an even more horrific thought: Hannibal is a killer without remorse: to him, it is a calling inherently higher than himself. But does God like killing, Will wonders? Hannibal believes that, for God, it's not about liking, it's about the power: death is just a necessary evil. A means to an end — but one that can, when wrapped up in romanticized neo-religious ideals with a hint of mental instability, be seen as a thing of beauty. By killing (serially) and in such extravagent ways, you're conceptually "giving a voice to the unmentionable." And the look of revolted understanding that crosses Will's face upon hearing Hannibal's words makes it clear that even though he can empathize with it, doesn't mean he thinks it's right. Hannibal's God Complex a Satan Complex.
But still, the basic truth lingers in the air: "I liked killing Hobbes," Will mumbled. There's more yet to be dissected in that fancy, delicate brain of yours, Will Graham. Can you contain it, or will it contain you? The things you've yet to learn about yourself, man. It's going to be a real treat to watch. And yet we've only had but a small bite, a taste.
Needless to say, it's all fun and games until someone gets eaten.
A Few More Things...- Can we have a moment for that opening sequence? Between Dexter and Hannibal, serial killers have some seriously killer opening visuals. - Beverly Katz sure does seem to be into Will Graham's brand of crazy. Something tells us she wants a bigger piece of that pie, ifyannowhatimean.- ... But then there's Dr. Alana Bloom! Who seems like a really great actual match for Will. And how she lied to him about not keeping track as to whether or not she keeps track of how often they've been alone together? She is both scared of and in love with what makes Will so special.- Kudos to Mikkelsen on his A+ delivery of the line to Jack: "Next time bring your wife. I’d love to have you both for dinner."- The stag and raven specter continues to plod his way through Will's brain, occasionally stopping in the doorway of Will's mental waiting room. Two animals, combined. It feels to me like a visual representation of the two parts of Will's personality, but you can't help but also see a bit of Hannibal in there, too — since we all know he was the one to set up the "negative" display in the field so Will could see the "positive" and in turn, hone in on Hobbes. He's able to manipulate the mind in such insidious ways (fans of the Harris series will immediately call to mind his attempts to condition Clarice later in Hannibal's life). But who's the raven and who's the stag? Which side will win? Can they be separated, or merely controlled as one single entity? So much left to unpack this season!
What did you think of the episode? Discuss it in the comments.
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Awards season is in full swing, and with tonight's Screen Actors Guild Awards (SAG for short) — the 19th time the ceremony has taken place. Airing live on TBS and TNT on Sunday, January 27 (at 5PM PST/8PM EST), some of the biggest movies of the year are making tracks towards the Big Night (aka the Academy Awards), while television shows like Homeland and Modern Family will see if they can continue to dominate.
Will 30 Rock go out with big wins? Will Maggie Smith continue to not show up (yes, of course)? Check out the winners (in bold), which will be updated live, below!
THEATRICAL MOTION PICTURES
Outstanding Performance By A Male Actor In A Leading Role
Bradley Cooper / Pat - "Silver Linings Playbook" (The Weinstein Company)
Daniel Day-Lewis / Abraham Lincoln - "Lincoln" (Touchstone Pictures)
John Hawkes / Mark - "The Sessions" (FOX Searchlight)
Hugh Jackman / Jean Valjean - "Les Misérables" (Universal Pictures)
Denzel Washington / Whip Whitaker - "Flight" (Paramount Pictures)
Outstanding Performance By A Female Actor In A Leading Role
Jessica Chastain / Maya - "Zero Dark Thirty" (Columbia Pictures)
Marion Cotillard / Stephanie - "Rust And Bone" (sony Pictures Classics)
Jennifer Lawrence / Tiffany - "Silver Linings Playbook" (The Weinstein Company)
Helen Mirren / Alma Reville - "Hitchcock" (FOX Searchlight)
Naomi Watts / Maria - "The Impossible" (Summit Entertainment)
Outstanding Performance By A Male Actor In A Supporting Role
Alan Arkin / Lester Siegel - "Argo" (Warner Bros. Pictures)
Javier Bardem / Silva - "Skyfall" (Columbia Pictures)
Robert De Niro / Pat, Sr. - "Silver Linings Playbook" (The Weinstein Company)
Philip Seymour Hoffman / Lancaster Dodd - "The Master" (The Weinstein Company)
Tommy Lee Jones / Thaddeus Stevens - "Lincoln" (Touchstone Pictures)
Outstanding Performance By A Female Actor In A Supporting Role
Sally Field / Mary Todd Lincoln - "Lincoln" (Touchstone Pictures)
Anne Hathaway / Fantine - "Les Misérables" (Universal Pictures)
Helen Hunt / Cheryl - "The Sessions" (FOX Searchlight)
Nicole Kidman / Charlotte Bless - "The Paperboy" (Millennium Entertainment)
Maggie Smith / Muriel Donnelly - "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" (FOX Searchlight)
Outstanding Performance By A Cast In A Motion Picture
Argo (Warner Bros. Pictures)
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (FOX Searchlight)
Les Misérables (Universal Pictures)
Lincoln (Touchstone Pictures)
Silver Linings Playbook (The Weinstein Company)
Outstanding Performance By A Male Actor In A Television Movie Or Miniseries
Kevin Costner / "Devil Anse" Hatfield - "Hatfields & Mccoys" (History)
Woody Harrelson / Steve Schmidt - "Game Change" (HBO)
Ed Harris / John Mccain - "Game Change" (HBO)
Clive Owen / Ernest Hemingway & "Hemingway & Gellhorn" (HBO)
Bill Paxton / Randall Mccoy - "Hatfields & Mccoys" (History)
Outstanding Performance By A Female Actor In A Television Movie Or Miniseries
Nicole Kidman / Martha Gellhorn - "Hemingway & Gellhorn" (HBO)
Julianne Moore / Sarah Palin - "Game Change" (HBO)
Charlotte Rampling / Eva Delectorskaya - "Restless" (Sundance Channel)
Sigourney Weaver / Elaine Barrish Hammond - "Political Animals" (USA)
Alfre Woodard / Ouiser - "Steel Magnolias" (Lifetime)
Outstanding Performance By A Male Actor In A Drama Series
Steve Buscemi / Enoch "Nucky" Thompson - "Boardwalk Empire" (HBO)
Bryan Cranston / Walter White - "Breaking Bad" (AMC)
Jeff Daniels / Will McAvoy - "The Newsroom" (HBO)
Jon Hamm / Don Draper - "Mad Men" (AMC)
Damian Lewis / Nicholas Brody - "Homeland" (Showtime)
Outstanding Performance By A Female Actor In A Drama Series
Claire Danes / Carrie Mathison - "Homeland" (Showtime)
Michelle Dockery / Lady Mary Crawley - "Downton Abbey" (PBS)
Jessica Lange / Sister Jude - "American Horror Story: Asylum" (FX)
Julianna Margulies / Alicia Florrick - "The Good Wife" (CBS)
Maggie Smith / Violet, Dowager Countess Of Grantham - "Downton Abbey" (PBS)
Outstanding Performance By A Male Actor In A Comedy Series
Alec Baldwin / Jack Donaghy - "30 Rock" (NBC)
Ty Burrell / Phil Dunphy - "Modern Family" (ABC)
Louis C.K. / Louie - "Louie" (FX)
Jim Parsons / Sheldon Cooper - "The Big Bang Theory" (CBS)
Eric Stonestreet / Cameron Tucker - "Modern Family" (ABC)
Outstanding Performance By A Female Actor In A Comedy Series
Edie Falco / Jackie Peyton - "Nurse Jackie" (Showtime)
Tina Fey / Liz Lemon - "30 Rock" (NBC)
Amy Poehler / Leslie Knope - "Parks and Recreation" (NBC)
Sofia Vergara / Gloria Delgado-Pritchett - "Modern Family" (ABC)
Betty White / Elka Ostrovsky - "Hot In Cleveland" (TV Land)
Outstanding Performance By An Ensemble In A Drama Series
Boardwalk Empire (HBO)
Breaking Bad (AMC)
Downton Abbey (PBS)
Mad Men (AMC)
Outstanding Performance By An Ensemble In A Comedy Series
30 Rock (NBC)
Modern Family (ABC)
Nurse Jackie (Showtime)
The Office (NBC)
SAG AWARDS HONORS FOR STUNT ENSEMBLES
Outstanding Action Performance By A Stunt Ensemble In A Motion Picture
The Amazing Spider-Man (Columbia Pictures)
The Bourne Legacy (Universal Pictures)
The Dark Knight Rises (Warner Bros. Pictures)
Les Misérables (Universal Pictures)
Skyfall (Columbia Pictures)
Outstanding Action Performance By A Stunt Ensemble In A Television Series
Boardwalk Empire (HBO)
Breaking Bad (AMC)
Game Of Thrones (HBO)
Sons Of Anarchy (FX)
The Walking Dead (AMC)
Screen Actors Guild 49th Annual Life Achievement Award
Dick Van Dyke
What do you think of this year's winners and losers? Shocked? Happy? Sad? Let us know, in the comments below!
[Photo Credit: Mark Davis/Getty Images]
Follow Alicia on Twitter @alicialutes
Screen Actors Guild Awards: Why the SAGs Are My Favorite Awards Show — VIDEO
Producers Guild Awards 2013: 'Argo,' 'Homeland' Continue Award Season Domination
Sundance Awards: 'Fruitvale' Is 2013's First Oscar Contender
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The series is up for Outstanding Achievement in Drama as well as Outstanding New Program against Girls, New Girl, Revenge and Smash.
Danes has also landed a nomination for Individual Achievement In Drama for her role in Homeland as CIA operations officer Carrie Mathison.
She faces stiff competition from Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad), Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones), Jon Hamm (Mad Men) and Jessica Lange (American Horror Story).
Homeland is also gunning for the top prize - Program Of The Year - alongside Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, Mad Men and Downton Abbey.
The winners will be revealed on 28 July (12) at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California.
Salt the propulsive new thriller from Phillip Noyce (Clear and Present Danger Patriot Games) has been dubbed “Bourne with boobs ” but that label isn’t entirely accurate. In the role of Evelyn Salt a CIA staffer hunted by her own agency after a Russian defector fingers her in a plot to murder Russia’s president Angelina Jolie keeps her two most potent weapons holstered hidden under pantsuits and trenchcoats and the various other components of a super-spy wardrobe that proudly emphasizes function over flash.
But flash is one thing Salt never lacks for. Its breathless cat-and-mouse game hits full-throttle almost from the outset when a former KGB officer named Orlov (Daniel Olbrychski) stumbles into a CIA interrogation room and begins spilling details of a vast conspiracy. Back in the ‘70s hardline elements of the Soviet regime launched an ambitious new front in the Cold War flooding the western world with orphans trained to infiltrate the security complexes of their adopted homelands and wait patiently — decades if necessary — for the order to initiate a series of assassinations intended to trigger a devastating nuclear clash between the superpowers from which the treacherous Reds would emerge triumphant.
The Soviet Union may have long ago collapsed (or did it? Hmmm...) but its army of brainwashed killer orphan spies remains in place and if this crazy Orlov fellow is to be believed they stand poised to reignite the Cold War. It’s a preposterous — even idiotic — scheme but no more so than any of our government’s various harebrained proposals to kill Castro back in the ‘60s. As such the CIA treats it with grave seriousness even the part that that pegs Salt who just happens to be a Russian-born orphan herself as a key player in the conspiracy.
Salt bristles at the accusation but suspecting a set-up she opts to flee rather than face interrogation from her bosses Winter (Liev Schreiber) and Peabody (Chiwetel Ejiofor). A former field agent she’s been confined to a desk job since a clandestine operation in North Korea went south leaving her with a nasty shiner and a rather unremarkable German boyfriend (now her unremarkable German husband). She’s clearly kept up her training during while cubicle-bound however and in a blaze of resourceful thinking and devastating Parkour Fu she fends off a dozen or so agents of questionable competence and takes to the streets where she sets about to clear her name and unravel the Commie orphan conspiracy before the authorities can catch up with her. That is if she isn’t a part of the conspiracy.
The premise which aims to resurrect Cold War tensions and graft them onto a modern-day spy thriller is absurdly clever — and cleverly absurd. But Kurt Wimmer’s screenplay isn’t satisfied with the merely clever and absurd — it must be mind-blowing. Salt is one of those thrillers that ladles out its backstory slowly and in tiny portions every once in a while dropping a revelatory bombshell that effectively blows the lid off everything that happened beforehand. No one is who they seem and every action every gesture no matter how seemingly trivial is imbued with some kind of grand significance. The effect of piling on one insane twist after another has the effect of gradually diluting the narrative. When anything is possible nothing really matters.
But spy thrillers by definition trade in the preposterous and the principal function of the summer blockbuster is to entertain. In that regard Salt more than fulfills its charge. Noyce wisely keeps the story moving at pace that allows little time for asking uncomfortable questions or poking holes in the film’s frail plot. And he has an able partner in the infinitely versatile Jolie who having already exhibited formidable action-hero chops in Wanted and the Tomb Raider films proves remarkably adept at the spy game as well.
It’s well-known that Jolie wasn’t the first choice to star in Salt joining the project only after Tom Cruise dropped out citing the story’s growing similarities to the Mission: Impossible films. But she’s more than just a capable replacement; she’s a welcome upgrade over Cruise not least because she’s over a decade younger (and a few inches taller) than her predecessor. Should Brad Bird require a pinch-hitter for Ethan Hunt he knows where to look.