Hannibal – All 3 Delicious Seasons Ranked

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Is it bad how much I love this show?

There’s something beautiful about how heinously they portray the iconic cannibal – the cooking montages are delectable, the tension and relationships between characters are palpably sexy, and the acting / story are some of the best I’ve seen on television.

Hugh Dancy and Mads Mikkelsen absolutely kill it as Will Graham and Hannibal Lecter respectively, and the dynamic between the two is what makes this show one of the greatest of all time; that and the consistency of all three seasons. How would I rank all of the seasons of this excellent show?

You can check out some of my other lists and ranking below:

Amazing

3 – Season 3

Favourite Episodes:
  • Contorno (Ep 5)
  • Digestivo (Ep 7)
  • The Number of the Beast Is 666 (Ep 12)
  • The Wrath of the Lamb (Ep 13)

Interestingly, when I first watched this season I held it in as high a regard as my top spot (you’ll have to wait and see what that is!), but looking back on it I don’t think it’s quite as polished as the other two seasons.

It’s still absolutely sensational though, as this is where we get to see both Will Graham and Hannibal in their prime. The plot and writing are top-notch all throughout, and seeing Will’s descent into the mindset of Hannibal made for gripping television, but in the end it came off as a bit rushed in places.

During pre-production the creators had the bombshell news that this would be the last season, so they had to cram two seasons’ worth of arcs into one. Whilst this does make for an admittedly fun dynamic with an explosive mid-season finale, it just meant that each individual story was undercooked.

The episodes themselves are as entrancing as ever, and both the mid-season finale “Digestivo” and especially the series finale “The Wrath of the Lamb” are some of my favourite TV episodes ever, the latter of which caught me completely off-guard and almost made me shed a tear.

2 – Season 1

Favourite Episodes:
  • Apératif (Ep 1)
  • Fromage (Ep 8)
  • Buffet Froid (Ep 10)
  • Savoureux (Ep 13)

Whilst Season 3 went down in my estimations ever so slightly, I was thoroughly impressed with Season 1 when I watched it again. It ages incredibly well with the knowledge of the plot later on, and the “killer of the week” dynamic is a perfect backdrop to a Hannibal cat-and-mouse chase.

Every character gets an excellent introduction, with Will and Hannibal’s relationship having an extremely strong foundation to build off of. Part of this show’s charm is also watching an undiscovered Hannibal Lecter going about his daily life, and contrasting that with the brutal police investigations was an inspired move.

That being said, there were no episodes that completely blew my mind like it sometimes did in seasons 2 and 3 – and with the episodic format it takes some of the weekly crimes aren’t nearly as engaging as the others. Still, episodes like the pilot and “Fromage” are reason enough to put this fantastic season in the “Amazing” tier.

All-Time Great

1 – Season 2

Favourite Episodes:
  • Kaiseki (Ep 1)
  • Mukozuke (Ep 5)
  • Yakimono (Ep 7)
  • Tome-wan (Ep 12)
  • Mizumono (Ep 13)

Easily one of my favourite television seasons of all time, Season 2 rivals the Gus Fring vs Walter White dynamic in Breaking Bad in terms of iconic cat and mouse chases. The characters and their interactions are the best they’ve ever been, and Dancy and Mikkelsen put in some career-defining performances.

It’s the direction that the season takes that impresses me the most, as the story unravels into this unpredictable epic that had me on the edge of my seat the entire time. Having Will Graham actually go along with Hannibal (with some homoerotic undertones?) seemed a bit jarring at first, but it was the perfect place to take the narrative.

It also helps that they moved away from the “killer of the week” format, as while I loved that aspect of season 1 there’s only so much you can go with it. I think that’s the key mixture that makes it so good – it’s got the variety of murders that season 1 had, but it also has the unhinged Will Graham performance from season 3 that I loved so much.

Possibly the most crucial part of all, the episodes themselves are absolutely insane. The tension is ramped up to eleven in episodes like “Mukozuke”, but it’s the finale “Mizumono” that will go down as one of television’s greatest season closers. If you haven’t watched this show yet, I promise you it’s worth it for that finale alone.

Aaaaaaand that’s my list. You can check out some of my latest blog posts below:

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