ith the end of Hannibal season one comes the end of one of the most imaginatively crafted shows in recent memory. Married alongside its unique style, top quality cast and strong character focus, the show can boast some of the most creatively horrific moments to grace our television screens. It’s no surprise that the show so often displays the message “viewer discretion is advised” which, after watching the series, is certainly an understatement. Here are the top ten most shocking moments of Hannibal, those times when you almost couldn’t believe what you were seeing on screen.
10. The death of the night nurse – Episode 6: Entrée
Opening the list is one of the most brutally realised murders of the series. Taking place in the Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane (seriously, why would you work there?), a night nurse is caring for an inmate after he “collapses”. Whilst the murder is not seen directly, Will Graham’s unique ability to re enact a murder in his head gives us a no holes barred account of what happened. Anyone who is particularly sensitive about their eyesight will find this particularly difficult viewing.
9. The Columbian Neck Tie – Episode 11: Rôti
After a shaky start, episode 11 proved the abilities of Eddie Izzard as the psychotic Dr. Abel Gideon, an escaped inmate of the Baltimore Hospital out for blood against anyone who tried to treat him. This particular moment sees him perform a Columbian Neck Tie on the unfortunate Dr. Carruthers, a process of slitting the victim’s throat and pulling their tongue out through the wound. The initial shock of this image is only matched by the casual and proud Gideon’s reaction to his exploits.
8. Poor Dr. Sutcliff – Episode 10: Buffet Froid
This episode proved more than any other that friends of Hannibal Lecter should beware of their quietly detached associate. After calling Dr. Sutcliff to help him diagnose the ailing Will Graham, Hannibal thanks his learned colleague by nearly slicing his head off at the mouth (the not so happy Glasgow Smile) to frame Will for the murder. Whilst the sight of this is something to revile, the noise created by such slicing and dicing is almost as sickening,
7. A man of music – Episode 8: Fromage
A good musician is able to become one with his instrument, and this is taken as literally as possible when a trombonist is fond on stage with his throat cut, vocal cords cured into strings and with the neck of a cello jutting from his open mouth. In terms of imagery such as this, Hannibal always delivered something elegant in its horror, but the creativity of this image is the most poetic the series.
6. The death of Georgia Madchen – Episode 12: Relevés
In a break from its usual “killer of the week” mentality, Hannibal brought back Georgia Madchen, a monstrous killer afflicted with a mental condition that not only stops her from recognising peoples faces, but also makes her think she is dead. Once in recovery, she becomes a perfect foil for Will, who sees more than a little of himself in her. A shame then that she is killed in one of the season’s set piece shots: engulfed in flame in her highly oxygenated recovery pod. This rare slow motion shot not only emphasises her claustrophobic setting, but draws out the horror for greater effect.
5. The Deathly Totem Pole – Episode 9: Trou Normand
Imagine yourself on a beach on a cloudy day, waves lapping calmly against the shore. As the wind blows through your hair, you turn your head and see… a totem pole made out of 17 murder victims erected out of the sand. The shock of this moment is the lasting memory left by this otherwise disappointing episode.
4. The Angels – Episode 5: Coquilles
Vivid tableaus have always been a strength of Hannibal, and this shocking depiction of angelic corpses probably takes the biscuit. This episode’s killer, fearful of death, creates angels out his victims to pray over him while he sleeps, peeling the skin off their backs and suspending them to look like wings. Despite the somewhat disappointing end to the episode, this image is one that remains one of the most creative and disturbing of the season.
3. Goodbye sweet Franklin – Episode 8: Fromage
There always comes a point when a patient must leave his psychiatrist, but unfortunately for Franklin, it was Hannibal that ended their sessions. After confiding in Lecter that his friend Tobias may be a killer, Hannibal enters into an odd relationship of admiration and loathing with the tall, gaunt music shop owner. But when Tobias interrupts a session between Hannibal and Franklin in order to kill both of them, Hannibal leaps into action, breaking the neck of his innocently dependent patient. This surprise is all the more shocking as it is the first time Hannibal is seen killing someone, and for little reason than to stop Tobias from doing the deed first. Poor Franklin.
2. A shortcut to mushrooms – Episode 2: Amuse Bouche
In what could be the most outlandish and disturbing find of the season, Will Graham is confronted with a mass grave of bodies, all of which have been buried alive in order to use their circulatory systems to grow fungus. The surreal image of nine bodies, all with rich, earthy mushroom stools growing directly out of them, is an early indication from the show that its unique brand of horror is as imaginative as it is unsettling.
1. Justice for Dr. Chiltern – Episode 11: Rôti
As any fans of the Thomas Harris novels will know, Dr. Frederick Chiltern is a name synonymous with misfortune, and whilst this first season doesn’t yet reach his final bow, it does put the character through the ringer. Kidnapped by Dr. Gideon, Chiltern becomes the victim of Abel’s horrific form of revenge: having his organs removed one at a time with barely any anaesthetic. This is truly one of those moments that suspends belief, and really makes you wonder how it got past the censors.