Lessons From…Hannibal

Instead of binge watching House of Cards like all my friends seemed to do this weekend, I caught up on the amazing series Hannibal.  Again, no idea how I have not mentioned this show before, mea culpa. You should be watching this program. It is nothing short of pure excellent television. The fact that this show exists is incredible. Add that it runs on network television and not cable makes it extraordinary. Add the fact that it is on NBC and has not yet been cancelled and I begin to believe that there are divine forces at work keeping this series alive. Thank you to all the various deities who keep Hannibal on the air. May your names, even the unpronounceable ones, last through the ages and your power never waiver. Now, with that out of the way on to the lessons. Remember as always SPOILERS ahead.

Part of me thinks I should replace this but what could ever take its place?

Part of me thinks I should replace this but what could ever take its place?

So, Hannibal continues the legacy of the Hannibal Lecter saga. It is a re-imagining within the universe of Dr. Lecter as it adjusts and changes some elements but keeps the core story intact. Mads Mikkelsen plays a perfect Hannibal Lecter aided by the incredible Hugh Dancy playing Will Graham. Their stories and futures our intertwined through their investigation into serial killers and sociopaths/psychopaths and into each other. They play a long con game of cat and mouse with those closest to them being nothing more than disposable pawns. Yet these manipulations of each other demonstrate their deep connection. The full depths of Lecter and Graham’s connection is debatable, but it is undoubtedly present which brings us to the first lesson: Our destinies and futures are not ours alone.  Now, you could take this as “connected to the entire universe” or something, but I am referring to a more microcosmic viewpoint. We have never done anything by ourselves. As much as we like to believe in the grandiose myth of the self made, self sustained individual, the truth is that we are all products of our parents and teachers that taught us about the world, our friends who shaped who we would become, our adversaries who pushed us further through competition, and all the small and large moments that influenced our paths in life. It is simply the basic equation of “for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.”

The main conflict of the show obviously revolves around the FBI aided/led by Will Graham trying to bring down Hannibal. Throughout this chess match of sorts both parties try their best to gain the upper hand. The FBI attempts to get Hannibal off his game by feeding him false information and leads through Will and Jack Crawford. Hannibal, on the other hand, simply sends out his proteges, other killers he has recruited and brought up, to test Will and members of his team. Of course, neither person really comes out on top, at least until the last episode of Season 2, during their conflict. This lack of progress from either Will or Hannibal hinges on one basic action that both consistently commit which also brings up the second lessons: Understand, respect, and never underestimate your obstacles or enemies. It is a pretty simple concept, yet one that many have difficulty with. Both Will and Hannibal assume they know what the other is doing and thinking merely because they believe they are smarter and more clever than the other. Amazingly, both characters know the potential that the other has, but still believes himself to be the superior force and mind. Because of this hubris and the lack of true respect or understanding of their adversary, both Will and Hannibal are responsible for several bodies piling up.

Yeah, being friends with these two pretty much guarantees a "sudden" death.

Yeah, being friends with these two pretty much guarantees a “sudden” death.

Obviously though, there is one character who manages to win, at least for the time being. Hannibal is able to escape the FBI’s scrutiny and attack because of his foresight and planning. He genuinely believed that he was managing to convert Will to his side, but still kept a back up plan…just in case. This is the last lesson: No matter the circumstance, have one last play at the ready. Most advice given states to “leave nothing behind” or to “put everything on the line” to get success. To some extent, this is very true. In order to have success in life, you have to be willing to give everything you have and are and realize that it could all be taken from you. However, if you want to survive, you need an ace up your sleeve. In the finale of season 2, Hannibal did not win as he lost his identity, life, and both of his best potential proteges, but he is the only one that managed to get up and walk away from the battle. So sure give everything to “win” while I still have enough in my tank to make it back off the field of battle.

Thus endeth today’s lessons.

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