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The Rise of Hannibal. The Decline of Will Graham.

imageAs we come to the end of the season (and hopefully there will be another) it appears Will may have turned over to the Dark Side. Will’s tumultuous relationship with Hannibal has reached an interesting level with perhaps some sort of unusual understanding of each other.

This latest episode had me woefully confused as we see Will stooping to all new levels. Not only does it appear he killed the intruder in his home that was perhaps sent by Hannibal, he brought him back and splayed him out in Hannibal’s office as a presentation. He also acknowledges that he and Hannibal are even. Since Will sent someone to kill Hannibal, it’s only fair that Hannibal send someone to kill Will. It makes them Even Steven and puts them on the same level.

But just acknowledging the event doesn’t seem to be enough we have the displaying of the body on a skeleton in the museum. Now you have to wonder, which one of them did it? Is Will analyzing Hannibal or the other way around? It’s a pretty grim scene regardless.

We also see Will get involved with Margot even though he has the wrong parts for the job. It doesn’t seem to slow them down. Not only that we have a very odd montage of Will and Hannibal both engaged in the same act with an odd mix of partners. Will and Hannibal may be sharing Alana figuratively and literally.

After the therapy sessions with Margot, Hannibal decides to pay her brother Mason a visit. Mason is in the middle of his latest experiment to make the man eating pig. Unfortunately, he’s using the scent and clothes of his sister Margot to fuel the anger of the little beasts. I’m not sure this sends the correct familiar message between siblings. But it wasn’t a wasted trip as Hannibal selects his own pig and presents it as a lovely dinner to Alana and Will.

Freddie begins to show doubt about Hannibal and feels that Will was right about Hannibal and she is still right about Will. After making some interesting connections Freddie starts to do her own investigation and winds up finding a bit more than she should. And where of all places does she end up? At the farm of Will Graham. Seems that shed of his contains many secrets and several freezers full of meat.

Jack is then confronted with a phone call from Freddie as she cries out for help. Will is then informed she hasn’t been heard from in quite some time and she was last seen getting gas a few miles down the road from his farm. Oh dear, it looks like Will may have gotten tired of all her meddling and took drastic action.

Will and Hannibal sit down to a private meal together where the main entrée is a meat of dubious origin.

I really, REALLY, hope we get to see a season 3 of this show. To be honest, I’m going to be pissed if we don’t get all 7 seasons! The current season is almost over and NBC still hasn’t made a decision to renew the series. Egad, what are they thinking? This show has some of the best writing out there and the actors are playing their roles perfectly. Freddie is the perfectly blend of elegance, determination and sleaze. Will is the perfect blend of deduction, insight and utter instability. Hannibal himself is a wonderful blend of sophistication, confidence and subdued evil.

The dialog is crisp with lots of double meaning and plenty of points to ponder. Yes, the show can be dark and gruesome, but that’s the nature of the story. Could it be done without all that? Sure, I don’t see why not. But if that’s the problem, why are you watching a show about serial killers anyway? Dexter had plenty of gory scenes and it ran for 8 years with no problem.

If anything, if NBC wants to throw in the towel, then sell it off to FX and put it as a companion to American Horror Story or over to WGN to support Salem or off to A&E with Bates Motel. Moving to a cable show would probably be the best thing for the show, but NBC has a real winner on their hands, I only hope they see it.

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Salem – S01E01

A new series has presented itself and it goes a little something like this: Set in the volatile world of 17th century Massachusetts, ‘Salem’ explores what really fueled the town’s infamous witch trials and dares to uncover the dark, supernatural truth hiding behind the veil of this infamous period in American history. In Salem, witches are real, but they are not who or what they seem.

At the start of things we have Tituba taking care of Mary Sibley who has found herself in a "family way" but isn’t married. From the punishment dealt out in the opening scene Issac is flogged and then branded a fornicator for kissing a girl, an unwed mother would be an utter disaster. Mary’s beloved, John Alden is sent off to war, but returns 7 years later to find things are a little different than when he left.

The ritual Tituba performed has given Mary great power and put her into a contract with an "unknown" force. Mary has moved on to web George Sibley, perhaps the most powerful and most feared man in town. But George isn’t the force he used to be. In fact, we see he’s being controlled quite handily by his new wife. On the outside he appears to be ailing of something akin to a stroke, but when we look deeper he has much bigger problems.

The talk of witches begins to permeate the town as children see visions and speak of hags and visitors in the night. One man who might know the truth finds himself on the receiving end of being accused of witchcraft. He made the mistake of trying to force Mary Sibley’s hand and reveal to her former love, John Alden who and what she is. He doesn’t to spill the beans, but he spills a great deal of blood as he’s pressed to death to reveal his guilt about witchcraft.

John Alden isn’t one to give in to the power or even existence of witches, that is until he’s taken to the edge of town by Isaac and stumbles upon a ritual he can’t comprehend. Mary’s payment has been broken and John might be in the middle of something quite dangerous.

It looks like things have just gone very wrong.

And that’s the start of the series for the new series Salem on WGN. A rather graphic taken on the stories surrounding the Salem Witch Trials. The accusations of witchcraft abound, but that doesn’t mean it’s not real. We begin to see the power, but we don’t have a full meaning for them yet. Why Salem? What other forces are at work? Did Tituba unleash something horrible on the town or is she trying to save them from an older evil?

This is shaping up to be an interesting show with all the characters we’re familiar with. And all the punishments too. He hangings, the dunkings, the burnings are all here. These episodes may not be the feint of heart but it should make for an interesting story and an interesting interpretation of the events that took place in Salem all those years ago.

I’ll have to revisit this topic after a couple of episodes have come out and get ourselves pointed in a certain direction.

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The Many Faces of Hannibal Lecter

imageI’ve said a few times that I’m a big fan of the NBC adaptation of Hannibal and think this new portrayal of Hannibal is intriguing and suspenseful. I’ve never been that big of a fan of the original movies though- and by original movies I mean Silence of the Lambs. I saw it years ago and didn’t think very highly of it. I seem to be in the minority in that respect since the vast majority of people think it’s an amazing movie and Anthony Hopkins put in an award winning performance. I thought the movie was quite boring and found Hopkins to be annoying and almost comical as Hannibal Lector. This seems a direct conflict to the Hannibal we see in the TV series. So I thought it was time to go back and watch the movies over again and how it all blends together. When taken all together we now have an "active" Hannibal who works alongside the FBI and is quite adept at carrying out his crimes. We have young Hannibal who gets thrown an incredibly dark path due to horrific events involving his sister. And then we have the jailed Hannibal who works to put other serial killers away. Finally, we have an escaped Hannibal with a bounty on his head. How do all of these flow together if in fact they do flow together?

Red Dragon – The movie that should (or perhaps was if you take into account Manhunter) have been released first. Since we were thrown into Silence of the Lamb, the character of Hannibal never made sense to me. In this introduction to Hannibal all the characters are presented and to be honest they all come across as incredibly flat. We see that Will just barely escapes with his life after Hannibal attacks him, but the reasons for that never really show themselves. We’re supposed to fear Hannibal but we never really see why. All we know is that he’s a cannibal and a brilliant psychologist, but I never really felt a fear of Hannibal. He acts foolish and juvenile and doesn’t strike me as someone who could hide an Easter Egg let alone be responsible for all the crimes leveled against him. He doesn’t come across as being smart enough to get away with anything.

Silence of the Lambs – A very slow and boring movie. Even after all these years and all these rave reviews of Anthony Hopkins, I still don’t like this movie. Even when Hannibal kills his guards and wears a face he carved off he doesn’t instill fear or panic. His mannerisms up to that point just make him seem on the verge of shaking his head and foaming at the mouth like you expect to see from Charles Manson. He doesn’t seem sophisticated, he doesn’t come across as calculating, he doesn’t give an air of cool planning or reserved danger. He just comes across as a lunatic who’s no more capable of controlling his emotions and behaviors than a 5 year old on the playground. This was supposed to be award winning performances and I struggled to get through.

Hannibal – A movie with a plot and storyline that made no sense whatsoever. Everything about this movie felt forced and pointless. All the sequences with Mason Verger as Hannibal’s nemesis didn’t strike a chord with me. Someone is going to take the time and spend the money to do away with Hannibal using feral pigs? Oh for heaven’s sake. Talk about an overly elaborate and easily escapable plan. None of the over the top violence made sense either. Fine you can have Hannibal twisting open someone head like a can of beer to expose their brain, but that really doesn’t do much for the character. Yeah, it was gross, like a lot of other scenes, but this doesn’t make Hannibal sinister or foreboding. Since he has nothing else it’s just a shock factor.

Hannibal Rising – A movie that seems universally disliked, but a movie I like quite a bit. While I don’t fully buy into the origin story I do like and understand this Hannibal. He is cold, calculated, plotting, reserved and always thinking ahead. The misdeeds against his sister have thrown him out of whack and his heart and mind burn for revenge. This explains his initial motivation, but is that really enough to sustain his serial killer desires?

Hannibal the Series – Here we see a tormented Will Graham and a sophisticated and lurking Hannibal. Will is being worn down by the atrocities he has to face on a daily basis. Hannibal steps in to watch and feed off that downward spiral. I think in this series we see all the characters that were lacking from the movies. Hannibal is calculating and sophisticated and a master of misdirection and suggestion. He points the FBI away from him at every turn. He’s twisted and manipulated Will so no one will believe the wild stories he tells. His calm and sophisticated exterior make you like him, but the staging of his victims make you fear him. And you always have it in the back of your mind as to whether or not Hannibal is responsible for the crimes. We see him commit some, but he’s able to throw enough clues and suspicion on others that we can’t be sure of some things. I think Mads Mikkelsen is a far superior version of Hannibal Lector. He has a smooth and comfortable presence that draws you in. By comparison I felt Hopkins wasimage abrasive.

Of course you have to watch the movies in a completely different order than they were released. Silence of the Lambs was a confusing mess and Hannibal Rising feels like a forced origin story. I still think the movies are terrible and don’t understand or agree with the draw people have to them. The movie portrayal of Hannibal is cliché and lacking. The TV portrayal of Hannibal feels dark and menacing. In the TV series, Hannibal feels like more like Jack the Ripper – a ghost of a killer that no one can catch, that disappears into the night after leaving behind a wake of devastation and fear. He’s the gentleman killer that will cozy up to you and you’ll never know until it’s too late. None of that comes across from the movies.

I’ve read about the direction the TV series want to go and I would love to see Red Dragon, Silence of the Lambs and Hannibal re-written using these characters and personalities. I think it will make for a far superior story and will far eclipse anything the movies have to offer.

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Ghost Adventures – Fort McArthur Museum – S09E07

image For this episode, the intrepid trio heads out to San Pedro California to the Fort McArthur Museum that was established in 1914 at the start of World War I. As with anything associated with the military during war time, this Fort has it’s share of accidents and deaths, but there are a couple of events that stand out. First, there is the recent event where a man walked up from his car with a shotgun in his hand just to kill himself inside the walls of the fort. Secondly, this is the location of the Battle of Los Angeles, which occurred in 1942. Without warning, the command was given to open fire on what the troops thought was an enemy air attack. Thousands of shells were launched, but no aircraft of any kind were shot down. In fact, no wreckage about the enemy was discovered at all. The troops were literally shooting at nothing. Some believe they were shooting at weather balloons, while others believe they were shooting at UFOs. No confirmation either way has ever been given.

As they tour the facility they speak with a couple different people who claim to have seen figures walking around. One claims to see a man in a small brimmed hat, while another claims to see men disappearing into some dark portal in the middle of a solid brick wall. We have another guest appearance from Marti and Mike Parry who also believe there is some portal to the other side and Marti tries to walk down the darkened corridor before realizing it’s solid. Mike believes he makes contact with two different men, one of which tells him to go to the supply room where the military uniforms are kept. This is clearly mysterious because no one knows this part of the tour exists, except of course Zak and now everyone else who watched the episode. Since tour guides never take people back there, clearly it’s a hush hush secret. And of course talking about men with small brimmed hats and in uniform is quite unusual when visiting a military barracks. You pretty much have a 50-50 shot of getting that right. They also believe they have made contact with an Ashley Radcliffe who was enlisted as a private in the apparently easily obtained service man list.

So with the investigation underway they believe they make contact with one of the spirits, Jason. He only gives his first name then disappears until the very end when they think they hear the same voice say, "Lisa". During the course of the night they hear quite a few noises, bangs and dragging sounds – perhaps even the sound of someone coughing. Zak reveals that he’s been told a lot of things "off camera" so there is no way the psychics or other guests would know the history of the fort so it confirms all the events they’re experiencing.

Not much evidence is coming through so Zak fires up the full spectrum camera and believes he captures a full bodied apparition. Once he zooms in all the way and moves the point of view around he believes he can make out the head, shoulders, torso and even the legs of a soldier at the very far end of the hall. Shockingly, it’s not in the next photo. He feels this is compelling evidence of confirmation that one of the spirits manifested itself. I suppose that’s one answer, or it could be matrixing and the sincere desire to capture something down there. But I wasn’t there so who knows.

For the last few minutes of the investigation, Zak once again works with the spirit box to try and talk to the man who committed suicide there in 2009. He gets the words "pain" and then what he thinks is "quiero" – Spanish for want. Interesting replies, but I’m not sure how that ties in with anything.

When all is said and done I think Fort McArthur is more interesting because of the events in 1942 where thousands of rounds were shot into the sky in an attempt to hit an oncoming enemy, yet when the sun came up, they didn’t hit a damn thing. People can say there is some sort of dark portal to the other side down in the basement of the fort, but considering the extremely low level of evidence, I think we should just take this as a regular war museum and just pay tribute to the men and women who have served and sacrificed for protecting this country.

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