Cannibal Comfort

The cast of Bryan Fuller's Hannibal gathered around a table heaving with food
The cast of Bryan Fuller’s Hannibal

Is it weird that one of my comfort watches is a series about cannibalism? Considering how sad most of my other televisions choices are (Bleak House, Sense & Sensibility [2008], Jane Eyre [2006]) I suppose it’s not. Also it’s stunningly beautiful, a masterpiece of hapticity that makes you want to caress the screen. While Mads as Lecter is electric, the whole cast is superb, including guest stars like Gina Torres and Gillian Anderson. I gave a whole conference presentation on Hetienne Park’s Beverly Katz.

But I suppose it’s mostly for Hugh Dancy’s Will Graham, a mix of empathy and instability. Rewatches allow a chance to see how carefully all the little bits are set up for the final payoffs, especially in the arc of series one (still marvelling that it was on network tv, which is why I missed it initially).

Will Graham sits on a chair on his porch, surrounded by his stray dogs
Will Graham on his porch with his family of stray dogs

I guess part of the fascination is watching him fall apart bit by bit, not sure what is real and what is his fevered imagination. And while people are concerned about him, he’s useful doing what he does so they let it slide, hoping he’ll keep it together despite all the warning signs. Oh, and there’s the active harm of Hannibal who longs for Will’s insight to turn to friendship at the same time he knows what a danger that tool represents for exposure of his own creative works. The ups and downs of their relationship — and the bloody consequences from them — change over time. A folie à deux, certainly, but one that illuminates the pitfalls of mistrust raised to baroque operatic levels (in sharp contrast to the simplified analogue of Tobias and Franklin).

A large part of the appeal, especially for series one, is how much it feels like academia these days. Every time you edge toward catching up on all the work, administrators come up with another micromanaging task for you to do when you couldn’t keep up with the bare minimum of required reading, writing, marking and teaching. Or maybe it’s just me. This was meant to be my ‘catch-up’ semester: all courses I had taught before, no tinkering with the syllabuses, all asynchronous and online. Perfect for trading off Alzheimer’s care of my father with my brother. I’ve been ignoring calls for submission, giving up on writing anything, removing any ambition to accomplish much of anything.

And yet…

I’m still struggling to stay afloat. I have dropped a lot of balls. I will probably drop more. I’m not even trying to run. Let the Red Queen do as she will; I am meant for a slow sort of country.

Alice and the Red Queen race along with dialogue from Through the Looking Glass about it taking all the running Alice can do just to stay in the same place
‘Now here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place…’

ADDENDUM: I have been sharing images of my epic bruise from slipping on the ice and nearly impaling myself on the gate (fortunately it wasn’t sharp enough to do this). It’s probably responsible for coalescing these thoughts .

a colourful bruise on my forearm against the background of the china cabinet which is out of focus
My epic mid-forearm bruise