Hannibal has never been a show about death so much as it is about the affect death has on the people who have been touched by it. In the first season episode “Buffet Froid,” Hannibal spoke to Will about “the unreality of taking a life” (of course, this was before Will knew Hannibal was himself a serial killer), and the surrealist aesthetic of the show’s visuals and storytelling has underlined and dramatized this throughout, and no single character has been left unscarred.

That final element is the driving force behind “Apertivo” (which in a show more concerned with conventional storytelling might have been the first episode of the season rather than the fourth), in which we see how the protagonists have recovered from the massacre at the end of “Mizomuno.” The episode plays out almost like a series of interconnected short films, with each character trying to deal with their trauma (both physical and emotional) but unable to fully escape from the shadow of Hannibal.

The connecting thread through these short films is Raul Esparza’s Chilton, who slithers into each person’s life like a smarmy, douchebag Nick Fury, trying to recruit them into a coalition of Hannibal survivors. Whether or not Chilton simply wants additional material for this forthcoming book (it is mentioned that he has already trademarked the phrase “Hannibal the Cannibal”) or has a specific endgame in mind is unclear as of yet, but whatever Chilton has in mind his intentions are definitely less brutal than those of Mason Verger. Verger’s disfigurement and paralysis has forced him to channel his sadism from random acts into long-term plotting. Verger is now played by Joe Anderson (The River, Across the Universe), and while at first he seems to simply be doing a dead-on Gary Oldman imitation, he quickly makes the character his own and becomes a highlight of the episode.

Verger finds a surprising ally in his quest for revenge in Alana Bloom, who until now has always been something of a calming force in the show’s madness. Now, in the midst of recovering from spine and brain damage, she finds herself drawn into the intentions of Mason (not to mention the affections of Margot). This isn’t helped by Will’s lack of interest in her recovery; when she meets him when visiting Hannibal’s house, he flat-out rejects her. For a character who until now has been primarily a source of emotional support and a love interest, this change in dynamic is both surprising and welcome. It’s great to have you back, Alana.

Will, as we’ve seen in previous episodes, is trying to piece himself back together. Unfortunately, he finds there is a Hannibal-sized hole in his life that nothing else can fill. When Jack asks him why he warned Hannibal, Will replies simply “because he was my friend… and I wanted to run away with him.” Hugh Dancy’s understated work in this episode, as well as “Primavera,” has made for some of the most quietly powerful moments in the show’s run. Even for a character who has always been isolated, seeing him alone and pining for a relationship that can only end in pain is nothing short of tragic.

Jack Crawford has also found himself alone, having recovered from a near-death experience just before having to cope with the loss of his wife. Bella’s funeral sequence is beautifully heartbreaking, juxtaposing the scene of the funeral with Jack’s memory of their wedding. Even for a character who has only appeared a handful of episodes, Bella Crawford’s loss has the impact of that of a lead. Jack then finds himself without a family and without a job, and his only remaining purpose is to try and help Will Graham, whose fractured state he still feels partially responsible.

Director Marc Jobst keeps the pacing tight and steady, allowing the actors to take center stage while still creating some dazzling visuals as he depicts their physical and emotional recovery. Brian Reitzell’s use of music is also a standout in this episode, from the use of “The Death of Åse” by Edvard Grieg during one of Will’s dream sequences to a bombastic original piece composed for the reconstruction of Mason’s face. I’ve long said that Hannibal is one of the few TV shows where the writing, acting, directing, and music have equal importance, and “Apertivo” is an episode where everything is truly firing on all cylinders.

For those complaining that this season has been too slow and focused on character as opposed to plot, this episode bodes very well for the rest of the season.

Teaser and trailer week continues as Showtime reveals a glimpse of what’s to come in Season Two of The Affair. Hint: it’s not good for Noah Solloway.

The Affair returns this Fall.

The reboot of NBC’s Heroes series will debut on September 24, 2015.

AMC has unveiled yet another teaser for August’s Fear the Walking Dead, a spin-off of its smash hit staple series. Fear will run six episodes, likely leading up until the premiere of the sixth season of The Walking Dead.

Game of Thrones’ Pedro Pascal comes back from his brutal head squishing to star as a DEA agent hunting down Pablo Escobar (Wagner Moura). The series premieres on Netflix August 28.

MTV has debuted the first eight minutes of its upcoming heavily buzzed thriller Scream, inspired by Wes Craven’s hit series of horror films. You guys will have to let me know how it is. I’m going to remain in the dark on this one.

You wouldn’t be able to tear away from Rami Malek if you tried. Mr. Robot, USA’s new hacker drama, might hit too close for Sony executives, but it is a huge diving board for the young star. The premiere episode of Robot debutes tonight (it was already renewed for a second season hours before it dropped), and it’s a dark, engaging drama lead by Malek’s tortured hacker.

Malek’s Elliot narrates the opening sequence. He tells us that the “guys who are run the world are the top 1% of the 1%,” and they are coming after him. Elliot constantly sees men in dark coats gazing in his direction (they eye him suspiciously or watch him intently with cell phones clutched in hand). Are they real or in his head? He occasionally asks his captive audience if we see what he does. Paranoia from the get go, eh, USA?

Elliot is a cybersecurity engineer for Allsafe, but he has disdain for almost everyone around him. He proudly declares that he isn’t on Facebook, and internally sneers at Allsafe’s biggest client, ECorp whenever they stride into the building. Everyone at Allsafe refers to them as Evil Corp even though they account for 80% of their employer’s business. Whenever Elliot isn’t working, he’s typing away at him. He collects mountains of information on everyone around him—his childhood friend, Angela (Portia Doubleday) is dating a Maroon 5 loving cheater, and he sympathizes for his therapist, Krista (Gloria Reuben). Krista nudges Elliot to overcome his extreme social anxiety, but he can’t seem to even go into a crowded bar.

One evening, ECorp’s servers are hacked so badly that Elliot is called into help. No matter what he does to stop the spread of the virus, it only seems to spread. This leads him into meeting Christian Slater’s Mr. Robot, a hacker mastermind who tries to sell Elliot on taking down the very corporation that he is hired to protect. For some, the hacking scenes and the computer geekery could get very tiresome, but Robot manages to keep you invested in this “all-too-personal” topic.

The show succeeds mainly because Malek is in almost every single frame. His eyes are buggy and his jaw never seems to open enough to allow him fully speak. He is simultaneously jittery and calm, delivering some of his intense monologues (for instance, when he takes down a child pornography distributor in the opening scene) with a low-key, Olivia Pope-ian gusto. Instead of a closet of white outfits, he’s got a hoodie and a pack of smokes. New York City almost throbs during the pilot. The score never lets up, and it only propels you to keep watching.

The paranoia is pretty palpable in just the first episode, so Mr. Robot could easily become this summer’s indulgence. With a lead performance such as Malek’s, it should be as easy as guessing a douchebag’s Gmail password.

Mr. Robot airs Wednesday nights at 10pm EST on USA. 

Helen Keller is known for her thoughtful quotes and overcoming adversity, but did you know she once attempted to gouge the eyes out of someone while on a coke bender?

Comedy Central’s Another Period, a hilarious parody that’s a cross between Keepin’ Up with the Kardashians and Downton Abbey, introduces us to the Bellacourt family in Rhode Island in 1902, just after the Claudette sisters have died from tuberculosis and there’s an opening in the “400 Most Important White People” club.

If these are the 1900s Kardashians, then Lillian (Natasha Leggero) is clearly Kim, the sister who’s fed cheeses at the ring of a bell, and Beatrice (Riki Lindhome, of Garfunkel and Oates) is Kourtney, who’s in an inappropriate relationship (not with a sniveling brat like Scott Disick, but worse: her brother Frederick played by Jason Ritter). Meanwhile, Khloe would be Hortense, the smart but less glamorous sister, played by the wonderful Artemis Pebdani (whom you may remember from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia).

But one thing Another Period does that the Kardashians would NEVER do is feature the help (one only wishes KUWTK would have shown the maids doing laundry after Kim and Kourney’s competition over who had the smelliest vagina).

Christina Hendricks plays Celine, the newest maid to arrive at the Bellacourt estate, who acts as the Peggy Olsen of this series, in that we see the goings-on through her eyes (until the end of the episode where we learn even SHE has secrets). However, Celine loses her name shortly after being introduced and is called Chair for there on out because a maid wouldn’t have a name like Celine (although Barb would work). It’s great to see Hendricks shedding her sultry Joan image!

While period pieces combined with comedy can be a bit of a gamble, Another Period features a confident cast that really goes for it. What other show would have the gall to include a drinking contest between Annie Sullivan (Kate Flannery) and Keller (Shoshanna Stern, who looks an awful lot like Vanessa Bayer)?

Michael Ian Black, who plays the head butler named Mr. Peepers, steals the scenes he’s in with his one-liners (“Do you think I was named Mr. Peepers? I was once known as Mitch”), and David Wain and Brian Huskey play forbidden lovers looking for war as an excuse to get away (they can’t say what war except that it’s “an important one”).

The supporting cast is what will carry this series, with so much talent that it’s overwhelming. But if I had to choose any one character to focus on, it would be the Kim of the crew. Natasha Leggero has long been the supporting player (see her as Bunny on Reno:911), but it looks like she’s finally getting to play lead and do it well (“When I get done with her, being deaf and blind is going to be the leas t of her problems”). I can’t wait to see what they do with her leaked sex phonograph.

Another Period airs Tuesday nights at 10:30pm EST on Comedy Central. 

What does Jon Snow do after he loses the Game of Thrones? He plays wicked awesome tennis with Andy Samberg.

ABCs The Whispers is a show that, over the course of its first four episodes, has consistently intrigued me yet never fully captured my imagination. After a decent start, the series has meandered through its central storyline, delaying the promise of what I liked about the pilot. It’s biggest success has been, in my opinion, the evocation of what amounts to “kids are scary.”

Not just scary, but sort of invincible in their ability to (thanks to the assistance of the as of yet unseen entity “Drill”) completely fool every adult that stands in their way of winning his mysterious game. The latest outing has reinforced one of the central themes of the series: that adults really know very little about the world around them. And The Whispers goes a long way toward reinforced that idea almost weekly. 

Thus far, “Drill” has managed to con multiple children into stealing blueprints of an important nuclear power plant, create diversions exactly when needed, and put themselves into great danger all for his master plan. What is that plan? We aren’t exactly sure yet. The latest episode features a certain meltdown of the nuclear plant that effectively vaporizes into a puff of smoke with no adverse side effects. I suspect, by the end of the first season (or series, as of this writing the jury was still out on Season Two) “Drill” will actually prove to be something of a beneficial force, willing to expend resources (children and their parents) for some greater unseen good. This is, after all, still a Spielberg production. Time will tell…

The MVP of The Whispers remains Lily Rabe as the series plunges her into one dramatic situation after another. It’s embarrassing for the other actors, really, because they seem to only exist to revolve around her. To create foils and assistance for her character. Little else. Still, Rabe is more than capable of shouldering the weight of the show and has been a joy to watch. More annoying is the presence of Milo Ventimiglia as her estranged husband who has lost his memory but plays a part in “Drill’s” plans still. He does very little other than looking lost, looking menacing, and dropping to the ground in a seizure of some sort every now and again. He’s clearly a pawn, and Ventimiglia does little with the performance to convince otherwise.

So, if you’re not already invested in The Whispers (and many of you are judging from the live and DVR ratings – high for a summer show), then I’m not sure I would jump in and catch up. It’s a decent series, but it’s takes too long to reach obvious conclusions. It’s toys with our attention span and expectations in mostly negative ways.

Plus, if supernatural thrills is what you’re after, then you really should be watching FOX’s Wayward Pines. That’s where the real action is. 

Sign In

Reset Your Password

Email Newsletter