NBC's fantastic HANNIBAL is many things: a gritty crime drama, a psychological thriller, an urban chiller, an art-house horror show, and twisted soap opera, all rolled into one unsettling mix.
And while the beauty of the narrative remains the transfixing battle of wits between FBI profiler Will Graham and furtive serial killing psychiatrist Hannibal Lecter, it's fair to say there's a grotesque and macabre beauty to the portrayal of how many of the show's victims met their end.
Naturally, this article won't be to everyone's taste. DO NOT READ if you can't stomach the sight of blood and gore. I'd also advise anyone under-18 to LEAVE NOW. Oh, and the following article contains HUGE plot SPOILERS for the entirety of Hannibal's first and second seasons (which hasn't finished in the UK at time of writing), so please bookmark this page and come back later. For those who have seen this show's first 26 episodes, here are its 26 grossest moments...
"Where did all his love go?"A naked woman called Elise Nichols was mounted onto a stag head's antlers and displayed in a field, with her lungs removed. It appeared to be the work of the Minnesota Shrike, but FBI profiler Will Graham suspected a copycat. This was quite a gruesome and iconic image for the show's first episode, and to think this was Hannibal easing audiences gently into its terrifying world...
"Tree man actually bears fruit..."Cty councilor Sheldon Isley was drowned and had his bodily organs removed (except for the lungs—again), before his corpse was surgically grafted inside a tree, then posed in a car park, with beautiful flowers replacing his missing body parts.
"I see the Ripper... but I don't feel the Ripper. This is plagiarism.A nurse at the Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane was attacked and impaled on numerous metal poles, after first having her eyes gouged out by the alleged Chesapeake Ripper—hospital inmate Abel Gideon.
"I... had... an episode... she said something was wrong with me. She was afraid of me. She ran away."A blackout-stricken Will Graham awoke and coughed up an ear belonging to surrogate daughter Abigail Hobbs, who's mysteriously gone missing. I've had bad starts to the day, too, but this one has me beat.
"I planned this moment, this monument, with precision..."Multiple chopped up corpses were tethered together into a totem on a cold beach, with the newest victim slain on the sand before having his head used as the grim construct's centrepiece. Someone really should have taught this guy the joy of a simple sandcastle and moat.
"Two cubic yards of oxygen suddenly became two cubic yards of fire."Cotard's syndrome sufferer Georgia Madchen died inside an oxygen rich chamber, after making the mistake of combing her hair, causing a static charge that sparked a fire and incinerated to a crisp. Oh, vanity's so cruel sometimes.
"Not only is justice blind... it's mindless and heartless."A janitor discovered a judge's blindfolded corpse, suspended in a court room by chains, holding a sword and a set of scales (weighted by his own brain and heart), with the top half of his head chopped clean off and the empty skull exposed. I've heard this was originally a scene intended for The Good Wife and the eccentric judge played by Jeffrey Tambor.
"You know, it is truly amazing how many organs the body can offer up before it really begins to suffer."Abel Gideon kidnapped Dr Chilton and performed abdominal surgery on him, removing organs he plopped into metal dishes, all without general anaesthetic. If he touched any intestines, Chilton's nose would buzz red. I'm guessing.
"This is a skilled musician... trying a new instrument."A Baltimore musician was killed and had a cello neck rammed down his throat; the arm protruding from his mouth and the strings visible through his oesophagus as "vocal chords". Just be grateful he didn't play the tuba.
"Do bees naturally hive in human carcasses like this?"The dead body of a man was discovered slumped against a tree, having been re-purposed as a human apiary by removing his eyes and part of his brain for bees to populate. Don't even think about where the honey secretes.
"I don't feel clean."Dr Sutcliffe (a neurologist friend of Lecter's) was given an extreme version of a glasgow smile, and his throat opened by scissors. This is one way to vent your frustration with surgery waiting lists, but I wouldn't recommend it.
"They call this the Colombian neck-tie. What do you think?"Abel Gideon cut Dr Carruthers's throat open and pulled the poor man's tongue through the fresh wound, resembling a ghoulish necktie to reporter Freddie Lounds. I'm guessing Gideon would have improvised something with testicles if he was a bow-tie kinda man... so think yourself lucky, Dr Carruthers!
"I pull her apart, layer by layer..."Dr Katz's strangulated body was frozen, then sawed into six vertical chunks, with each grisly section displayed in a transparent casing inside an observatory. Damien Hirst would have been very proud. Turner Prize in the bag.
"This isn't disdain. This is commemorating him."Parts of a serial killer's body were found worn by the skeleton of a prehistoric cave bear, creating a post-mortem human-animal hybrid. It's how he would have wanted to go. No, I'm actually serious.
"Is your social worker in that horse?"A strangled woman was found stitched inside a dead horse, before she was "reborn" by a vet who cut the sutures open. During her autopsy, a live bird was then found embedded inside the victim's rib cage. She was a kind of Human Kinder Egg. I was half expecting the birdie to have a cockroach inserted up its ass.
"I have to... remove this temptation."Sadistic child killer Mason Verger arranged a traffic "accident" for his own pregnant twin sister Margot, so he could force her to undergo surgery that will abort her unborn baby and ensure she can never have children in future. A quiet, brotherly word about condoms could have prevented a lot of emotional distress here.
"I want you to close your eyes, Will. Imagine what you would like to happen..."... well, dear Dr Lecter... Will imagines slashing your throat while you're suspended from a ceiling in a straight-jacket, letting your blood gush over his face, before activating a pulley system that lowers you into a metal maze containing pigs trained to eat human flesh by a child killer. What, you expected rainbows and cute kittens?
"I can't feel anything."A man undergoing acupuncture found himself paralysed by his nutty doctor, who proceeded to lobotomise him using a sharp implement inserted beneath his left upper eyelid. The client was left to wander around a local park as a mindless, eyeless zombie. I'm guessing his treatment was also overpriced.
"He isn't mocking them... he's transforming them."The flayed bodies of a couple were posed at the foot of a motel room bed in mock prayer, with "angel wings" carved out of their backs and suspended in place using fishing wire and ceiling hooks. Just spare a thought for the maids who have to clean this shit up. They're on minimum wage, too.
"Now I'm going to ask you a few yes or no questions, while you still have enough blood coursing through your veins to answer them. Ready?"Lecter was captured by serial killing orderly Matthew Brown while enjoying a late-night swim; who cut his wrists open before hanging him from a noose while standing on a rickety metal bucket. No, it wasn't because Lecter has been peeing in a public baths.
"My compliments to the chef."Abel Gideon's left leg was amputated by Dr Lecter, who cooked it in clay and invited Gideon to eat his own limb as the main course of a dinner he'd prepared them both. Well, it would be bad manners to refuse. Just don't ask what's for dessert, okay?
"Wade into the quiet of the stream..."Lecter ripped Will's stomach open with a blade, then slashed his surrogate daughter Abigail's throat open, leaving them both to die in pools of blood in his kitchen... close to where Jack Crawford was nursing an arterial neck bleed inside a wine cellar, and Dr Bloom lay dying outside after being pushed out a window. Do NOT invite this man onto Come Dine With Me.
"May I use your shower, please?"The fate of the missing Abel Gideon was finally revealed to Dr Chilton, who discovered his former patient on a bed wired to a drip keeping him alive, having had his arms and legs incrementally carved off and eaten as steaks. Lecter must have ordered takeaway.
"You find any shiitakes?"Nine comatose diabetics were buried in woodland, fertilised in a high-nutrient compost to quicken their decomposition. Sugar-water was fed to them intravenously via their exposed hands on the soil's surface, to help keep them alive as human grow bags. It was a sickening way to go, but I hear the FBI canteen had the yummiest mushroom soup on the menu for weeks after.
"I'm full of myself! HAHAHAHAHA!Lecter gave Mason Verger drugs to induce an altered state of consciousness, allowing him to persuaded the meat magnate to self-mutilate his own face; carving chunks off to feed Will's rescue dogs, and even eating his own nose when he got hungry.
"He survived what was done to him... tore himself free... ran..."A serial killer was harvesting bodies that he stitched and glued together, forming a human collage of a large eye, perceptible only from the roof aperture of an empty grain silo he stores them in. This is what art college does to some people, so think on.