Did NBC's Hannibal Whet Your Appetite?

Hannibal - Season 1Is Hannibal to your taste?

NBC’s Silence of the Lambs prequel made its bloody debut Thursday at 10/9c. Just like in the Thomas Harris novels, the titular character is a genius psychologist who also happens to be a cannibalistic serial killer – except no one knows that yet.

Mads Mikkelsen (Casino Royale) plays Hannibal as an aesthete, an educated man who takes great pride in his colorful attire, office furnishings and, uh, refined palate. He’s brought into the action when the FBI recruits the services of Will Graham (Hugh Dancy, The Big C), a brilliant, odd FBI profiler who “can empathize with anybody” but has trouble turning that gift off.

The bureau – represented by Jack Crawford (Laurence Fishburne) — needs Will’s “very specific way of thinking” to catch a serial killer targeting college girls. Jack also needs someone to make sure Will doesn’t succumb to the horrors he faces, and so he enlists Lecter to act as emotional ballast for the young special agent.

As the two men discuss and eventually investigate the gruesome deaths, they form a working relationship that hints at a budding friendship – well, as much of a friendship as a socially anxious loner on the autism spectrum and a smug psychopath can forge. (A typical conversation – over a breakfast that may or may not include sausage made from people (!) — has Will telling Lecter, “I don’t find you that interesting” and getting the reply, “You will.”)

Mikkelsen’s Hannibal seems helpful. But when he tips off the killer moments before the FBI closes in – leading to a gory shootout that leaves Will shaking and splattered with blood — we’re reminded that he’s decidedly not one of the good guys.

Caroline Dhavernas (Wonderfalls) co-stars as Dr. Alana Bloom, an FBI psychologist who recommends Lecter for the job. Future episodes will include several appearances by other folk from Pushing Daisies and Dead Like Me which, like Wonderfalls, were created by Hannibal executive producer Bryan Fuller.

In the end, Hannibal is definitely not for the squeamish — later episodes make The Following seem like Sesame Street – but Will’s nightmare dreamscapes and detached profiling technique are just as scary as (and far more eerie than) the murders themselves.

That’s what we think, but what’s your take? Grade Hannibal via the poll below, then hit the comments to back up your choice!