I’ve found the current season of Hannibal strong and compelling and unsettling and frustrating. As a great admirer of Thomas Harris and his creations, I’ve found it tempting and difficult throughout the series to reconcile Harris’ vision with Bryan Fuller’s, though I know it’s best not to try.

The past couple of episodes in particular seemed to focus on shock value…violence for violence’s sake. The incongruous beauty of slow motion blood drips and Hannibal’s meal preparations all but replaced with Mason Verger’s visceral thirst for revenge and his sister and therapist’s subtly blatant affair didn’t sit well for me. Something I love about Thomas Harris’ writing is his fine touch with sophisticated violence. The TV series has always been sophisticated in a different way, with its violence both surreal and artistic. I feared all of that was being lost.

Then tonight the series fast forwarded itself three years. Events shifted drastically and it was as if the entire construct righted itself and came back into sharp focus. The Red Dragon was born.

And The Tooth Fairy, with his bloody murders and obsession with reflection, appeared. Finally we get to the book the series is based upon and so far I am not disappointed. Richard Armitage is emerging as a formidable opponent for Will, the FBI, and Hannibal’s great mind.

As an aside I now feel I know more about tattooing that I ever have before. Suffice it to say that after seeing the process so close up, it’s pretty amazing that the end result is often very beautiful.

While the past couple of weeks of Hannibal left me wondering what happened to this series I admire so much and diving deep into think-of-it-as-alternate-reality-Doctor-Lecter mode, the hour I just watched left me wanting more. I read somewhere that Bryan Fuller has said this season is the story he really wanted to tell. Going by the latest episode, I’ve decided it’s also a story I really want to see play out. I’m so sorry Hannibal has been cancelled, and I’m equally grateful the network is airing the final episodes. I hope it goes out with the same fascinating blend of beauty and horror it thrilled us with from the start.