All good things must come to an end.
Last weekend, NBC’s Hannibal came to an epic and stunning close. And though many (including showrunner/creator Bryan Fuller) remain optimistic about the show’s eventual return, it’s probably safe to say it will be a good while before we again get to experience the series’ gorgeous visuals, stomach-churning gore and wondrous food porn.
In honor of the show’s phenomenal three season-run, below is a ranking of every Hannibal episode. It’s worth noting that, in revisiting many previous episodes, some have risen in favor since I initially reviewed them and some have dramatically decreased in favor.
So, let’s pour some Chianti and get to arguing.
39. “Shiizakana” (2.09)
To be fair, even the weakest episode of Hannibal stills boasts some unquestionably impressive elements. “Shiizakana” is no different. Unfortunately, it also features perhaps the most ridiculous killer-of-the-week in the series history—namely, a mentally deranged man who builds a mechanical animal suit for himself (say it with me—ManBearPig). Hannibal has always been a show unafraid to risk going hilariously over-the-top, but this just felt like a parody of a Hannibal episode that just happened to be a legit episode. One can just feel Bryan Fuller being antsy to move off the show’s more episodic structure in favor of diving into the more surreal, insular feel of the season’s latter half.
38. “Secondo” (3.03)
The episode that introduced audiences to Chiyoh, perhaps the most useless, half-baked character in the series history (I know Mason Verger has his haters, but even they will agree he’s at least entertaining in a crazy way). Indeed, the only thing saving this episode from being a complete slog is some of the Hannibal/Bedelia exchanges, particularly during their darkly comic dinner scene when Hannibal abruptly shoves an ice pick into their guest’s temple.
37. “Œuf” (1.04)
One of the series’ most infamous episodes, “Œuf” was removed from the NBC schedule entirely due to the fact that its subject matter (a group of kidnapped children are brainwashed into killing their families) bumped against the recent Sandy Hook tragedy. Considering this was one of the first season’s weaker entries, it might have been a blessing in disguise. That being said, the episode does feature a chilling turn from comedy actress Molly Shannon as the mastermind behind the murderous child cult.
36. “Naka-Choko” (2.10)
In the lead-up to a jaw-dropping season finale (more on that later), Season Two indulged in some definite slow stretches. “Naka-Choko” represents the epitome of such an episode. The biggest events that occur in this entry are the long-awaited introduction of Mason Verger and a head-scratching sex scene that takes some liberties with temporality. In between, it’s a lot of repetitive conversations about human nature and long-winded discussions about pigs, courtesy of Mason.
35. “Buffet Froid” (1.10)
Quite simply, this is an episode that is more memorable for its gross-out imagery (in this case, the killer slices their victims’ faces to form a Glasgow smile) than for what actually happens in the course of the hour. And it’s here where we reach a strange point in the list—despite its flaws, “Buffet Froid” remains an exceptional installment of television. From this point on, this list will mostly focus on which Hannibal episodes are truly great and which ones are just very good.
34. “Potage” (1.03)
Primarily, “Potage” concerns Hannibal and Will returning to Abigail Hobbs’ hometown and defending her from an angry relative of one of her father’s victims. The episode was perhaps more intriguing in those early days of Hannibal when fans were still sussing out exactly what kind of show this was going to be. In retrospect, with all the insanity and gore that was to follow, it now comes across as a bit low-key.
33. “Trou Normand” (1.09)
This is another episode that would have fallen into the “mostly notable for its stylish kill” category (a totem pole made of human bodies), if not for the added presence of celebrated horror/sci-fi character actor Lance Henriksen. Aside from that, I would be hard-pressed to find anything too exceptional about the main storyline. Elsewhere, however, a subplot involving Abigail unloading her dark secrets to Hannibal makes for a more memorable sequence.
32. “Fromage” (1.08)
As with most episodes of Season One, the specialized kill remains the major enticing element of “Fromage.” Here, a man is discovered with a cello neck shoved down his throat and his vocal chords powdered in such a way that you could actually make music with them. Likewise, anyone who ever found themselves being annoyed by guest star Dan Fogler’s loudmouthed antics will probably be satisfied with his character’s climatic fate (though, to be fair, he does give a good, effective performance here).
31. “Hassun” (2.03)
After the one-two punch of Season Two’s first episodes, “Hassun,” with its courtroom setting, is a bit of a low-energy palate cleanser. That being said, it’s still a very solid installment and offers at least one striking image of a de-brained judge character being strung up to look like the spitting image of Lady Justice.
30. “Sorbet” (1.07)
This is an exciting mid-Season One installment that, in the long run, exists mostly to point Will in the direction of Hannibal being the true Chesapeake Ripper. Sure there’s some organ harvesting and a heart extraction to spice things up, but it just can’t hold a candle to the truly sick stuff the series had shown us beforehand.