'Hannibal' on NBC: What Motivates Dr. Lecter?

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Season 1 of "Hannibal" ended with a game-changing conclusion and major revelations. One of the most shocking moments in the finale episode, "Savoureux," was the sight of Hannibal (Mads Mikkelsen) crying. What did those tears really mean? What motivates Hannibal to behave this way? Why does he do what he does?

Bryan Fuller speaks out about Hannibal's motivations

"Hannibal" executive producer and showrunner Bryan Fuller explained in an interview that Hannibal's feelings for Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) are entirely sincere. He says that Hannibal views Will as a real patient, undergoing a highly unorthodox (you can say that again!) form of therapy. The therapy is intended to turn Will into a murderer -- what Hannibal views as the purest form of something that already exists inside of him -- and an equal.

Despite the fact that Will seems to be Hannibal's opposite (hyper-empathetic as opposed to non-empathetic), Fuller suggests that Hannibal feels a real sense of friendship toward Will. Fuller even implies that the tears Hannibal has shed for Will and Abigail Hobbs (Kacey Rohl) are genuine, although perhaps for different reasons than those Hannibal voiced to his own therapist, Dr. Bedelia Du Maurier (Gillian Anderson). Is that even possible?

What seems to motivate Hannibal, based on the show?

While watching tears stream down Hannibal's cheeks, some viewers reacted to the scene with anger, accusing Hannibal of faking the emotions in order to save his own skin. That would definitely be the proper reaction toward a sociopath.

If Hannibal is a sociopath, then his feelings toward Will would be fake. He would feel no empathy for Will nd would definitely not want to prop up Will as an equal, as Fuller suggested. His motivations would be closer to what they appeared to be while watching the show and what Will suspected by the finale: a need to come out on top and a need to fulfill his curiosity about the empathetic Will Graham.

Could this version of Hannibal exist in real life?

The real question is whether it would be possible for a person who feels any sense of caring for another person to kill innocent people and eat their organs. Perhaps there could be exceptions to the rules, but it is highly unlikely.

The more likely scenario would be for Hannibal to be a pure sociopath. He does not care for Will Graham but merely wants to fulfill his curiosity about him and control him (or at least beat Will at the "game" as Hannibal sees it, so he can continue killing).

But then again, it's just a TV show. Perhaps giving Hannibal an impossible sense of caring or even remorse will simply make the show more interesting for viewers who have difficulty understanding someone who feels nothing other than hatred for others.

It may not be realistic, but surrealism is part of the appeal of the show to begin with. Everything within the show is dreamlike and artistic. Perhaps Hannibal's psyche is part of the show's creative license, and makes him even more terrifying and difficult to predict than he would be if he were a real person.


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