I wouldn’t hold out hope for that scene, TBH, because the information is built in. It’s not necessary to spend the screen time that way: we already know it’s an unhealthy and scary relationship because it’s with Hannibal Lecter, and even if we’d no idea what he was at the beginning of watching the show, we’ve got a pretty darn clear idea of it by now.
I would assume they’re at least partially using modifiers like “sexy” and “hot” in their descriptions just to titillate, knowing that their internet audience is into that kind of thing…which you know—you’ve been on Tumblr.
But I would also expect that, on the show, they are going to make it hot and sexy and romantic and even fulfilling and tender and meaningful—all the things that ought to make it a good relationship, if it weren’t with Hannibal Lecter—because therein lies the horror of it.
Hannibal's brand of horror is based on a psychological concept called cognitive dissonance, which is that disturbed feeling you get when you believe or want to believe in something that conflicts with something else you know to be true. They use it in all the important aspects of the show: the death tableaus are both horrible and sad and beautiful; the food looks both delicious and grotesque and, um, full of people; Hannibal is both completely sincere and continually lying and obfuscating; and his relationships are all complicated by conflicting feelings, actions and desires. Hannibal loves Will but still does everything he does to him, Hannibal admires Bella’s choice to die but still betrays it, he was in many ways a good father figure to Abigail but, obviously…. Other relationships are frustratingly similar: Jack cares for Will but still uses him, Alana cares for Will but refuses to trust him or engage with him, etc.
We know this causes cognitive dissonance because we’ve all seen the many posts about how Hannibal is someone’s baby but such a big bag of dicks, and how frustrated people are that the food looks so good and yet is people, and how the death tableaus are both fantastic and really disturbing. It’s the sense of dissonance that causes people to post about these things, that makes them step back and create a comic from those scenes, that sometimes makes people write joking text posts about just how angry they are about how much they love something, that motivates them to write certain types of fanfic, like fluff or crack, to take the edge off. it’s what makes Hannibal something that you can’t help but think about when you’re not watching it, because the brain always desires to alleviate cognitive dissonance, to return to place of peace, and that can’t be done with Hannibal.
With Hannibal and Alana, my guess is that the relationship will have all the hallmarks of a healthy relationship because that is why it is so awful. The horror comes from the dramatic irony, all the things that you know that Alana can’t know.
And the integrity of Alana’s character really needs for it to go this way, IMO, because Alana is an intelligent and strong woman, and I think they want to continue to depict her in this way. If she maintains a relationship that’s unhealthy in obvious enough ways that her character can perceive it, if she doesn’t break up with the man, she’s going to appear to the audience (rightly or wrongly) as either foolish or weak. It’s fine for the audience to know how horrible it is, but it won’t work for her character (or probably any other characters but Will, and he’s not going to want to warn her for fear of getting her killed) to be able to tell.
Similarly, Hannibal’s character needs for it to have the appearance of the relationship being healthy, or he wouldn’t look like the master manipulator that he is, able to see into the deep recesses of anyone’s heart. Additionally, the cognitive dissonance we receive from Hannibal comes from the frustrating truth that he really does care for her, and the show will probably play up to that.
I think you should have more faith in both the showmakers and in the audience—and, perhaps, in yourself. You seem to be afraid that they will advertise a relationship based in deceit as a healthy relationship, and that people will believe that that’s true and…go out and get into a relationship with someone who is deceitful because it just looks so romantic? Or make excuses for their deceitful partner because it looked so romantic on Hannibal? But we know this is going to end badly, every last one of us, and it’d be a real stretch to pretend otherwise.
The only people who are going to be deceived are the people on the show. You know it’s unhealthy. The audience knows it’s unhealthy—the Tumblr community likes to joke around, ship, and write fluff, but they know it’s unhealthy just as they know Hannigram is. The showmakers also know it’s horrible. That’s why they’re engaging in it.
None of us need a picture to tell us that it’s horrible any more than we needed a scene of Hannibal killing someone in “Aperitif” to know that was people on his plate next to the pomegranate.
If anything, the message is that people we’ve known and trusted for years may not always have our best interest at heart, even when they appear to love and care for us. That’s not romanticizing an abusive relationship: it’s a warning to be careful who we trust.
This post is brilliant.
I also love how Supernatural snuck in there with the “big bag of dicks”.