I gave the pilot of this show an absolute pasting and then completely undermined myself by declaring my intention to watch the rest of the season anyway. Well, after 13 episodes and a lot of thought, I feel I can now absolutely conclusively state that the show is complete and utter codswallop.
All my concerns about the pilot were played out through the rest of the blessedly short season. NOTHING makes any sense. The crimes, the characters, the team, the medicine, the investigations, the relationships – they’re all so utterly ridiculous that they combine into a kind of bewildering soup of insanity. The veneer of art-house pretension applied over the top is nothing but a miss-direction, designed to make you think that any lack of understanding is purely your fault, you’re clearly just not smart enough for the series. But the high production values, stylistic lighting, jerky camera moves and delusions within delusions are all just slight of hand tricks to distract from the fact that the whole scenario is ridiculous and the plots a network of holes.
I’m sure the writers were aiming to convince us that the central trio of characters would form a fluid triangle, a continual shifting balance between Lecter the closet psychopath, Crawford the super-agent and Graham the super-empath which would enable two of them to solve crimes and one of them to commit them. Instead I was left wondering what the hell anyone was thinking. Lecter is the most annoying human being on the planet even before he starts eating his acquaintances, Graham is only passably functional at anything more complex than collecting stray dogs and the idea that anyone would let him be around students in the first place, let alone let him out in the field is ludicrous. Most useless of all though is Crawford, the worst FBI agent ever – he cheerfully encourages his cuckoo colleague to do more of the very things that drive him cuckoo and then berates him whenever he acts a bit odd. Meanwhile he’s dining regularly with a cannibal, utterly oblivious to the fact he’s not only a psychopath but a patronising, smug, manipulating and just generally unpleasant person to spend time with.
The thing is, the cases they’re investigating don’t really seem that hard either, it really doesn’t feel like they should require Graham to sacrifice his sanity, or the FBI to sacrifice their consultant budget. I don’t see that the unlikely trio brought any investigative or forensic skills to the table that would challenge even the CSI Miami team. For all the risk taking and pontificating, it still seems to me like most of the crimes were solved by fairly standard police work, performed by the long suffering trio of forensics experts who never even seemed to get names.
After careful and due consideration, I think this show was terrible. It drew attention by having outstandingly gruesome and graphic scenes, but lacked the detail and connectedness to give it any form of depth. The high profile acting talent involved (including Gillian Anderson, Gina Torres and Eddie Izzard) did as much as they possibly could, but their characters are unable to do or ask the most obvious of things for fear the plot will fall apart. I’m only thankful that it was only 13 episodes long.