WARNING SPOILERS AHEAD!
Hannibal is a show with amazing aesthetics that not only look enthralling , but also serve to give insight into the personalities and hidden desires of the characters. Most television shows put costumes on their characters by simply choosing something that will look good, not bothering to use costumes to enhance the show’s storytelling. There are a select few costume designers who are working at such a level, namely Janie Bryant, who has designed for Deadwood and Mad Men, among many other shows. Christopher Hargadon, the costume designer for Hannibal, is the latest to join this rank. Taking a look at the first episode of the second season offers a prime examples of this once the meaning and usage of the costumes is deconstructed.
The first scene of the new season is a brutal fight between Hannibal Lector (Mads Mikkelsen) and Jack Crawford (Laurence Fishburne); a shocking and unexpected opening that leaps far down the narrative road within the series. But if we look beyond the action sequence, we can look into the minds of the characters (and pretend that we’re just like Hannibal! In that we will have psychological insight… no eating people…). In this scene, Hannibal is wearing a simple white striped shirt. This is a stark change from the bright jackets and ties that were his common look in the first season. He is in his kitchen, probably the room where he feels the most comfortable being himself (which is unsettling). He is not expecting anyone and is therefore dressed down. White is usually used to show youth and innocence. But in this scene, where we see Jack’s (eventual) knowledge of his crimes come to a climax, any semblance of innocence or tranquility comes crashing down around him. His white shirt becomes covered in blood, blotting out (forever?) the facade of guiltless detachment Hannibal has carefully cultivated.