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The first season of Bryan Fuller's Hannibal wasn't just one of the best new series last season, it was one of the best series on the small-screen, period. Although some were not initially taken with the idea of Thomas Harris' 'Red Dragon' being adapted for network television, it was clear from the very first serving that Hannibal was something special. And shame on the doubters, those familiar with Fuller's body of work would have known that the brilliant (yet twisted) mind behind Dead Like Me, Wonderfalls and Pushing Daisies could deliver a unique, compelling and oddly beautiful take on the iconic villain. Oh, and the lesser known, but equally important, troubled hero as well. Here's a tidy recap of Season 1...

The first season did an exceptional job weaving the episodic and serialized storylines, with the case of the week really just serving as a way to explore the budding 'bromance' between Hannibal Lecter and Will Graham (portrayed to perfection by Mads Mikkelsen and Hugh Dancy, respectively) as well as weaken the latter's state of mind with each dead body. An ongoing nightmare that pushed the boundaries of the procedural and brought horror with a delicious wit to network television.

Most of the creative team that made the first season such a treat will be back to ensure the quality doesn't slip, including Fuller (of course) and co-writers Andy Black and Scott Nimerfro in addition to exciting staff newcomers like X-Files alum Jeff Vlaming. Hannibal's aesthetically stunning style is also sure to continue, with Hardy Candy director David Slade (an executive producer on the show) one of a few filmmakers returning for seconds. And, as was the case with the writers, there are also exciting fresh eyes behind the camera including Vincenzo Natali (Cube) and Tim Hunter (Twin Peaks).

The first preview for Season 2 suggests that they assembled the right ingredients. And things are heating up. Sorry, I'll try to lay off the puns from here on out, they're just so tempting. Take a look...

The use of the MONA cover of Ben E. King's 'Stand By Me' was an inspired choice for the promo, a little bit haunting and a little over the top. As gruesome as Hannibal can get, and as you can see, it's only going to get bloodier, Fuller always keeps that tongue close to the cheek. I mean, just look at the charming Cooking with Hannibal tease made for the upcoming season. Or how he's named all of the second season's episodes after Japanese cuisine. (The first batch were all classical French.) Wonderful. The words and images that accompanied the eerie, bordering on cheesy, song were similarly powerful, especially those striking close-ups of our surviving characters.

Those that did make it out of Season 1 alive — Laurence Fishburne's Jack Crawford, Caroline Dhavernas' Dr. Alana Bloom, Hettienne Park's Katz, Scott Thompson's Price, Aaron Abrams' Zeller and yes, Lara Jean Chorostecki's Freddie Lounds — are all reprising their roles, however, the returning guest stars and several new faces are likely much more interesting. As far as the returning guest stars, Eddie Izzard will be back to terrify as Dr. Gideon, the murderer mistaken Chesapeake Ripper, and you can get a glimpse of both Gillian Anderson's Dr. Du Maurier, Hannibal's psychiatrist, and Raúl Esparza's Dr. Chilton, the man in charge at the Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane, in the latest trailer.
Here is another one from Sony Pictures Television for their South African channel that contains pretty much all the same footage without the annoying, bordering on parody of movie trailer narration. Just ignore the premiere date mentioned at the end...

The preview shows Dr. Chilton being as snively as ever, dying to get inside Will's mind, while Dr. Du Maurier seems to be coming to our trapped, but now clear headed hero's aid. Cynthia Nixon's Kade Prurnell has probably the biggest arc of all the new characters coming to Hannibal, overseeing the investigation into any oversights concerning Will's situation, however, she is hardly the most exciting. Sorry. It's just that new crime fighters are boring. Villains and canonical figures are what audiences care about! And there are a few doozies. Now I feel bad. Nixon is a doozie! She always does great work and will be a great addition to to series' rad array of female characters.

Jeremy Davies and Chris Diamantopoulos also have guest spots this season, the former playing an animal rescue worker slash suspect with the latter as his social worker who's possibly pulling the strings. But by far the most intriguing additions to Season 2 are MIchael Pitt and Katharine Isabelle. The Boardwalk Empire star is set to play the sadistic socialite Mason Verger with Isabelle as his younger sister Margot, who's forced to seek out counselling because of her brother's abuse. Can you guess who she sees for therapy?

Hannibal returns for its second season premiere, "Kaiseki," on Friday at 10:00 p.m. ET on NBC. Created by Bryan Fuller and based on the novel 'Red Dragon' by Thomas Harris, the series stars Hugh Dancy, Mads Mikkelsen, Caroline Dhavernas, Cynthia Nixon, Gillian Anderson and Laurence Fishburne.

Fine. Here's the premiere's fantastic cold open flash-forward fight scene even though I recommend waiting to watch it as part of the actual premiere. Who am I kidding, I didn't. Have at it...

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