Man’s best friend is usually used to soften a character in fiction; well, they can’t be all that bad, their dog loves them. But in Bryan Fuller’s dearly departed Hannibal, Will Graham’s pack of dogs does all that and more.
When we first meet Will in the pilot, we see him mentally recreating a murder he’s investigating, a visual representation of his ability to empathize with and understand killers. It is unsettling to say the least. On the way home, though, he picks up a lost dog. By the transitive property of doggos, we can start to relax. Dogs trust this guy! He’s probably okay!
Until Will gets home and introduces the newly christened “Winston” to his five other dogs. Now, I love every single dog, but why does Will have six dogs, which is only legal in Virginia if your property is 20,000 square feet? Was Winston actually in need of rescue or did Will pick up someone’s runaway pet and decide “this is mine now”? Is Winston’s real family out looking for him right now, not realizing that their efforts are futile? Is this why this town is called Wolf Trap?
Over the course of the series, Winston and company serve as a silent, fluffy Greek chorus for Will’s ever-tenuous mental state. He cares for them (behold Ferocious Dog Dad Will defending Buster from danger!) and they care for him (they try to wake him up when he sleepwalks and also they love him unconditionally). Oh, and they show an extreme affinity for human flesh, if their eagerness for a chemically altered Mason Verger slicing off pieces of his face to feed them is any indication.
Cuteness, empathy, and foreshadowing? Good dogs. Very good dogs.