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Emotion Recognition: Hannibal Edition

I had some fun with Microsoft’s Emotion Recognition project which helps you “identify emotions communicated by facial expressions in an image.” When I saw how it worked I wanted to try it on a TV show with quality acting so let’s see how it recognizes emotions in some Hannibal scenes. By Hannibal scenes I obviously mean big spoilers so proceed with caution.

Remember when Will tried to seduce Hanni earlier in the season with a new haircut and a sexy, subtle smile?

I love that he feels a little of everything in this scene. Beyond the “neutral” his expression says “happy to see you” but it’s followed by sadness along with tiny bits of contempt and anger. I could write essays about Will’s feelings but for now I’ll just say this one seems hella accurate. We know Will can find a way to feel sad about everything and especially considering how he hates pretense, the underlying sadness here makes a lot of sense. He wouldn’t be playing Hannibal’s game if he had any other chance but it’s how his transformation begins so it’s not all bad. (I can hear you say “Define ‘bad'”.)

One of my favorite moments from the whole show: when Mason stabbed Hannibal’s chair.

Of course Hannibal would be sad for the couch and disgusted with Mason because he’s Mason. But he’s also considerably happy because now he has a personal reason to kill him. Go for it, Hanni. I’ve got yo flower.

Remember Bedelia when she was this cool-headed & less stressed version of herself?

Her main emotions during her session with Hannibal are disgust and contempt. I wish that was enough to protect you from your curiosity and attraction to Hannibal, baby.

Another amazing moment was when Hannibal found out Will had lied to him about killing Freddie and he gave him another chance to leave together.

Bless Mads’ acting. Yes, under all that neutral “It’s okay, this is a normal conversation. I’m not planning a romantic murder,” pretense there’s that sadness, contempt and anger waiting to stab you. The happiness is probably because he’s looking at Will and that’s enough to be happy about.

This is when Alana came to shoot him later.

He was sad but he wasn’t sad enough to pardon her, basically.

Then this is what happened to Will’s face when Hannibal said they (he and Abigail) couldn’t leave without him.

Sadness, followed by contempt and happiness. That’s the face of someone who knows he’s in trouble but he’s kinda glad too? These relationships are clearly too complicated for consistent feelings.

Hannibal as he stabs Will:

(Be still, my heart.) What do we have here? Sadness, surprise, fear and anger with a side of disgust and contempt. If anyone could take a photo of me watching this scene I’m pretty sure they’d get the same mixture.

Bedelia’s face earlier in the season when she was with Hannibal in Italy.

Sad and surprised (let’s call it completely traumatized) with a strong mixture of contempt and fear.

Chiyo when she’s about to confront Hannibal:

She’s mostly neutral but there’s also a little bit of sadness, happiness and contempt there. I think there’s some kind of anticipation on her face but it’s not on the list.

Mads kills it with his superb acting in another scene where Hannibal surrenders:

His strongest emotions are sadness and fear. Aww, he was probably afraid he’d never see Will again. I also like that he’s a little angry and disgusted as well. I mean can you imagine the old Hannibal seeing himself like this? Surrendering to the FBI because of a dog loving empath? Yup, he’s caught emotions and he’s caught ’em bad.

Speaking of great acting, Hello, Caroline Dhavernas, I love you.

This is when Alana is haunted by Hannibal:

Her neutral expression is followed by fear, disgust, sadness and anger. Yup, that’s all I would be feeling if Hannibal promised to kill me.

Let’s have some cuteness. This is the scene where Molly was talking to Will on the phone:

She’s evidently a ball of pure happiness and who can blame her? She’s just happy. It’s her only emotion and it’s wonderful.

Not everyone’s been so lucky. See Reba’s face when Francis came out as a dragon.

She didn’t exactly have a great time after meeting him. Sadness and fear are strong here. I’m happy she survived the mess.

Will’s face after Hannibal says “When life becomes maddeningly polite, think about me. Think about me, Will. Don’t worry about me,” and it’s right before he tells Hannibal he basically tricked him into giving himself up.

He’s mainly sad but also angry with a dash of contempt, fear and disgust.

Oh Will, how don’t you explode with all that emotion?

The same scene and now it’s Hannibal’s face after Will says “You turned yourself in, so I would always know where you were. But you’d only do that if I rejected you.”

Contempt, sadness and anger. Sounds about right. Also “Heartbroken Cannibal” should be an emotion on its own.

Bedelia when Will tells her his plans about Hannibal in “Wrath of the Lamb”:

Sadness and fear. Which is why she lost her cool and called him “a twitchy little man”, and it was one of the most entertaining moments of the show but probably the reason why Hannibal just couldn’t let her go in one piece. I can almost hear him say “She called you what? Yep, we’re eating her.” (Just imagine him saying “yep”. Can’t be that difficult after the “mic drop”.)

Will’s seduction attempt vol 2:

This innocent looking cupcake turned out to be such a playa/flirty puppy.

Jack, after Will and Hannibal “fake” thir escape:

Disgust, sadness and anger. You’re the one who thought it was a good plan, Jack.

REGRETS ALL THE THINGS should be a feeling here.

Will, when Hannibal asks him if he’s going his way.

Best face ever, though I think “amusement” should have been an option here.

Later we’re exposed to Hannibal’s mixed emotions when Will says he isn’t sure if he can save himself and “maybe that’s just fine.”

I can feel his heart break.

These two make my heart/head/everything hurt.

And finally, the “It’s beautiful” scene:

Aaand happy cannibal is back. Of course it’s mixed with a little sadness and surprise because Will finally embraced him and his own dark side.


Verdict about “the emotion recognition”: For more accurate and detailed analyses there needs to be a wider set of emotions, especially confusion, worry, anticipation, amusement and contemplation would be useful. Other than that, I’ve found it mostly accurate and entertaining. Go ahead and have some fun with it.

Verdict about Hannibal: You know I adore this show. I miss this show. That is all. Don’t forget to check back for the Hannibal Special Recaps and gimme some love in the comment!


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6 thoughts on “Emotion Recognition: Hannibal Edition

  1. Very interesting! Though I don’t think the characters are quite as neutral as this emotion recognition technology seems to think… I’m so glad to hear that you plan to make more Hannibal recaps!

  2. I thought this was hilariously awesome. Everyone (except poor normal sweet Molly) registered mostly neutral because they were all playing this so deliciously, melodramatically close to the chest. Basically Hannibal outsmarted Microsoft because he’s JUST THAT GOOD. Love your recaps!

    1. Thank you! You’re definitely right, it’s because of the great complexity of their performances. Microsoft has a long way to go to recognize the hidden depths and subtlety of human emotions.

    2. Thank you! You’re definitely right, it’s because of the great complexity of their performances. Microsoft has a long way to go to recognize the hidden depths and subtlety of human emotions.

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