So: Hannibal 1×02, ‘Amuse-Bouche’

So. Hannibal 1×02, ‘Amuse-Bouche’, repeated again because the archive page won’t show the title for some obscure reason.

I think I was afraid that Hannibal might swiftly become a ‘murder of the week’ formula, so it was a pleasant surprise to see Crawford and Graham picking up where they had left off last time and trying to find the remains of Garret Hobbs’s victims. Really, though, should I have expected them to simply hare off to a new murder inquiry? Watching the reams of paper work in Hot Fuzz has taught me that police work is never that simple.

In addition, Abigail Hobbs is still very much in the picture, in body if not in spirit; she’s now in a coma from loss of blood, thanks to that parting gift of a slit throat from her daddy. Rather in the manner of taking in stray dogs, Will has very much taken this lost and orphaned girl into his heart, staying in her hospital room for quite a few nights as he has. But is his concern that of a rescuer, or that of the father he shot but who refuses to get out of sight and out of mind? The situation’s only more complicated by the revelation that Abigail could possibly have been complicit in her father’s murders – even if Graham is positive that Hobbs killed alone, that doesn’t necessarily mean he hunted alone.

Still, another case lurches out of the ground to scare unsuspecting hikers as well as the audience. The choice of soundtrack for this scene makes your skin crawl, discordant and overlaid with drips that turned into a gush, as a line of dead hands rose out of the earth with hypodermic needles embedded in each one. I though at once of corpse farms, places where the decomposition of bodies is studied…but the colonization of fungus in the bodies soon put that idea to rest, along with any hope that I will ever get around to liking mushrooms.

It’s a horrible thing to say, but I found the fungus riddled corpses to be slightly absurd as well as absolutely horrifying and gut-wrenching. That absurdity would continue throughout the episode – not that it ever kept me from enjoying what I saw, but there were little niggles nonetheless.

How, for instance, did new character Fredricka Lounds not only manage to get an appointment with Lecter – a highly regarded psychiatrist who must have a long waiting list of far more important (and wealthy) patients – but also manage to get one so quickly? Very little seems to suggest that a couple of weeks have passed, which would be a minimum amount of time that she would probably have to wait for such an opening. In addition, she also somehow managed to get her appointment scheduled right after Lecter’s meeting with Graham? Her connections could surely only do so much. Moving further along; why, after killer of the week Eldon Stammitz shot a man in front of Lounds in cold blood and interrogated her about Graham, did he not simply kill her as well? And how did she know what he was going to do; did he monologue about it, or did she simply come to that conclusion herself?

And, as Stammitz tried to make off with a comatose Abigail in order to do unto her as he did unto various diabetic victims, all in order to help Graham ‘make a connection’ with her – not Lounds’s professional sort, more the hive mind of the fungal kingdom –

-I pondered; is every killer that pops up on this show going to become fixated upon Will? Does every murderer now want to get inside Will’s head?

Lecter, at least, is already there. In his unrelenting need to understand Graham, he pushes and pushes until, in the final scene of the episode, Graham admits to both enjoying the experience of killing Hobbes, and being disgusted by those feelings. As a reward for being let into Will’s head, if only a little, Hannibal lets him into a little belief of his own – “Killing must feel good to God, too — he does it all the time. And are we not created in his own image?”

While I greatly enjoyed that quote, I think I might like his following statement, about God dropped the roof of a church on worshippers while they sang hymns, even more, paraphrased from The Silence of the Lambs as it is. Killing, for God and for Hannibal, is a power trip, and seeing that Will feels that same rush, however disgusted he might be by it, creates yet another type of connection between the pair. The ties that bind; Fuller wasn’t exaggerating when he called this a seduction.

Besides these incredibly vulnerable scenes – at least, vulnerable on Graham’s part – it’s interesting to see the two actually work together, debating the methods and motives of this episode’s killer. If there’s to be more of this, I’m definitely not complaining.

As for the scene between Lecter and Lounds…Lecter’s gradually increasing interrogation of her kept me on edge throughout. I knew that she couldn’t die here, not yet – and yet when Hannibal says ‘You’ve been terribly rude, Miss Lounds,’ I shivered. After all, Hannibal freely admits to having an appetite for the rude. When the shot cuts to a plate of white meat that’s recognisably pork…or possibly something else, I said out loud, “He can’t have eaten her already?!?”

But, bait and switch, it seems that Crawford’s meal with Lecter is completely legitimate; he lets Lounds go, only to be annoyed by her resulting article. Or is he amused? With this Lecter, it’s hard to tell. I shall continue to wait avidly for the dinner he throws for the Baltimore Philharmonic Orchestra.

Once again, I really do like the camaraderie between the forensic team, and their interactions with Will. Graham is clearly an outsider, and yet they readily consider what he has to say. They’re supportive and defensive of him; Beverly Katz (played wonderfully by Hettienne Park) in particular could be a great support in the episodes to come.

As for Lounds, first introduced from behind and, for some reason, naked while creating her latest blog – which certainly threw me for a loop; for a moment I thought she was another killer – Lara Jean Chorostecki does a fantastic job of creating someone willing to do anything to get what she needs for her next article, no matter what the cost might be or who she might hurt, without making you want to see Lounds become Lecter’s next meal. Yet.

I went into this episode wondering if I was going to like Freddie Lounds; I came out still wondering it. (And also wondering why she wasn’t dead; seriously, why didn’t Stammitz kill her?) You have to admire her dedication to her job and how unwilling she is to back down…

…but oh, was it satisfying to see Crawford puncturing her ego just that little bit. Dedication and strength of will can only dilute my annoyance at smug smiles to a certain extent.

I was gratified, too, that Dr Bloom was given more to do this time around, showing just how concerned she is about Will and the fairly healthy, if professional, relationship that they have.

Finally, the beauty of this episode, even in the most disturbing of places, still has the power to make me squeal. I will not deny it! The opening titles, where the three main characters’ faces are shaped by diluting blood, left me nodding vigorously; good, good. Once again we get a Graham backtrack, but this time with more than a hint of gold – perhaps to signify the forest environment but also possibly to match the colour of the fungi that’s grown on the bodies. Incidentally, I enjoy how Will’s deductions are more like revelations; he doesn’t realise them so much as exclaim them.

Then there were the visuals that filled the screen, such as the swirling birth of a galaxy that is, in fact, milk being added to coffee, and the stark blue and white of pills being funnelled into bottles. And there were the grotesque shocks – the fungus patch corpses all in a row, both before and after they were unearthed; the huge and terrifying stag walking past the doorway of Abigail’s hospital room, if only in Graham’s dreams; the flickering and dying of lights in the corridor; the blood spattered across Lounds’ face when the man confronting her is all of a sudden shot.

So the episode is a little implausible in places. So what? It’s a fine preparation, a first mouthful of what’s yet to come, and quite possibly an admonishment that we must keep an open mind. You think this is as good (and repulsive) as it gets? You have no idea what we’ve yet to serve up, so settle down and wait for ‘Potage‘.

I am never going to stop enjoying the episode titles – though, again, I’m curious as to what naming theme later seasons (oh please let there be later seasons!!!) will choose. If they get to The Silence of the Lambs, please choose terms to do with moths, Bryan Fuller!

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