Confession time – or at least, I would call this confession time if I didn’t know that most of my fellow audience was doing the same – I spent a good deal of this episode laughing.
Not the flat out laughing I’m plagued with when watching blooper reels or certain panel shows with UK comedians – I am a very easy soul to please – but a constant refrain of “Oh no!“ fighting its way through hysterical giggles. Plus some genuine amusement as well. I couldn’t help it!
Hannibal’s black humor has never been more evident than this episode, and that’s because quite a lot of ‘Sorbet’ is devoted to Lecter as he prepares for a dinner party he’s due to host, after a plea from a colleague – played so well by Ellen Greene – at a charity concert. (Said charity concert was in aid of Hunger Relief. The irony. You know by now what it does to me.) I won’t say that this is the most we’ve ever seen of Hannibal in one episode, but I do think it’s the most time we’ve ever seen him interacting with people other than the main cast, or just doing things by himself – which just so happens to be preparing for that special evening. We’re taken through what, for Lecter, is a ‘normal’ few days, as he:
- Engages in recreational activities that make him weep and actually give a standing ovation – causing my first laugh of the evening, as the scene for some reason started inside the opera singer’s throat so that we got a lovely look at what I presume were her vocal cords. (From the trailer, I though that when she did show up she’d be singing ‘Vide cor meum‘, but nope. Perhaps later on.) “What the hell? Oh no, oh no!”
- Deals with persistent patient Franklin. Lecter’s visible discomfort when coming into close contact with him got, if not a laugh, then some righteous amusement from me. So often Lecter has made me feel discomfort; now I take joy in his. What goes around comes around. “Oh no, Franklin. No! Well, all right, make him feel a little more disgusted with you!”
- Goes to see his own psychiatrist (and friend?) Bedalia du Maurier, played by the ever wonderful and perfect Gillian Anderson, where she proceeds to get under his skin, somewhat. A surreal experience to see Lecter under analysis this week! I was a tad disappointed with Anderson’s role in this; she was fantastic, of course, but I thought she would have more part to play in the episode than merely one scene. Still, what a scene it is! Bedalia du Maurier – I love that name, I will take the opportunity to write it as often as possible – is not fooled by Hannibal for one instant. She knows he’s wearing a mask or, rather ‘a personal suit’, but hopes that the person inside will get what they need from her without further comment. This might not, in the long run, be Bedalia du Maurier’s wisest decision.
- Goes…’grocery shopping’. Oh, this scene. This scene will be infamous. And it deserves to be. It will take a lot to top seeing Lecter go through his recipe box, go through his business card index, choose respective courses from each, set off, bring home the bacon – so to speak – prepare the raw materials, parcel them up and put them in the fridge. He repeats this process not once, not twice, but four times, counting that remarkably rude medical examiner he waylays on the road. (And this is just the stuff we see; his fridge is pretty packed by the end.) Every time you think he couldn’t possibly go any further, while secretly anticipating the Rule of Three, here comes another organ, another slice, another chunk popped into the blender!
- The ironic cuts to Lecter’s cooking also have their own dark humor. One of the victims of the ‘Chesapeake Ripper’s’ latest rampage is missing a spleen; under the mistaken apprehension that the organs are being stolen for medical purposes, one of the team asks in bewilderment: “Who gets a spleen transplant?” And then we all cringe behind our hands – or at least I do – as Lecter whacks on the blender. I don’t know if that was a spleen in there, but there was a good deal of red. And all this loving preparation is carried out to a bombastic operatic soundtrack, showing how much Lecter is delighting in all this and enjoying this harvest. A whole lot of “Oh no“s found their way into the world here, when I managed to stop laughing. “Oh no, oh no, oh god no!”
(Although, really, does everything that Lecter eats – and serves up to other poor unsuspecting fools – have to be human? Could he not add a little variety by having some actual legitimate lamb or chicken in there? For instance, I love love love beef, but I certainly wouldn’t want to eat it every night of the week.
Also, different types of animals taste very different from each other, no matter if they’re red meat or white. My admittedly limited experience with gourmet food means I believe you are not going to mistake chicken liver pate for pork liver pate – or ‘long pork’ liver pate, for that matter – any time soon. Isn’t someone going to get suspicious about all these strange tastes at some point? Although at least Lecter is mainly using the organs, and not the cuts of muscle so much.)
Anyway, back to Lecter’s schedule:
- He has another distasteful meeting with Franklin, and then awaits Graham with eagerness, perhaps even anticipating the highlight of his evening – only for Will not to show up. Alas and alack! Lecter’s evident disappointment, confusion, frustration and general put-out-edness makes the audience giggle. Lecter goes to his desk, moves the radio remote exactly so, checks the time, then decides to go hunt himself a Graham, with a definite ‘Nobody stands up Hannibal Lecter’ vibe. “Pfffffffffffffff oh no!”
- Humorously for Lecter, less so for us, our cannibal of the hour (45 minutes if we’re going to get technical) is almost certainly baiting Jack Crawford. He flat out asks if finding Miriam Lass’s arm last episode humiliated Crawford, blatantly stroking his own ego and enjoying his own little torment of a man he both seems to sympathize with and dislike, for some reason.
- Accompanies Graham, Crawford et all on a little trip, and saves a man’s life after he suffered the attentions of the killer of the week without even raising a sweat, although he does take off his coat and lets us bask in the glory of his waistcoat, as he shares meaningful glances with Graham across the patient.
- Incidentally, isn’t it just so handy that there’s a killer who appears to have the same modus operandi as the ‘Chesapeake Ripper’ and thus can be confused with him, even if it turns out to be an ambulance medic who just wants to help, and generally makes things a whole lot worse?
- Gets some staff in to help him with his dinner party on the night, and graciously accepts Graham’s present of wine, and smiles in the knowledge that Graham is becoming more willing to confide in him and is even grateful, he seems to have gotten away with it for now by setting his pets on another track, and Jack Crawford is more emotionally distraught than ever. All in all, it’s been a good few days.
- And it’s crowned by whoah!!!!!!!
- That…that is a lot of meat.
- Hannibal Lecter finishes off the episode by warning his guests, and the audience, that “Nothing here is vegetarian.” Hysterical cackles once again reign supreme. “Oh no, oh no, oh no, oh hell no!”
(I’m curious: A) So, what, not even the vegetables? Or the fruits, counting those tomatoes you’ve got shaped into roses there. Then again, I wouldn’t put it past him. As cleolinda says, by now everything is people. http://cleolinda.livejournal.com/1043468.html
B) What if some of the guests are vegetarian? How are you going to trick them into unwittingly consuming the flesh of their own species, unless you’ve made a jelly? Which I don’t think you have this time around.)
Despite the dark and dangerous hilarity to be found in Hannibal’s oh so busy week, there’s also a quiet soberness. The episode itself opens with Graham giving a lecture on the ‘Ripper’ and Miriam Lass’s disappearance, and once again, though she only appears for a few flashes this time around, she hangs over the episode like a ghost. Her effect is enough to get even Crawford to start seeing things, with a hallucination of a dead and cadaverous Will, complete with autopsy scar and significant missing arm, sitting up on the morgue table and staring at Crawford with clouded, accusing eyes.
Crawford takes it fairly well, I think. It takes more than a vision of his dead subordinate rising from the morgue and making baleful eye contact to shake him.
Also, why does everyone have to use other people’s full names? Why does Crawford say to get ‘Will Graham’? You know who you are talking about! Beverly knows who you are talking about! (Incidentally, kudos to Beverly for essentially finding the killer. You are a fabulous character, let me see more of you, please.) You don’t need to use Graham’s full name!!! Say Graham, say Will, but please don’t feel the need to say Will Graham every time! I am exaggerating, of course, but still.
The episode also harks back to the season premier, ‘Aperitif,’ with Graham missing his aforementioned appointment with Lecter for a hallucination in which he sits out in a field with Abigail Hobbs – a bit of a shock, we haven’t seen her in a while – and with a certain lady skewered on antlers set between them. Graham’s desire to connect with Abigail is granted, if only in dreams, when she calls him ‘dad’ – but this is not a healthy scenario in the slightest; Graham’s desire to dream while he’s awake is in a hope that he can escape the monstrous creature of his dreams that can follow him even into his sanctuary.
What’s worse, unbeknownst to him, Lecter is subtly directing and manipulating him under the guise of advice, hedging him in one direction in order to hide his own tracks. Seeing Graham present a bottle of wine to Hannibal is adorably awkward, but it’s also just straight up awkward as we see a man who’s become that much more invested in the one who’s purposefully deceiving him and directing him to his own ends.
Still, the seeds have been laid; Graham’s now gotten a first hand look at Lecter’s surgical skills, and he’s now of the firm opinion that there was only ever one Ripper. The ‘Chesapeake Ripper’ might very well have ultimately doomed himself by saving a man’s life, for a change.
For me, the most important scene in this episode is one where Graham has a little monologue, taken almost word for word from Red Dragon, about what he thinks of the ‘Ripper’: “I think of him as one of those pitiful things sometimes born in hospitals and they feed it, keep it warm, but they don’t put it on the machines, they let it die. But he doesn’t die. He looks normal and no one can tell what he is.” It’s a far more damning and even more accurate dissection that Bedalia du Maurier’s earlier comments about Hannibal’s’ suit’.
For all our enjoyment of the interactions between Will and Hannibal, for all that Hannibal’s cooking and his methods of getting ingredients makes us laugh (because if you don’t, you’re going to cry, or flee), for all that Hannibal seems to yearn for some kind of agreeable contact – as shown when he flees to Bedalia du Maurier after his first session of the episode with Franklin, or his dashed expectations of an evening with Graham -for all that Lecter seems genuinely invested in his relationships with Graham and Alana Bloom and Abigail Hobbs, if only to see what makes them tick and how far he can push them, Graham most definitely reminds us:
Lecter’s charming, Lecter’s sophisticated, Lecter’s amusing and Lecter is a monster.
We acknowledge this – but still, when Lecter tells us “Bon appetit”, what can we say but “Yes, Dr Lecter, oh yes!” (Hysterical giggle.)
Next time: Hannibal 1×08, ‘Fromage’ : It appears we will be seeing more of Gillian Anderson, hooray! Someone has a rather unfortunate accident with a string instrument. Ouch. Graham and Bloom kiss. Someone attacks Graham with what appear to be strings, but knowing this series is probably going to be vocal cords. (I heard somewhere that a murderer on the show was going to be cutting out vocal cords; if so, good foreshadowing with the opera singer.) And, oh my! It’s monster versus monster, as Hannibal himself confronts the killer of the week! That should hopefully bring in the crowds.