Before I start this review, I must say that I’m rather surprised at people saying they must suspend their disbelief at the ‘human totem pole’
and the killer who managed to raise it by himself, after everything else that has happened in this series. This is, after all, a show in which
- a murderer managed to spirit his latest victim back into her bed without anyone noticing,
- another murderer set up a strange mushroom farm in a handy forest
- Lecter and Abigail managed to get a dead body out of a house that was surrounded by police (again without anyone noticing)
- ‘Oeuf’….just ‘Oeuf’ as an episode in general
- the ‘Angel-Maker’ somehow managed to string himself up in his barn after flaying open his own back
- Lecter made beer from Miriam Lass’s arm
- Lecter then went on to serve a banquet where everything on the table is human, except the tomatoes (and I am deeply suspicious about the tomatoes)
- and the last killer but one cut a man’s throat open, treated the vocal chords with various concoctions, stuck the neck of a string instrument down his throat and proceeded to play him like a cello.
I think we long ago passed the point where suspension of disbelief was an option. Actually, forget passing it, disbelief was being dangled over a cliff edge from the very opening of the show. And that’s not a bad thing. Besides, did Archimedes not say, ‘Give me a lever and a place to stand and I will move the earth’?
As is often the case with the murder of the week in Hannibal, the killer is very much secondary to the plot, merely yet another experience to leave Graham traumatized and shivering and, at this stage of the proceedings. Somehow in Lecter’s waiting room. The three and a half hour journey from the beach to said waiting room is nowhere to be found in his memory banks.
(Much significance, no doubt, can be attached to the drop of blood that falls on his face before he comes out of his ‘design’, rather similar to ‘Potage’ when Abigail was alerted to the fate of her friend, who I now realise is called Marissa. Marissa, Larissa, po-tay-to, po-tah-to.)
Getting back to the subject in hand; while the killer had a relatively small role in the episode, only turning up very near the end with only one scene, Lance Henrikson sells that one scene for all its worth. Although disbelief is now suspended screaming over a chasm when it comes to accepting that this man could have erected the totem pole and all that was strapped to it on his own, being as feeble and frail as he is no, bad skepticism, bad! Look at the marvelous acting, delight in his smugness being punctured, laugh that the murderer actually killed his own son, as if that means something!
Rather more pertinent to the overarching story arc is Graham’s gradual breakdown over the course of the episode: whether it’s his honestly heart-breaking panic at the aforementioned jaunt to Lecter’s office, his reluctance to come clean to Crawford – which I really don’t blame him for; Crawford is a rather unsympathetic being, as a certain young woman finds out – his tender but firm rejection by Alana (so apparently the kiss really did happen last week – unless this is a hallucination too?) his dismay at his daughter-figure teaming up with his tabloid-blogger nemesis, and his even more painful realisation of what exactly the girl he’s devoted himself has been doing behind everyone’s back.
Once again I stand amazed at his powers of recovery; he’s like a mental version of Captain Scarlet – although judging by next week’s episode…but I’m getting ahead of myself here.
One character that I was glad to see again makes it back onto the screen after a whole month, even despite the pulled episode. Yes, after my wondering of where oh where she could be, Abigail Hobbs is back, and in dire need of funds after the families of her father’s victims clean her out financially by way of suing the Hobbs family for ‘wrongful deaths’.
Ummm…brief aside here; is what I just said actually legal? I know nothing about law whatsoever, but I went looking on the internet for answers, and as a result I know that the families were within their rights to sue Hobbs for their daughters’ deaths…but, since he’s dead, are they entitled to sue the Hobbs’ family? Or Abigail, for that matter, since although she’s a suspect, she hasn’t been legally declared culpable along with her father? I’m really curious here.
In any case, Abigail is broke. And who should come along but the righteous, upstanding, caring Freddie Lounds, with the bright idea to help Abigail write a tell all book about her experiences. Although, how does Freddie know Abigail is broke before Abigail herself does? Surely, despite being in the hospital, she would have been told about all the people successfully draining her dry of funds? Well, a girl’s got to eat, so she’s all the more eager to reveal the truth to people.
Will and Hannibal, they are not happy about this. They try to deal with the problem in different ways, with varying amounts of success. Oh, and Nicholas Boyle (deceased) returns from wherever Lecter and Abigail buried him.
Oh, and it very quickly turns out that Abigail dug him up herself because he was haunting her dreams, and Bloom defneds her to Crawford because ‘Hannibal has no reason to lie about this!!!!’ (oh Alana, you are going to be kicking yourself come season 3) and Lecter accuses her of breaking his trust, and Graham realises, horror of horrors, that Abigail killed Nicholas and confronts Lecter, and Lecer convinces him not to tell for Abigail’s sake, and Graham and Freddie trade passive aggressive barbs over the dinner table, and Abigail breaks down in the kitchen (presumably once Graham and Lounds have departed) and admits that she helped draw in the girls for her father to kill, and Lecter reveals he already knew, and hugs her and shushes her and brushes her hair, and it’s all very adorably creepy.
It says a lot when a story line with a human totem pole, that has a man folded in half – the difficult way – atop it, and Lance Henriksen as the killer of the week…is the less interesting story line in an episode.
But then, Hannibal has always been very much about the mental games between the characters as it is around the gruesome visuals and gorgeous shots. And we get some splendid scenes tonight; Lecter’s various interrogations of Abigail over the length of the episode are harrowing, unnerving and yet, towards the end, allow him to show an oddly caring side. Is he being sincere when he emotionally manipulates Graham into keeping Abigail’s secret, about the two of them ‘being her fathers’? Is forming a family something he honestly wishes for, a daughter and a true friend and companion to make an unholy trifecta? Who knows, but it’s a concept he certainly seems to investing time, effort and even emotion towards, as he swears to Abigail that “Will and I – we will look after you.”
Meanwhile, Abigail. Oh, Abigail. Now we know where that manipulative side comes from. “It was either them or me,” she says of the girls that she lured to their doom (and their being recycled, if you think about it for a second) and while what she did was obviously wrong, what other choice did she have? Kacey Rohl did an excellent job as Abigail opened up to Lounds, dismissed Graham, quailed at the sight of her victim and finally broke down in Lecter’s arms. Manipulative and cunning though she might be, at least she’s still alive, so who has the right of it in the end?
What are the images that I really liked this week? Well, I literally gasped when, as Graham ‘got in his zone’, the drained and colorless beach suddenly received a subtle breath of warmth; just a breath, but enough to be very effective.
The sight of him going in for the kill was once again unnerving – although the scene in the morgue where Graham realises his not really adopted daughter has a darker side was actually hilarious. Hear me out; Nicholas Boyle sits up on the morgue table, gets up, is suddenly dressed again, is stabbed by Graham and then turns into Abigail, who stabs Graham in turn. It’s like a relay team!
I also found the dinner scene near the end to be hilarious – I really love that Freddie is a vegetarian and that, out of the whole cast, she is the one who Lecter is unable to trick into cannibalism. (Aside from Abigail, possibly, if that side look is anything to go by.) My question is also answered about what happens when Lecter encounters vegetarians – he makes them the best salads ever, of course! Lecter’s probably found some way to make salad dressing out of people, though, so he can probably get her that way and go to bed satisfied that night.
Once again, characters cannot seem to refer to other characters without using their full names. Again, we get Jack Crawford at least twice, along with Garret Jacob Hobbs. Why, I ask myself, do these people constantly use other people’s full names when everyone involved in the conversation undoubtedly knows who they are talking about????
Besides being for the benefit of the audience, of course.
So, ‘Trou Normand’. Shocking revelations, interesting twists, a decent secondary plot – albeit with some rather clunky dialogue; the conversation about jigsaws at the very beginning made me wince – good scenes for Freddie and Abigail and, wonder of wonders, Lecter actually initiates physical contact with Graham! For the purposes of manipulation, but still, every little helps! I wouldn’t exactly call it a palate cleanser but, judging by next week’s episode, it’s refreshed us for when things get seriously harrowing.
Because next week, in ‘Buffet Froid’? There is a killer lurking under beds and pulling people underneath said beds. And giving them extreme Glasgow Smiles, but it’s mainly the hiding under the bed and grabbing people’s ankles that has me worried. I do not have a good relationship with the gap between mattress and floor.
I will definitely be watching this one between my fingers.