So. Hannibal 1×12: ‘Relevés’

(Sorry it’s shorter than usual this week; for once I have little I find I want to analyse in this episode. Strange, but true. I will return at some point to make a better case, but for now, have a read and a think.)

NBC Hannibal warned us that this episode would be shocking. They warned us. And yes, we listened, but I don’t think we were prepared enough for what happened.

Capture Georgia
You see this sweet scene, with Will and Georgia bonding? You see it? Good, enjoy it while it lasts, because it’s pretty much all the way downhill from here.

By the end of this episode, oh my, how Lecter has roped the cast in, how he’s strung them up!

Georgia Madchen, rather cleaner and more chipper than her last appearance, is dead, and rather horrifically at that, since a comb applied to her dry hair at precisely the wrong moment creates a spark that sets her oxygen rich chamber alight. (Once more the dreamlike nature of the show holds sway, but seriously, how are characters constantly able to get into areas of hospitals that presumably have high levels of security without being noticed? And why was Georgia suddenly taken with the need to brush her hair with a magically appearing comb?) Will is left heartbroken, but filled with the need to avenge her, to catch her framer and her murderer in one, unwittingly trying to fight off Lecter’s influence.

But the trap’s already closing on our dear jeopardized special agent; Jack Crawford has been put onto the wrong scent, set on Will’s trail. Freddie Lounds, intrepid reporter that she is, has come to some conclusions that make sense but are still reprehensible. Will Graham – while certainly on the right track – is confused and afraid, and has also managed to lose track of Abigail Hobbs after they bonded over the rush of killing someone, returned once more to her father’s shack and suffered a loss of time on his part and a severe fright on hers.

And Abigail has run back to Lecter – more than than, she’s run into Lecter’s arms. From fear of Will, fear of the father she’s thinks he might have absorbed, she runs to Lecter, and very probably has made her last mistake in doing so. The fear on her face as she finally learns the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, is horrible. I know I sound pretentious when I do this sort of thing, but I can’t help it: I must quote Angela Carter’s ‘The Bloody Chamber’

‘…face of the evening star walking on the rim of night. One false step, oh, my poor, dear girl, next in the fated sisterhood of his wives; one false step and into the abyss of the dark you stumbled.’

Poor Abigail. And poor Georgia; both of them were relatively innocent people who were caught up in events and torments they couldn’t control, and on top of that had the horrendously bad luck to get caught in Lecter’s wake. Unlike Abigail, Georgia didn’t even understand why she was given the key to her own death, as surely as Hannibal handed her the scissors two episodes ago and as surely as Bluebeard gives the key of the out-of-bounds chamber to his latest wife, knowing she won’t be able to risk peeking inside, thus seeing the corpses of his former brides and dooming herself. Georgia peeked and saw but didn’t comprehend, and yet she still has to die.

(Looking at it that way, here’s a morbid question: Which is better? Dying horribly without knowing why, or realizing that your death is coming from a person you trusted and who had promised to protect you, a father figure who you thought this time, this time, third time lucky, wouldn’t fail you?)

And, while I hate to say it, it having a certain ‘Woman Stuffed into the Fridge’ air, Georgia’s death is a key Lecter unwittingly hands to Will, allowing Will to see the connection between her death and the copycat. Will is getting the chance to peek into his own ‘bloody chamber’.

In fact, ‘The Bloody Chamber’ being an updated version of Bluebeard is quite appropriate in this case – because Lecter is, in his own way, a strange species of Bluebeard in this show. Look how he cares – or feigns to care – about certain individuals, devoting time and attention and investing emotion in them, just like Bluebeard chooses a new wife. Look how he creates a bond of trust; more than trust, dependence, a false sense of solidarity, just as Bluebeard does when he entrusts his latest wife with the key to his hidden chamber. Look at his reactions when his secret is close to being found out – such as his utter pique when Will states his opinions about his quarry that Lecter clearly wishes he hadn’t, and his need to silence Abigail when she discovers even  part of the truth, not out of any malice but as a process of covering his tracks. Lecter wants friends and dependents just like Bluebeard wants a wife, as amusement, and entertainment and to give his life some colour and meaning…but he’s perfectly prepared to cull them when they find out too much, as they inevitably do.

Perhaps even by his design.

Still, the fact that he had to be urged by Bedalia du Maurier to discard Will – Bedalia du Maurier being another ‘wife’ he might have entrusted with a metaphorical key, though who knows if she’s aware of what’s in that chamber, or whether she has yet to take a peek – is important. Did Lecter grow fond of this latest project, and desperately want to keep Will? Or is he going to take pleasure in not merely killing his latest bride, but breaking the unfortunate help mate down and rebuilding him in his own image?

Who can tell? Hannibal wears that blue beard, and that person suit, so very well.

Next week: the season finale, Savoureux. In which Will presumably gets caught by the authorities that Lecter has slyly set on his tail by way of Jack, since he is wearing an orange jumpsuit at one point. Will faces off against Hannibal, pointing a gun at him. And there is a certain shape with antlers that is most definitely not a certain Raven Stag we all know and love, as delusion and reality might well blend together to form the perfect inescapable truth.

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