(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.
By the end of this episode, oh my, how Lecter has roped the cast in, how he’s strung them up!
For the past few weeks, I have had a deep desire to take a leaf out of the book of those who review Tim Burton’s works, and play Hannibal Bingo. Alas, I am somewhat fuzzy on the rules of the game, and do not have the time or the inclination to create special cards suited for the purpose.
Maybe next week.
(I actually do a sort of Bingo throughout the recap, checking various running themes as I saw them, mostly for a joke – what running themes can you find in this episode to call Bingo on? – but one thing I’m not joking about is the unnecessary use of full names. If you’ve read these things you’ll know I have a peeve about the characters using full names when everyone. Knows. Who. They. Are. Talking about.
So, as i went through, I got into the habit of counting all the times they did it in this episode. I probably haven’t even got them all because I don’t want to drive myself barmy, but, come on. They do it at least seventeen times in this episode. They use full names for no specific reason at least seventeen times. And four of those times are in the last scene, and are all said by the same person. There is no need for this!)
I can easily point to the opening scene of this episode and go “Hah!”, since ‘Rôti’ begins with yet another dinner at Lecter’s house, wherein Lecter serves Dr Frederick Chilton lamb curry with rice on a banana leaf. While Lecter has no interest in sheep, aside from eating them, he can assure Chilton this dish is definitely, hand on heart, no lie, made from sheep. Also, coconut milk.
The reason Lecter is entertaining Chilton again, despite his obvious distaste for the man last time around, is because Abel Gideon is suing Chilton for manipulating him into thinking he was the Chesapeake Ripper (Not Tick, because they are establishing things.) Naturally, Chilton comes to Lecter for advice, rather than a lawyer, because the petty manipulator seeking advice from the guy who eats people, and has himself manipulated a patient, is both amusingly ironic and makes the audience shake their heads in exasperation. The parallel between the two men could not be more obvious as Lecter advises Chilton to ‘deny everything’, and further advises that he was trying too hard; in order for this sort of treatment to work, the patient must not be aware of any influence.
Oh, Hannibal, you do have such a way of making me love and hate you at the same time.
Will wakes from dreams of water – a return to the beach where the Human Totem Pole was found, then a shot of stock footage of a glacier cracking and more stock footage of a tidal wave, sorry to break the flow but the sky is clearly blue, as opposed to the grey of Will’s dream. He wakes up, only to see his alarm clock start to melt, never a good sign, he clearly sweated a lot during the night, he’s so hot he’s steaming, it’s only a matter of time before he himself turns to water and melts away. Which he does.
Then he wakes up again, soaked in sweat.
(However, there is no Dire stag. So no tick there.
In honor of the first five minutes of this episode, I’ve decided to make a change when it comes to reviewing this episode and do it as more of a slightly casual recap.
Why? Well, I spent the first five minutes of this episode speaking thusly. Out loud. Between my fingers.
And intermittently turning the sound off when I just couldn’t take it.
Yes, I’m a wimp.
A woman comes home at night, and she owns a canary.
Aaaaa she’s standing by the bed she’s standing by the bed oh she isn’t grabbed yet.
Aaaaa, she’s in the bed.
Aaaaa there’s damp in the ceiling, she huffs and is going to investigate.
Damp spreading across the ceiling, no that’s not ominous AT ALL.
Don’t get out of bed, don’t get out aaaaa.
STEP AWAY FROM THE BED, STEP AWAY FROM THE BED.
Oh, she did.
She walks around the dark dark house.
She goes up into the dark dark attic.
There is…a hole in the dark dark attic roof and snow is coming in. What time of year is this, again? I know it was Christmas time in ‘Oeuf’, but I’ve lost track a bit. A dreamlike setting will do that to you.
THERE ARE FOOTPRINTS IN THE SNOW ON THE ROOF. Umm…how did whoever the killer is this week get up there? And why didn’t they slip?
She tarps the hole up, after a fashion, and sets down a bowl she got…from somewhere. I sympathize with this; our conservatory leaked like crazy, still does, and we were forever setting basins on the floor during a storm and replacing them when they got full.
She goes back downstairs from the dark dark attic to the dark dark house.
She’s going to get back into bed. Do a running jump, don’t let the monster under the bed get you!
THERE ARE WATERY FOOTPRINTS ON THE FLOOR.
DON’T FOLLOW THE FOOTPRINTS, CALL THE POLICE. DON’T FOLLOW THE FOOTPRINTS, CALL THE POLICE. Also, barricade yourself in the bathroom; that’s one thing Darkness Falls got right.
Aaaaand, yes, there goes the arm, which I was not ready for and made me shriek, as the woman is dragged screaming under the bed.
By the by, that is a pretty big under-the-bed-area. The bed doesn’t look that big, even if it is a double.
And blood sprays on the floor. Wow, did the killer slit her throat? What caused that?
Also, how did the killer get from the attic to under her bed without her noticing?
Also again, AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA.
I believe I will be getting into bed via running jumps for some nights to come.
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’?
The killer of ‘Fromage’ is not revealed in the opening scene. That slot’s taken by Graham, as he ventures out onto the sands around his house, to look for a wounded animal that might or might not be there at all. More likely not, as events later in the episode would suggest. But, after Bloom joins briefly joins him in his search on this bleak, windy morn, we cut to a certain intelligent psychopath…
…which happens not to be Lecter, for a change. Instead Tobias Budge, Franklyn’s ‘friend’ from last episode, is centre stage in the domain of his music shop. He lectures a struggling student on the benefits of playing an instrument with organic strings and – rather like Lecter setting a dish before someone while the audience is given yet another look into the preparation of that dish – we now get a glimpse into just what it takes to make gut strings for instruments. We see the harvesting of guts from beings that are definitely not cats, the washing, the rinsing, the hanging, the stretching and the end result: strings that produce a beautiful, resonant sound. And we see Tobias’s gratification, as his student plays all unknowing on strings made from human guts.
Hannibal’s always been a series that’s been dominated by certain senses, the most obvious being sight – every single shot is either jaw dropping or eye watering. But this is an episode in particular that seems (to me, at least) to be dominated by the theme of sound. Appropriate enough, considering the fixation of the killer this week. There’s:
Tobias’s method of displaying his kill – exposing the vocal chords in a manner that leaves the viewer clutching their own throat protectively. I personally had one hand at my neck and the other over my mouth.
Graham’s supposed delusions that, this time around, take the shape not of the stag that’s haunted him since the second episode, but instead of an animal he can never see but hear perfectly well, causing him to break open a chimney or rush out of an interrogation in order to try and find it. He never does, but it’s very disturbing.
The emphasis on instruments, whether it’s Tobias’s efforts to turn his victims into appropriate vessels to get the message across, the bone flutes that Lecter mentions – adding to a running theme on Tumblr and Twitter, even the Music is People now! – or Lecter’s harpsichord that Tobias manages to re-tune, and which Lecter tests once he’s vanquished his foe.
There’s the nod towards reality when Graham, cornered and restrained by Tobias, manages to fire a shot that deafens and disorients both of them, allowing both Graham to survive and Tobias to escape, albeit with a perforated ear. (I loved this acknowledgement of just what happens when you fire a gun in close quarters, without ear muffs. Firearms are loud.)
Most important of all, there are the grunts and gasps as Lecter and Tobias do battle near the end of the run, showing just how human they are, despite their psychotic tendencies. I flinched at the cry of pain as Hannibal is stabbed in the leg, Tobias’s scream as Lecter grabs and breaks his arm, and his gasps as Lecter hits him hard in the throat, leaving him choking on the floor as Hannibal turns to pick up the bronze stag, in order to bludgeon his nemesis to death.
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.
If there were any doubts left about the true nature of this version of Hannibal Lecter, the ending of ‘Entrée’ cleared them up very nicely, as Lecter chokes our poor Clarice Starling substitute into unconsciousness. No doubt with something terrible in mind for her.
Except that Miriam Lass (who never appears in the present, only in Crawford and Lecter’s flashbacks, creating a lasting impression on both of them for both the right and the wrong reasons) is far from a Starling substitute, even if this episode is rife with shout outs to The Silence of the Lambs,* and definitely doesn’t deserve that title. She’s a force in her own right, clever and insightful – and apparently related to a character from another of Bryan Fuller’s shows, Dead Like Me – and dedicated enough to bring about her own downfall at Lecter’s hands. Anna Chlumsky did wonders with what she was given to work with. The few scenes that she had left me really wanting to see more of her, so it was heartbreaking to watch as, unlike Graham, she isn’t nearly as lucky in escaping Lecter’s office alive. Heartbreaking but hardly surprising, as she’s been considered dead a long time before the episode began, and doubly dead by the end of it.
Or is she? As others have already pointed out, Lecter merely caused her to pass out, and the frantic calls she makes to Crawford had to have been recorded at some point. Perhaps we shouldn’t give up on Miriam Lass just yet.