So. Hannibal 1×11 ‘Rôti’

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.

Capture curry
(Tick of the imaginary box for ‘inflicting cannibalism on my guests for shits and giggles’.)
Also: BANANA LEAF.

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.

(Tick.)

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.

(Tick.)

(However, there is no Dire stag. So no tick there.

Yet.)

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So. Hannibal 1×09: ‘Trou Normand’

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’

Capture Tru Normand
Typical; you wait ages for a corpse and then FIFTEEN turn up at once!

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’?

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So. Hannibal 1×08: ‘Fromage’

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.

Capture fromage
Before he takes the next step…

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.

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So. Hannibal 1×07: ‘Sorbet’

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.

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So. Hannibal 1×04: ‘Ceuf’. Aka you lucky people over there who actually get to see the clips of this.

Living in the good old UK as I do, I have so far been unable to reap the delights of the mini series that has been put together out of all the really good bits from ‘Ceuf’. Even when it’s posted on Youtube.

Grrrr.

No doubt I will eventually be able to view the miniseries – and the parent episode that was pulled – in both their entirety at some point in the future. But until then, what I have seen leads me to suspect that Bryan Fuller and the team have rather taken the possibility that they won’t be able to use Clarice Starling in future seasons in their stride. And that they have said words to the effect of ‘Well, we’ve got the rights, let’s go wild!’

Yes, spoilers for Hannibal (the book), Hannibal drugs and mentally re-educates Clarice at the end of it – sort of – and they have a romantic dinner eating someone’s brains.

But he was a sexist corrupt (and fictional) arse-hole, so that’s all right.

Hannibal’s drugging of Abigail with mushroom tea is certainly an interesting way to continue a relationship. Then again, this is a relationship where one of her not really adopted dads killed her biological dad, and her other adopted dad helped her hide the body of the man she killed. I believe the magic mushrooms are almost a step down in craziness at this point…

…riiiight up until Abigail starts hallucinating that Lecter and Dr Bloom are her father and mother, and she gets that wonderful disconcerting smile on her face as she says that she sees ‘family’.

I’m just fascinated to see where this is going to go. Is Lecter going to mold her in his image, as another serial killer? Is Lecter a serial killer at this point? We’ve only seen two of his (quite probable) victims on screen, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t been indulging his palette for quite a while before the season began. Or is he – gulp – going to try and turn Abigail into Mischa?

Spoilers again: Hannibal (the book) and Hannibal Rising reveal that our beloved cannibal had a little sister called Mischa – awww! – who was eaten by starving Nazi deserters – aaaaaa – and little Hannibal might unwittingly eaten bits of her as well – urrrrrrgh – and oh, he wants his little sister back.

So much so, in fact, that he tries to brainwash Clarice into believing she’s her.

Yeah, Hannibal is a very strange book.

Or is Lecter trying to see what makes her tick? As he seems to be doing with Will, judging by his close examination of Will’s home, underwear drawer and fishing tackle when he visits to feed the dogs. I notice the rather telling pricking of his finger, and the sucking of his own blood. Honestly, you should be more careful, Hannibal! You work with sharp objects a lot, after all!

And how is Abigail going to react if she finds out that Lecter has been doing as her daddy did before him, and feeding her human flesh? Will she accept it? Will she rebel? Will she get addicted? (I don’t know if she finds out in the episode, this is all conjecture, but it’s oh so intriguing.)

Also, Crawford brings his wife over for dinner at Lecter’s – again, I highly anticipate the scene when everyone realizes Lecter’s a cannibal and Crawford remembers how much suddenly suspicious meat he ate. That’ll be a fun scene, I’m sure. I am so glad that Gina Torres is in this series; she is a gorgeous person and I can’t wait to see her…

…in whatever episode she is after this one that I haven’t  technically seen yet.

GRRRRRR.

By the way, I respect that Lecter is sensible enough not to keep giving his guests ‘pork’ all the time, but could you honestly disguise human flesh enough that you could pass it off as rabbit? I’m not being dismissive, I do actually want to know if that’s possible – although for the sake of the argument we’ll use pork rather than human flesh as our test subject. Any suggestions?

Also, is Bloom being rather flirtatious with Lecter? Did she – possibly – have a student mentor crush? This will just make things even more interesting, and possibly more dangerous.

What am I saying? Quite probably more dangerous.

So, now that we – or all those of you in America, technically – have savored all the meaty bits of ‘Ceuf’, bring on ‘Coquilles’ (which, according to the wonderful Wiki of Pedia means scallops, yum) with manufactured angels on strings!

So. Hannibal 1×03: ‘Potage’

Spoilers for Hannibal, episode 3, ‘Potage’.

After the fungus obsessed killer of last episode, ‘Potage’ brings us squarely back to the case of the Minnesota Shrike, the wake of his murders and the fate of his daughter. Abigail Hobbs wakes from one nightmare – killing and dressing a deer under her late lamented father’s instruction, that all of a sudden transforms into a dead girl (or possibly even herself) – into another living nightmare.

She has to come to terms not only with the fact that her father killed her mother and tried to kill her, but that he also killed eight other girls as substitutes for her, and stuffed pillows with their hair. Waste not, want not, after all, which he carried even further by feeding parts of the bodies to his family. Abigail reacts to this epiphany – and to Lecter’s calm ‘It’s quite probable’ – about as well as you’d expect.

It gets worse: by now the general public assumes she was complicit in her father’s crimes and react accordingly, the authorities have her under suspicion, and one of the few people that’s at least candid with her about all this is a reporter who manages (albeit probably unintentionally, give Lounds some credit) to sic the brother of one of the victims on her.

On top of all this, if she wasn’t a killer by the start of the episode – of humans, at least, although she’s clearly remorseful about that deer – she most certainly is by the end, having managed to gut Nicholas (said grieving brother of the lady with missing lungs in ‘Aperitif’) like a fish, when he worked up enough nerve to attack her.

I have to congratulate Abigail on not ending ‘Potage’ in a writhing mess, although inside we can’t even begin to fathom how fractured she is. Kacey Rohl does a fantastic job portraying Abigail as necessarily manipulative, scared, awkward, horrified and, by the end, filled with fascinated understanding and some small terror.

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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.

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