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 1×03: ‘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 1×01: “Apéritif”

If you haven’t tried ‘Hannibal’ yet, this does contain spoilers for some parts of the episode.

Having digested this episode, I will say that I thoroughly enjoyed it; particularly the reinterpretations of the two main characters, something I was honestly worried about.

We first meet Will Graham as he visits the aftermath of a double homicide, performing a mental backtrack to place himself in the mind of the murderer and relive the killings. He describes this horrendous act in cold, clinical terms, understanding the deliberation behind each shot. Graham is introduced to us in violence, blood and slaughter, intensely experienced on his part and yet calmly presented to an avid audience in a lecture theatre, as if we’ve somehow gotten a crossover between CSI and that first season episode of House, ‘Three Stories’. On the surface Graham is detached; beneath his skin he’s fighting desperately not to be sucked into crimes he recreates.

We also learn that he takes in stray dogs, and has quite a number at the moment. He quite literally Pets the Dog. When it comes to humans, though, he’s often rude and abrasive, freely admitting to having difficulties interacting with others due to autistic traits and that cursed empathy, as well as the tendency to get distracted by other people’s eyeballs.

Our hero, ladies and gentlemen.

(By the by; I’ll admit that I know absolutely nothing about guns whatsoever, but I do believe it is pretty damn hard to shoot someone in the neck with ‘surgical precision’. The very nature of bullets – pieces of metal hitting your flesh at colossal speeds – does not in any way suggest ‘surgical precision’ to my mind.

Also, these were moving targets, and the killer had a handgun. Not a rifle with a scope. A handgun.)

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