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.
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.
Warning: If you haven’t read Hannibal by Thomas Harris, you might want to skip the parts in bold, as they discuss at length some of the messed up stuff that occurs within the book.
So, there was Thomas Harris, fresh off the moderate success of Black Sunday – wherein terrorists plot to blow up a Super Bowl – and with a college career of covering the police beat for the Waco Tribune-Herald behind him, when he made the fateful decision to write a tale of two serial killers and the poor sucker that has to try and stop their shenanigans. Who could have guessed that one of those characters would go on to become a pop cultural icon for the ages?
It’s not that the other two aren’t memorable, but there’s just something about Hannibal Lecter that captures the imagination. Plus the gurney straightjacket mask combo is just so easy to parody.
And now NBC is on the edge of releasing a new series based on the relationship between Lecter and the man who put him away, Will Graham, in what will hopefully not be too reminiscent of Dexter.