So. Hannibal 1×05 (or 1×04): ‘Coquilles’

So. Hannibal 1×05 (or 1×04): ‘Coquilles’, because the title bar is still acting up for some reason.

I won’t pretend to be a die hard fan of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, but a certain few lines from that poem have always stuck with me, from the moment I read one of M.R. James’s best ghost stories Casting the Runes. Watching Will Graham walk down a road at night, with the familiar stag that haunts his dreams so close now as to sniff at his hand, they came to mind yet again:

‘Like one that on a lonesome road
Doth walk in fear and dread,
And having once turned round walks on,
And turns no more his head;
Because he knows, a frightful fiend
Doth close behind him tread.’

This is true for more than just Graham’s nightmare – which turn out to be a rather jarring reality, albeit minus the stag; Graham has actually developed a habit of sleepwalking. ‘Frightful fiends’ preying upon the minds and spirits of the characters, and dogging their footsteps, are in plentiful supply this episode.

First, there are the fiends that spur the efforts of this week’s killer, Elliot Budish, the ‘Angel Maker’,who transforms his victims into guardian spirits to watch over him should he die in his sleep from his brain tumor. Despite the secular reality – the tumor that supplies his hallucinations of heads on fire, the lack of religious faith on Budish’s part as opposed to his belief in his own guardian angel – it’s impossible to overlook the spiritual imagery in this episode when it comes to the corpses. The religious nature of the first grisly tableaux is closely discussed in the episode; I particularly like the call forward to Hannibal when one of the forensic team – I still haven’t learned to tell the two men apart, I am ashamed – spoke about Viking sacrifices of Christians by snapping open their ribs and pulling their lungs out through their backs: the ‘Bloody Eagle’. I did, however, think that this sacrifice wasn’t designed specifically for Christians but rather as offerings to the god Odin, but after more than a thousand years, who can be certain?

But I was especially struck by the picture the second victim makes. When Crawford leaves Graham alone at the crime scene after they’ve each respectively blown up at each other over the case, we get a beautiful almost silhouette of Graham looking up and the corpse seeming to look down. Back lit by some unknown source, it plays on the idea of an actual angel descending from heaven to the man on earth, providing divine inspiration.

Capture angel from on high

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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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