So. Hannibal 1×10: ‘Buffet Froid’

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.

*Ahem*

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.

Capture buffet froid
SAVE ME FROM DUST BUNNIES!

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.

Continue reading “So. Hannibal 1×10: ‘Buffet Froid’”

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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 1×06: ‘Entrée’

Well.

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.

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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

Continue reading “So. Hannibal 1×05 (or 1×04): ‘Coquilles’”

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!