HANNIBAL Episode Recap: “Amuse Bouche”

     April 11, 2013


A fellow TV critic said of Hannibal, “NBC doesn’t know what it has with this show.”  He’s absolutely right.  Though it has some of the trappings of a procedural (a case of the week, a familiar make up of quirky forensic detectives, a kind of “you can’t handle the truth!” refrain), Hannibal is elevated by three things.  It’s incredibly stylish (but not cartoonishly so, as CSI: Miami could be), it has two great leads (Mads Mikkelson and Hugh Dancy), and it has a built-in anticipation with the development of Hannibal’s character, because we know where he and Will end up, something that adds a lot of tension to the onscreen proceedings, even when they’re not overt (like that little dinner Hannibal served Jack).  NBC, don’t mess this up.  Hit the jump for more on why you should always inquire about where the loin came from. 

nbc-hannibal-amuse-bouche-mads-mikkelsenHannibal, even in the original novels, is a foil for other people, a cold and self-assured presence that nurtures dark desires.  Will is still haunted by the killing of Garrett Jacob Hobbs, not because he regrets it, but because he has realized maybe he liked it a little bit.  Though “like” perhaps isn’t the right word — as Hannibal suggests to him to close the episode: it’s “power.”

Will’s talent is getting into the minds of killers, but until now he’s only been able to imagine what they feel when they kill.  He’s confused by the fact that he no longer can imagine them as being gleeful, as he now superimposes his own feelings.  This confusing mental dance is helped along by Hannibal, who gains some of Will’s trust by “rubber stamping” his psych eval, but coaxing him into a different kind of “session,” making it “whatever you need it to be.”  Will also surely admires Hannibal’s atypical tactics, ones that he can’t guess or work out so easily, or perhaps he just feels more comfortable given their budding affinity.

It’s getting harder to shock us crime TV watchers — if the crimes aren’t gruesome then they need to be twisted up so that the outcome isn’t obvious.  Hannibal manages both in “Amuse Bouche” with the pharmacist who keeps a very strange mushroom garden, allowing the fungus to “speak” for the comatose victims (one frighteningly tries to speak for himself, though Will mentions in passing he died on the way to the hospital).  The pharmacist’s case ties in loosely to that of Abigail Hobbs, also comatose, who is considered at this point to potentially be an accomplice with her late, antler-loving father.  In the meantime, Will stays close by her bedside, pondering unknowns (mostly, his feelings).

What Hannibal has done so far, and will likely continue to do, is illustrate the fear of “every day monsters.”  Garrett Jacob Hobbs seemed just like a regular suburban dad, the pharmacist was a kind of friendly neighborhood sort, while Hannibal himself is well-liked and well-respected — but, just like these others, he is capable of savage things.  What Will, Jack Crawford and the rest of Quantico want to do is profile other potential killers, but the worst ones seem to hide out in plain sight.  ”Amuse Bouche” takes this even one step further: Will may have a monster hiding inside of him, as well.

hannibal-lara-jean-chorostecki“Amuse Bouche” also introduced us to unscrupulous tabloid journalist (is there any other kind?) Freddie Lounds, turned from a male (in the books) to a relentless redheaded female.  Lounds already gets a warning from Jack this week for tampering with investigations to get her scoop, and of the two law enforcement men she uses (one in the FBI, the other a police detective), one has already ended up dead.  Will this slow Freddie down?  Probably not for long, but Hannibal has his eye on her as well, as a nuisance who has been spying on his sessions with Will.  You can feel Hannibal regarding her as prey, waiting for her to present enough of an interest to warrant him pouncing.

This episode flew by for me, and when the credits popped up I couldn’t wait for next week’s episode — something I find pretty rare in most procedural shows.  I chalk this up to Bryan Fuller‘s influence – Pushing Daisies was essentially a crime drama, too, but what a lovely world that was.  Hannibal is much darker, but it also has a stylish beauty to it.  I like it.

Episode Rating: A

Musings and Miscellanea:

– Always good to see a Kids in the Hall alum! Hey Scott Thompson.

– Lara Jean Chorostecki (Freddie) has fantastic hair.

– I was going to have mushrooms with my dinner … but now …

– The violence in Hannibal remains somehow removed; even with the pharmacist shot the detective, mostly what was saw was the blood spatter on Freddie.  Same with the bodies in the ground, besides the lips being removed from one (aye yi yi …) we didn’t have to stare too intently at the corpses.  It’s appreciated.


  • Brad

    This review was welcomed, and appreciated. I do believe there has not been a network show this good since Lost. If NBC finds a way to screw this up, it should simply pack up its tent and go home. Mads Mikkelsen, is amazing as Lecter, and Hugh Dancy as Graham matches him beat for beat. This is must see television.

  • Kevin

    Okay, I’m not a Hannibal specialist so this is probably just a whacky idea… but at the beginning of the episode when Will was lecturing, they showed a red-headed woman and an african american woman sitting together. Later, the red-headed woman is seen approaching Will after the lecture looking like she’s going to ask a question, then turns and walks away… is this supposed to be Clarice and her schoolmate, or am I just over-thinking things?

    • Dalekchris

      I’m afraid that can’t be Clarice… Because they don’t have the rights to the character. She’s held by Lifetime, who are planning on doing a Clarice show following her after Silence of the Lambs. Oddly, they aren’t allowed to mention Hannibal Lecter or any of the characters who originated in any of the books except Silence, so that show will suck from exclusion (they couldn’t even have Hannibal send Clarice a letter). It’s kinda pathetic, but they’ve gotten into a couple arguments over the rights. Bryan Fuller wanted the rights to portray the transvestite who’s head was put in that jar by his boyfriend (who went on to become Buffalo Bill), and was offering them the ability to portray an off-screen Hannibal, and Lifetime refused. It’s pretty hilarious, as they clearly have no idea why Clarice is interesting in the first place…

    • edwinx2

      I had the exact same thought: they were meant to be Clarice Starling and Ardelia Mapp. What other reason would there be to have two actresses who reasonably fit the look of established characters from the prior work appear, and then have “Clarice” distract from the central action in such a way as to be noticed by the viewer? They may not own the rights to the character, but there is no reason they can’t be a little playful with the narrative and throw some “Easter Eggs” in.

  • T.V. Snob

    I am shocked at how much I’m loving this show and I’m terrified that NBC will screw it up… it’s, it’s just inevitable. Seriously NBC, when you drop the ball on this one please just cancel it prematurely and leave us with good memories rather than fire the show runner and “retool” it. It’s the better of two evils.

  • DG

    Dude, I’m totally engrossed in this show. Like real shit, one of my new favorite shows on TV. Mads Mikkelson is a BOSS.

  • Joao

    Another exquisite episode! And I really liked the show’s opening! It reminded me of ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’! Thanks for your review!

  • LEM

    I didn’t bother watching this because first of all we know where the story will go so just going through the motions of all the winks to the audience didn’t entice me to watch and secondly it was on NBC. I’m glad it may be worth checking out.

  • kemo

    Who was Hanibal serving to Jack when they had dinner?

  • toblerone

    Loved the EP, especially for the Wonderfalls references.

    The CSI team is a little annoying (not Scott Thompson).

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