HANNIBAL Episode Recap: “Potage”

     April 18, 2013

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I can’t remember the last time I’ve so emphatically recommended a network drama.  Hannibal, a mere three episodes in, is already heads and shoulders above, say, The Following, not just because of its writing and acting, but its style.  Few people can put a visual stamp on things like Bryan Fuller, and while Hannibal and Will inhabit their own distinct spaces and looks, it’s the loathsome Freddie Lounds who really embodies that slightly cartoony / candy-colored world that Fuller built in Wonderfalls and Pushing Daisies.  In Hannibal it’s more muted, but the time-lapsed establishing shots and vivid staging (the chat in the hospital’s greenhouse, or in the bright fall leaves behind the Hobbs’ house) still keep things from looking like a rote procedural.  So does the advent of Abigail Hobbs.  Hit the jump for why you should never threaten someone who thinks about murder all day (like kittens).

hannibal-season-1-episode-3-potage-hugh-dancy-mads-mikkelsenI was reluctant to review Hannibal on a weekly basis not because I doubted it would be good, I just thought it would end up being a procedural.  I have nothing against procedurals, they’re just a little boring to review (because they are beholden to that Case of the Week and have so many episodes, the central plot doesn’t really advance much).  But with its limited network episode run (a lucky 13), Hannibal is already moving along at a steady pace.  And this week there was no Case of the Week — we didn’t even see the forensic team (which I didn’t mind, as they tend to be a little cliche so far), but a continuation of the Hobbs story.

The Hobbs have been the thread that has bound Hannibal together so far, and the case remained relevant for three reasons: one, the victim’s parents wanted any part of them still left to be found; two, there was a copycat killer still at large (which is Hannibal); and three, Abigail Hobbs lives, has no parents, and may be a suspect in the serial murders.

Abigail being an accomplice to her father would have been a strange twist and bizarre coda to their story, but it probably also would have ended there.  Instead, Hannibal is seeming to manipulate and groom her as another killer.  Poor Abigail has gone through a lot — her creepy father made her gut deer and adhere to his mantra of “use it all, or it’s murder,” (not that I disagree totally but, his creepiness made it a little too weird), killed her mother, tried to kill her, and then was himself killed.  Afterwards she’s hounded by a tabloid journalist and a revolving door of nurses and psychiatrists, as well as those calling her family cannibals, before seeing her best friend murdered, and having an attempt made on her life as well, before hiding the body.

hannibal-season-1-episode-3-potage-laurence-fishburne-mads-mikkelsenSo it’s understandable in some ways that she would fall easily into Hannibal’s manipulations, especially since there’s something not quite right about her anyway.  I can’t help but feel that Hannibal is also attempting to groom Will (as he apparently has done for a number of killers) — he knows that Will has the propensity to imagine heinous crimes vividly, but can he also perpetrate them?  If so, he and Hannibal would make an exceptional team.  Hannibal looks proud, even, when Will profiles the copycat killer so close to the truth, right down to the phone call, referring to the staging of the act as “art.”  But so far, as regards himself, Will still feels like murder is the ultimate horror.  Meanwhile, Hannibal will bide his time and groom another protege.

The show is not without its flaws — there’s the old trope of why was Abigail left all by herself in the house in the first place, when she was a known target?  Why did no one hear her screams?  How did she and Hannibal manage to hide the body and clean up the blood in a house swarming with police?  Still, there were few horrible little twists like the leather pillow being stuffed with human hair, and Hannibal’s manipulation of the slain Cassie’s brother to be fingered for the copycat murders and be sacrificed so that Hannibal could control Abigail.  Touché.

Overall, the show is continuing to hold up very well, and brings a certain style to its horror (just like Dr. Lecter).  Let’s hope the ratings do the same.  Last week they were flat with the opening week’s numbers, but those numbers weren’t particularly healthy.  Many of you expressed your own worry about what NBC might do with the series if those numbers don’t pick up, but I’m crossing every digit in the hopes they at least let it play out over its initial 13 weeks.  Meanwhile, spread the word — this show is worth consuming.

Episode Rating: A-

hannibal-season-1-episode-3-potage-mads-mikkelsen-hugh-dancyMusings and Miscellanea:

  • Abigail made me so sad, from her newly orphaned state to her survivors guilt (and why did her father have to kill those girls?  Why did he want to kill / consumer her?  Maybe best not to know).  She has an interesting road ahead.  I thought at first they were going to make her a little bit like Alice fromLuther, which could still happen, though so far she’s not that cold.
  • Marissa, RIP, was not a very comforting friend to someone who just went through something so horrific. And then …
  • Hannibal smacking Dr. Bloom’s head into the wall was unexpected and well-played on his part.  It was just shocking to see him commit any brutality after he’s been so restrained.
  • That awkward moment you realize you’ve been eating humans.
  • Despite her fabulous hair and cheekbones, I really hate Freddie Lounds.
  • I feel like the crime scene clean-up crew maybe could have washed away that blood a little bit more thoroughly. Also, did the FBI not do a sweep to remove, you know, “cannibals” from the house first before they brought poor Abigail back?
  • Hugh Dancy‘s pants and boxers are very well fitting.  I’ll leave it at that.  (Can someone devote a Tumblr to it like Jon Hamm?  Just sayin …)
  • I just went down a Wikipedia rabbit hole reading up on “folie a deux.”  Weird stuff.

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