First of all, if you haven’t watched the clips from Hannibal‘s unaired fourth episode “œuf” do so now because I am going to talk about it along with “Coquilles.” What I found so interesting about NBC’s “cannibalized” version (their pun!) of that controversial fourth episode is that by eliminating the Case of the Week, Hannibal turned into a really beautifully meditative character study. It didn’t flow particularly smoothly (what a surprise since it was chopped up), but at the same time it was really hypnotic. With all of the therapy sessions, it kind of reminded me of HBO’s In Treatment, plus hallucinations and eating humans. While I also enjoyed “Coquilles,” the Case of the Week, which I thought was pretty weak, distracted from the better character moments. Hit the jump for why I’m so excited I figured out what to do with that œ character …
In his introduction to “œuf,” Bryan Fuller said the reason why giving viewers the character building moments from that episode was so important is because the relationship between Hannibal and Abigail Hobbs becomes a “load bearing” one in the future. An interesting prospect. In the other article I posted with the clips, I suggested that it will be interesting to see if Hannibal ends up making her into a sort of protege, or if she has a more humanizing effect on him.
From what we saw in “œuf” though, it looks like for now Hannibal is wholly in control. Abigail is at a divide — she is not her father’s daughter in many ways (she wants to work for the FBI, she abhors what he did and what she did to her assailant), but at the same time, she rejects traditional therapy and scorns other victims. When Hannibal offers her the mushrooms that will help her reclaim her power through positive association with her memories, he’s not just helping her with her recovery, he’s also conditioning her. Hannibal also convinces (an expected?) Alana, after showing up to chastise him, that everything will be ok. Abigail does seem to find some peace at the creation of her Last Supper with her family by seeing them reflected in Hannibal and Alana.
Will doesn’t fair so easily. He sleepwalks down roads and onto his roof, he confesses to not feeling safe and getting too close to the perpetrators of the crime by spending time as them. Hannibal is subtly conditioning Will as well, seeming to drive a wedge between him and Jack — something Will calls him out for. But like with Alana, Hannibal never reacts to accusations except to shoot back immediately with cool logic that seems to prove his innocence while still giving him what he wanted. Though Will wrestles with Jack throughout “Coquilles” (that the job is too much for him), in the end Will is there for him silently as a friend. So far, Hannibal has a lot more work to do.
The Angelmaker of “Coquilles” felt like a familiar kind of villain — mutilation / angel motifs are used in many crime dramas now, though I’ll give them that the “heads on fire” effect was new. What bothered me though was the supernatural element. I don’t usually have a problem with it, but Hannibal is just not that kind of show. Though there were a few theories bandied about as to how the Angelmaker was able to “spot” his criminal victims, it wasn’t followed up on. With him being found dead to end the episode (how did he flay and raise himself up like that? That would have been a trick to see), there were never any answers except the cryptic suggestion of his near-death experience.
This is why I’m not a huge fan of the COTW. Sometimes they’re interesting, but if they’re just one-offs, they often don’t really have a lot to say. However, the Angelmaker took Will even further down into his complicated mental spiral, and also gave Jack the key to understanding his wife’s standoffishness. The Crawford’s story was another odd element to me. It was moving in some ways, but also, we barely know either of them (we don’t know his wife at all). So much time and detail (and initially cryptic) spent on their discussion about her illness seemed to want to open up the show’s world a little farther, but everything happened really suddenly (Belle freezes out her husband, meets Hannibal, goes to therapy with him, then ends up telling Jack everything, which Will eventually responds to, The End!)
Nothing on the show exists in its own vacuum — even the dinner scene with Hannibal was tinged with morbid curiosity of what (or who) was cooked (I really liked the shock cut to the “rabbit” Hannibal referred to), and has food ever been so lovingly and beautifully filmed? Other than the Jack and Belle arc, everything else has been building really slowly (like Will opening up to Hannibal, and Abigail’s journey), yet it hasn’t felt slow. I can’t ever wait for the next episode — something that my tired and cynical self rarely says these days. Let’s continue to watch the ratings and get ready to send meat to NBC if they start to sour on it …
Episode Rating: “œuf” A, “Coquilles” B+
- I’m being a little hard on “Coquilles” because Hannibal has proved itself a show I don’t need to coddle … like Hannibal’s eggs! (That sounds weird).
- Will’s descent into madness in the show is so fantastically done. Reminds me of that saying, “what nourishes me destroys me.” Jack really did lay down the guilt on him, though. ”Return to your lecture hall … and think about how many lives you could have saved” (that’s a paraphrase!)
- I’m a vegetarian, but I would eat whatever Hannibal gave me because it just looks so frakking good.
- The filming and art direction regarding the food reminds me of the opening sequence of Dexter.
- Alana has the best dialogue of the series, and it’s delivered so naturally. She’s badass, I’d like to see more of her.
- I was sure that Hannibal had broken in to Will’s house … only to later find he was dog-sitting. An interesting play on our prejudices against him.
- Mads Mikkelsen has really perfected the friendly / innocent look for Hannibal. I would trust him … right up until he served me my own liver!
- Pronounce “Biloxi” any weirder Hugh Dancy, I dare you.
- There is some kind of tension with Hannibal and Alana … then again, he does go around sniffing people. Everything he does is weirdly sexual and menacing and innocent. It’s bizarre.
- “Did you just smell me?” – Will