HANNIBAL Episode Recap: “œuf” and “Coquilles”

     April 25, 2013


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 … 

hannibal-oeufIn 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.

hannibal-season-1-episode-4-oeufThe 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+

hannibal-coquillesMusings and Miscellanea:

  • 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



  • Jay

    I really think this show could be so much more than a ‘case of the week’ continuum. For now I’m tuned in, but there is only so much repetition I can take before the formula starts to become boring despite the shock value of the violence. I love the take on Hannibal, I really enjoy Dancy’s Will Graham, I love the nightmarish quality (and the nightmares!) – and at the end of the day, what has me coming back is the characters not the killings. My hope is that the season completes a story arc and has something to say rather than being an ultra-violent procedural – I remain skeptical but optimistic!

  • BBQ

    I love this show, I love your breakdowns, andi love hannibals ties…. Thursday Trifecta

  • randommale7

    I really liked the cinematography of Coquilles it seemed even better but then again it was directed by Guillermo Navarro

  • SteakNEggs

    I’m really sorry that episode 4 isn’t going to be aired in the States — it really did seem like it was an outstanding episode. I don’t remember the last time I was so riveted by YouTube videos.

    I was going to tune in to this show no matter what, because I’m such a blubbering, gushing fan of Mads Mikkelsen, but I’m finding the entire show — everything about it — fascinating.

  • Fudgefase

    Can you please send me links for the webisodes or youtube vids that work in the UK?

  • Anonymous

    The pseudo-supernatural element is a necessary part of the show, it is a very important aspect of Red Dragon; this is idea that serial killers/monsters can recognise similar condition in each other.

  • Ely

    This show is simply amazing,I can even say without any doubt that it’s the most interesting show I’m currently watching so I always love to read what other people think of it and I totally agree with what you wrote about both episodes.
    I first want to say that I may respect the decison that Bryan Fuller made about the fourth episode but I don’t like it and I still hope I’ll see that episode as whole sooner or later because I’ve found the episode a little bit aseptic..I liked it and I liked the relationship that was created between Abigail,a character I do love,and Hannibal but still I wanted a case and I’m sure it would have been an interesting one,oh well..I’m not sure we’ll see Abigail again,I read she won’t be there anymore,but I hope they’re wrong because I think her character needs more development and I want to see where she’ll go and what she’ll choose to do with her life.
    The fifth episode was interesting,I liked the bit about the heads on fire but yeah,it was a weird case,maybe not the best one because they didn’t gave us the answers to some questions but it was still interesting..I liked the contrast between Hannibal and Will’s relationship and Will and Jack’s one,we already know that Lecter is a manipulative character but it was great to see how able he was to insinuate himself into Will’s mind trying to tell him what he prefers to listen to..it’s not easy because Will knows that something is not right,maybe he doesn’t know yet or maybe he doesn’t want to know because he needs help,he craves for it and thinks Lecter is the only one who can help him,and we were able to see how torn he was between what he needs and what he fears.

  • Wally

    I agree with every word . I was shocked too when Will thanked Hannibal for “Feeding the dogs” , I really , as you did , thought he broke in . Also , the rabbit scene was a category of it’s own .
    I’m very glad too that , regardless of how good or bad the COTW, Hannibal is actually really fresh and “Original” . It really is new and had things we , or at least the detective drama junkie that is myself , haven’t seen before . Hopefully it won’t get canceled after the first season for “Low rating” …

  • Wally

    I agree with every word . I was shocked too when Will thanked Hannibal for \"Feeding the dogs\" , I really , as you did , thought he broke in . Also , the rabbit scene was a category of it\’s own .
    I\’m very glad too that , regardless of how good or bad the COTW, Hannibal is actually really fresh and \"Original\" . It really is new and had things we , or at least the detective drama junkie that is myself , haven\’t seen before . Hopefully it won\’t get canceled after the first season for \"Low rating\" …