HANNIBAL Recap: “Sorbet”

     May 9, 2013


Tonight’s Hannibal contained a line that was meant to describe that Chesapeake Ripper, but accurately defines the show: its brutalization hides elegance and grace.  “Sorbet” started off with the most elegant of scenes: an operatic performance during which Hannibal actually showed emotion.  Were his eyes welling with tears? Everything in Hannibal’s life is art — his recipes are impeccably hand-written in almost a calligraphy scrawl, his appointment book is neat and clean, as is his office and his extremely organized refrigerator.  His index card Rolodex is carefully compiled, not haphazardly arranged, and of course the neatness and perfection of his cooking brings applause from his dinner guests.  But “Sorbet” doesn’t let us forget how brutal the killings that make that meal possible are.  Hit the jump to find out which wine pairs best with human spleen.

hugh dancy hannibal sorbetThe Chesapeake Ripper case continued this week.  There was some question last week as to whether Hannibal was the Ripper, or just joining in on the fun like he did with the Hobbs murders.  I think this week those questions can be laid to rest.  Will profiles the Ripper as someone who is consistently theatrical, and who sees him victims as pigs, not people or even prey.  Hannibal later offers up the idea that the he / the Ripper doesn’t feel the people are deserving of their organs.  This goes along with the fact that these are “pests” he has “swatted,” publicly shaming them for undignified behavior.  As we saw in the case of the unfortunate medical examiner this week, the smallest of slights can have you carved up and served for dinner.

Hannibal moving closer to the investigation of himself (though there will still be twists, as we saw in the promo for next week) is the inevitable point of the series, but because it’s known it’s not as fascinating.  Instead, the series’ greatest trick is still its visuals and atmosphere, particularly regarding Will.  Though we got some delightful shots this week that had us traveling through the human body like the Magic School Bus, the real beauty was in Will’s reenactments of the crimes and in his hallucinations.

The rest of the episode felt like, more than ever (because I’ve mentioned this before) an episode of HBO’s In Treatment.  Hannibal had a session with Will (and one non-session later), along with a clingy and misguided patient named Franklin, whose friend Tobias seems to be of interest to Hannibal.  The promos for next week suggest Tobias is also a killer.  Franklin sure can’t pick ‘em.  But Hannibal also had his own therapy session with a retired psychiatrist played by Gillian Anderson.  On the heels of Franklin practically begging Hannibal to be friends with him — a request he can barely tolerate hearing — Hannibal regurgitates the sentiment to his own therapist, and also to Will, which was intriguing.  Is he mimicking how a desire for intimacy should sound?

hannibal sorbet mads mikelsenHannibal’s therapist (apologies, I didn’t catch her name — oh the perils of live reviewing) gives us an interesting insight into him, though not necessarily one we couldn’t have guessed on our own.  The repetition of the phrase “person suit” though was particularly creepy, as was “human veil.” Hannibal doesn’t exactly react to either.  He’s not human, in a way — Mads Mikkelsen plays him robotically, but I don’t mean to say that in a negative light.  His coolness fits his sterile and tidy lifestyle (aside from his killings, which I suppose are also neat and tidy, really), and it makes those moments when he does crack a smile (like when Jack asks him to join the investigation), or when he eyes (perhaps) well with tears all the more shocking.  What made this man who he is? There is a version in the original book series that seeks to answer that, and I’m interested to see where the show takes it.  In Will’s description, he’s a poor, pathetic creature that should die, but simply won’t.

For now, the show is setting up several things: a very odd love triangle with Will, Alana and Hannibal, Jack’s growing obsession with catching the Chesapeake Ripper, Will’s descent into madness, and Hannibal toying with everyone as they try to find, well, him.  What continues to make this show so compelling though are its stunning visuals.  With news coming down the pike this week and next regarding the fates of new and current TV shows, we may know soon what shall befall Hannibal.  With 32 pilots on NBC’s slate so far, it doesn’t look particularly promising, though the network does seem to want it to survive.  Still, ratings are steady and I have faith.  Keep watching, folks!

Episode Rating: A

Musings and Miscellanea:

hannibal sorbet laurence fishburne– Even though this was a building block episode in terms of plot, it was the most visually stunning episode yet.  Unbelievably so.  Gorgeously deranged.

– Why do we even have to bother with a Case of the Week? The Silvestri thing came out of nowhere and meant nothing.

Pushing Daisies fans will recognize that opera-going friend of Hannibal’s as Ellen Greene, who played Aunt Vivian Charles.

– Has anyone else noticed that in the crime lab there’s always an X-ray of a skull with a knife in it on the monitor?

– The forensic crew tried to define themselves more this week, but so far they seem to boil down to Sassy Chick, Surly / Smug Guy, and Scott Thompson.

– Tyromancy! Oh my R’hllor sign me up.  Divination of cheese??

– Human sausage though.  And spleen in a blender! The meat montage was … something.

– So I guess they were convinced Eddie Izzard wasn’t the Ripper.  And where is Abigail Hobbs? (as I exclaim each week) besides in Will’s waking dreams?

– Zombie Will.  What was that all about?

– This was the first week I watched the show live, and I don’t know how you guys do it.  Creepy to the max.  I had to keep checking my doors were locked.


  • Moses D.

    That was Gillian Anderson playing Dr. Lecter’s therapist.

    • Lemonade

      Thanks for stating the obvious. But the writer just couldn’t remember the characters name.

  • pinkincide

    Had to give up on this series. I can take only so much relentless melancholy.

    • vicious1fan

      Thus is every drama on TV?

  • Nietzsche

    Completely different from Anthony Hopkins portrayal I think this episode shows a compellingly perspective and uniquely intricate personality of Mads interpretation of his own “Hannibal Lecter” universe. In the film, Anthony was more robotic and psychological systematic with details while Mad was more analytic and non-apathetic protruding into the realm of a person who struggles with PTSD.

  • MadsAboutHugh

    I’m surprised that no one has mentioned the visual references to The Shining. In, I believe, ep. 1 “Apéritif” there was the men’s bathroom set that Will and Jack have a conversation in that was nearly identical to the bathroom set where Jack Torrance and Grady the butler have their conversation about Grady having murdered his family. In tonight’s episode there was the apartment with that green wallpaper where they find one of the victims that was nearly identical to the infamous “Room 237″. Has anyone else noticed this? Are there other sets, perhaps from other films, I may have missed?

    • Eddie

      Apologies, as I forget where I saw it, but there was an
      extensive interview with Bryan Fuller about this very topic. He said how the
      Shining was one of the bedrock movies that made him want to get into film, and
      that he had always wanted to use that striking red-on-white bathroom set. We
      also see that same striking combination in Hannibal’s office; everything is
      subdued, dark hues…except the red and white striped curtains.

    • http://twitter.com/eshowoman Friday Foster-ABWW

      I thought I was the only one who caught The Shining references.

  • bear9

    Bryan Fuller livetweeted this week. Apparently, the hotel bathroom where they find the bathtub body was a design homage to the Overlook Hotel. Side-by-side pics were pretty creepy.
    And I loved how Hannibal practically jumped out of his person suit when Will said the humiliation of Crawford had worked.

  • vicious1fan

    Damnit NBC renew this greatness now!

  • Eddie

    What a great episode. It was not just visually rich and
    beautifully shot, but the story is really ramping up toward something big. I
    cannot wait to see how this season ends! That being said, I DEFINTELY want a
    second season (come on NBC!). This is easily
    the best hour of horror I’ve seen on a network TV show, and with all the taut
    psychological tension of Silence of the Lambs. I watched it on Thursday and
    decided to watch it again on my commute to my job at DISH this morning. I ride the light rail and always have
    either my Kindle or my iPad with me. With the DISH Anywhere app, I can stream live or recorded shows from home to
    my iPad, just like I did this morning with Hannibal. I can’t wait for next
    week’s episode!

    • pease

      well you’re the worst.

  • Lecter

    I think Hannibal’s therapist is only in his mind. When Will arrived Hannibal was drinking wine from his imaginary session.

    • nekoi

      Finally! Agreed.