First of all, if you hadn’t heard, Hannibal has been renewed for a second season, so everyone can breathe a sigh of relief. After that, go ahead and scream, because “Buffett Froid” was properly horrifying. It was also a great example of how a Case of the Week can be relevant and interesting, even if the stakes about who the killer is ultimately don’t mean much. But the killer in “Buffett Froid” had many parallels to Will’s illness (which also got a name), and provided some serious frights. Lock your doors (and windows and attics) and check under your bed with a knife, then hit the jump for why “I am your bedrock.”
Hannibal took a page from House this week and introduced us to a rare but fascinating condition known as Cotard Syndrome, where a patient believes he or she is a walking corpse, and lacks the ability to recognize faces. The freaky little bed troll killer this week was named Georgia, and was fully a monster until Will, with his penchant for strays, reminded her (as he has been himself) that she is alive, grabbing an armful of skin in the process.
Though we’ve been lead to believe that Will’s decline over the last ten weeks has been because of mental illness, Hannibal (and a brain scan) revealed this week that Will suffers from encephalitis, which is treatable. Instead, Hannibal treats Will like a lab rat, at least on the surface, and along with his neurologist friend Dr. Sutcliffe decides to not inform Will that his problems are physiological, instead continuing to make him believe they are psychological. Hannibal is conditioning Will just as he is doing to Abigail Hobbs.
“Buffett Froid” did a great job of putting a twist in the Will story by highlighting how both Hannibal and Jack are willing to use Will up and let him go mad for their own purposes, and for that of the greater good. It created an incredible amount of pathos for viewers towards the character of Will, who has been so hard to understand, until now we see his symptoms have a name, and it can be treated.
Georgia, the Cotard Syndrome girl, and Will shared many parallels — she needed reminding she was alive, and so does he. She doesn’t differentiate between reality and hallucinations, and his ability to tell the difference is fading, too. Her mother mentions how little is known about mental illness and what people are capable of, and all that does is further fuel Will’s fears. He no longer just reconstructs the crimes, he lives them. And Hannibal, fascinated, prompts him further.
The reveal at the end of the episode that Hannibal killed Dr. Sutcliffe was no real surprise — we’ve seen all season how Hannibal will follow up on the original kills with his own “flavor” and for his own purposes. The real question is motivation: did he kill Sutcliffe because he knew too much? Was he worried Sutcliffe would flip flop on him and give Will his real diagnosis? He wasn’t trying to frame Will for the murder (was he?) since he nonchalantly handed Georgia the scissors, but he did want Will to feel responsible one way or another (because “her” killing of Sutcliffe was only because of his connection to Will) to further manipulate him.
“Buffett Froid” was an old-fashioned fright-fest that showed just how precarious and pitiful Will’s situation is. His mental deterioration was happening so quickly though, I didn’t think he’d last the season. Maybe, after Hannibal reveals the truth (in his own time) and Will gets treatment he’ll “reset” and start, potentially, hunting Hannibal. Who knows. What we do know though is we get a whole second season to find out more.
Episode Rating: A-
Musings and Miscellanea:
— I’m still scared of things under the bed, so this episode scared the crap out of me. Currently all of my lights are on, and I’ve secured the perimeter with a knife in hand …
— I understood, kinda, the psychological concept of Cotard’s, but I do not get how she had red eyes and had skin falling off, and how that was reversible.
— Hannibal is usually quite sterile in the presentation of its corpses, as I noted last week, but this week was definitely a departure from that. Apparently that girl spouting blood had to be edited down for Standards and Practices to allow it. Bless them.
— The reveal that Will was drawing his clocks all wonky was great. And sad.
— The fish and the girl … this episode … aye yi yi.
— Peter Sutcliffee = the Yorkshire Ripper. Reference catch and God I am never sleeping again.
— Of course Hannibal can smell encephalitis. He’s like one of those cats at nursing homes who go and sit by people who are about to die.
— Interesting interaction between Will and Jack. Though Jack says he should be fully trusted, I’m not sure. Not that he’s up to anything nefarious, I just think that he will use an excuse possible to use Will and his abilities, and at any cost.
— This week, Will went from being Hannibal’s friend to being a weird and rare collection piece.
— Those who also watch The Good Wife will recognize John Benjamin Hickey, who plays Sutcliffe, as Neil Gross, founder of ChumHum.
— Jack’s fedora made me giggle in this episode, and I don’t know why.
— Will’s dogs are lousy guards or alarms.
— Hannibal fans on Twitter should follow series creator @BryanFuller, who live tweets the episodes and has a lot of freaky set pics to share.