Last week, Hannibal introduced a brand new vision of the Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen) saga with stunning tableaux of death and surreal dream-like imagery. Does week two of NBC’s reboot continue to amaze?
Let’s bitch it out…
Hannibal is shaping up to be one of those procedural series that excels at maintaining a sense of continuity and character development. Much like my dearly beloved Last Resort earlier this year (though hopefully with greater success), Hannibal is proving well adept at balancing its procedural and mythology elements. Thus far the series has presented us with two serial murder cases in two weeks, and yet the show clearly remains interested in the mental state of its characters.
Last week was the Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) show as we were introduced to – and spent the majority of our time with – the damaged former police officer as he re-entered the field to consult. This week is all about the fall-out of the Garret Jacob Hobbs (Vladimir Cubrt) case: the daughter, Abigail (Kacey Rohl), remains in the hospital in a coma and Will is plagued by dreams of her dead father. But because this is serial television, Jack Crawford (Lawrence Fishburne) needs Will on a new case, prompting Will’s entry into therapy with Dr. Lecter, as well as a disgustingly gruesome new tableau involving diabetic bodies turned into mushroom fertilizers. Ick to the max.
The visuals are once again a thing of beauty, but this week there’s also a healthy dose of symbolism at work in the staging. Hannibal’s most dynamic visual sensibilities continue to be Will’s visions as he recreates crime scenes (again with himself in the place of the killer). These images are now joined by his nightmares: the opening images of Hobbs’ floating body rapidly advancing on Will at the gun range is genuinely creepy, and his dream of a stag walking the hallways of the hospital is unsettling.
What I most appreciate about ‘Amuse-Bouche’, however, is the staging – particularly in the Will/Lecter scenes. At the top of the hour, Will is understandably reluctant to have his “head shrunk” (by either Lecter or Caroline Dhavernas’ Alana Bloom). This is reinforced visually in Will’s first session with Lecter as he stands up on the catwalk of the office, high above the doctor, unwilling to descend or meet him on the same level. During their second meeting, Will is more accepting of Hannibal’s help as he confides in him things he did not tell Crawford and their discussion takes place face to face on the ground floor. In the final scene of the episode, their connection has been cemented and both assume their respective seats (roles) as “doctor” and “patient”. In this way even though Will continues to challenge and combat Hannibal on the philosophical nature of murder and killing, their staging and body language has reassured us of the change in their relationship.
A similar sequence is evident when new character Freddie Lounds (Lara Jean Chorostecki) enters Lecter’s office under the pretense of shopping for a psychiatrist. As expected she’s barely within the office doors for a moment before he’s unmasked her as a tabloid journalist. Their resulting conversation on the couch is far more interesting. It’s a game of cat and mouse that Freddie stands no chance of winning – Hannibal makes it clear who is in charge the moment that he sits in the middle of his ornate couch, forcing her to assume the less dominant role by selecting a seat near the edge. At this point he forces her to erase her own recording. In a lesser show, he would have simply done this himself, but the difference speaks volumes about the power hierarchy. It’s subtle, but effective. Sure, in a way Freddie still gets the better of him when her story comes out, but it ends up blowing up in her face – literally, in fact, when the killer pharmacist shoots the “fired” cop’s head all over her face. Amuse-bouche indeed!
- Amuse-bouche, for those of you who are culinary-challenged like me, means “single, bite-sized hors d’œuvre”. Judging from the heavy weight of the mediations Will goes through in this episode, I’d say that the title is an understatement
- With the pilot behind us, we get our first look at the striking opening credits of the show and they’re worth the wait: blood spray patterns form a human skull (Hannibal’s?). Very a pro pros for the series and arguably the best credits for a freshman show this side of Elementary
- We’re starting to get a sense of what began to turn Will into the damaged man who hadn’t ventured into the field until last week. Plot point #1: he was stabbed when he was a cop
- Chelan Simmons plays the pharmacist’s final victim (the one rescued by Will from the trunk). Series creator Bryan Fuller loves to reuse his favourite actors, so it’s no surprise to see a former Wonderfalls actress pop up (Side Note: even though it’s criminal that she and Dhavernas don’t get a scene together!). She even gets to vocalize a similar line to the one she delivered in the cult classic: “Lost the name. Kept the ring.” Which other familiar Fuller faces will pop up in the next few weeks?
- I’m glad that they toned down the supporting cast. Like TVAngie said last week when she covered the premiere in my absence, I could do away entirely with Hettienne Park’s Beverly. And Scott Thompson is still distracting as lab tech Jimmy.
- Is everyone else on board with the theory that there’s far more to Alana Bloom than meets the eye? Not only does she get deliver the line about being innocent until proven guilty, but Will’s dream of the stag in the hospital is visually and aurally matched to the sight and sound of her high heels. The stag thus far has been associated with both Hobbs and (more symbolically) as an image of death (captured nicely in the opening scene when Crawford and Will uncover the attic of taxidermied antlers). So…is Bloom evil? Connected to Lecter? An agent of death? Let’s brainstorm this…
- Will (when Crawford asks how class was): “They applauded. It was inappropriate.”
- Freddie (to Lecter): “It’s more or less a bake-off” Everything on this show pertains to food!
- Jimmy (when Jack asks if he wants to know about the killer’s browsing history): “No…and yes…but mostly no.”
How are you feeling about Hannibal week two? Do you like the procedural with healthy doses of character development formula? Are you noticing the distinctively visual nature of the narrative? Which Fuller MVP do you want to see drop-by next? Do you think that Alana Bloom is evil? And is there any way in hell that this show survives more than a few more episodes? Sound off below!
Hannibal airs Thursdays at 10pm EST on NBC