Another week, another stand-out episode of Hannibal. ‘Entrée’ marks the most direct connection to the series’ source material, Red Dragon and, of course, The Silence Of The Lambs. How does the homage fair?
Let’s bitch it out…As IGN reinforces in their review, ‘Entrée’ features a number of calling cards to the most famous of Dr. Lecter’s (Mads Mikkelsen) adventures. It’s hard not to feel a sense of dread (and glee) when we see the old familiar glass cells of the Baltimore State Hospital (Caroline Dhavernas’ Dr. Bloom even walks the same path as Clarice Starling). I’ll admit that I even chuckled/groaned when Dr. Lecter tells Dr. Chilton (Raul Esparza) how nice it is to “have an old friend for dinner.” Admittedly this kind of homage runs the danger of treading into overkill territory as the worst element of prequels is that they tell a story whose end is already known. Hannibal has thus far used this to its advantage, not only by keeping the references to Silence to a minimum, but also by making Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) its protagonist rather than try to find an ingenue to replace Jodie Foster’s Clarice.
It’s only natural that Hannibal would introduce Chilton and the Baltimore State Hospital eventually – after all, this is where Dr. Lecter will inevitably end up. ‘Entrée’ still feels a touchy gimmicky in its callbacks (forwards?), especially Lecter’s line to Chilton (it’s arguably the second most famous line after Chianti and Fava Beans). Still, in terms of laying the foundation of things to come, this could have been a great deal more heavy handed so I’m thankful that if these elements are introduced, they’re done so without being constantly thrown in your face.
What this episode does well is continue to emphasize the destructive nature of this line of work. Not only does Chilton reinforce Will’s fears about being seen as a freak, we’re starting to see cracks in Jack Crawford (Laurence Fishburne) as well. There are obvious parallels that are meant to be drawn between Jack’s star tutor, Miriam (Anna Chlumsky), and Clarice Starling – the key distinction is that Miriam fails to survive her encounter with Lecter, whereas Clarice (arguably) sets him free.
Jack’s obvious guilt about bringing Miriam in to help solve the Chesapeake Ripper case reinforces not only how dangerous this line of work is, but how much weight is accrued each case. Will may carry the mental baggage of stepping into these killers’ shoes, but as the series continues, it’s becoming increasingly clear that he’s not alone in his burden. No one walks away from these cases without incurring some kind of injury.
- An entrée, for those of you who don’t know, is the entrance into the main course. As AV TV Club suggests, “That’s what this episode is, an explicit entrance to a plot element—Hannibal equals killer—that will likely fuel the rest of the series”. Let’s hope they’re both right and wrong: as much as I want to see Will discover the truth about Lecter, I can’t say that that’s what most intriguing about the series to me. I feel like we’re only starting to get into this dark, tortured world and I would be disappointed if Lecter and Will go head to head anytime soon
- Full confession: the ending – featuring Miriam’s struggle with Dr. Lecter – is so abrupt that I thought the episode had cut out. Clearly there’s more to this story as we don’t know if Miriam is truly dead, if it is Dr. Lecter torturing Crawford with her recorded voice message or who is the Chesapeake Ripper. I suppose it’s possible that Lecter is the killer since it’s obvious that Chilton has brainwashed Abel Gideon (Eddie Izzard), but surely we’ll get some kind of confirmation, no?
- I found the use of Lara Jean Chorostecki’s Freddie Loundes much more palatable this round. Using her questionable journalism skills and a trashy exposé to smoke out the true Chesapeake Ripper is a stronger way to incorporate her into the narrative and doesn’t require plot holes the size of a small asteroid (like when she snuck into multiple crime scenes in the early episodes)
- This week’s technical lesson: body language is telling. Dr. Bloom conducts her interview with Gideon seated in a chair (another Clarice Starling callback) while Will stands as far away as possible, reclining dismissively against the wall. Of course, their goal is to conduct contrasting interviews, but Dr. Bloom is clearly unafraid of (using) her sexuality – an element that is remarked upon by both Gideon and Dr. Chilton
- As always, Will’s waking nightmares involving the deer are startlingly beautiful. I particularly like how this time it occurs immediately after Crawford angrily tells Zeller (Aaron Abrams) he knows when he’s awake. The increasingly loud white noise that accompanies the vision is particularly effective for evoking a sense of disassociation (prompting us to question whether he’s awake or asleep). Even though this is Will’s least involved episode yet, his disintegrating mental health – on display in this brief scene – will contribute mightily to the conflict as the season progresses
- Finally, I respect that the show is unapologetically adult in its treatment of violence and murder, but this week’s recreation of the night nurse’s murder feels unnecessarily graphic. The eye-gouging is gag inducing, but doesn’t contribute anything to our understanding of the crime. This specific shot come have been cut (simply show the poor woman crawling!) and the murder would have easily still retained its horror
- Will (frankly, after Alana makes a flirty suggestion that she was helpful to Chilton): “More or less”
- Will (referring to Freddie’s reputation): “Your brand of journalism is…obnoxious”
- Freddie (after they run down the list of common psychopathic professions): “Here we are, a bunch of psychopaths helping each other out”
- Lecter (to Chilton): “Nice to have an old friend for dinner.” This is either cheer inducing or groan-worthy. Personally, I prefer less of these campy, “tongue-in-cheek” quotes
What are your thoughts on ‘Entrée’? Did you want more from Will? Are you still interested in Jack’s marital distress? Did you love Esparza’s take on Dr. Chilton? Did you find the Silence Of The Lambs references too on the nose or just right? And do you hope we get more clarification about Miriam and the Chesapeake Ripper? Have your say in the comments below
Hannibal airs Thursdays at 10pm EST on NBC
*Please note that you can also download the banned episode ‘Ceuf’ in its entirety on iTunes. I’ll have a review available on Wednesday or Thursday after it airs internationally