Let’s redub this episode “Even Cannibals Need Friends”, shall we? For the first time in the series, ‘Sorbet’ asks us to see Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen) as more than a wolf in sheep’s clothing and actually identify with him. Yes, folks, we’re getting a peek beneath the good doctor’s “person suit”. So what do we see?
Let’s bitch it out…One of the things that ‘Sorbet’ does well is create a lot of symmetry between scenes. I’m referring to scene that, although intercut, speak volumes about the ones preceding or succeeding them. This isn’t a new narrative device for the show, which has emerged as one of the most technically well-constructed television shows on network TV in terms of deliberateness in mise-en-scene (framing, lighting, costume, etc). In this case the editing is seamlessly interwoven with the narrative as the order, pacing and timing of scenes is especially important to telling the story.
Take scenes involving two new characters: on one hand we have Franklin, Dr. Lecter’s overly needy patient who desperately wants to be the good doctor’s friend. Franklin is clearly too attached to his doctor/patient relationship, so much so that he’s nearly stalking Lecter at the opera and the cheese store. Questionable friendship aside, Franklin’s inquiry about their relationship is what drives ‘Sorbet’: if he and Lecter share so many qualities, why can’t they be friends? The fact that these questions are addressed in Lecter’s own psychiatry session with the second new character, Dr. Bedelia Du Maurier (Gillian Anderson) is telling. The fact that her answers are repeated verbatim by Lecter in his session with Will (Hugh Dancy) immediately thereafter is even more telling.
As a character, Du Maurier is enigmatic. Anderson (*swoon*) plays her as a curt, icy-cold woman – the kind you might almost imagine Lecter being sexually attracted to. They’re very much the same kind of person and their similarities – and presumably her unique status as the only person to see-through his “veil”ed “person suit” demeanour – are likely the reason that they continue to have sessions, despite her retirement from active practice. There’s a distinct element of mentorship at play here, echoed not only verbally, but also Du Maurier’s willingness to imbibe “patients” she likes with wine – a practice that Hannibal adopts on Will for their “evening” session.
Does Hannibal see Will as a friend? Perhaps. I think their relationship goes much deeper than something as simple as friendship. Lecter’s consultation work with the FBI is an outlet for him: an opportunity to actively engage with humanity. Otherwise he’s simply alone at the opera or in his office. Now, whether that human engagement with Will constitutes friendship is unknown – sure Lecter seems genuinely disappointed that Will misses their appointment (so much so that he tracks Will down), but it’s questionable whether he truly wants to see Will. Perhaps Hannibal simply doesn’t want to be alone.
Regardless of the status of their friendship, there remains a definite connection between the two men. There’s also a very deliberate rocking of the boat in the episode’s climax when Will watches Lecter save Devon Silvestri’s victim in the back of the ambulance. As Lecter works to stop the bleeding and save a life (the opposite action to the one that he later admits led to the end of his life as a surgeon), the veil is lifted for Will (or at least the process of lifting it begins). In a medium close-up shot that holds an extra beat longer than normal, Will seemingly sees something in Lecter: the Chesapeake Ripper.
Is this the beginning of the end for these two? Only time will tell…
- As Collider notes in their recap, the multiple psychiatrists (and now multiple therapy sessions) evoke an In Treatment vibe
- There’s a certain amount of comedy to be found in the victim rolodex/recipe box connection, including the ridiculously high number of casaulties that Hannibal hacks up to prepare his “feast”. Props to the prop department for making my stomach turn as the list of organs is intercut with images of Hannibal dicing, mincing and blending. Barf
- I’m admittedly a little disappointed that Hannibal is, in fact, the Chesapeake Ripper. Last week it seemed as though there was a chance that Lecter is so good that he can emulate other killers to cover up his own crimes. Perhaps having him be the Ripper makes it easier to narratively stream-line his eventual capture since we know that the FBI are already on his trail
- Regarding the issue of Lecter’s sexuality, I’ll admit that I don’t really think of him as a sexual creature. Or perhaps I associated his cannibalism with a kind of sexual appetite (consider the look he gives Franklin and Demore Barnes’ Tobias at the opera before inquiring who’s hungry). And yet, in his pre-dinner with Dr. Bloom (Caroline Dhavernas), there’s a clear flirtatious vibe. Perhaps this is part of his coping mechanism: he mimics people’s body language and tone? (Or perhaps only in the company of women?)
- As a follow-up to last week’s episode, both Jack Crawford (Laurence Fishburne) and Will are clearly spiralling. While Will continues to imagine himself as Abigail’s (Kacey Rohl) father in waking dreams, Jack is symbolically substituting his deceased protégé Miriam Lass (Anna Chlumksy) for Will. As we hit the half-way mark of the season, it’s clear that both of these men’s stories can only end in tragedy
- While I don’t want Hannibal to go down a conventional route and eliminate one of the primary cast members, if they do, I sincerely hope it’s Brian (Aaron Abrams). While Scott Thompson is distracting because of his familiarity, Abrams’ Brian is a frustrating nuisance. Hetienne Park’s Beverly has been developing little by little over the last few episodes (although she’s still far from great), but Brian steadfastly remains a pompous jackass. We like Will. Brian likes to butt heads with Will. Hence, we don’t like Brian. Eat him, Hannibal!
- Thank goodness Gillian Anderson is coming back next episode. Her appearance is far too brief to be satisfactory
- Everyone catch another Bryan Fuller favourite, Ellen Greene (Pushing Daisies‘ Aunt Viv!) as Lecter’s high society dining companion? Man I miss the pie man
- Finally, does anyone else think that the writers don’t know what to do with Freddie Lounds (Lara Jean Chorostecki)? Considering Chorostecki is billed as a main actor, it’s a little surprising how many episodes she’s absent from. To be clear, I’m not complaining since she’s often poorly used when she does appear. I just think it’s unusual
- Du Maurier (to Lecter): “You are wearing a very well-tailored person suit”
Your turn: was this sorbet sweet enough for you? Did you enjoy spending more intimate time with Hannibal, or do you prefer him at arm’s length? What are your thoughts on Lecter’s relationship with Dr. Du Maurier – or Dr. Bloom for that matter? And does the fact that all of the people who piss Lecter off end up on his meat rolodex make you want to be nicer to stranger? Discuss below
Hannibal airs Thursdays on NBC. Please note that 1×08 ‘Fromage’ will begin a little later than usual at 10:15pm EST to accommodate the series finale of the The Office