If last week‘s episode was all about Hannibal (Mads Mikkelsen) needing a friend, this week it is all about why maybe he shouldn’t.
Let’s bitch it out…Thus far Hannibal has given us more than its fair share of memorable visuals, so it’s nice to have a corresponding episode involving aural experiences. In the last few weeks there has been a rise in the prominence of white-noise – it’s our aural cue for Will Graham’s (Hugh Dancy) slowly unraveling mind. This trend continues in ‘Fromage’, but in a new form: Will hears the sounds of wounded dogs. First in the fields outside his house, then in his chimney and finally a car accident that saves him from murder by Tobias Budge (Demore Barnes). The fact that dogs are akin to family for Will is not a good sign.
This new breed of sound suggests an escalation in Will’s mental illness in a very personalized manner. White noise was a tuning-out, a disconnect with the real world that contains the horrible things that Will confronts in each case. Unfortunately he’s internalizing this disease; it began with nightmares, then progressed into waking visions. It’s always accompanied by white noise, but with the dogs, there’s no indication of sleep. Will is clearly awake and not hallucinating, and yet he’s hearing sounds of animals. Worse still, he admits that he knows that the dogs are not real.
What’s encouraging in this increasingly ill-fated development (if there is anything encouraging) is that Will acknowledges the truth. He knows that Alana (Caroline Dhavernas) is checking in on him because she’s worried about him (we’re meant to believe that that’s why he makes a move on her – more on that later). And he eventually tells Hannibal that he knows that the dogs aren’t real. Admitting you have a problem is the first step to recovery, but it still means you have a problem. In Will’s case, this problem isn’t going to go away or get better unless he stops working these cases and seeks help. But that’s unlikely to happen so long as Jack Crawford (Laurence Fishburne) and Hannibal continue to manipulate him.
Like many crime serials (including creator Bryan Fuller’s last show, Pushing Daisies), the emotional beats mirror the case of the week. In ‘Fromage’, it’s burgeoning murderer Tobias, whom we were introduced to last week through Hannibal’s patient, Franklin (Dan Fogler). In another uniquely beautiful murder scene, Tobias kills people to use their parts as violin strings. The fact that Tobias wants to be friends with Hannibal makes sense – literally. The two are both serial killers with finely tuned senses: Hannibal’s is taste and Tobias’ is sound. You can almost hear the hope and optimism in Tobias when he confesses to Lecter at their private dinner that he’s always wanted to meet someone like him.
Unfortunately, as Hannibal explains to his psychiatrist, Bedelia Du Maurier (Gillian Anderson), he has no interest in Tobias. This makes sense for two reasons: 1) Tobias is just like Franklin – he’s far too eager. There’s no challenge for Hannibal and ultimately he kills both Tobias and Franklin in favour of someone he deems worthy. And therein lies the second reason Hannibal has no interest: why does he need Tobias when he has Will? As he tells Du Maurier, Will is someone to call friend, but also someone to test. For the last eight episodes their relationship has been a game (a one-sided game, but a game nonetheless). Just like Will’s descent into illness, Hannibal’s games will continue until Will discovers exactly what Hannibal has been up to. Until then, however, our favourite psychiatrist / cannibal has made a friend.
- We know that Hannibal is in no real danger of being killed by Tobias (putting your hero in danger is a tired trope on the best of days, but it’s especially pedantic in a prequel). However, the fight scene between him and the enraged musician is so well staged and shot that I keep forgetting, especially considering the punishment doled out
- Anderson’s Du Maurier thankfully returns, but I still want more. The tantalizing plot-thread that she was attacked by a patient is intriguing. I definitely hope we see more of her before the end of the season because I want details
- Will finally admits that he finds Dr. Bloom attractive (“kissable” to be exact). I took the kiss both ways: he genuinely likes her, but he knows that she knows he’s crazy and therefore uses affection to distract her. I’m curious whether this flirtatious relationship will go any further
- RIP Franklin. There must have been something about him that attracts killers. Maybe it was his cologne?
- Finally, the fromage (cheese) course is served between the main course and dessert. Last week’s ‘Sorbet’ was the palate cleanser (although if we consider how many bodies Hannibal stacked up, perhaps it should have been the entree). Next week is another palate cleanser: Trou Normand
- Hannibal (wordplaying with Tobias): “It seems we are both comfortable playing unconventional notes.”
- Hannibal (after confessing he planned to kill Tobias): “I didn’t poison you, Tobias. I couldn’t do that to the food.”
How did you find this mini-“Hannibal wants a friend” arc? Have you been missing Jack Crawford? What about Abigail? Have you found Du Maurier as fascinating as I have? And will Jack and Alana grow closer, or will her “professional curiousity” keep her away? Sound off below
Hannibal airs Thursdays at 10pm EST on NBC