Episode two of Hannibal continues the human “colour palette” case from last week’s opener as Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) starts his own long con.
Let’s bitch it out…
The name of the game this week is proximity. There’s a recurring image of feet as everyone negotiate their proximity to other characters. This applies most often to women and their closeness to men; we repeatedly see female characters keep their distance, save for one key exception.
Early in the hour Alana Bloom (Caroline Dhavernas, in her only scene of the hour) and Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen) visit Will. Instead of visiting his cell, they meet with him in a large, open room that has a number of telephone booth sized cages, which almost makes Will look like a caged bird. Alana and Lecter stand behind the line (away from Will) and beside each other, but there is a distance between them. Despite Alana’s insistence to Will that Hannibal is not responsible for his situation, the distance between her and Hannibal is slightly exaggerated – it’s a subtle piece of staging intended to subconsciously convey the sense that they’re not together. This staging is literally recreated later in the hour when Beverly (Hetienne Park) and Hannibal visit Will to discuss the case. Substituting Bev for Alana subconsciously aligns Bev on Will’s side. And indeed, by this time she is, having agreed to his request to forget her knowledge of his case in exchange for his cooperation on the case.
The most obvious example of proximity is, of course, Dr. Bedelia Du Maurier (Gillian Anderson) who boldly drops Hannibal as a patient early in the hour. She’s clearly terrified of him (who wouldn’t be after his threat last week?), but she holds her composure well…at least until he begins to approach her. There are a few great shots of their feet as he stalks towards her and she steps back, her high heeled feet unsteady in close up. It’s simple, but so effective at conveying what’s occurring in their relationship. At this point I was already mourning Du Maurier’s passing since she clearly wouldn’t last the episode.
Symptoms of her farewell continue when she meets with Jack Crawford (Laurence Fishburne) to gain “closure on Hannibal Lecter”. She does everything but tell Jack that Lecter is a functioning psychopath, but Jack is so mired in his own troubled headspace (as evident in his own visit to Martin Donovan’s newly introduced therapist character). Jack laughably misinterprets her decision to “withdraw” as something that Hannibal might help with. At this point it’s impossible not to flash back to the awesome battle from last week’s premiere – it’s easy for Jack to suggest that Lecter can help now, but we know in just eleven weeks he’ll be singing a different tune. The difference in opinion (and mental state of mind) between Jack and Du Maurier is evident in their body language: she, always cold and detached, is ramrod straight in her chair while he is comfortably reclined in his. When the camera cuts from close-ups of their discussion to a long shot before they stand, the distance between them is made clear in the visual separation of their chairs.
With Jack unreachable, that leaves Will. In a scene that I wish NBC’s marketing team hadn’t spoiled, Du Maurier visits Will (now back in his cell), seductively trespassing past the white line to whisper to Will that she believes him. The conspiratorial tone suggests that she – like Alana and Bev – is on his side, but by this time it is already clear that Du Maurier is headed for the exit (likely at Lecter’s hands). Lo and behold the episode’s final scene finds her former patient – wearing his iconic kill suit – entering Du Maurier’s house to discover the furniture covered and only her bottle of perfume remaining. So she’s still alive, but the person that was in the best position to help Will has disappeared for the foreseeable furniture…
For Will his encounter with Hannibal’s therapist is a jarring episode, as indicated by the way that he clutches at the bars when she leaves. Remember that this is the nearest thing to human contact Will has had all episode. Alana and FBI investigator Kade Prurnell (Cynthia Nixon) both adhere to the bureaucratic rules to remain “behind the line” and Bev can barely refrain from flinching and backing away as they pass the case files back and forth. Only Lecter is invited closer, but this is simply a matter of preservation since Will has realized he must make nice with the cannibal until he can make good on his promise to deliver a reckoning. As evidenced by this episode, however, Will still has a long way to go: no one believes he is innocent save the woman who has now fled for her life to destinations unknown.
- The image of Will’s mental sanctuary – the river where he fly-fishes – polluted with bodies is striking. This image suggests that his hallucinations in S1, although primarily caused by illness, are also a normal byproduct of his gift.
- Interesting that Lecter’s mental projection while working the case are represented in identical visual terms as Will’s (that striking transition to Lecter in the cornfield). This is the most obvious instance this week that the men are doubles, though I am partial to the more artsy doubling of the eye in the silo (from the ground, the roof forms an eye and the ground is an “eye” of bodies when glimpsed from the hole in the roof).
- I love the moment that Lecter collides with members of the team as they examine the body in the morgue. It’s a subtle suggestion that Lecter doesn’t fit in Will’s shoes, as well as his inability to negotiate groups (consider that we rarely see him interact with more than one or two people at a time).
- I wondered how Will would handle his realization that Lecter killed the real killer considering Bev is standing right there. It doesn’t fit Will’s current agenda to accuse Lecter, but there is some tension. I briefly worried about Bev’s safety.
- The opening scene of the victim ripping out his stitches is truly disgusting, but the slasher chase scene that follows is fantastic. After such a gruesome experience, I found myself really rooting for the victim and the chase lasted long enough that it seemed plausible he might get away…right up to the moment he hit the rock wall on the way down to the river. Kudos to director Tim Hunter for ratcheting up the tension and getting us to invest in a character we don’t even know.
- I love that Du Maurier refers to Lecter’s “person suit.” All things considered, it’s a very “on point” insult and reinforces Du Maurier’s attempt to hold her own against her menacing former patient.
- At one point Will tells Lecter that some patients are found of pissing on visitors who get too close. As we know from The Silence Of The Lambs, that’s not the worst thing you can have thrown at you visiting this institution.
- Finally, in case you don’t know, according to online food dictionary whatamieating.com (that’s ironic), sakizuki is the appetizer in a Kaiseki-style restaurant.
- De Maurier (when Lecter says he’s resuming his treatment of Will): “Then maybe you deserve each other.”
- Lecter (after Bev suggests the killer has a colour palette): “Fascinating insight, Miss Katz. It’s as though Will Graham were here in the room.” Zing!
- Will (to Bev, discussing Chilton’s recording): “He’s…gossipy that way.”
- Du Maurier (explaining why she’s no longer treating Hannibal): “I’m not feeling comfortable right now.”
- Will (to Kade, as she outlines the plans to discredit him in court): “Sounds like I’m unemployed.”
- Will (to Du Maurier): “You’re Hannibal Lecter’s therapist. What’s that like?”
Your turn: what did you think of episode two? Were you on the edge of your seat for the opening? Did you expect Du Maurier to get out alive? Were you aware of the characters’ proximity to each other? Are you happy that Hetienne Park has a bigger role this season? Sound off below.
Hannibal airs Fridays at 10pm EST on NBC. Next week Will’s trial begins.