Who is the Ripper? HANNIBAL Season 1 Episode 6, (Fuller, 2013)

In this episode, we meet Abel Gideon (Eddie Izard), a doctor, like Hannibal, a killer, like Hannibal, and believed by Frederick Chilton (Raúl Esparza), the “keeper” of the Baltimore asylum for the criminally insane, to be the Chesapeake Ripper (who of course is really Hannibal). Gideon has been in the asylum for the last two years, since killing his wife and her family – on Thanksgiving. The murders ceased two years ago, and Chilton believes, therefore, that Gideon is the Ripper. Will doesn’t buy it.

Gideon kills a nurse in the psych hospital, a grisly murder which Will Graham kindly re-enacts for us (it’s just his thing), including a scene involving eyeballs that could come straight out of King Lear. The nurse’s body is laid out like the “wound man” diagram from mediaeval medical texts (the image that gave Hannibal away in Red Dragon). The nurse’s multiple wounds, however, were delivered post mortem, but Jack remembers taking his new recruit, Miriam Lass (Anna Chlumsky from Veep) to see a Ripper victim, where she deduces that the Ripper keeps the victim alive and conscious during the mutilations. Also, the Ripper removes organs, if only the yummy ones: liver and thymus.

Miriam Lass disappeared while illegally (with Jack’s tacit approval) chasing up the medical records of the victims of the Ripper. He is stricken with guilt and wants to catch the Ripper – enough to (as Will puts it) “get into bed” with Freddie Lounds whom they ask to publicly declare Gideon to be the Ripper. Hannibal is royally pissed off about this. No one gets to take credit for his work.

Now Jack is getting phone calls from Miriam – one while he is asleep in his bed, another from his bedroom while he is interviewing Gideon. Could she be alive after being classified as missing, presumed dead, for two years? The next one has a phone number attached – but when they trace it, they find not Miriam, but just her arm.

Miriam is present in this episode in flashbacks – always in black and white. Over a postprandial brandy, Hannibal asks Jack to share his memories of Miriam, but as the scene fades to a flashback, it is not Jack but Hannibal being interviewed by Miriam. She is asking him about a hunter he treated when a surgeon, who later became a victim of the Ripper. Then she finds a picture of the wound man on his desk (a direct reference to the way Will found out Hannibal in Red Dragon), and Hannibal comes up behind her in stockinged feet and grabs her by the neck.

So, dude – where’s my cannibal? No one is getting eaten in this episode, although there are hints of body parts being removed. But the episode is full of mental cannibalism – the preparation and consumption of thoughts. First – who are the psychopaths? Jack and Will are convinced Gideon is not the Chesapeake Ripper and hope to draw the real one out by getting Freddie to “confirm” a lie. They do something similar (insulting the Tooth Fairy) in the book/movie of Red Dragon, with rather drastic results. Freddie wants to know whether Gideon really is the Ripper. “Why not?” seems to be their reply. After all, Alana explains, “certain personalities are attracted to certain professions”. Psychopaths are attracted to roles as CEOs, lawyers and the clergy. Number five on the list, says Jack (and Miriam tells us the same thing in a flashback), is surgeons.

Number 6, sneers Will, is journalists. Number 7? Freddie makes Will say it: law enforcement. Well then:

Then we have that dinner party – our three favourite psychiatrists (at least until Bedelia makes an appearance next episode), those who feed on our diseased minds, discussing – what else? – tongues. Their tool, and their weapon.

Bloom and Chilton heap compliments as Hannibal serves one of his most gourmet dishes:

Inspired by August Escoffier, we are having Long Tangyuan en papillotte, served with a sauce of duxelles and oyster mushrooms. Picked myself.

They laugh about tongues (the main ingredient), although where would psychiatrists be without them? Alana hasn’t eaten tongue before; Hannibal responds that this was “a particularly chatty lamb” although who knows whose tongue it really is? Chilton, like all good dinner guests, has a story about the Romans, killing flamingos just to eat their tongues, and Hannibal responds with probably the second most famous Hannibal aphorism (after the one that got us all interested in Fava Beans):

Hannibal is speaking in tongues.

 

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