So we’re over the half-way point of Season 1, and Hannibal’s fascination with Will has gone from amused manipulation to a possibility of friendship, based on their similarities, made piquant by their differences. This episode is all about friends – lovable, edible or just annoying.
Last episode we met Tobias (Demore Barnes), a friend of Hannibal’s (probably) most annoying patient, Franklyn (Dan Fogler, from Fantastic Beasts). Tobias is teaching a kid violin and talking about superior strings. “Are they made of cat guts?” the kid wants to know. “Not always” answers Tobias, and we then see him making new strings for the orchestra. They are guts, but not from cats.
Franklyn is trying to “be” Hannibal – he has googled “psychopaths” and wants to discuss whether Tobias is crazy. Whether he is a “psychopath”. Whether Franklyn himself is a psychopath. Hannibal tells Franklyn he is not a psychopath, although “you may be attracted to them.” He certainly likes Hannibal a lot. And Tobias. He wants them to be his friends.
The murder victim in this episode (Baltimore is such a dangerous place!) is the trombonist from the Baltimore Metropolitan Orchestra. The killer has jammed a cello down his throat and played him – created a sound – “my sound”.
But why go to all that trouble? Franklyn tells Hannibal that Tobias had been talking about cutting someone’s throat and playing them like a violin – exactly what the FBI found. Will has a theory:
Why would he tell Franklyn about it though?
Hannibal goes to visit Tobias, talks about strings, composing or discovering music on his preferred instrument: the Theremin. With a little coded chat, they soon determine that they have a lot in common.
Will wants to be (more than) friends with Alana – he kisses her, but she bolts. Tobias comes to dinner at Hannibal’s home, at which he admits he was going to kill Hannibal.
“Of course you were. I’m lean. Lean animals yield the toughest gut.”
Tobias says he changed his mind after following Hannibal to a bus depot, presumably the one referenced last episode (where the victim was cut in two and left sitting across the bus aisle from himself). He knows that Hannibal is the Ripper. Hannibal is not pleased. Tobias doesn’t care about being investigated by the FBI – he will just kill whoever they send to investigate him. Hannibal considers this reckless, and that’s not a term of praise, particularly when that might lead them back to Hannibal. But Tobias, of course, wants to be Hannibal’s friend. He wants a friend who understands him (and isn’t too fussed at the use of human body parts).
But Hannibal is not putting up with reckless friends, even if they have common hobbies.
Tobias asks why, then, did Hannibal invite him for dinner?
Now that is a great line.
They are on the verge of sorting it out with extreme prejudice when Will arrives seeking lonely hearts advice: “I kissed Alana!” Tobias beats it out of the window, and Will gets to eat the dessert he missed. He also gets to tell Hannibal about his latest symptoms – on top of sleepwalking and getting headaches, he is now hearing the cries of wounded animals – the latest was, he thought, in his chimney, which led to some drastic and unnecessary renovations. He admits to being “unstable.” Hannibal clearly decides he needs a challenge, and leaks the information about Tobias and his strings, and suggests Will should go investigate him. He knows Tobias will try to kill any investigators. But Will needs a challenge if he is to grow and become a true protégé. He needs to grow, and “to become”. That is the central theme of all Lecter texts.
Hannibal discusses all this with Bedelia, his psychiatrist, in one of the most fascinating exchanges of the show:
H: I met a man much like myself [Tobias of course]. Same hobbies. Same worldview. But I’m not interested in being his friend. I’m curious about him. And that got me curious about friendship.
B: Whose friendship are you considering?
H: [Now he’s talking about Will Graham] He’s nothing like me. We see the world in different ways, yet he can assume my point of view.
B: It’s nice when someone sees us, Hannibal. Or has the ability to see us. It requires trust. Trust is difficult for you.
H: You’ve helped me to better understand what I want in a friendship and what I don’t.
Will and a couple of cops turn up to interview Tobias about the strings made from the unfortunate trombonist’s vocal chords, but Will is distracted by one of his imaginary distressed animal sounds. By the time he gets back inside, the cops are dead (they are clearly redshirts) and Will follows Tobias down the basement steps, much as Clarice followed Jame Gumb in Silence of the Lambs. There is an underground shoot out, just like – yep. Except Clarice appears to be a much better shot than Will.
Then there’s the whole Franklyn/Tobias/Hannibal thing that has to be resolved, and Hannibal is just the man for that sort of thing. Followed, of course, by the Goldberg Variations.
The Baltimore PD come to tidy up afterwards, with Jack and Will. There is a tender moment of blossoming friendship:
Then Hannibal is back at Bedelia’s place, talking about responsibility. Does he feel responsible for Franklyn? Did Bedelia feel responsibility when she was attacked by her patient [and yes, we’ll hear a lot more about that in the future]? Yes, she says.
Was Tobias a cannibal? We didn’t see him eat anyone, but there were a lot of body parts about his basement, and abuse and exploitation don’t always have to be about eating, do they? He and Hannibal actually did have a lot in common. But he was too rash, too reckless. He could never be a protégé nor a friend. A friend would need to be a lot more vulnerable.