“the very air has screams”: HANNIBAL Season 1 Episode 10 (Fuller, 2013)

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Be honest: do you still wonder, perhaps late at night, if there is someone/something under your bed? This episode is called “Buffet Froid” (cold buffet) and starts with a young woman returning to her home on a cold, dark night, wisely ignoring rattling noises in her shed and heading inside, but we know from the statue outside that things aren’t going to go well.

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She tucks herself into bed but then hears water dripping through her ceiling. She heads up the dark, musty stairs to the attic to investigate – a big lump of her roof is missing. She staples plastic over the hole, but we’re outside, and we can see footprints. When she gets back to her room, she sees puddles, perhaps footprints, and as she reaches her bed, she is dragged underneath it and killed.

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Meanwhile, Will is getting more and more unstable. He draws a clock for Hannibal (a simple test for neurological problems). It looks fine to him. But to Hannibal:

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He goes fishing and cuts up the fish which bleeds profusely, like a human, and suddenly he is at the crime scene where the woman was killed, and he seems to be the killer. He rushes from the room, covered in blood, having contaminated the crime scene.

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Now even Jack is concerned. Officially. Hannibal offers to refer Will to a Neurologist, but says if there is no physiological cause found, he will have to accept a diagnosis of mental illness. Which is precisely where Hannibal is steering him. Hannibal accompanies Will to the Neurologist, Dr Sutcliffe (John Benjamin Hickey), but while Will is having a brain scan, Hannibal tells Sutcliffe that Will has encephalitis. How does he know? He says he smelt it.

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The scan shows massive inflammation on Will’s brain, but Hannibal persuades Sutcliffe to say there is nothing wrong, so that they can study Will’s response. For the good of science, of course.

But Hannibal’s plans don’t only require Will to think he is going insane – Jack needs persuading too. Hannibal tells him about the Neurological examination over a post-dinner brandy, then has a fascinating exchange about how Will’s empathy – his “mirror neurons” – make him vulnerable.

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Hannibal and Sutcliffe (they were at Hopkins together – presumably Johns rather than Anthony) meet for dinner and discuss a rare and expensive form of pork – jamon iberico. We learn that Hannibal loves his treats: the more expensive and difficult to obtain they are, the better. They decide that, if the eater decides the meat is superior, then belief determines value. “A case of psychology overriding neurology” points out Hannibal. This banter of course is really about Will Graham. What makes Will rare enough for Hannibal to care about?

So they have set his mind on fire, but when will they put it out? “Will is my friend” says Hannibal. He’ll put it out when it’s necessary.

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But Sutcliffe is running more tests on Will, which is not part of Hannibal’s plan. As Will comes out of the scanner, he finds the room deserted. Sutcliffe is very dead: he has had his face peeled back, like the woman at the start of the episode, and of course everyone assumes it is the same killer, the one under the bed, Georgia Madchen (Ellen Muth).

That night, as Will sleeps fitfully, his multiple stray dogs start to bark and growl. He realises Madchen is back – under his bed.

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He persuades her that she is alive, and not alone. She comes in for treatment. How much, Jack wants to know, will she remember?

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Although she has a disease in which she cannot see faces, she has witnessed Hannibal kill Sutcliffe and then hand her the scissors.

Remembering would be dangerous.

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