Why do cannibals eat people? This episode looks at that question, and demonstrates that they do it for the same reason that anyone eats anything. Appetite and power. Hunger and dominance. They want to, and they can. Isn’t that why people eat other animals?
Hannibal had a near death experience in the previous episode and, as this one starts, he is playing harpsichord. As he explains to Alana Bloom, who is also a psychiatrist and into this stuff:
He is growing. Becoming, as he hopes Will is growing and becoming – becoming a killer and cannibal like him.
Well, Will is already a cannibal – as he says to Jack Crawford:
Look, people as a rule don’t like cannibals much. Will tells Jack that he (Will) has “contempt for the Ripper, contempt for what he does”. What does he do? Jack asks. In a piece of dialogue straight out of the interview between Clarice and Hannibal in Silence of the Lambs, Will tells us:
If Will was Hannibal, he’d quote Marcus Aurelius. But this is close enough. Jack points out that the killer harvests organs. That’s what he does, sure, but why? Why does he need to do it?
Will is quick to point out that Hannibal is not like Hobbs, who honoured the animals (human and other) that he killed and ate. He uses the word “sounder” (a collective noun for hogs) deliberately.
Well, Hannibal is certainly thinking gastronomically. He is cutting up and skewering the pieces of a heart – human, probably. Alana is helping him, analysing him, working on a definition of humanity as they prepare the heart:
…and the things that make us human. Good and bad, love and ache.
Hannibal has not recovered from the murder attempt on himself.
And when Hannibal goes shopping, it’s not random. He has a method. A list of rude people, and a wonderful, hand-written recipe card base.
The latest victim has been grafted onto a tree in a carpark, his organs replaced with poisonous flowers. All except for his lungs.
Jack realises why: This is a judgement.
Jack wants to tell Hannibal about the latest case, but he won’t listen.
How is he going to do that?
Well, Will told Jack that if people were being killed, then Hannibal was planning a dinner party. Is this all still too subtle for Jack?
But now, Will is not alone. Abel Gideon knows about Hannibal, and so does Chilton, who records all their conversations. Jack asks Chilton if he knows what he is accusing Hannibal of? Oh yes.
Chilton is a believer, now that his life is at stake. He analyses Hannibal as psychopath:
Jack, he fits the profile. He is attracted to medical and psychological fields because they offer power over man. Cannibalism –
Hannibal eats people because he wants to, and because he can. He shows his dominance, and he dispenses justice. The dude grafted into a tree had, Jack observes, “paved paradise and put up a parking lot.” It had been an important nesting habitat for endangered songbirds.
Hannibal is picking victims for his dinner party. The recipes and victims are chosen and prepared carefully, to a Strauss “love song waltz”.
Hannibal’s party is splendid, with liveried footmen serving the dishes he planned during the sequences above. Chilton and Jack watch the well-heeled, well-fed guests tuck in to the fare.
Jack rudely takes a plate of delicacies home with him. Or back to the lab.
But Hannibal is one step ahead – the food was made of animals other than humans – goose, pig, cow.
But Hannibal has new dinner plans. He drugs Alana, who becomes his alibi as he goes to the asylum and kidnaps Abel Gideon, the man who attempted to steal his identity by claiming to be the Chesapeake Ripper.
Gideon, now crippled by the asylum guards, will be both guest of honour and main course: Hannibal has amputated his “useless” leg and prepared it as Roti de cuisse: clay-roasted thigh with canoe-cut marrowbone.
Gideon is a little unsure of the etiquette of the guest / meat.
Then, there are more tributes to the earlier books/movies:
Silence of the Lambs
And Hannibal Rising
And Silence again – the girl in the pit.
Hannibal has finished his composition. This was his design.