Not sweet sorrow: “Savoureux” HANNIBAL Season 1, episode 13

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The finale of season one is named after what is usually the last course on a French menu – no, it’s not sweet, it’s ‘savoureux’ meaning savoury, and is defined as “a dish of pungent taste, such as anchovies on toast or pickled fruit”. If you didn’t know that (I didn’t), we can be confident that Hannibal did.

This is a final course, and with ratings being king in the TV industry, it was never certain that the show would be renewed (it was, tragically, cancelled after season 3) so this is a final of sorts, and not a sweet one.

It starts with Will trying to shoot a stag, chasing the bleeding animal through the undergrowth in thick night, only to come face to face with the stag-man, who we (but not yet Will) know represents Hannibal. He wakes up covered in sweat and panting (which seems, from all evidence, to be the only way Will ever wakes up), and finds his feet covered in mud. Will’s fevered imagination is starting to control his reality. Reality doesn’t get any better though, as Will throws up in the sink and finds, not last night’s beer and prawns, but a human ear.

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He calls the only person he can trust, the only person he shouldn’t – Hannibal Lecter. Jack arrives and arrests him. It’s all downhill from here, Will. The ear is Abigail’s, and so is the blood under his fingernails. Will even believes it himself; according to the evidence:

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Alana is furious at Jack for leaving Will out there when everyone could see he was breaking, but Jack replies that every decision he made about Will:

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That would be Hannibal. Whom Alana recommended. Well played. But Hannibal is torn up about Abigail and Will, or at least he tearfully tells his psychiatrist that he is. Hannibal wants a family, with Abigail as the child, replacing the sister who was eaten at a tender age. In framing Will for the murder of Abigail, he has seemingly lost that chance.

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Of course, with Hannibal, nothing is ever that simple. Like a good chess player, he is always several steps ahead of his opponents, but his game is not chess but becoming – he wants his protégés to become like him, or as much like him as possible. But he has real tears in his eyes. To become, they must go through challenges that may kill them. And as a Nietzschean, he knows the theory of amor fati – literally the love of fate. The death that so scarred him as a child, his little sister, will recur, again and again. Hey, no one said being an Übermensch is easy. He really was hoping this family thing would turn out. Maybe he still is.

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He tells Bedelia his philosophy – and a very Nietzschean, anti-metaphysical one it is.

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But Will has been arrested, and escapes (surprisingly easily) from the ambulance taking him to the asylum for the criminally insane. Who would have thought such a vehicle would need better security than a pair of handcuffs? He runs to – of course – Hannibal, telling him that he would have believed he might have killed Abigail, but no, not all the others. Hannibal plants the seed of doubt back into Will’s head, but Will wants to go to see where Abigail died.

They go back to the scene where Hobbs first tried to kill Abigail, and Hannibal points out that they haven’t found the body – except for the ear. He tells Will that if he was acting as Hobbs, they may never find the body – Hobbs used to eat his victims.

But Will has taken one of his intuitive leaps that made him so sought after in the FBI. He knows he could have killed Abigail, but

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He knows it was Hannibal. And Hannibal knows Will is on the precipice of becoming.

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Will pulls a gun on Hannibal. His greatest anger is not due to his realisation that Hannibal is the murderer, or that Hannibal has framed him. It’s that he realises Hannibal’s motives

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Jack arrives and shoots Will, in the very same corner of the very same kitchen where Will shot Hobbs. And Will mutters the same words Hobbs said to him, with the stag-man looking on.

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Hannibal sums up, as usual in a way that no one will fully understand.

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We are all becoming. He visits Bedelia, but not empty handed

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It’s a veal dish, and Bedelia makes the usual comment that veal draws among those whom Hannibal would consider less than enlightened

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But Bedelia sees more than she lets on.

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But right now, as Hannibal goes to visit Will in the Baltimore Asylum for the Criminally Insane, he has everything just the way he wants it. The background music is the opera from Hannibal (the movie). Will now knows who Hannibal is, and is using his title respectfully.

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Hannibal’s face at the end of the season is ‘savoureux’.

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“Madness can be a medicine”: HANNIBAL Season 1 Episode 11 (Fuller, 2013)

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We’re finally at the main course of this extended French banquet that makes up the episodes of Season 1. This episode is called Rôti, which means roast. The dead animals are coming out of hot, dark ovens, cooked, carved, and being eaten. And the accompanying sauce is a healthy dose of Existentialism, Hannibal Lecter style.

This episode is all about identity, and identity is all about existence: what is real, what exists and how can we be sure? Here is Sartre’s view of existence from the novel Nausea: the character who sees himself usually as a man named Roquentin, sitting under what seems to be a chestnut tree:

…the diversity of things, their individuality, were only an appearance, a veneer. This veneer had melted, leaving soft, monstrous lumps, in disorder — naked, with a frightful and obscene nakedness.

Roquentin concludes “My existence was beginning to cause me some concern. Was I a mere figment of the imagination?”

Most of the characters are losing their footing in this episode, and some are losing all touch with reality.

Abel Gideon has lost touch with his identity. Thanks to Dr Chilton’s “psychic driving”, Gideon came to believe he was the Chesapeake Ripper. Of course he isn’t – that’s Hannibal, and Hannibal is none too pleased to have someone else take credit for his ‘work’. Hannibal discusses the situation with Chilton over dinner: Kudal, a sheep gut curry. Lots of useful metaphors in this dish – guts because we are getting inside all the characters at last, and sheep? Well, sheep are used (rather unfairly IMHO) as allegories of blind obedience – going where the leader goes, following without question. Chilton thinks psychic driving is something of this sort – lead the patient to the conclusion you have already drawn.

Hannibal points out that Gideon was an ideal patient to be manipulated:

Chilton suggests Gideon is a psychopath, but Hannibal squashes this idea:

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So, if Gideon is not really a psychopath, he is just a common killer, a domestic violence offender who went over the edge into serial killer. Chilton told him he was the Ripper. Alana then told him he was not in a state of mind to know who he was.

Chilton feels like his is going to be blamed (especially since Gideon is planning to sue him). Gideon escapes, as he is hoping to attract the real Ripper, who, he hopes, will tell him who he really is, but Will understands that the Ripper will kill Gideon, for taking credit for his ‘work’.

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Realising Gideon is not the Ripper, Chilton just wishes he had been more curious about how common minds work. Hannibal replies:

Thus, the sheep’s gut curry.

The psychic driving didn’t work as hoped, Hannibal tells Chilton, because, once a patient is exposed to the methods of manipulation, he will push back.

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Will Graham is not aware of Hannibal’s manipulation, or of his now chronic encephalitis. He is having nightmares about water: tsunamis of water at crime scenes, melting clocks à la Dali, hallucinations of water pouring down the walls in the BAU. He imagines Jack is accusing him, Will, of being the killer they seek.

Will is lost. He feels crazy. Is that your worst fear, asks Hannibal?

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Gideon’s battle with identity is brought into focus when he kidnaps Freddie Lounds, so that she can document his vengeance on Chilton, and draw the Ripper, who he knows is an “avid fan” of Freddie’s journalism (the term “avid fan” is from the book and movies of Red Dragon).

Gideon describes his existential crisis to Freddie.

He then proceeds to open up Chilton and remove an amazing number of his organs, without actually killing him:

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When the FBI bursts in, Freddie is keeping Chilton alive, and Gideon has gone. Will is waiting in Gideon’s car, and takes him, not to the FBI, but to Hannibal’s home. Why? He is convinced that this is not Gideon he has captured, but his dead nemesis, Garret Jacob Hobbs. Hannibal helpfully tells him that there is no one there at all, which tips Will right over the deep end of his identity/existential crisis:

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Will has what Hannibal describes as a “mild seizure” and questions Gideon about whether he is the man who claimed to be the Ripper. Why “claimed”?

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He sends Gideon off to hunt Alana. He then tricks Will into going after Gideon. They meet up, two lost souls seeking identity.

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At the end, we have the fascinating session of Hannibal with his psychiatrist, Bedelia. He tells her that Will is troubled, that Hannibal sees his madness and wants to contain it, like an oil spill. Oil, she tells him, is valuable, what is the value to Hannibal of Will’s madness?

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And finally we come to the crux of Hannibal’s own identity crisis. He is not the loner that he likes to affect.

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Bedelia asks “Do you see yourself in his madness?”

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They discuss side-effects, that they can be temporary, or can be beneficial:

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Will does not present Hannibal with problems from normal life. What does he present?

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Now we’re talking abandoned identities!

 

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“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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“I know what monsters are”: HANNIBAL Season 1 Episode 9 (Fuller, 2013)

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This episode is named “TROU NORMAND”, which is a shot of liquor, usually Calvados, a potent apple liqueur from Normandy, served between courses of a particularly heavy meal. And yes, the first eight episodes of Season 1 were heavy going, and we know that the main course is yet to be served.

In this one, the FBI team are investigating a totem pole made of dead people in West Virginia. The bodies are carefully coiled together, making a puzzle for the investigators.

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Will does his reenactment, then blinks and suddenly he is in Hannibal’s waiting room. He knows then that he is in trouble – the sleepwalking, the hallucinations and now he’s disassociating, and losing time. He has just driven 3 ½ hours from the crime scene to Hannibal’s office with no memory of it at all. Oh yes, he’s a sick puppy. Hannibal’s diagnosis is interesting:

Hannibal also summarises why we care about people we know and usually don’t give a damn about anyone else:

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“What if you lose time and hurt yourself? Or someone else?” Hannibal is planting the seed. Will may be capable of – anything.

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Will apologises to Jack for disappearing from the crime scene, but Jack hasn’t noticed anything wrong. Is there something wrong? No, Will grins, everything’s fine. No problems.

Abigail Hobbes is also in trouble. She is having nightmares where her father tells her he killed all those girls (in the first episode) so he wouldn’t have to kill her. But her support group morphs into those very girls, all saying “he should have killed you, so he wouldn’t have killed me”.

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Then Freddie Lounds tells her that she is broke – the families of those girls are suing her father’s estate, and she won’t inherit a thing. She needs to write a book, with Freddie’s help of course. Will and Hannibal try to talk her out of it, but she wants to prove her innocence.

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Will is getting more and more unstable. He is lecturing on the totem pole murders, but it turns out he is addressing an empty lecture theatre. Alana finds him there, tells him she can’t get involved with him:

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Meanwhile, the FBI have found the body of the boy Abigail gutted and Hannibal helped her hide in episode 3. Jack wants to put her in the room to identify the corpse because he still suspects Abigail of the murder/s. Alana and Will are dead against causing her more trauma. Hannibal? Well, he is into growth and becoming, and for this he puts people in difficult positions:

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But Hannibal is putting his own pressure on Abigail. He tells her that he is concerned that her book, and her digging up the body, all put him in danger. He insists that he must be able to trust her. Will realises that she killed the boy, and Hannibal admits he knew, because he helped her hide the body. Is Will going to report them to Jack? Well, no, because Hannibal talks him out of it:

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Now Hannibal has Will where he wants him – legally compromised, lying to Jack, and a partner – at least in co-parenting.

Hannibal is putting on one of his fine feasts for – yes – Freddie Lounds, with Will and Abigail eating various bloody concoctions. But Freddie has thrown him, by announcing she is a vegetarian! Hannibal rises to the occasion and prepares the finest salad she has ever tasted. Despite Will’s aggressive sarcasm and Abigail’s defiance, Hannibal manages to get them to agree: we’re all doing this to protect Abigail.

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After dinner, Hannibal washes and Abigail dries, and she finally confesses that she did help her father – she would befriend girls that looked like her and find out where they lived, so that he would kill them, instead of her.

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Hannibal comforts her:

Now she is totally in his hegemonic care, Will is a co-conspirator and co-parent, and Hannibal has a friend, and a family.

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This is his design.

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“I see a possibility of friendship.” HANNIBAL Season 1 Episode 8 (Fuller, 2013)

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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.

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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”.

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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:

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Why would he tell Franklyn about it though?

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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.

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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.

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Tobias asks why, then, did Hannibal invite him for dinner?

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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.

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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:

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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.

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“Nothing here is vegetarian” HANNIBAL, Season 1 Episode 7, (Fuller, 2013)

This episode is called “Sorbet” which, in a French menu, is the break, the refreshing fruit frappe served between courses to clear the palate. It’s all about preparing: not just the kitchen and the ingredients, but also the guests. It’s about content, and timing.

In this episode, we find out much about Hannibal, particularly the way he chooses and prepares his meat, but also some important psychological facts. We meet his psychiatrist, Bedelia Du Maurier (Gillian Anderson – Dana Scully from X-Files). She knows a lot about Hannibal – not everything, but a lot more than Jack and Will and the entire FBI. But, like one of Hannibal’s feasts, she is going to serve us each dish when it, and we, are ready.

The episode starts with Will lecturing at the FBI Academy about the Chesapeake Ripper, who we (but no one else) know is really Hannibal. We learn a lot about how Will believes the Ripper views his victims, and about his methods.

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A “sounder” is a collective term for pigs, and that is how Hannibal sees his victims – as pigs. Just as humans confine and slaughter pigs with barely a twinge of conscience, so Hannibal collects human organs for his freezer.

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Organs are carefully removed. Like an earlier Ripper named Jack, the conclusion is that the killer has anatomical or surgical training (although Jack the Ripper may have been a butcher rather than a surgeon). Another important fact that Will tells the kids and us:

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And so to the theatre we go, the concert hall in fact, where we hear a magnificent opera recital from the brilliant pen of Brian Reitzell, who went on, after Hannibal, to write the music for American Gods. Of course, we can’t just sit and enjoy it as Hannibal and his annoying patient Franklyn (and his friend Tobias) do, decked out in black tie and tux. No, we start with some lessons in anatomy and acoustics – the scene starts in the larynx of the singer and we then get to follow the music up her throat and into Hannibal’s ear.

After the recital, the Chairperson of the Baltimore Philharmonic gently chides Hannibal for not putting on one of his sumptuous feasts – she misses not just the food but the spectacle.

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Hannibal replies that he is waiting for inspiration. Perhaps Franklyn provides it: as Hannibal rather testily dismisses him, he asks:

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Hannibal is also busy torturing Jack with supposed calls from his missing student Miriam Lass. As Will puts it:

“The reason he left you Miriam Lass’s arm is so he could poke you with it.”

Meanwhile, Jack and Will are busy with a new killer, who the CSI gang are convinced is the Ripper (organs have been removed, if a bit sloppily). Will says no – this dude is collecting organs for sale, and trying to save the “donor” afterwards (without a great deal of success). This is not the MO of the Ripper:

So, asks Jack, how do you see the Ripper? Will considers, and then comes up with an analysis taken from Will’s analysis of Hannibal in Red Dragon (the book):

“… one of those pitiful things sometimes born in hospitals. They feed it. Keep it warm. But they don’t put it on the machines. They let it die. But he doesn’t die.”

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We finally meet Bedelia Du Maurier, Hannibal’s psychiatrist. It is perhaps not widely known that psychiatrists go to psychiatrists, but in view of the psychic storms they deal with daily, it makes sense. Hannibal later tells Will he started seeing a psychiatrist when he chose to become one.

Bedelia does not mince words. She is no longer practising, and stays available for Hannibal because she likes him. Turns out there are other reasons too, but we’ll save them for later episodes. She and Hannibal discuss honesty, and she shows that she can indeed be brutally honest:

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She also tells him that she is his therapist, not his friend, something he recently told the distraught Franklyn, who is a version of Benjamin Raspail from the books, one of the Silence of the Lambs characters whose names were not released by MGM for the television production. Caught in his own trap, Hannibal must look for company or even friendship elsewhere. Could it be Will?

Hannibal and Will have a lot in common, particularly a fascination with the motivation of the Ripper.

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We find out a lot more about Hannibal’s motivations in a series of montages showing how he chooses his victims (from their business cards) and the meal they will supply (from a set of menu cards in perfect copperplate handwriting).

He starts with a medical examiner who rudely accuses Hannibal of lying. Hannibal asks for his business card, and then appears when the man’s car mysteriously breaks down on a rainy road.

The rude medical examiner is found in a school bus, his top half sitting across the aisle from his bottom half. He is missing a kidney and his heart.

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Will realises, though, that the mutilations are just theatre.

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Hannibal and Alana prepare these organs for dinner (she presumably believes them to be from a different mammal) and duel flirtatiously as he tries to draw out what she knows about Will. Hannibal’s interest in Will is growing in each scene. He suspects Will can become a friend, perhaps even become an Übermensch like himself.

In the meantime, Hannibal is preparing his banquet for the Philharmonic. There is the montage of business cards and recipes involving liver pate, brisket, lungs and brains, and various business owners, who presumably have offended Hannibal’s intense dislike of discourtesy. This montage is accompanied by the rollicking “Golden Calf” aria sung by Mephistopheles in Gounod’s Faust.

“Le monstre abject insulte aux cieux! [The abject monster insults heaven!]”

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This spate of mutilations leaves the investigation team baffled. No longer are they seeking an organ harvester – one of the victims is missing a spleen. Who on earth is waiting for a spleen transplant? There is only one explanation:

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But despite the excitement of hunting and cooking, Hannibal is unhappy. There is a poignant scene of Hannibal sitting, forlorn, at his desk, checking his appointment book (last appointment Will Graham) as we hear, what else, the Mozart Requiem, the musical quintessence of melancholy.

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He goes looking for Will, who is day-nightmaring about Abigail (who is calling him “Dad”) and girls mounted on antlers. Hannibal interrupts his bad dreams and sees the range of atrocity photographs will has been studying.

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There follows a discussion of the possible motivations of the Ripper, in which Will is starting to get close to the truth. Hannibal suggests that perhaps the Ripper is displaying his enemies after death, as happens in many cultures. Will disagrees – “These aren’t the Ripper’s enemies. These are pests he’s swatted.” They are just being punished for undignified behaviour. Disgraced.

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As he prepares his banquet, Hannibal tells Will why he gave up surgery:

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This is news to us, although we know that, as a child, he was unable to save his sister Mischa – could this be an indirect reference? Anyway. There follows a wonderful montage of Hannibal’s banquet plates, followed by a round of applause from his guests, who are all about to become unaware cannibals.

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But before they can eat, Hannibal has a warning:

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What they applaud now, they will later consider appalling, abject, psychologically shattering. The gross hypocrisy of their logic is impossible for even the brilliant Doctor Lecter to comprehend.

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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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