After last week’s incredible, incredible presentation, Hannibal turned more towards a procedural this week with a regular Case of the Week. As I’ve said in the past, the show is at its best when it doesn’t have to shoehorn these stories in (like the one about the man who saw heads on fire), because it distracts from the excellence of the rest of the series and what we are most interested in. Still, the point of the totem pole of bodies is, as has been the case all season, to send Will further and further down the rabbit hole of his own mind, perpetuating a kind of self abuse by forcing himself into the minds of these killers when his own mind isn’t strong enough to handle it. Hit the jump for more on on why “this is my legacy.”
Even though the standard issue cases of the week aren’t the strongest (even though the show does get creative with them), where every member of the forensics team gets a one-liner and they solve the thing in about five minutes, the set designers deserve their due. That human totem poll, or monument of corpses, was reminiscent of something we might see north of the Wall on Game of Thrones. It’s graphically but beautifully designed in its grotesqueness, but like everything on Hannibal, it maintains a coldness and sterility that allows us to consider it without having to vomit into buckets.
The story of the ghost-faced killah was easily solved and unsatisfyingly ended, when Will said those fateful words: essentially, “your only act as a father was to kill your own son.” Lawrence Well’s reaction to that was kind of an “are you serious? Darn it!” which might have had more effect if there had been more build-up, but it was mostly a throwaway story. The real thrust regarded Abigail Hobbs, who’s finally back and full of surprises.
Before getting to her though, a note on Hannibal. His movements are so exceptionally well calculated. He knows just when to lie and when to tell the truth. He has pulled Alana and Will into his web of trust so that they defend him and protect him. We saw someone digging at the body of Nicholas, Abigail’s attacker — was it Hannibal? Did he choose this moment to reveal that secret as a test for Abigail? If so, his calculations were right — if not, he still played it well. By telling Will the truth about the death, and giving good, cool, logical reasoning behind it, he has made Will an accomplice while also engendering further trust. A masterful stroke.
Though Abigail felt she “passed” the FBI and Jack Crawford’s test of denying the murder, she fell right into Hannibal’s trap. He used Jack’s (correct) antagonism to drive her further into his care, where he gently coaxed a deeper truth out of her: that she was the bait used to attract the girls her father killed in her place. Hannibal then reassures her she is a victim, not a monster — she was made to be a part of things to survive — bringing her even closer into his trust.
The revelation that Abigail was a party to her father’s killings was shocking but also made a lot of sense. There has always been more to Abigail than meets the eye. Sometimes she plays the innocent, and sometimes she is defiant and cold. But she has been conditioned to be this way by her monster of a father, and it seems that Hannibal is looking to explore this conditioning by making it go even further. He’s also dropping the same kind of conditioning on Will as well, suggesting (though perhaps truthfully) that his loss of reality will lead to his own violence (which was also teased for next week).
Will has an extraordinary gift, but no one seems to know how to get him to manage it better. Alana just takes it as part of his unstable persona, while Hannibal nourishes the instability instead of helping Will to fight it. Will is still able to piece things together and save lives, and even though Abigail should be his biggest blind spot, he realizes she did commit that murder. It’s a little surprising, then, that he hasn’t had any dreams yet about Hannibal’s involvement in anything.
“Trou Normand” set up the return of Freddie [groan] and the deepening connections among Hannibal, Will and Abigail. It also set up Hannibal and Abigail’s connection separate from Will, and his own continuing mental decent. What does he do during the blackouts? Perhaps this will be answered next week. For now, it’s been an enjoyable salad. Shame about all of the meat.
Episode Rating: B+
Musings and Miscellanea:
— I’m actually headed to Grafton, WV in about a month. Wish me luck.
— The totem of corpses also reminded me of the raft of corpses from the comic within the graphic novel Watchmen called “Tales from the Black Freighter.”
— Alana’s vehement defense of Hannibal made me wonder too if she had feelings for him. As much as I’ve liked Alana, her treatment of Will in this episode rubbed me the wrong way. Basically, “I like you, but, you’re crazy and no one can help you. Sorry.”
— Hannibal: “I helped her hide the body.” Will: “Apparently not well enough.”
— Not sure that scene at the end where we saw Abigail in action with the “mark” her father picked out was necessary, but I liked it all the same. It verified her story and also showed with super creepiness how it all came about. Don’t talk to strangers!
— “We are her fathers now, we have to serve her better than Garrett Jacob Hobbs” – Hannibal
— Love Will’s crime scene reenactments, but could do without “this is my design” part. I was glad they switched it up this week to include “this is my legacy.”
— Nice switcheroo too with Will thinking he was in a classroom full of students, but twas empty!
— I was annoyed that it was Freddie who was the only one with curly hair, and now she’s a fellow vegetarian, too? Alas. The actress is great but that character is highly slapable.