Hannibal 1×02 – Amuse-Bouche

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Review by Jordan
This show has a crazy way of portraying people. Everything is people, and in this episode, people are still used as food, just not in a way that Hannibal uses them. This is such a visually stunning piece of television that the beauty really tends to take away from the awfulness. And for that I am incredibly grateful. I talked about it in my first review, but the show is so stunning: the over-saturation of the dream sequences, the stark contrast of the interior of the hospital or Will’s house, the way each food sequence is shot so carefully amidst all the violence, and in this episode, the way the fungi literally reached out and grabbed Will. So beautiful.

In the second episode, Will Graham finds himself as a full-fledged special investigator for the FBI. After killing Hobbs, he reluctantly helps Jack Crawford hunt down another serial killer. This time, the killer kidnaps people and then uses them as fertilizer to grow mushrooms. See what I mean when I say people are used in crazy ways? When Will and the team arrive at the crime scene, and the bodies have been meticulously cared for, Will begins to empathize and re-create the crime. The crime scene, while horrid and grisly, is so unique and gorgeous that we forget that the people are fertilizer. People, human beings, used to grow mushrooms. It’s so weird, but somehow, in this show, it makes complete sense. While visually re-creating the crime scene, a victim reaches out and grab Will, but doesn’t live for long.

At the crime scene, tabloid blogger Freddie Lounds (Lara Jean Chorostecki) begins snooping around the crime scene. She also starts snooping around Dr. Lecter’s office, and begins to take interest in Will. She writes a crime blog and releases information not made public, which the killer uses to stay ahead of the FBI.

After finding out all of the victims are diabetic, Will and the team find a local pharmacist who had been targeting diabetics to use; he’s obsessed with the similarities between the growing of fungi and the human mind. While in the hospital about to kidnap Abigail Hobbs, Graham manages to shoot the pharmacist – Elden Stammetz — in the arm as he tries to get away.

One thing this episode does is begin to set up the relationship between Will and Hannibal. Will, going crazy after killing Hobbs and having to empathize with ruthless killers, goes to Hannibal for a session. While in the session, the two talk about Abigail, the girl who survived her father’s attack in the last episode. They both believe that Abigail is now their responsibility, and Will admits to Hannibal that he enjoyed shooting Hobbs. The two develop a mutual respect for each other, and Will begins to open up to Hannibal.

An underlying theme of this episode, and the ones to come, is that Will is slowly becoming unhinged because of how deeply his empathy goes. He’s hallucinating and becoming even more of a recluse. We find out Will’s only friends are dogs, because dogs can’t disappoint you in ways humans can. In one of their many sessions, Will realizes that he liked killing Hobbs and it freaks him out. He’s not only empathizing with serial killers, but he’s getting to know and bond with them.

Even though Will voluntarily keeps himself isolated, Hannibal is the one who is really isolated. In this episode he’s never seen with more than one person at a time, and even that is in a professional setting. Will has his dogs; Hannibal has no one. Will uses death as a means of empathy and finality; Hannibal uses it as a means of pleasure and delight. It’s a nice dichotomy, and one I hope the series continues to explore.

What I love about this show is that it’s smart: we don’t need to know how exactly the FBI came to find Stammetz as their suspect, only that they did. It’s not a crime show, but rather a human interest drama, and that makes it so unique. Will and the FBI mention in passing about all of the victims coming to Stammetz for their insulin prescription. That’s all we need to know – we don’t need to see a team of FBI agents spending hours connecting the dots; it’s not necessary in this show to show the audience how those connections are made. This episode is also very complicated and complex. So much happened this episode, which hindered its enjoyment just a bit. Also, Jack believes Abigail was helping her father, which seems like a leap with no evidence to prove otherwise. That part didn’t seem too believable, but I bet it will emerge in future plotlines.

Amuse-Bouche literally means “entertain the mouth.” It’s a small bite before a meal; or a bite-sized hors d’oeuvre.

Conclusion
It was an otherwise pleasant, complex, beautiful episode. I enjoyed Will and Hannibal’s sessions more than the case, and I’m looking forward to more scenes of just the two of them.

Jordan Rating
B+

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