Hannibal 1×04 – Coquilles

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Review by Jordan
This is the first episode where Hannibal walks a fine line between supernatural and reality, and it’s something the series will continue to explore. In Harris’s book, he described Hannibal as having red eyes and a demon-like appearance, so the supernatural has always been a part of the canon, and here Bryan Fuller and company really do a good job of straddling that fine line.

In this episode we meet a man who is so afraid of dying in his sleep, that he kills people and turns them into literal guardian angels – really sick, disturbing, horrific angels – as they watch over him. He manages to turn them into angels by carving and pulling the skin off their backs, and tying the skin up to the ceiling to give them the impression of having wings. It’s totally horrifying, and it scared the crap out of me when I first saw it. But, like everything in Hannibal, it’s presented in such a way that it’s almost heartbreakingly beautiful. The show doesn’t necessarily glorify violence, as I’ve mentioned before, but it does display that death isn’t always peaceful.

After Will investigates the crime scene, he surmises that the killer can literally see sin, which is how he chooses his victims. We get a cool shot of the killer walking in a crowded area and we see the sinners from his perspective since they glow a different color than the others. The idea of seeing sin almost throws it into supernatural territory, but it stays grounded in reality when Will and his team find out the killer has a brain tumor which causes him to see things. And while he did happen to only kill those with sin (much like Dexter does), he also killed them for his own protection. Ultimately, Will and Jack find that the killer had committed suicide when they find him in a barn strung up like his previous creations.

During all this, Will begins sleepwalking and seeing images of a feathered stag following him everywhere. He finally breaks down to Hannibal about how he is slowly becoming unhinged, and we finally see the gears begin to work in Hannibal’s mind as he uses Will’s slow descent into madness as a way to get in between Will and Jack. I do think Hannibal views Will as a friend, but he’s also a fascinating case study.

Meanwhile, Jack’s wife Bella (played by the always awesome Gina Torres, Lawrence Fishburne’s real life wife) becomes Hannibal’s latest patient. Jack thinks she is having an affair because of her sudden coldness toward him, but the man she’s been seeing is none other than her oncologist and she didn’t want to tell him she had terminal lung cancer because he already had enough to deal with. Jack ends the episode by telling her he’d help her in any way he can. Their story really helped bring things back down to reality after the whole angel-maker/murderer plot. In addition, it gave the episode some much needed emotion and depth, particularly some wonderful moments between Fishburne and Torres. Probably playing off some real life fears, the two really sold their struggle and pain, while also giving us a glimpse into their relationship, both on and off screen. In an episode already full of big moments, this was an added lovely bonus.

Conclusion
Coquilles is various seafood or chicken dishes baked with a sauce and usually served in a scallop shell or a shell-shaped serving dish. Overall, this was another fine example of Hannibal using horrific imagery and people in ways we’ve never seen before, while also giving us some nice emotional moments.

Jordan Rating
A- 

Read more from Jordan at Really Late Reviews

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