At the bequest of some of our readers we will continue to look at Bryan Fuller's Hannibal. So we have a bit of catching up to do as we let two episodes slide by without as much as a squeak.
In episode two Graham is encouraged (read as 'sent') by Crawford to Dr. Lecter to talk about the shooting of Garret Hobbes. During the various meetings throughout the episode Lecter pokes and prods Graham into revealing his feelings about the shooting and how he feels about Hobbes' daughter Abigail. I should add that Abigail is currently in a coma after the traumatic events in episode 1. Though at first reluctant Graham still goes back and Lecter suggests that the shooting of Hobbes has taken away the thrill or feeling Graham has as he uncovers how the murderers carried out their deadly deeds.
Meanwhile, the second episode introduces Freddie Lounds, a tabloid reporter for an online publication called Tattlecrime. As tabloid reporters are expected to do Lounds does what she must to get her story, even if it means exposing Will Graham and his... skill set. She get a police detective suspended, eternally I might add, and there is a scene that suggests that she also liaised with one of the FBI agents, Zeller. Her actions set off the serial killer, a fungi not-so fun guy, and with new found knowledge about Will Graham he goes after Abigail Hobbes. Through his sickness he thought that if he did to Abigail what he did to his other victims she could reach back to Graham.
The episode has no shortage of horrific and grotesque imagery. In the episode a pharmacist takes his love for fungus way too far; but the discovery of the bodies is pretty dandy. The early hallucination that Graham has of Hobbes at the shooting range is pretty sweet and I have been waiting to find out what the significance of the stag hallucinations are as well.
In episode three Abigail Hobbes wakes up from her coma. Crawford pushes to get Graham together with her despite the protests from Dr. Alana Bloom. Crawford feels very strongly that Abigail helped her father murder eight girls and needs to find out the truth. Graham feels a weight of responsibility for Abigail as she has no one left; he kind of shot her father. Ten times. Meanwhile, in the back of everyone's mind is that their is also a copycat killer still out there. The script and direction of Michael Rymer winks and nods to Dr. Lecter.
Tabloid reporter Freddie Lounds shows up again, sticking her nose in everyone's business. She first visits Abigail in the psychiatric hospital, setting off a tense confrontation with Graham and Lecter. Later she meets with the brother of the copycat killer's victim and sets him off for an angry confrontation with Abigail outside her home.
The copycat killer strikes again, this time killing and staking a neighbourhood friend to the antlers in the upper floor of the Hobbes cabin as a welcome back present for Abigail. 'Evidence' at the crime scene points to the brother of the first victim so the team begins to suspect that he is the copycat killer. We all know it is Lecter, and this is the fun part of each episode, the winks and nods to him pulling the strings behind the scenes.
The brother shows up at Abigail's house to attempt to clear his name. This never goes well so there is no surprise that Abigail kills him in self defence. What surprises Abigail is how Lecter steps in and offers to handle the situation; which results in the quickest clean up of a body with half the police force outside your door ever witnessed during a commercial break. Lecter and Abigail bond over this moment, she knows it was him who tipped off her dad and Lecter knows she helped her father 'honor' his murder victims. Thus begins the relationship between the two.
Which brings us to episode five. Which also may bring up questions about what happened to episode four 'Ceuf'. In light of the string of recent tragedies to hit the U.S., specifically the Boston Bombings and the school shooting in Sandy Hook, Fuller called NBC and said, "given the cultural climate right now in the U.S., I think we shouldn't air the episode in its entirety." The serial killer subplot in the fourth episode involved a character played by Molly Shannon who brainwashes children into killing other children, thus killing any remaining SNL crush that remained from my teen years for the actress. It would be easy to say something like this was a bold move for NBC but whatever we call it, it was the right thing to do. The season was already in the can before any of these incidents occurred; there was no way of knowing they would coincide. Other international broadcasters will still air the fourth episode and NBC has created a web series of what remains of 'Ceuf' after they cut out Shannon's sub-plot. They promise the narrative has not been disrupted as a result.
That web series is now available online and encompasses about a third of the usual run time. Missing are the motivations and impulses that lead into each scene. Remaining are the nuances and further character developments. The relationships that Lecter is building with Graham and Abigail are the main focus and at the end we get the sense that all is not well between Crawford and his wife, played by Firefly's Gina Torres.
So on to episode five which aired last night up here in Canada. Maybe we get it a day early because it was filmed here, in and around Ontario? An award for good behaviour and a tax cut? I don't know.
The episode opens with Graham sleep-walking down a isolated road in the middle of the night. The stag from his visions follows behind him. As he and Lecter discuss the event you see Lecter begin to drive that wedge between Graham and Crawford. He speculates that Graham is being exposed to too many stressful situations working under Crawford. This stress gives him a sense of loss of control so his body walks around. In further discussions later in the episode Lecter again talks with Graham about Crawford and how he has failed to protect Graham. Graham senses that Lecter is trying to alienate the two and tensions rise when they investigate a second murder. There is clearly a rift developing between Crawford and Graham as the latter pushes the other to help them solve these murders. Graham will later confess near the end of the episode that this is taking a toll on him and he will not know how much longer he can continue helping Crawford and his team.
So on to those murders, because they are just dandy. Graham is called to a crime scene in a motel. In one of the rooms a man and a woman are held up by fishing line from the ceiling in positions of prayer. The skin and muscles from their backs are peeled back to make wings. While others in the room think they were prepared that way to worship their killer Graham comes to the conclusion that he prepared them this way to watch over him as he sleeps. "Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray the Lord my soul to keep". He will also sleep under his second victim after preparing himself for his eventual death too.
Gina Torres returns as Crawford's wife Bella and she is keeping a secret from him. She is distant and closed off from him. Although Jack does suspect an affair is happening he never outright accuses his wife of having one. Bella does meet with Lecter and we will learn that she has stage 4 lung cancer. This method of telling without telling mirrors how we feel about Lecter because we already know who and what he becomes; we just haven't been shown outright that he is a serial killer as well. So with Bella we know that something is up but left to our own devices to draw our own conclusions until it is revealed in the script; though with Lecter we have the advantage of already knowing his future. Applying the method though to a real-life situation such as a deadly illness instead adds gravity to it.
After the identity of the Angel-maker is revealed Crawford and Graham interview the wife of the killer. And as she explains her husband's behavioural patterns when he discovers he has a brain tumour Jack will recognize the pattern and come to realize what his wife is hiding from him. There is an emotional meeting between the two and future episodes will reveal if there is a reconciliation between the two and Bella allows her husband to remain close to her as the cancer takes its toll. There is also a glimmer of hope that Crawford and Graham will reconcile as Graham joins him in his office. "I'm going to sit here until you're ready to talk. You don't have to say a world until you're ready, but.. I'm not going anywhere until you do". And close curtain on episode five.
It took me a while to catch on to way that Hannibal ebbs and flows. This is not your father's procedural drama (ie. Criminal Minds). I was not prepared for the length of the Hobbes story arc. I minded at first. And it is probably to my benefit that the decision was made to air episode four as a web series focusing solely on the main characters so I could see more clearly what this show is about. Hannibal is not just about the serial killers. I think they are there to serve more as the catalyst which triggers the relationships between Crawford, Graham, Lecter and Abigail, etc. It is these relationships which are the focus of the show. Hannibal asks how does one deal with trauma, either as a victim, a purveyor or investigator. Moreover, how does that trauma effect them. It has taken me a few episodes to get used to this focus and the slower than normal pacing when compared to other series of its ilk. But I am on board now and looking forward to next week's episode.