An inmate at the Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane, Dr. Abel Gideon (played by Eddie Izzard) is rushed from his cell, strapped to a gurney, for medical treatment. He frees himself and brutally- pardon me- 'B'rutally murders the nurse left alone to care for him. The method in which he murdered her points towards a killer called the Chesapeake Ripper, whom Jack Crawford believes to still be free. Dr. Gideon is taking credit for the murders. Coincidentally, the start of his incarceration coincides with the end of the murders. Until now it would appear. This is really the only time which Graham is utilized in the episode as he does that thing he does and envisions how Gideon murdered the nurse. It is gruesome and graphic for sure; a fitting start to the show.
Through a series of flashbacks we learn that Crawford enlists a trainee, Miriam Lass, to help investigate the Ripper murders two years earlier. She is in the top 5 percent of her class, qualified to the nines, and Jack needs more team members to investigate these murders as the Ripper's pattern suggests the killer will go dormant for a few months before killing again
As Graham and Bloom interview Gideon Jack goes to Lecter's office and opens up about his fears about his wife's Cancer. This episode gives Fishburne room to stretch his dramatic muscle, as far as it will go. We also find out that Jack harbors tremendous guilt about someone else that he could not save. We are inclined to think that this is Lass that Jack is talking about because then we flash back to the original investigation. A body lies on a table with an impressive array of more than a dozen different shop tools impaled in its flesh. Some of the organs have been removed as well. Cheery. Only Jack and Lass are at the scene of the crime. He encourages her to take a closer look and offer her own theories about who the Ripper is. She wonders if it is someone with a surgical background because psychopaths are attracted to the power one beholds in the surgical field.
Back in present time Jack is woken up in the middle of the night by the phone. At the other end is the panicked voice of Lass. But how can that be? Jack is convinced that Lass is dead; murdered by the Ripper during her investigation. Jack believes that it was the Ripper who called that night and played back a recording of her voice to let Jack know that he is still out there. Gideon cannot possibly be the Ripper. So Crawford and Dr. Bloom hatch a plan to expose the real Ripper.
Much to Graham's chagrin they bring in Tabloid reporter Freddie Lounds to write an article touting Gideon as the Ripper. She is given access to Gideon, writes her article, and presumably ticks off Lecter, who we haven't been told outright is the Ripper but we can see he certainly is peeved by the audacity of this ginger crested hotpot. Seriously, at first I wanted her to die; to be next on Lecter's menu. But now I think I would sorely miss the leather if she were gone. Anyone else notice that Crawford's eyes kept darting down to her chest when he, Bloom and Graham first met with her to talk about the article?
Jack gets the next call from his home and it is the same recording again of Miriam Lass. A trace hair and her fingerprints were in Jack's bedroom. The message to Jack is, he is responsible for her death. Flash back to the original investigation and Lass suggests in a report that they investigate the personal doctors for all the Ripper's victims; explore that link between psychopaths and the surgical field. This will break a few confidentiality laws so Jack condemns her but doesn't dissuade her for looking into it further. It is better to beg for forgiveness than ask for permission.
Back to Lecter because we still don't know how Gideon knows so much about the Chesapeake Ripper in the first place. Bloom suggests that it has been suggested to him
psychologically, that he doesn't know he has been persuaded to take on this claim. Lecter has Chilton and Bloom over for dinner. We get another sumptuous meal with names I don't know how to pronounce nor do I ever imagine having enough money in my lifetime to afford the bill and suit required to take a lady-friend to eat at a restaurant that serves this kind of food. Lecter lets on that he knows that Chilton is the one responsible for convincing Gideon throughout his treatment that he is the Ripper. He hints at Psychic Driving, a method of brain washing where the patients are subjected to a continuous looped audio message. He doesn't hint that he will share this discovery of his but Chilton looks to have gotten the message. I know what you did last 'something something'.
Jack gets one last phone call from 'Miriam'. This time there is a number on his call display. They trace the signal to a shuttered Observatory and call the number. They follow the rings inside and find her severed arm holding the phone. A card beside it reads, "What do you see?" Now why no one has gone into the observatory up to this point is a mystery to me. Why wait for Graham and Beverly Katz to show up when the possibility exists that your colleague who has been missing for two years is still alive? But there is the pause for dramatic effect and a severed arm is always cool.
And so we come to the final moments of this episode and it leads to the moment that everyone has been waiting for. But first, Jack and Lecter are sitting by the fire with snifters of some fine liquor. They're talking about the events leading up to the discovery of the arm obviously. Jack surmises that the Ripper was trying to lead Jack into a sense of false hope. The discussion leads to Jack's wife and Lecter encourages Jack not losing hope for her as she battles the Cancer. This sixth episode focused a lot on Jack and how he is handling the news of his wife and perhaps the return of a missing agent in training. Jack doesn't waiver but still, must be taxing to go through so much. Then Lecter asks about his trainee.
The final scene confirms all the hints and nods throughout the episode and earlier in the series. Lecter was the Ripper and may still be a serial killer. Lass does visit him as she pursues her theory and asks if he can recall anything about the last victim because they were admitted to the hospital Lecter worked at; he was on duty as the ER surgeon that evening. Lecter feigns forgetfulness and tell Lass that he kept journals; if she would wait he will fetch them and perhaps there is some helpful information in those. Lass wanders around Lecter's office and comes across some sketches on a table. One of them is an accurate depiction of the last victim, including all the tools and their entry points on his body. Holy handbags made of human skin, Lecter is the Ripper! Too late. He has snuck up behind her and choked her out.
It is a chilling conclusion to the episode and we finally witness the Lecter we already know. We finally see something maniacal in his eyes. We finally see someone other than the refined and cultured psychologist. We see Hannibal Lecter, the killer. So now we wait and see what else show creator Bryan Fuller will reveal about the true nature of Lecter in the second half of this first season.