I'm still trying to get a firm grasp on what Hannibal's going to be as a first season, but after three episodes it seems to be a dissection of the repercussions following a notorious serial killer's death; most notably on the surviving daughter of the culprit, Abigail Hobbs (Kacey Rohl), in regard to her community's response to this evil having existed in their midst. That's a fascinating thing to explore over multiple episodes, although I'm still not sure it justifies a whole season yet. Maybe the 'serial killer of the week' element will become more prominent soon, but it seems ongoing strand is Garrett Jacob Hobbs and the existence of a cleverer copycat--whom the audience know is Dr Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen) himself, in an effort to tease and mentally cajole lead investigator Will Graham (Hugh Dancy).
"Potage" was the least showy episode of Hannibal so far, which was surprising considering it was directed by their big-name filmmaker David Slade (who made the impressive pilot and will return to shoot the finale). But this gave Slade some different muscles to exercise, being an episode that was even more about story and performances. The thrust of the episode concerned Abigail Hobbs waking from her coma and having to cope with the revelation her father killed eight young girls, her mother's been killed, and her neighbours believe she must have been complicit in the so-called Minnesota Shrike's grisly murders.
While this was my least favourite of the three episodes to air, it also proved Hannibal has real substance to it. I love how Lecter is being used, considering I originally thought it will be very tough to include him in the investigations. "Potage" really sold the idea that Lecter gets a thrill out of the danger he puts himself in, by copying the Shrike's m.o and watching Will try to make sense of that. And because he's privy to Will's thoughts and teachings about the case, Hannibal can subvert expectations and cause Will a serious headache. Here, Will was positive the Shrike copycat would never kill in the same way again because he's a psychopath, so Lecter duly killed a neighbour called Marissa (Holly Deveaux) to rubbish that theory and make Will look stupid.
More fascinating was seeing Lecter blow his cover, by helping Abigail cover up the fact she murdered the brother of her father's final victim in "self defence" at her home, and blackmailing her to keep quiet about her deduction he was the 'man on the phone' warning her father of the FBI's progress. Lecter isn't just a fun character on the periphery of events now, he's deeply involved and apparently enjoying the problems he's creating for himself. Eventually, his luck will run out.
Overall, "Potage" was the weakest episode yet, but the benchmark's so high that's still high praise. Some of the plotting here wasn't as sharp as usual (perhaps why three writers are credited, as they tried to hammer David Fury's story into shape?), and I was perplexed that dogged reporter Freddie Lounds (Lara Jean Chorostecki) is being allowed to continue disrupting the case after Crawford (Laurence Fishburne) threatened to end her career last week, but I'm also fascinated to see where this show is going as a whole... especially now Lecter's come out of the shadows in one character's eyes, with Abigail knowing he's far from a taciturn psychologist in a strange blue suit.
written by David Fury, Chris Brancato & Bryan Fuller (story by David Fury) / directed by David Slade / 18 April 2013