We're just over halfway through Hannibal's first season and, as you've no doubt realised, I'm a massive fan. This show's writing, its sinister tone, dingy atmosphere, slick visuals, and great performances play directly to my darker tastes. I can see why it's struggled to find a big audiences on a mainstream network like NBC, but I'm hoping it's financially viable for them to continue with it. And if not, hopefully another channel will pick it up, because it doesn't deserve a one-season lifespan.
By now we've acclimated to Hannibal's style, so 'Entrée' was timed very nicely as an episode structured in a different way, telling a less orthodox story than the 'killer of the week' rut Hannibal could find itself stuck in. (Not that I seriously entertain the idea it will, given what we've seen over the past six weeks.) This episode had Will (Hugh Dancy) and Crawford (Laurence Fishburne) travelling to Baltimore's State Hospital for the Criminally Insane to assess Dr Abel Gideon (Eddie Izzard), who has brutally killed his night nurse after a two-year period as the model patient--despite being the notorious Chesapeake Ripper. Or so he claims, as we learned there's evidence to suggest Gideon is a copycat and his slaughter of the night nurse was just his way of reaffirming his delusion.
This story gave the episode a very different dynamic for awhile, seeing as the killer was safely recaptured and returned to his cell (in the show's first nod to the line of cells Hannibal Lecter was famously kept in during Silence of the Lambs). I was a little worried comedian Eddie Izzard wouldn't work playing a serial killer, as he's best-known for being a stand-up comedian, despite having done serious roles in the past. Izzard appeared in showrunner Bryan Fuller's unsuccessful pilot Mockingbird Lane (a fun remake of The Munsters), so I was worried his guest-star role may be an unwise favour between friends. Fortunately, Izzard managed to pull off the role, which admittedly wasn't really the focus of the story once it deepened...
'Entrée' was actually more of an insight into Crawford, who's haunted by the disappearance of Miriam Lass (Veep's Anna Chlumsky)--a trainee FBI agent who presumed dead, perhaps the last victim of the Chesapeake Ripper she was investigating at Crawford's behest. Intriguingly, Crawford's now receiving phone calls of Miriam's recorded voice, likely sent by the real Chesapeake Ripper, who could still be caught if they cleverly use Gideon's infamy to force him out into the open through jealousy.
I enjoyed this episode for how it shook the format up a little with the flashbacks to Miriam and Crawford's relationship, while telling the more unusual modern-day story of a sociopath who isn't who he claims to be. The not entirely unexpected twist that Lecter is the Chesapeake Ripper was also handled nicely; as he was clearly irritated by reading Freddie Lounds's (Lara Jean Chorostecki) report about Gideon being one of the cleverest serial killers around. This showed a chink in his armour that may one day prove his undoing, if he's so proud of his achievements (being able to operate as a respected psychoanalyst, wining and dining with law enforcement's elite, while simultaneously indulging himself in a variety of sick murderous acts).
It also cemented the idea that Lecter also evades capture because he doesn't really have one identity or m.o. Obviously the cannibalism is a particular thread that may run through most of his kills, but how many other of the FBI's most-wanted serial killers are actually just Lecter fantasising about various kills, sketching them for his personal pleasure, and then enacting them? I like how the show is gradually building him up as an almost unimaginably sadistic and intelligent predator, right under the noses of Crawford and Will (who are going to look like prize idiots when he is eventually exposed).
We also had our first taste of Lecter in action as a killer, during the climax revealing that he killed Miriam after she saw one of his sketches of a Chesapeake Ripper victim. That was quite a raw moment; and I was surprised the episode ended on that note, having not realised this would be a two-part story. Still, I'm excited to see where things are going to go, even if Lecter being caught is clearly very unlikely (a problem that might get less irritating the longer this show's on-air, but at least we know from the films that there's a healthy 'post-capture' life for Hannibal as a series).
Overall, 'Entrée' offered further evidence that Hannibal is one of the year's best new shows, although it's getting a little comical how often they're introducing characters from the novels and gender-swapping them. This week, Alan Bloom from Red Dragon became Alana Bloom (Caroline Dhavernas), a protégé of Lecter's and possible love-interest if I was reading the signs correctly.
written by Kai Yu Wu & Bryan Fuller (story by Kai Wu Yu) / directed by Michael Rymer / 2 May 2013 / NBC