Friday, 7 June 2013

HANNIBAL, 1.11 – 'Rôti'

written by Steve Lightfoot, Bryan Fuller & Scott Nimerfo
directed by Guillermo Navarro


Another fantastic episode that worked as a follow-up to the mid-season two-parter about the Chesapeake Ripper, where Dr Abel Gideon (Eddie Izzard)—now convinced his psychiatrist Dr Chilton (Raúl Esparza) made him believe he was the Ripper—escaped from custody and began targeting the people who treated him in the asylum, giving them Colombian neck-ties (whereby the victim's tongue is fed through a throat cut). Yes, it's another cheerful episode, but if you're a fan of the serial killer genre Hannibal remains one of the best examples—arguably the best from a TV standpoint.

What I'm really enjoying about the show just lately is how effectively it's turned Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) from 'offbeat genius profiler' to someone hanging onto sanity by their fingernails. It was always odd whenever the show gave us scenes of Graham standing in a crime scene, as the environment around him slipped back in time, but now his psychological talent is disintegrating. I loved the sequence where he was having a nightmare; dreaming of a glacier melting, sending a tsunami towards the "totem of limbs" from "Trou Normand", while his bedroom flooded with water and his bedside clock melted in a probable nod to Salvador Dali's painting The Persistence of Memory.

It's also becoming genuinely horrifying how Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelson) is using Graham's fragile mental state for his own ends, despite claiming he still wants to be Graham's friend in his sessions with Dr Du Maurier (Gillian Anderson). The moment when he watched Graham have a "minor seizure" in his dining room, after he's brought back the fugitive Dr Gideon (hallucinating him as Garrett Jacob Hobbs) was very unsettling, and made you realise just how dangerous Lecter is. He's a master manipulator; and by keeping Graham's untreated Encephalitis a secret from everyone, he can essentially puppeteer Graham as his appointed psychiatrist. I'm just a little confused that Jack Crawford (Laurence Fishburne) hasn't yet realised Graham's becoming a wreck—because he's not hiding it very well, and even Lecter doesn't want him to have access to firearms now.

The actual story this week was a lot of fun. Once it again I liked how the week's killer echoed Graham—as Dr Gideon is likewise the victim of a psychiatrist meddling with his mental state, and also finds it hard to develop relationships with women because he can't escape his own broken mind. Graham's great skill is being able to put himself in the mindset of killers so firmly that doing so over a prolonged period of time infects him with their madness, and the show is doing an incredible job at communicating this.

As usual, there were plenty of gruesome sequences for gore-hounds to savour, too: from the aforementioned Colombian neck-tie scene (how gross that it was still waggling); to the moment when Gideon was performing stomach surgery on Dr Chilton while he was still conscious, to create a "gift basket" of organs for the real Chesapeake Ripper. Also interesting to see reporter Freddie Lounds (Lara Jean Chorostecki) involved once again, after she was kidnapped by Gideon and forced to report on his latest crimes—although she's rapidly becoming the scariest presence on the show, given her settled reaction to being present during Chilton's ordeal!

Overall, I thought 'Rôti' was a great way to bring Dr Gideon's time on the show to a satisfying end, and Eddie Izzard was even better in this episode than his earlier introduction. I continue to find Hannibal an intelligent and gruesome show with well-drawn characters you can fully invest in. The fact the production design is so opulent, the music so atmospheric, and the dream-like visuals so intoxicating, are beautiful bonuses.

6 June 2013 / NBC
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