Saturday, 15 June 2013

HANNIBAL, 1.12 – 'Relevés'

Saturday, 15 June 2013
written by Chris Brancato & Bryan Fuller
directed by Michael Rymer

The plot of this season's been wound so tightly I'm excited to see how next week's finale plays out. "Relevés" didn't have any distractions from the central storyline involving teenager Abigail Hobbs (Kacey Rohl), Will Graham (Hugh Dancy), and Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen); as their lives continued to entwine in fascinating ways. Abigail was involved in her father's murders (but only Lecter knows that); Dr Lecter's a serial killer who's been trying to protect her (while acting as The Copycat of various murders the FBI are involved with); and Graham's losing his sanity (with only Lecter aware this is happening), but has found enough clarity to realise recent murders he's been investigating are the work of the same copycat. It's quite a tangle of secrets and manipulations, but the person with the upper-hand is undoubtedly Dr Lecter—as trusted confidant to the damaged Abigail and Graham.

I'm often surprised by how Hannibal continues storylines you think had served their purpose, so it was great "Relevés" began with "Buffet Froid"'s killer Georgia Madchen (Ellen Muth) in an oxygen chamber, visited by Graham as a fellow patient. She's a surprisingly sympathetic villain now, seeing as her crimes were the result of a mental health issue and she shows unquestionable remorse. I had assumed the show would allow her character to live; so when she was murdered by accidentally setting herself alight, after sparking a fire with the static from a comb Lecter had put in her chamber, it came as a massive shock! I was almost convinced we were watching a dream sequence when Georgia found herself in a fiery death-trap, because Hannibal has created an atmosphere of doubt in the craziness you see every episode—which is perfect, considering this puts us in a similar mindset to Will Graham. It wasn't until forensics pulled Georgia's charred body out of the chamber that I accepted her death, with Lecter tying up a loose end because Georgia caught him killing Dr Sutcliffe, but couldn't identify his face because of her mental condition.

A lot of big events happened in "'Relevés", intended to set things up for next week's finale. Graham recovered from his fever and made the correct deduction that there's a copycat who's been following his work all year, although he incorrectly concluded it must be Abigail Hobbs. Hannibal knows that it's only a matter of time before Graham realises he's the link between all of the murders, so almost reluctantly started plans to frame Graham as 'the copycat' to Jack Crawford (Laurence Fishburne)--which is a surprisingly plausible explanation. The fact Graham took Abigail back to her dad's hunting lodge in Minnesota to confront her with his copycat theory even looked suspicious from Jack's perspective, and the episode ended with Abigail fleeing to the supposed comfort of Lecter... only to realise her poor choice of male guardian, as he was forced to reveal his true nature, before she likely becomes his next victim.

Earlier, reporter Freddie Lounds (Lara Jean Chorostecki) mentioned that true life crime books are particularly popular when the victim/author die, which in hindsight feels like an omen. But maybe it was misdirection, because I'd like Abigail to survive this season and find some kind of peace.

What I liked about this episode is seeing characters like Graham, Abigail and Crawford get infuriatingly close to having an epiphany about Hannibal Lecter's guilt, but are never quite abler to put the puzzle together. There's always a piece missing, so you're yelling at the screen for them to wake up and realise the incredibly creepy Dr Lecter is a manipulative serial killer playing them off each other. A scene with Lecter's psychiatrist Bedelia Du Maurier (Gillian Anderson) also made it clear that Lecter was involved in her traumatic past, where she was attacked by a patient and only survived because he accidentally "swallowed his own tongue" (or had it forced down his gullet by Lecter). In some ways Bedelia is therefore an older version of Abigail: a woman saved by Lecter from someone intending them harm, who thinks she owes him loyalty and gratitude, but is actually indebted to him and willing to turn a blind eye to the fact he's a sociopath.

It's the big finale next, and we already know NBC have renewed Hannibal for another season. Will they surprise us by having Graham catch Lecter and put him into his iconic Silence of the Lambs-style role as an incarcerated genius psycho to be consulted? That seems like a waste of Mikkelsen so early in the show's life, but they definitely can't have Graham framed and jailed. So maybe Abigail will take the blame after her death (with no way to defend herself, and Freddie making all the money from the sales of her book), but Graham will remain unconvinced Abigail was totally culpable and suspect the real copycat is still out there?

13 June 2013 / NBC