HANNIBAL. FINALLY. I’ll be real with you guys: I watched the pilot last night, and then proceeded to have a dream that they were canceling it after one episode, and woke up more distressed than I did after the dream where someone gave me 45 dogs and I kept losing track of them and crying. That’s how awesome the pilot was.
Hannibal stars Hugh Dancy (2004’s seminal hit King Arthur) as FBI Special Agent Will Graham, and Mads Mikkelsen (also 2004’s seminal hit King Arthur) as Dr. Hannibal Lecter. The cast also includes Laurence Fishburne as AIC Jack Crawford, Caroline Dhavernas as Dr. Alanna “Al” Bloom (making her one of two characters changed from men in the source material, YES), and Hettienne Park as CSI Beverly Katz. Also, though he doesn’t appear in the series, it’s worth noting for the gastronomically inclined that José Andrés is the food adviser for the show, so all of the body parts are going to look delicious.
The show is probably the most aesthetically beautiful show on television right now (Bryan Fuller, duh). The palette is dark and sensual, pretty much following that cast picture at the top of the page (lots of blues, reds, violets, etc.) and the entire cast is lovely and very, very good. And the costuming! I DIE.
The writing is wonderful–none of the normal pilot-episode weirdness and infodumps–and the pacing is excellent. I’m a horror fan and an artful gore fan, and even with the restrictions on what they can and can’t show, I was satisfied with what was done with the violence/bloodshed–nothing was really over-the-top gratuitous. There’s a focus on eerie and macabre rather than outright disgusting, which is welcome. Additionally, Hannibal is a perfect way to get your creepy fix if you’re feeling the loss of American Horror Story!
ONTO THE RECAP PROPER.
Sirens. Bluddle (blood puddle). Blatter (blood splatter). Blodies (bloody bodies). These are official CSI terms, I promise.
A couple have been murdered in a lovely suburban home. The man is zipped into a body bag while the woman lies on the floor, staring dead-ly at Will Graham, who stares back like he’s going to barf. He shuts his eyes, and when he opens them again, things start changing. The bluddle disappears, the blatter swirls off of the wall-mounted alarm system, and the blodies disappear. Will starts walking backwards out of the house, past the unmoving police officers, until we are inside Will’s head. He runs forward, kicks open the front door, and shoots the man who’s coming down the stairs. He narrates for us:
I shoot Mr. Marlowe twice, severing jugulars and carotids with near surgical precision. He will die watching me take what is his away from him. This is my design.
Mrs. Marlowe is messing with the alarm (um, why? When somebody busts into my house and murders my husband, the alarm is not the thing that’s going to save me. ESPECIALLY IF IT’S IN THE SAME ROOM AS THE MURDERER), and Will shoots her, too.
I shoot Mrs. Marlowe expertly through the neck. This is not a fatal wound. The bullet misses every artery; she’s paralyzed before it leaves her body. Which…doesn’t mean she can’t feel pain. It just means she can’t do anything about it. This is my design.
Will shuts off the alarm, and the alarm company dude is like “ARE Y’ALL OK.” Would he not have heard the gunshots? I don’t know, the only alarm we’ve ever been able to afford was dogs and a stolen ADT sticker on the front door.
Will looks concerned, and then we’re suddenly back in the present, where he asks for the alarm company’s incident report. He realizes that it was recorded as a false alarm, and that there was a false alarm the week before. It’s revealed that the killer tapped their phone, and we go back to Will the murderer, playing a recording of Mrs. Marlowe’s previous call to the company rep. The rep hangs up.
And this is when it gets truly horrifying for Mrs. Marlowe.
Back to the present. Or maybe the future? Will Graham is teaching a class on psychoanalysis, and he asks his students to imagine themselves as the killer, to think on why Mrs. Marlowe would have deserved to die that way. CLASS DISMISSED, ENJOY YOUR WEEKEND DELVING INTO THE MOTIVATIONS OF A PSYCHOPATH.
Jack Crawford approaches Will, and they make some small talk before the episode’s only real unnecessary exposition comes up. Crawford reaches up and gently pushes Will’s glasses up his nose. Will looks uncomfortable, but doesn’t really pull away. Once my dad tried to take my glasses and I NOPED so hard I fell over a couch, so Will’s doing pretty well, actually. Crawford asks where Will falls on the spectrum, and Will confirms he’s closer to autism/Asperger’s than narcissism/sociopathy. He also confirms that his superpower is extreme empathy, which allows him to get inside killers’ heads. Crawford then asks for help with a case.
Eight girls have gone missing without a trace (all young, pretty white brunettes). Will quickly figures that the first seven are dead, so they decide to focus on the last girl, Elise Nichols. There’s a slightly awful metaphor (all the girls are candy bars, only one of them is the killer’s golden ticket), and Crawford wants Will to get closer to this. Will is hesitant, suggesting other profilers as he tries to walk out, but Crawford knows Will’s insane empathy is what he needs on the case. Will frowns like he’s going to cry and says “That may require me to be sociable.” He then goes home to spend 11 hours on the internet, among his people.
The Nichols house. Mama and Papa Nichols try to remain resolute, but they can’t get much in the way of information out of Crawford. Will asks “How’s the cat?” and the Nicholses are like ??????????????? and Crawford is like ??????????? and pulls Will aside. Will quietly reminds Crawford that Elise was supposed to feed the cat when she returned home from college, so she must have been taken from the house. Crawford calls in a CSI team, and Will asks to see Elise’s room.
The cat is hanging out by the door. Will stops Papa Nichols from going in, and tells him to hold the cat if he needs to. I guess cats are cool, but in terms of animals that provide me comfort when my daughter has gone missing, a cat is not what I’d choose. Papa Nichols picks the cat up anyway, and he and Will go into the room…where Elise’s body has been put back in her bed.
The Nicholses are cleared out of the house, and Crawford tells Will to let him know when he’s ready for the team to come in. He leaves Will to walk around the room, trying to recreate the killer’s mindset. Will clears the stab wounds off of Elise’s body and imagines her alive and asleep. He stares at her for a moment, then straddles her body and chokes her. It’s effectively jarring to watch these recreation scenes, because it keeps us on our toes about Will–he’s the good guy, he’s pretty and we like him and want to give him soup or blowjobs, but his empathy also really gross and terrifying a lot of the time.
He’s dragged back to the present by someone saying “You’re Will Graham! You wrote the standard monograph on time of death by insect activity!”
That someone is Beverly Katz, crime scene investigator and MY NEW FAVORITE.
Will says she’s not supposed to be in there, but she informs him that she found antler velvet in two of Elise’s wounds and asks him if he’s with the FBI. Will reluctantly informs her that the testing procedures were a little too strict, and she’s like “Yeah, if you’re a total psycho.”
Crawford comes back in to tell Katz she shouldn’t be in there, but she repeats her antler velvet discovery. One of the other CSIs explains that deer and elk pin and suffocate their prey. And they use the word “prey.” HAHA WHAT. Just picture a deer beating the shit out of some flowers or berries or whatever it is deer eat.
Will explains that antler velvet, being so protein-rich, actually promotes healing and new growth. The killer wanted to undo as much damage as he could, “given that he’d already killed her.”
Crawford asks if Elise is his golden ticket. Will says that Elise is an apology, then asks if anyone has any aspirin.
We next see Will on a plane headed home, then in a car headed even more home. He sees a cute doggy with a leash on running down the road and stops, trying to lure it over to him with food. He eventually manages to snag him, and then this happens:
Will names him Winston and introduces him to the rest of his Island of Misfit Dogs (and one misfit man).
Okay that was probably the last dog picture, I can almost promise.
Will wakes up and feels that something is amiss. He turns slowly onto his side, and sees Elise in the bed next to him. He reaches out to touch her, and she floats up and away. He wakes up again, surrounded by 34 gallons of sweat instead of Elise. He takes off his shirt and lays down a towel and goes back to sleep. Haha, gross, I bet his mattress looks like a maple syrup accident.
The next day at Quantico (I assume it’s Quantico), Crawford storms into the Shining-homage of a bathroom and asks why Will’s in there. Will’s at the sink after sort of drowning himself and says “I enjoy the smell of urinal cake.”
Crawford: Me too. We need to talk.
Another agent walks in to use the urinal, and Crawford yells “USE THE LADIES’ ROOM.”
I like that Bryan Fuller is doing this with some humor included.
Crawford tries to drag information out of Will, who seems reluctant to go along with the conversation at first. Will says the killer isn’t like any psychopath he’s ever seen, that he thinks he’s killing the girls gently/mercifully, that he loves the girls. Crawford says no semen or saliva was found on Elise Nichols, and Will angrily says that it’s not that kind of love. To sum up, this is a “sensitive psychopath.”
We go next to the F.B.I. Academy…AT QUANTICO? I assume the bathroom from the previous scene is also on the complex. Or maybe it’s just a random bathroom somewhere else in Virginia, who knows. Crawford is walking with Dr. Al Bloom, discussing her friendship with Will. She says she’s never been in a room alone with Will, because she wants to remain his friend, and analyzing him too closely would ruin that. Also, I like all of the clothing patterns on this show. There are not a lot of patterns on television, I’ve noticed.
Dr. Bloom strongly disagrees with Crawford putting Will “out there” mentally, and Crawford says he wouldn’t have done it if he didn’t think he could cover Will. At Bloom’s incredulous look, he amends it to “All right, if I didn’t think I could cover him 80%.” Crawford tells Bloom he needs her to be there for Will if he gets too far “out there,” and she agrees.
Autopsy room. There was almost no evidence on the body, except for the scrap of metal that Katz found, and Will suggests they start looking for “plumbers, steamfitters, toolworkers.” He stares at the body and imagines her floating in a void, then suddenly impaled with deer antlers. It’s the one moment that made me recoil and say “Uuugh” out loud.
The CSIs argue (Katz: “I said [the wounds] were caused by antlers, not that a deer put them there.”), until Will says, disgustedly, “She was mounted on them. Like hooks. She may have been bled.”
The CSIs notice that the liver had been removed and then replaced. Will looks even sicker. “There’s something wrong with the meat. He’s eating them.” Elise had liver cancer.
A tiny interlude introduces Hannibal Lecter, dapperly eating some mystery meat while classical music plays and there is wonderful lighting. LIVING THE DREAM.
Hannibal is also a psychiatrist who totally fucking hates his patients. Like his total disdain for this crying dude in his office’s feelings or emotional wellbeing is so wonderful, especially after the dude puts his used snotrag on the table. Hannibal tells him he can’t let his anxiety get the better of him, because when the metaphorical lion he needs to fear is in the room, “I assure you, you will know.” He takes the guy out to where Crawford is waiting in the waiting room. Crawford mistakes the patient for Hannibal, which gets Hannibal kind of pissy, and Hannibal makes Crawford wait in the waiting room for probably like 20 minutes while he passive-aggressively does a crossword puzzle or looks up recipes or something.
The office is lovely:
Crawford is charming as hell, totally flirting with Hannibal’s pride in his artwork and intelligence and keepin’ it light. Hannibal seems flattered, but also asks Crawford if he’s the one being questioned. Crawford tells him he was recommended by Dr. Bloom, who he mentored. Hannibal appears to be fond of Bloom, and apparently is heading in that direction with Crawford when Crawford mentions a paper he wrote, and says it was interesting, even for a layman like himself. Hannibal scoffs at the “layman” label, considering the caliber of people who work in Crawford’s department. Fishburne and Mikkelsen are so charming.
QUANTICO. Hannibal, Crawford, and Will are going over the case. One of the officers from the crime scene got a photo of Elise’s body, and Freddie Lounds (!! Also now a woman!) posted it on tattlecrime.com.
“Tasteless,” Will mutters, prompting Hannibal to ask “Do you have a problem with taste?”
“My thoughts are often not tasty.”
Hannibal’s all “Well yeah dude you gotta roast those brains with onions and garlic and get some rosemary butter on that shit.”
Hannibal asks if Will has a problem with eye contact, and Will stares him dead in the eyes as he explains that eyes are distracting. Hannibal is delighted, and keeps prodding until Will realizes he’s being psychoanalyzed. He storms off, warning Crawford that “You won’t like me when I’m psychoanalyzed. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go give a lecture. On psychoanalyzing.” Haha, baby.
Crawford suggests that Hannibal pull it back a little. Hannibal leans forward and says he can help Will see the face of the cannibal he’s hunting. I BET YOU CAN(NIBAL).
Crime scene time. The shot is beautiful:
I mean, I would obviously love for “pretty dead lady as set dressing!” to stop being a thing, and hopefully there’s more equal-opportunity murdering later on, but: I can appreciate a good visual. The ritualistic/animalistic murder (with actual animals involved) is somehow much more scary and compelling than your standard television murders, and I figure that’s because I can walk out of my house any day and get murdered by somebody with a gun and a bad temper. That’s how it is in real life. I’m probably never going to get put on a deer, so it’s way more bizarre and interesting in a fictional context.
We get a name for the killer: the Minnesota Shrike, named for the bird that drops its prey on sharp shit, takes it apart, and saves the organs for later. Will is visibly upset, noting that the person who killed this girl and the person who killed Elise are on two completely different wavelengths.
Also, the lungs are missing.
We cut to Hannibal, looking totally foxy as he…cooks up some lungs. I’ve said it before, but I’m from the South and of Puerto Rican descent so I have eaten a lot of organs. Not people ones! But I can verify that lungs are all right if you get them from somebody who knows how to cook. So this is a little less gross than it’s meant to be, but still pretty gross.
Back in the field, Will elaborates on his two-killers realization–the person who killed Elise loved women, and wanted to consume them, not destroy them. He would have killed them indoors, and wasn’t interested in “field kabuki.” The person who planted this girl hated her, while Elise’s killer has a daughter about to leave home that he wants to keep forever. “She’s his golden ticket.” Will says.
“What about the copycat?” Crawford asks.
Will explains that an intelligent, sadistic psychopath probably wouldn’t kill like that again, so Crawford should get Hannibal to write up the profile. “You seemed very impressed with his opinion.” Will snits as he walks away. Haha.
Hannibal eats his tasty lungs.
It might sound weird, and obviously it’s up to everyone to judge for themselves, but I don’t feel like the murdered women are as sexualized as in other media? I mean, you’ve got a girl in a field, naked and literally impaled on a symbol of male virility, but there’s more of a sexual undercurrent in the next scene, a dream(?) sequence in which Will is showering in his motel room and the shower curtains open to reveal a giant deer/elk with huge antlers watching him from a dark forest. I don’t know, it’s just interesting.
Hannibal comes to Will’s room the next morning. Will is irritated but lets him in–Hannibal has brought breakfast, an egg scramble with sausage that looks amazing. WILL IS EATING PEOPLE NOW THOUGH. I hope he doesn’t develop a taste for long pig, that could get awkward during finale season.
Hannibal says he considered apologizing for the psychoanalysis, but he knows it’ll happen again and wants to use his apologies sparingly. Will curtly suggests they keep it professional, and Hannibal counters with “Or we could socialize like adults.”
Will tells Hannibal “I don’t find you that interesting.”
“You will,” Hannibal says calmly. They talk about the case, how Will doesn’t think the Shrike is responsible for the latest girl. He feels like she was there to show him what he needed to see by being the antithesis of everything the Shrike’s methods and motivations are.
Hannibal asks if Will has any problems, and Will is dismissive. Hannibal counters with “Uncle Jack sees you as a fragile little teacup” that is only brought out for special guests. Will laughs derisively, and asks how Hannibal sees him. Hannibal leans forward, deadly-intense, and says that Will is “the mongoose I want under the house, when the snakes slither by. Finish your breakfast.” THE SEDUCTION HAS BEGUN.
I mean holy shit dude, no amount of impeccable tailoring can hide a boner that huge.
Will takes Hannibal to the construction site they narrowed the suspect down to with the metal shaving. They dig through files while a hilariously annoyed woman talks on the phone about them. They find a file for Garrett Jacob Hobbs, which stands out to Will because there’s no address and a record of Hobbs missing days at a time.
Will and Hannibal take the boxes of files out. Hannibal fumbles one box as he hands it down to the woman, dropping it so that the woman and Will have to pick all the files up. He goes back inside and dials Hobbs’s number. HAHA HELLO GARRETT THIS IS A MURDERER-TO-MURDERER COURTESY CALL. Hannibal tells him, simply, “They know.” and hangs up. Oh man, Hannibal knew exactly what was going to happen here, the bastard.
We go to a blattered Will, standing catatonic in a yard. Rewind to when he was less blattered, popping aspirin in a car before getting out and heading to the house. Hannibal follows slowly. Suddenly, Hobbs shoves his wife out the front door. Her throat is slit from ear to ear, and she dies on the porch. Will runs inside to find Hobbs in the kitchen, a knife on his daughter’s throat. Hobbs cuts her, still trying to stab her after Will shoots him 186 times. Will is shaking so hard I’m surprised he hit center mass even once (WHO LET HIM HAVE A GUN EVEN?) and he kneels down, covered in blood, to try and stop the girl’s bleeding. Hannibal comes in, surveys the scene sort of bemusedly, and saves the day by pushing Will’s hands off and holding her neck closed himself. He goes into the ambulance with her, leaving Will alone in the yard.
At Quantico, Crawford walks in on a lecture Bloom is giving. She stops, and he asks where Will is. She tells him angrily “You said he wouldn’t get too close.”
HOSPITAL. Will goes to the room of the girl, Abigail, and finds Hannibal sleeping there with her hand in his. I do not for one second believe he’s asleep, or that he totally didn’t plan this (what better way to gain Will’s trust?).
And that’s where the first episode ends. How did you like it? Where do you think it’s gonna go? WAS THIS LONG-ASS RECAP LONG ENOUGH? Is anybody else fucking starving????
See you next Thursday!