Hannibal: Sorbet   Rewatch 
October 9, 2014 6:32 PM - Season 1, Episode 7 - Subscribe

The nice, light-relief episode where Hannibal goes to the opera and throws a dinner party. Isn't he just the most?
posted by tel3path (20 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

The Ellen Greene cameo is the best, campiest thing the show ever did while also being within canon - we need to see how inside the high society world he is. Of course he knows these people. Hannibal is at his most at dinner parties, think of that wink to Chilton later.

POOR FRANKLYN. Another victim of loving badly and another copy of Hannibal, both him and Budge.
posted by The Whelk at 10:42 PM on October 9, 2014 [2 favorites]

I don't really have a comment on this episode, aside from YES GILLIAN ANDERSON OMGGGGG but I just have to say I've really grown to dislike the episode naming system. Impossible to know what happens from the title, especially since it's been a while. But Hannibal wikis tell me the great moment I really want to discuss is two episodes away in Troup Normand, so until then...

posted by yellowbinder at 10:59 PM on October 9, 2014

Commentary says that Gillian uses a "hypnotic" voice for the character but it always seems to me like she's doing what people do who have to deal with children, very direct but leading statements in this very even, almost sing-song way.

Like of all the characters, Bedelia is the closest to sounding like Anthony Hopkins' Lecter in the drawing out way she speaks.

She's a completely fascinating character because we know so little about her and cause she's the only person Hannibal respects. Bedelia is a perfect and kind of terrifying addition to the canon, like I'm not 100% sure Hannibal didn't get the "hey let's murder people as therapy!"twig from her. Like, how responsible for his current state is she?
posted by The Whelk at 11:07 PM on October 9, 2014 [4 favorites]

Also remember when this episode first aired and we all thought Bedelia was a figment of Hannibal's imagination?

I kind of love that idea cause it points to how much Bedelia and Hannibal are mirrors, even if he based his therapist persona on her down the the hair-part., this show loves to have duplicates and alternate versions so you have this Franklyn/Budge thing as comic mimic of will/hannibal but also Hannibal's possible original source material he's cribbing from. It's this whole play of personae that someone like Will just Bull in a China Shop ruins b being to see the truth so easily.
posted by The Whelk at 11:14 PM on October 9, 2014 [2 favorites]

she's doing what people do who have to deal with children, very direct but leading statements in this very even, almost sing-song way.

On jury duty I had a judge who did this in the voir dire, with the addition that as she approached the end of her question, she would start slowly nodding or shaking her head to indicate which answer she was looking for. "Do you understand the law as [nodding] it has been explained?" "Will you have any problems [shaking] fulfilling your duty as a juror?" It was incredibly effective.
posted by fleacircus at 1:22 AM on October 10, 2014 [4 favorites]

The "only person Hannibal respects"? There've been a lot of people Hannibal "respects" and they're always the "only" person.
posted by tel3path at 1:56 AM on October 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

Not a ton to say about this episode, despite how stellar it is. Sumptuous is maybe the word I'd describe it. All rich flavors, the sort of thing that's very filling even if you only have a few bites.

I found it interesting watching this that we simultaneously get Hannibal feeling lonely, and yet also Hannibal at the height of his particular excesses. I'd kind of picked up on that before, but it felt more apparent to me on this particular watching.

Even if it weren't generally fantastic, we have this episode to thank for introducing the concept of Hannibal's rolodex that he keeps along with his recipe box.
posted by sparkletone at 11:39 AM on October 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

posted by The Whelk at 11:45 AM on October 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

I just love that they're playing the Golden Calf thing in the background while he's restocking his freezer. The Golden Calf being an idol to Ba'al, in case anyone didn't get the joke.

We are assured that Hannibal is happy, and at the same time we see him being all lonely and such. How to reconcile the two?

Well, he's a shallow narcissist to whom people are basically things, I guess. Not that he doesn't crave a boon companion for real, but he's inadequate to sustain an intimate relationship and deep down he knows it. So he leaves people like broken toys and goes off to get new ones.
posted by tel3path at 12:31 PM on October 10, 2014 [2 favorites]

I'm just contemplating that dinner party, populated by Ellen Greene, the opera singer, and assorted extras, and comparing it with Bedelia's later "and as you know, Hannibal has no friends!"

You really get the impression that the dinner guests are just sheeple to him. Not even High Sassiety People I Hang Out With In Order To Maintain My Position. Sheeple.
posted by tel3path at 4:21 PM on October 11, 2014

...hit send too soon...

I don't suppose many of these people think Hannibal is their close friend in the same way that Jack and Alana do, but there must be some, right? We know he cultivates ostensibly deeper friendships in order to stay well resourced and well connected. I would guess the Ellen Greene character must think she's pretty close to Hannibal, to be able to make such demands of him like that.

I mean... rude. She must have something he needs, or she wouldn't still be around to talk to him like that.
posted by tel3path at 4:24 PM on October 11, 2014

She gets him tickets to the opera. =D
posted by carsonb at 5:55 PM on October 11, 2014

Oh yeah. I don't think it's ever even hinted at by dialogue, but Hannibal's guests are nothing more to him that extras in his performance. (Although I'm sure it also doesn't hurt to maintain a network of the well-to-do who likely have countless troubled relatives to send his way!)
posted by yellowbinder at 11:48 AM on October 12, 2014

I still wonder what each person did to get onto that rolodex.
posted by The Whelk at 1:28 PM on October 12, 2014

everyone saying that mason walking into his office like he owned it and trespassing on the couch... what about the bit in oeuf where Will stomps in and throws his jacket down and flings his messenger bag on the couch.

he'll put up with any amount of rudeness from Will! that's not even the start of it!

i think it's because he senses that will is a really good person and someone who doesn't have a thin veneer of social acceptability over a corrupt and shitty nature, like he perceives most people to have. so when someone blows their cover it's like "now I've got you you son of a bitch, say a big hello to my frying pan." whereas he perceives that will is authentic AND authentically good.

i do think that part of him really does want that goodness to be real, if only because the corruption of it will be so much more satisfying.

the christian concept of sin is that it's something that can't be avoided, that whoever says "you fool" has blown it in terms of earning their way into heaven by good conduct. which is why you can't earn your way into heaven by good conduct - nobody can get in. you enter heaven via personal friendship with God Himself. it's not what you know, it's who you know. lecter operates his own little circle of hell in the same way.

alana is certainly someone he does like and admire, even though we can only be certain of this because mads mikkelsen says he likes everyone he seems to like on the show. she has good manners and good character on the surface, but the surface is about one micron thick. (and calling Hannibal "rude" is the worst possible infraction of etiquette you could imagine, never mind what unfolds later.) underneath that, we have the perfectly socialised template of femininity that walks and talks in Alana's body, which can't be virtuous, it can only be morally vacuous, because in this situation virtue requires seeing, and perfectly socialized femininity requires sightlessness. but i can't accept that Hannibal values her solely as a means to an end (from his point of view anyway). he knows that underneath the socialization there's another layer, and he doesn't want to ever have anything "seen nor said" with the Alana that's underneath that layer of useful corruption. we got just a glimpse of that in the finale - actions taken just before death or in violent circumstances reveal character, according to flannery o'connor - and the alana underneath the surface is uncompromisingly committed to his destruction. so he had to nobble her while fembot!alana was still running the show, since fembot!alana couldn't think her way out of a wet paper bag.

um, but anyway. everything about the given circumstances says he has utilitarian reasons for liking Alana and Jack, and that's largely true, but i think he also senses strength of character which, when it emerges, means he has to end them but which he admires them for in some aesthetic way in the meantime. will he admires because he's good and he's corruptible.

which i guess is why they didn't end up in the rolodex a long time ago.

the stuff the people in the rolodex did is going to be comically and disappointingly trivial. a waiter didn't set the oyster fork correctly, or something.
posted by tel3path at 2:41 PM on October 12, 2014 [4 favorites]

tel3path: "I just love that they're playing the Golden Calf thing in the background while he's restocking his freezer. The Golden Calf being an idol to Ba'al, in case anyone didn't get the joke."

The other part of the joke is that in context, that bit is Mèphistophélès (diagetically) performing for the rabble, singing about blasphemy and greed, and how Satan controls everything. Everything about this is perfect. (Video).

Then there's "Piangerò la sorte mia" (from Giulio Cesare) from the opera recital. The first words we hear sung are “il tiranno” (the tyrant); Cleopatra is referring to her brother, who she has decided to haunt when she dies. She has herself been sent to prison by for conspiring against him. She also believes that Caesar is dead.

I really like seeing Hannibal as a tyrant, as somebody who (will) send somebody (Will) to prison for conspiring against him. And before this scene the show opened with flashbacks to Miriam Lass and (new) discussion of her disappearance; Hannibal is having her haunt Jack (as it were).
posted by mountmccabe at 7:07 PM on October 13, 2014 [2 favorites]

This is the episode of yet more emphasis on crossing professional lines, and merger fantasies.

You could call Hannibal the ultimate boundary-obliterator because his boundary violations literally go ALL THE WAY THROUGH his victims or make his victims go ALL THE WAY THROUGH him. Forget trying to befriend your therapist (Franklyn -> Hannibal -> Bedelia) or having your teacher seriously consider acting on your student crush (Hannibal -> Alana) or be plotting to turn your patient into you (Hannibal -> Will), Hannibal wants the total abolition of all boundaries forever. Except between himself and Franklyn, ew.

You also get the distinct introduction of the merger fantasy theme whereby Franklyn wants to become Hannibal and Hannibal wants to become Will and in his social presentation has already INCORPORATED both Bedelia and Alana. As a result of the number he's done on Bedelia, there's not much left of her social identity ("identities are defined by social ties") nor her professional identity (Hannibal is her only patient and she doesn't want him). Bedelia offers red or white wine, and Hannibal asks for rosé - the choice she didn't offer, and also a merger of the two choices she did offer (hint: do not attempt to create rosé by mixing red and white wine, it would be bad).

The synecdochical bit is Hannibal and Alana's conversation in the kitchen, where she calls him out on flirtatiously changing the subject. "Will does that" ooh Hanni is so pleased, he's a little more like Will! And then "why didn't we have an affair while you were working for me" "you were already having an affair" - I interpret this as her interpretation of him vanishing early each evening and returning relatively late each morning looking tired. I also interpret it as him setting up Miriam Lass's new living situation. Alana picks up that Hannibal is flirtatiously changing the subject now, in fact, she will show a pattern over time of calling him out on using sex to distract her from something important. What she apparently doesn't pick up is that he was romanticizing their personal relationship AND using their professional relationship (making her examine PhD candidates) to distract her from the Miriam Lass case two years ago, that the small pattern scales up to something larger. Alana dumps carrots over the roses, doesn't pick up what he's putting down. AND in a conversation about the romantic side of their relationship THEY'RE TALKING ABOUT WILL AGAIN!!! (forreal just have a threeway and get it over with!!!)

You know... I may be biassed, but I'm very reluctant to accept the idea that Bedelia could have "created" Hannibal. For one thing, as far as we know Hannibal's basic identity is that he's a serial murdering cannibal. I can't imagine any universe in which Bedelia could have "created" Hannibal in anything like the sense that Hannibal tries to "create" killers from the patients he has. Bedelia looks, to me, like a pragmatic but conscientious individual. I still think that the situation is as it appears and Bedelia's and Will's experiences follow the same pattern, with Bedelia being subjected to abuse until she became convinced that killing someone was the only way out and that she was the only person on her side (and maybe that Hannibal was, since she seems to think she owes him some kind of debt of gratitude in addition to not being able to get rid of him). I don't see Bedelia as someone who cynically or intentionally plotted her way into this situation and then found herself in over her head.

This may very well get contradicted in S3, but maybe it won't. I just think... you know how fans keep saying "OMG maybe it will turn out it was all a dream/in Hannibal's mind palace!" I don't think the show tends to outright lie to us in that way. It's more like it withholds facts, and previous information looks different in that light. (Yes, I know, Hannibal was inducing seizures and all that, but that's just a difference in degree from what we already knew, which was that he was leveraging and exacerbating Will's symptoms).

So if Bedelia was running some kind of Dr Du Maurier's Finishing School For Murder I am not sure how she could have gone from that to the character we see in this episode.
posted by tel3path at 11:09 AM on October 14, 2014 [2 favorites]

But then maybe I'm wrong.

What if... Bedelia genuinely thought she had no way out (of a situation she didn't realize Hannibal set up) and Bedelia is sort of a combination of Hannibal, Alana, AND Chilton here? She might have thought she was manipulating Hannibal into killing her patient (Hannibal) while not seeing Hannibal for who he was (Alana) and then found she'd created a monster who was a danger to her (Chilton)?

AGH. Roll on S3.
posted by tel3path at 11:15 AM on October 14, 2014

When Hannibal opens the door to his office expecting Will, he does the teensiest little hop of excitement. Seriously, go back and look for this, it's fucking hilarious.
posted by showbiz_liz at 6:06 PM on October 29, 2014

As of this morning's mail, I am now the proud owner of the DVF Pac-Man dress that Alana wears in Hannibal's kitchen.

It's interesting because it's unlike the rest of Alana's dresses. Nearly all the others have sleeves and asymmetrical bodices. This one is still a faux-wrap, but without the asymmetry.

The reason why a DVF-style wrap dress is important to Alana's characterization is because it was designed as a no-brainer uniform for the career woman of the 70s, that she could wear to work and then go out in. Because they usually have sleeves, you don't even have to coordinate them with a blazer or sweater - which will always be in the wash exactly when you need them - and bare arms aren't appropriate for a formal professional environment where the men habitually go around in three piece suits or, in Will's case, at least a decent plaid shirt and a blazer. The fact that we most often see Alana in a wrap dress and less often in separates is an indication that, consistent with the demands on her time as a busy doctor, she needs clothes that she can just throw on and head out the door. Similarly, we rarely see her wearing visible makeup. But also, she's literally wearing a professional woman suit.

So the Pac-Man dress is a departure from the norm, and I thought it was just me, but the Eat the Rudecast brought up the symbolism of Pac-Man as well. And you know what I think of red being the colour of truth-seeking and blue being the colour of illusion, so the blue pattern being the symbol of pop culture's greatest glutton has to mean something.

But, I mean, yes she is wearing it while drinking her own special reserve of Hannibal's people beer, and she definitely states a preference for it, but it's really the only time (apart from last week when she was like "oh nice i've never had tongue before omnomnom") that we see her enjoying the pleasures of the flesh for their own sake. She just doesn't seem like a sensual person at all, even later on in the spooky sad sex scenes. I wonder if this is another thing that fits the profile of the typical upper middle class woman's appetites - food is usually fuel but alcohol is a sensual experience? At least that is the way it's always described in the contemporary books I've read by and about upper middle class women - they're absorbed in their work so they pick an old black banana out of the fruit bowl as their entire lunch, but pour them a glass of their favourite tipple and it will be described as if it were a Turner landscape, and the taste of it will be described like a miniature sex scene all by itself. Very often as the narrative marches on and things begin to unravel for the female characters, they spend more and more time drunk, but not, interestingly, in any way that particularly stands out as unusual for a member of the bourgeoisie.

So yes, I have no doubt that the dress symbolizes gluttony but I'm not sure the gluttony belongs to Alana in this scene, or ever. Whatever Hannibal is offering Alana, it's more relational than material.

One of the little Pac-Men has DVF's signature on it - tee hee.
posted by tel3path at 4:00 AM on November 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

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