Hannibal: Amuse-Bouche   Rewatch 
September 4, 2014 10:10 PM - Season 1, Episode 2 - Subscribe

The BAU investigate a killer who is burying his victims alive.
posted by tel3path (64 comments total)
IS THIS THE MUSHROOM EPISODE aka the only episode that actually freaked me out for reals?

posted by poffin boffin at 7:00 AM on September 5, 2014

Yes, it's time for the Fungus Patch Kids.
posted by tel3path at 7:50 AM on September 5, 2014

The strange beats of this episode, way more five act that traditnal TV, really threw me the first time and made me think I was something something really different but hadn't quite gelled yet.
posted by The Whelk at 6:09 PM on September 5, 2014

Watching it again the other night, the structure made me think a little bit of the "One Minute" episode of Breaking Bad, where an insane last act of maybe five minutes comes after a commercial break so late in the episode that inattentive viewers might have stopped watching, albeit with a sense of some dissatisfaction.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 8:28 PM on September 5, 2014

Freddie's makeup is pretty terrible, isn't it? I didn't notice the way-too-much-rectangles-of-blush and heavy foundation until this time around.

Anyway, I think that this episode is too "procedural"-y and doesn't feel much like Hannibal-as-the-series-revealed-itself-to-ultimately-be. I did appreciate how almost everyone was reacting completely bizarrely callously to the shooting death of GJH and how their jokes and plaudits fell so flat. And that Hannibal was basically the only person who was like, "yeah, terrible and really rocks your world to kill someone, doesn't?" He was the only one who knew how to handle violent death, it seemed like? Which I guess makes sense but is still funny.

One thing that especially seemed too procedural-y to me was when they found Gretchen Speck in the killer's car covered in dirt. Why would the killer load up his trunk full of dirt? He wasn't planning to grow the mushrooms onto Gretchen in there, he buried everyone in an actual garden.

MM did a really good job in the scene with Freddie Lounds, I thought. That moment when he demanded Freddie's bag -- suddenly it registered how much bigger and stronger than her he was.

Why is Will practicing his shooting all the time? I would have thought that he wouldn't want to touch a gun for a while? (Though maybe, if killing GJH actually did make him feel "good"/powerful, then maybe it makes sense for him to try feeling "good"/powerful again by shooting some more, if he's also sort of feeling broken and messed up and weird at the moment?). Plus, he obviously didn't *need* shooting practice. It's not as though things went horribly at the Hobbes house because he's a terrible shot. Though since then, he has been a pretty terrible shot (?!).

I did like the consistent characterization of Jack as just really insensitive about what he talks about in front of people. In the pilot, he starts talking on the phone about the Shrike's victim in front of her parents, in their house, and in this episode, when Beverly stops reading Freddie Lounds's article about how Will is obviously a nutjob since his job is profiling (?) he yells at her to keep going for absolutely no reason and with Will standing like one foot away. LOL. Why so indiscreet, Jack?!

Again, though, I get the feeling that it's mostly Will who's thinking that Will is crazy. Everyone else seems to just think that he didn't have the stomach for field work before but that his killing of GJH proves that he does now. I thought that Hannibal's rubber-stamped psych eval actually made sense in that context -- Hannibal knows that Will *does* have the stomach for killing, he doesn't need to interview him more to find that out, so of course he could write the letter reassuring Jack of that right away.
posted by rue72 at 11:11 AM on September 7, 2014

The strange beats of this episode, way more five act that traditnal TV, really threw me the first time and made me think I was something something really different but hadn't quite gelled yet.

Isn't traditional TV usually a five-act structure? I thought it was usually:

Act One/Cold Open: Intro of Problem
Act Two: Attempt at (Easy) Solution --> Failure
Act Three: Problem Become HORRIBLE
Act Four: Find Real Solution/Put Real Plan in Place for Solution
Act Five: Solve/Fail-to-Solve Problem for Once and All
(Sometimes also a Tag: How does Everyone Feel Now and What Does It Mean?)

I think that this episode follows this pattern pretty well, but I think that's also why it feels more procedural-y and predictable/formulaic than most of the episodes do?
posted by rue72 at 11:16 AM on September 7, 2014

It felt like the beats where in the wrong place, I think. You expect them to track to the commercial breaks to the ending is very sped up and the revelations keep coming fast.

I think it's part of the first season one attempt to make it a more traditional cop show and it's struggling against the format

That moment when he demanded Freddie's bag -- suddenly it registered how much bigger and stronger than her he was.

Yeah that whole exchange with the couch gets right in the "disturbingly sexual despite everyone being fully clothed and actively menaced" place.
posted by The Whelk at 12:45 PM on September 7, 2014 [2 favorites]

I think the pacing in the second half felt sped up because they had to make room for the long tag at the end -- I'm thinking of the "tag" as the last scene between Hannibal and Will. I watch the episodes on iTunes, though, so I'm not dead sure about where the commercial breaks fall.

Another sort of weird structural thing, imo, was that the A-plot was (apparently) the Mushroom Man, and the B-plot was Hannibal/Will's relationship (as I would think it would have always been, if the show had kept a more procedural format), and the C-plot was the GJH mystery (as the season-long storyline/arc) -- but because the individual scenes tend to be long, and there was a ton of expos going on with Freddie to further both the A-plot and the C-plot and therefore lots of scenes featuring Freddie, I think that the C-plot threatened to overwhelm the B-plot. Ugh that sentence is really confusing and has too many clauses, but do you know what I mean?

I think that it would have been structured better if either Hannibal or Will had taken a more active role in the A plot, so that the A and B plots could have been woven together more tightly (thereby giving the B-plot more focus and furthering it more than the episode actually did), instead of giving Freddie that more active role and having the C-plot therefore usurp the B-plot's place.

Also, that would have been good, imo, in that I think that the cop should have been killed in front of Will, not Freddie. I mean, I like the scene where the cop is suddenly killed in front of her, especially since that killer's nonchalance about killing someone and everyone's lack of interest in that cop's death is an interesting contrast to the immense angsting going on over Will's shooting of GJH. BUT. Since Will is the POV character, we kind of missed having a reaction scene about the cop's death and so it ended up being *too* much of a throwaway, and also forced the show to do like three CLIMACTIC CONFRONTATION!!1! scenes, which felt kind of disjointed.

Honestly, I think the *most* procedural-y episode the series has had was the social-worker-inside-the-horse one. I liked that episode, but it was seriously like watching Law and Order while tripping out. Whereas this episode was like...it felt like a shitty version of Hannibal. Not that all the scenes were shitty or anything (imo they weren't, I think lots about the episode is good), but it was just like Hannibal-but-lamer instead of like a cool version of another show altogether. Funnily enough, I actually really like procedurals and very heavy use of structure/formula, but on this show it just doesn't work. I think a really heavy-handed procedural structure is at odds with the show's themes and aesthetics, so that this episode ends up kind of being less than the sum of its parts.
posted by rue72 at 1:07 PM on September 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

Oh, when I say "themes and aesthetics," I'm mostly thinking about how this show likes to play with perspective in a way that makes it feel like there *is no* objective reality, just a communal consensus that the characters try very hard to tap into and that everyone pretends is an objective reality. Heavy/predictable use of act structure privileges the objective/camera/director POV too much, imo, and ends up undermining that theme.

Though maybe other episodes also use act structure pretty strongly? I have kind of a weak grasp on how the show uses acts, since I never watch it as its broadcast.
posted by rue72 at 1:11 PM on September 7, 2014 [2 favorites]

A propos of Freddie's bag, who else has noticed that the women on this show carry absolutely minuscule bags, or no bags?

I want to know how they do it. Alana also has a minuscule bag, in which she somehow still manages to keep the great big gun that Will gave her, extra bullets, and whatever else it is she carries on the regular - which apparently includes a really large MacBook - HUGE.

You don't suppose they're leaving their laptops in their cars, do you? Because that's insecure. Tsk.

Or it might be a Hermione-type Bag of Holding, which would explain why Alana couldn't feel the difference in weight after Hannibal nicked her bullets (which is no excuse for not checking the chamber, but she was a n00b with guns in a stressful situation and something was bound to go wrong, so).
posted by tel3path at 4:48 PM on September 7, 2014

"Again, though, I get the feeling that it's mostly Will who's thinking that Will is crazy."

So Freddie has the ability to pick up on people's worst fears and publish them? That's a good way to wind 'em up and watch 'em go, isn't it?

I have a feeling Freddie is going to turn out to be extremely evil in S3 and I think there are things she's doing at this point that are really quite evil and we just haven't grasped it yet - although recording someone's therapy sessions in order to publicly shame him is pretty horrendous. I am remembering what she said in the finale about being a cancer editor and giving people false hope - if that isn't foreshadowing I don't know what is.

What I think happened in that interval - despite the "loin" pun and the Freddie-type colour scheme - is that Hannibal encouraged her to find the most excitable and unstable of the Shrike victims' relatives and stir him up so he could pit them against Abigail. Why spy on the news when you can make the news, eh. But because of the misdirection in the "loin" scene we don't connect the dots.

Freddie wears garish animal prints, but they are mammal prints, in contrast to Alana's snake print (as in the outfit at the end of S1, indicating that Hannibal sees Alana as someone to guard against) and Hannibal's reptilian demeanour where he holds very still and rarely blinks. So maybe we like Freddie because she's a predator but we tell ourselves she's our type of cuddly predator. Of course, tons of makeup would go with the garishness. I wouldn't say her makeup was actively bad though, just heavy. And that hair... Why is anyone surprised Hannibal could smell her on Will, she was living in that room, which means she would have been spraying tons of hair products all around. She probably lives in her own PigPen-like miasma of hair product.
posted by tel3path at 5:28 PM on September 7, 2014 [2 favorites]

And don't forget that Freddie got a lot of backstabby info about Will from Zeller. Zeller definitely thinks Will is some form of crazy or psycho.
posted by tel3path at 8:08 AM on September 8, 2014

And don't forget that Freddie got a lot of backstabby info about Will from Zeller. Zeller definitely thinks Will is some form of crazy or psycho.

Oh my gosh, I rewatched two right after one, and I was so excited to jump on thread and share embarrassing fact that I'd some how missed this EVERY PREVIOUS TIME. It puts a little extra weight on his apology to Will toward the end of season 2.
posted by The Legit Republic of Blanketsburg at 10:38 PM on September 10, 2014

To be honest, it's in like exactly one shot of Zeller's face for you to get that she seduced the information out of him in an episode that ALLREADY has a lot of STUFF happening. It didn't catch it until the 3rd damn time.
posted by The Whelk at 7:36 AM on September 11, 2014

Good news, everyone!

Not strictly related to this rewatch but it seemed like a relevant place to post this.
posted by figurant at 1:54 PM on September 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


As I mentioned previously I think the colours black and white are part of a chess metaphor. I also think that the colour red is a sign that the character has taken the red pill. So I am encouraged that Bedelia was wearing dark burgundy and black on the plane with Hannibal.

Bedelia is going to beat Hannibal's ass like it has never been beat before. And not the fun way either.
posted by tel3path at 2:42 PM on September 11, 2014

Hannibal is set to return at midseason.

Forgive my unspeakable foreignness, but that means January, yes?
posted by Grangousier at 3:16 PM on September 11, 2014

Okay finally fixed my DVD drive.

Will is a terrible, terrible shot. Awful. He didn't even hit the target let alone the center of it! I wouldn't have pulled the trigger either!

It looks like Will is already hallucinating because of the way he reacts to the target changing into GJH. Then he wakes up and we see it was a dream.

The body of that deer in the cabin... Then all the antlers... Those deer are a stand-in for the girls, but good God the carnage. There is no way to see this many antlers as evidence of anything but murder of deer. In fact the first time I saw it I only thought of how many deer he'd killed and didn't even think about the girls.
posted by tel3path at 4:05 PM on September 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

It's one thing to establish whether Abigail is dangerous, I get that, but treating her like a murder suspect right off the bat... When she was brought up by a murderer... There's just no mercy in this world.

And of course her name evokes the idea of a witch hunt, a major theme of the show.
posted by tel3path at 4:08 PM on September 11, 2014

Will wants it to be true that Hobbs killed alone and I don't blame him.

Freddie has on full makeup but hasn't put on clothes or dried her hair?
posted by tel3path at 4:09 PM on September 11, 2014

Applause for Will the new murderer. He doesn't like it.

He says he was "unstable" because he "couldn't pull the trigger". And so God felt powerful when he dropped a church roof on a congregation? Will wants to feel powerful, too? We think Will is pretty humble in accepting his low social status but this is a clear indication of how castrated he feels.

And since everyone he knows hates killers but also rejects him for not being one, and also reveres killers (since everyone just admires the heck out of Hannibal) who can blame Will for thinking that becoming one is the thing that will improve his life?

And rue72 pointed out to me that Alana comes in to warn Will that Jack is coming two seconds before Jack arrives, making the warning functionally useless. Alana is wearing a black and white top with a red skirt, suggesting to me that she is connected to reality at this point and also that she may not have chosen a side in the chess game. Will in a dark charcoal tweed blazer, Jack in the blue of illusion, which blue Hannibal has also been wearing. Presumably Hannibal's illusion is a blanket illusion brought on by the fact that he's evil, and Jack's illusion is that he's in control of all this.

Yes excellent idea Alana, since Hannibal experienced the exact same trauma as Will it's a+ totally great professional ethics for Hannibal to debrief him, because if you debriefed him he'd become your patient and you wouldn't retain the option of banging him someday.

Will wanted to save Abigail, sure, but it was Hannibal who did that thing that Will really wanted to do and couldn't have done without him, if not for Hannibal, Abigail would have died. He also seems to grasp, without condescension, what it means to take a life, which has got to be like a breath of fresh air for Will, as well as having someone immediately tell him he's sane. Wat? Nobody tells Will that!!! Such novelty, so being treated like a human being with agency.

Thing is how does Hannibal know how God feels? Lol! Why would God feel powerful? You only feel powerful when you're not, and God is omnipotent, he doesn' need to feel any way about it! And why does Will think Hannibal will know how God feels? Is he thinking in that moment that Hannibal is God? Careful, idolatry you know! (Actually I wonder if that's Will's deadly sin?)
posted by tel3path at 4:20 PM on September 11, 2014

Alana anxiously looks at Jack for approval as he explains that Alana's inappropriate to evaluate Will because she's his friend. Did my excuse get past the authority figure? Yes it did! Therefore it is true.

Alana hasn't even been alone in a room with Will, and Hannibal has brought him breakfast in bed!! Not personal, she doesn't know the half of it!

Those barber pole curtains. In case anone doesn't know the barber pole is from when barbers were surgeons and the stripes are from when they used to let blood. Hannibal is not opposed to metaphorically or literally cutting his psych patients open if it will get them better.

The mirrors in your mind...
Will's looking glass self sees him as a reject, but Beverly seems to approach him with a lot of admiration from the get-go.

I think therapy doesn't work on Will because he wants love, not therapeutic tricks, and he is absolutely right to want that.

I couldn't take the show seriously for a long time because of the fungus CSI, but it does introduce the theme of being desperate to connect. pretty much all the characters are looking for love in one way or another. Including even Zeller according to the limits of his interaction with Freddie because he was so offended that she used him.

Beverly is sensitive without being precious. Everything in Will's life is such desperately serious business and Bevely convinces him otherwise by putting them in an EQUAL position (I got stabbed in the third grade, trivialising but in an equal way, and not catastrophic ing). She crosses a line by touching him, but the utilitarian effect is that he is a slightly less terrible shot. So Beverly knows what she's doing when she crosses a boundary and you are often glad she did.

But because Will thinks of himself as a reject, he would inevitably be drawn to Alana instead of Beverly because Alana rejects him and has been rejecting him ever since they met. Whereas Beverly's interaction could be seen as flirtatious, at least has the potential to become more than friendly banter if Will had tried.

Will's mind can connect "not physically" oh Will you just need the right girl. Do not connect physically with Hannibal. You are in fact straight, I actually believe that part.

That response about lead in pencil - not ASD my foot. Yes he is. That also explains why I find
Will to be the character who needs the least explanation.

Freddie looks like a fairy. In proper folklore fairies have no souls and they tend to be a pain in the ass. They pop up in your cookie jar and then punch you in the face for having the second sight to see them. Ruddy pests.

Will is hallucinating and it's not his vivid imagination, it is a hallucination and he reports it to Hannibal. Hannibal checks that Will hasn't told. Jack before he dismisses it as stress, so that he knows he can safely cover it up. Hannibal you little shit I hate you.

Why do people still wonder what Freddie and Hannibal talked about? They struck a deal for Freddie to stir up the most excitable and unstable of GJH's victims' relatives, so Hannibal could set them on Abigail. Freddie makes the news as well as reporting it. We have the distraction of Freddie being rude, then another distraction of loin being served at dinner hurr hurr. This is stopping us from putting two and two together by drawing our minds to the obvious probabilities of cannibalism or sex, and we miss something that could tell us how much of a villain she is (I really think she is going to turn out to be quite evil in s3).

Bringing up Miriam. Lass again Hannibal you little shit.

And in a world without Mothers, Hannibal does really set himself up as a mother figure, the one offering comfort and food, something Jack explicitly says he missed with his own mother.
posted by tel3path at 4:38 PM on September 11, 2014

Freddie's outfits are lurid even by the standards of this show. I can't even.

Will gets so much flak for being scruffy, and yet he dresses better than the average upper middle class professional. Which is not to say he dresses well, but I think if Hannibal sorted his closet into outfits and took him to get things tailored, he could look really good with what he already has. It's only in comparison to Hannibal and the others that he looks crap.

The Ravenstag being the symbol of the connection between him and Hannibal it's ominous that Alana appears as the Ravenstag in his dreams.

It is also ominous that Alana is wearing the dress that makes her look like she has blood on her hands. This is when she meets Abigail who will die (sorta) in part because of her involvement, and which she also wears when they have the meeting striking the deal with Freddie and when telling Hannigram at the pig roast dinner that Freddie is about to squeal on them, leading directly to Freddie's apparent death (and she would have died at Hannibal's hands if Will hadn't intercepted her).

They don't waste words here. Alana tried to raise peacocks, but they're really stupid birds. Later on, when Alana chooses pride over truth, she becomes a really stupid bird. Some say the pattern on her dress looks like peacock feathers, maybe, but it could also be interpreted as scales. And that line from the book about Hannibal's exes, how one showed his charm and the other showed his scales... Can't have one without the other.

Freddie is glib and superficial.

Alana wants Abigail's killer not to be the first thing she sees when she wakes up. Alana seems to be pretty empathetic at this point.

However she is reading to Abigail a story about a family being massacred by a serial killer so I guess there are limits to her empathy. It's also an example of Alana's actions always being directed towards maintaining the status quo (ie Alana has only ever known Abigail in a coma, and hearing that story is not going to incentivise her to wake up!!!) even when the stated intention is progress the likely result is usually maintenance of the status quo.

Alana takes one forbidding (negative) action in this episode (don't have your psych eval with me) and two positive actions (have it with Hannibal instead).

The other is holding a bedside vigil with Abigail. Note that the flip side of this positive action is a negative injunction (go away Will). If it sounds like I always disagree with everything Alana does, I don't, I think she is very emphatically right about this issue. Nightmare!

The part of the story Alana is reading is about how the Grandmother is complaining about change, and how Europe is entirely to blame for the way things are now. Alana is extremely resistant to change, and the blame thing is a call forward to her blaming Jack (and only Jack) for Will's crisis.

Will says he brought something back, and we know he's been visualising. Hobbs, not Abigail. But as soon as Hannibal says "a surrogate daughter?" He readily assents, and it's as if Hannibal planted the idea in his mind though in reality that couldn't be the case, the motivation has to be coming from Will too. (Was that this episode or is it the next one and I'm misremembering?)

It is really inappropriate of Will to be keeping a bedside vigil for the girl whose dad he killed. (That. Hannibal does this is supposed to be evidence that look, who could possibly know he's anything but a wonderful guy? Who would ever suspect him, certainly not any reasonable person? But somehow this reasoning never seems to apply to Will, does it? He does the same thing as Hannibal and it's only ever creepy and inappropriate.)

A sprig of zest - kinda trivial as a metaphor for killing.

And Will can tell Hannibal things he can't tell anyone else.

Hannibal, I think your hair might need a wash.
posted by tel3path at 5:01 PM on September 11, 2014

Do not connect physically with Hannibal.

Do not get drawn closer into the orbit of the guy who since he first met you has been trying to groom you into an abusive relationship he so desperately needs!
posted by The Whelk at 8:42 PM on September 11, 2014

he dresses better than the average upper middle class professional.

The best thing about Will's wardrobe is that it's all classic New England-y Orvis/L.L Bean stuff but his color and pattern matches are really bad. Like he just picks randomly from a pile of Actually Not Bad clothing.

But then again, the fashion of this show is one of the many overthunk, overdesigned, wonderful things about it. Freddie is lurid but a particular kind of lurid that can only be described as "Freddie Lounds-y".
posted by The Whelk at 8:46 PM on September 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

I was just thinking about Alana's anxious look up at Jack "is he buying it?" when she says her relationship with Will is too personal to do the evaluation and "therefore" Hannibal would be better. She looks at him in the same way in Yakimono, when they find Hannibal's fingerprint on the cherry blossom.

Alana will insist at the end of the season that her position has always been that Will shouldn't be in the field; at the end, she yells at Jack "I told you not to put him out there!"

Most likely if Alana had done the evaluation, she would have declared him unfit for duty. By suggesting someone else, Alana gives up control of whether Will goes out into the field despite her firmly held position that he shouldn't be out there.

So why does Alana suggest Hannibal rather than a third party who *actually* doesn't have personal involvement? Is it because of Small Cast Syndrome and Hannibal and Alana are the only two psychiatrists in the greater Baltimore area? You might assume so at first, but there's Bedelia (for example), and in season 2 we see Jack in session with some total stranger that has only a minute or so of screen time and who is never seen again. What was the point of that? Probably to establish that other mental health professionals do exist.


- She believes her own explanation, that Hannibal went through it with him and therefore is the best person to evaluate him (!!!!!!!!!!!)

- She holds Hannibal in the highest esteem and figures that Will is going to get the best care from him (most likely) and she may also think that, Hannibal being so excellent, he will probably have the same opinion as she does.

- If this is the episode where Alana is related to The Grandmother in the Flannery O'Connor story, maybe this part of that story maps to Alana's decision-making here:

"The grandmother didn't want to go to Florida. She wanted to visit some of her connections in east Tennessee and she was seizing at every chance to change Bailey's mind. [...] "Now look here, Bailey," she said, "see here, read this," and she stood with one hand on her thin hip and the other rattling the newspaper at his bald head. "Here this fellow that calls himself The Misfit is aloose from the Federal Pen and headed toward Florida and you read here what it says he did to these people. Just you read it. I wouldn't take my children in any direction with a criminal like that aloose in it. I couldn't answer to my conscience if I did."

It's apparent that Alana hasn't seen Hannibal in a while and maybe part of her reasoning is that she wants to renew her connection to him and have an excuse to see him again. Yeah, they're colleagues and friends and everything, but I think Hannibal keeps himself just out of reach at this point in their association.
posted by tel3path at 7:57 AM on September 13, 2014

Forgive my unspeakable foreignness, but that means January, yes?

January is unlikely. Already running TV shows don't come off holiday until the middle of the month. Mid-season replacements don't start getting folded in until a little later. Season 2 started airing in late February. I'm thinking a similar date this year is pretty likely. I forget quite when they announced that last time around, but it was 2 or 3 months in advance.

As for the episode....

Not a ton for me to add here. It's got a lot of good scenes, and a truly freaky murder tableau... but doesn't quite hang together for me for reasons I have trouble articulating. I have trouble breaking this episode into A/B/C stories. The A story feels like Will's psych eval and pursuit of Shroomy. B is definitely introducing Freddie. The Mushroom Man doesn't have too much of an arc and kind of mostly exists to serve those two things. I suppose it's that as gets pointed out a lot, this show works better the looser they get with the procedural stuff and this is still too early on for them to really start getting away from that much.

I do think they did a fantastic job of giving Freddie a memorable introduction and giving you an initial sense of the character (that will later be complicated by further events of course). I think a lesser show wouldn't have bothered with the business with the local cop and just had Shroom Guy come after Freddie directly, but that sudden violence makes for a real jolt. And given the frequently... baroque nature of murder on this show, that's not something we get too often, at least not like that.

The highlights of the episode for me, I think, were the scene between Hannibal and Freddie at his office where Madds does a much more overt version of the micro-change in body language conveying "I am being threatening now" thing he did with Jack initially in the pilot. The standout of course is the conversation between Hannibal and Will at the end.

In addition to containing some really great references to/lines from the books, the acting on both sides is as everyone notes so often with those two just incredible. Watching Hannibal tease out that Will felt good about killing GJH, the horror of the admission on Hugh's face, the way Hannibal perks up and leans forward and delivers a slightly disturbing little soliloquy about death... The romcom meet cute might've been the Don't Psychoanalyze Me scene from the pilot followed by breakfast... But this is definitely where Hannibal starts to take a more definite interest in Will.

This episode wouldn't rate too highly if I was ranking them... But it ends on such a strong scene that I don't come out of it feeling that down on it.
posted by sparkletone at 5:51 AM on September 16, 2014 [2 favorites]

Today, I secured a pair of black patent pumps from the thrift store. I also secured a copy of the blood-on-hands dress that first appears in this episode. (It reappears too many times for it not to be meaningful.) Once that dress arrives, I will have an exact copy of Alana's outfit in the reading-to-Abigail scene.

The bad news is I spent money, WHAT HAVE I DONE
posted by tel3path at 4:03 PM on October 17, 2014

"The mirrors in your mind can reflect the best of yourself, not the worst of someone else" - another line that is so much more ominous in retrospect, since now we know that when Hannibal said "the best of yourself" he meant "the murdery-est part of yourself."
posted by showbiz_liz at 7:17 PM on October 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

It goes back to what all the actors and such have said about Hannibal, he GENUINELY BELIEVES HE IS HELPING and Lecter's version of "help" is monstrous and alien.
posted by The Whelk at 8:05 PM on October 26, 2014 [2 favorites]

Well, he's playing it on a theramin, it's bound to sound a bit strange. His "Maxwell's Silver Hammer" is quite convincing, though.
posted by Grangousier at 3:10 AM on November 2, 2014

Rewatch thoughts: The procedural is still kinda dumb but I remember having reservations about Freddie the first time around, and now I just think she's a precious darling.

Also I totally missed the Zeller thing until this, which must be my third or fourth rewatch of this episode. Damn it, Zeller, where's solidarity between scruffy dudes?
posted by Stacey at 5:56 PM on September 14, 2015

Zeller's somewhat intense dislike for Will Empath Magiciing all over his crime scene is one of the nicer minor flavor so in the show, he doesn't even really apologize to him until after Will is exonerated.
posted by The Whelk at 6:08 PM on September 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

I mean he's not wrong, they're trying to do field work you don't solve crimes by standing in place and widily hallucinating
posted by The Whelk at 6:10 PM on September 14, 2015

Sooo... I want to watch the DVD on the good TV downstairs while my Hannibal-hating mom is out, but I want to wait until my dinner arrives.

And then I am reminded of how some people had to learn to eat and watch this show at the same time, and I think about the food blogs and general metachatter that have always been *part* of, not additional to, the show, and I have to conclude that the purpose of that is partly to remind us that the food isn't really people, and the violence is not real violence. It's a way of de-glamorizing and de-romanticizing the things the show glamorizes and romanticizes so much, by reminding us it's all for play.
posted by tel3path at 10:00 AM on November 22, 2015

Turns out Chippewa National Forest is 218 miles away from Bloomington, nearly a four-hour drive. I guess GJH could have had his cabin there, but why not nearer home? Then again I don't really understand the pros and cons of cabin ownership.
posted by tel3path at 11:46 AM on November 22, 2015

The chains on the deer carcass remind of the chains glimpsed in Hannibal's basement
posted by tel3path at 11:50 AM on November 22, 2015

Unidentified framed print on Freddie's motel wall.

I doubt I'll find anything that anyone else hasn't found, but I can try.
posted by tel3path at 11:52 AM on November 22, 2015

Also "you didn't have the STOMACH for pulling the trigger" - literally, Will has been pushing people away all this time because he feels shamed for NOT HAVING THE GUTS

And now that he has, everyone's all like well you're probably going to go berserk now in some way so we insist you see a shrink. Which is not to say I disagree that he should, it's more like, this is the episode where people start calling him a psycho to his face, dude just cannot do anything right!

I feel like writing an AU fic in which Jack is too callous and oblivious to bother with more than a cursory psych eval, and Alana for whatever reason isn't trying to take control of the situation, so Will ends up seeing an FBI shrink on the assumption that it's just one session. Where would they go from there, I wonder.
posted by tel3path at 2:33 PM on November 22, 2015

It's rough to think about this episode in the context of everything that happens afterward, because like...

OK. So Will used to be a cop. But he quit because he couldn't pull the trigger - which in that context was seen as a personality flaw.

And then:

Jack: How was class?
Will: They applauded. It was inappropriate.
Jack: Well, the review board would beg to differ. You’re up for a commendation. And they’ve OKed active return to the field.

The entire social structure Will is immersed in - Jack, the review board, his students, I'm assuming his other colleagues - is telling him "You finally killed somebody! GOOD JOB! Have a reward!"

But then Jack says he needs a psych eval "so that he can get some sleep at night." It's more than ok that Will killed a guy - it's GREAT FOR EVERYONE that Will killed a guy - but there's also this feeling that he might be too delicate to handle it. So the FBI needs to get him checked out, and make sure it didn't bother him TOO much to kill a man.

posted by showbiz_liz at 2:48 PM on November 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

Augh and then by rubber-stamping him, Hannibal made the purpose of their session(s) not "does the FBI think Will is competent to return to active duty" but "Does WILL think Will is competent to return to active duty," which is a totally sound therapeutic approach to Will's issues at this point. Or, I mean, it would be from a normal therapist.

At this point Hannibal is still doing it in his standard "hmm interesting let's see what I can do with this potential killer who has crossed my path" way and not in a "I LOVE YOU MY FLOWER, LET YOUR MURDER BLOOM" way, but still. No wonder Will's reaction to this fuckery was "at least SOMEBODY cares how I feel about all this."

I made myself sad
posted by showbiz_liz at 3:03 PM on November 22, 2015 [2 favorites]

It also goes some way to explain why nobody sees Hannibal as suspicious - since killing people is considered part and parcel of being well adjusted, and he also has all this authority over people's bodies, I think deep down there's some genuine hegemonic-type confusion about what the limits of well-adjusted behaviour might be for someone like him and what the limits of his authority over others' bodies and minds might be.

I don't mean the overt, normal, "institutional excuse" type stuff like "patients in this difficult population tend to die early because their mental condition compels them to live dangerously". I mean the unconscious stuff that's lurking in the shadows, that if you just said it out loud would just get dismissed: "well, if Hannibal is killing people off the books - he's allowed to? Isn't he? surely that's ok for a man in his position? I mean he's the guy we all want to be, and we all have to kill people and be OK with it, so...?" It's very difficult to put this into words, and I have definitely expressed myself badly, but that is something like what I'm groping towards.
posted by tel3path at 3:06 PM on November 22, 2015

Also, this attitude of "it's great that you killed a guy but we think you're crazy" will eventually come out as Walter saying "you killed a guy and got put in a mental hospital".
posted by tel3path at 3:10 PM on November 22, 2015

I might try to write something up on how they play with the concept of "crazy" on this show. It's like we start in this sort of shiny CSI world where good/sane and bad/crazy are pretty well-defined, and then we slowly shift into this other reality where the supposedly bad/crazy people are just operating on a fundamentally different set of rules that make perfect sense to them. And trying to 'cure' 'crazy' just winds up cramming a person into a box that doesn't fit them.
posted by showbiz_liz at 3:16 PM on November 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

I guess if we go with the "murderous impulses as a metaphor for latent queerness" thing, then trying to give serial killers psychiatric treatment is like gay conversion therapy
posted by showbiz_liz at 3:21 PM on November 22, 2015

UGh I just remembered "Doctor Lecter is the sanest person I know," like, OF COURSE - the reason no one suspects Hannibal is because they have this bad=crazy=murderer thing so firmly set in their minds that it's totally unfathomable it could be him. It just doesn't even cross anyone's mind. He's too put-together to be a murderer! It must be Sweaty McTrembles over there, the guy who can't make eye contact!

Everyone just assumes you have to be crazy to kill people and like it, and at least in this show's universe, that is revealed to be a totally false assumption.
posted by showbiz_liz at 3:26 PM on November 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

Well yeah, I can't believe how much the fandom takes it at face value that the FBI screening proves Will is "unstable" absolutely when it really only proves he's "unstable for the purposes of FBI recruitment" which, probably, most of the viewers aren't - and nobody questions whether being "stable" in that strictly defined way is something anybody should even want.

Also, nobody ever cites GJH in the "OMG dark!Will" discourse, nor Eldon Stamets for that matter. And yet the major difference in Mukozuke is simply that Will has been stripped of his badge and his gun. Granted that he isn't running in and finding Hannibal in the act of slashing Alana's throat, but that's because he is locked up and can't observe Hannibal until the very moment of imminent danger to someone else. And yet Hannibal has threatened Alana to Will's face, he just killed the heck out of Beverly so Will knows he's not kidding around, and Will knows beyond the shadow of a doubt that Hannibal is an ongoing threat to just about everyone. So why is it so much DARKER in those later circumstances than it is now? Especially with police brutality being such an issue in the US news right now, would people really stand by the idea that the badge and the gun are what make the difference between hero!Will and dark!Will?!?

And the cruel irony is that nobody is more cognizant of how DARK killing GJH is than Will!
posted by tel3path at 3:30 PM on November 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

He's so SANE because he routinely encounters life-threatening situations without blinking.

Will needs to be evaluated after the Hobbs house bloodbath - Hannibal doesn't. In fact, Hannibal should be the one to evaluate Will, because he was there!
posted by tel3path at 3:31 PM on November 22, 2015

Like ZOMG, you wouldn't believe how many life-threatening situations Hannibal encounters in any given week. It's like totally unbelievable how often he encounters these berserk people and situations. Dude can barely pick up his groceries without a body count, he even told me so himself! And all without turning a hair, all without missing a beat. He never lets it get to him.
posted by tel3path at 3:36 PM on November 22, 2015

Yeah, like nobody seems too terribly worried about Hannibal's mental health a couple episodes from now after he, a supposedly completely normal man, supposedly witnesses a stone-cold murder and then has to fight and kill a man in self-defense for the first time in his life.

Will just shot a guy! Hannibal (who is, again, just Some Guy as far as anyone on the show knows) thrashed his dude to death with his bare hands and took a knife to the leg while he was doing it, and no one's suggesting that HE get a psych eval...
posted by showbiz_liz at 3:43 PM on November 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

Well he WAS a trauma surgeon, and quite a few of his patients have died violent deaths, and it's impressive how he's always been totally cool about this stuff.
posted by tel3path at 3:51 PM on November 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

Also when Chilton got arrested after waking to find dudes with guts all over his kitchen, people were saying "well there were two bodies in his house, it's literllh impossible for them not to arrest him in the circumstances no matter what they think" - that's not what Jack said when he found the mayhem in Hannibal's office, and he TOTALLY murmured about how not-coincidental that seemed.
posted by tel3path at 3:53 PM on November 22, 2015

And I just read yet another meta, without looking for it at all, about how Will is this incredibly dark guy and always has been - look how he enjoyed killing GJH. As if he's the first TV cop ever to enjoy killing the bad guy.

Killing may appear to have no emotional resonance for the others - Bev kills the kidnapper and as the model of a well adjusted person we never hear any more about it regardless of how she feels.

But the flip side of that is that all the others are pretty careless of other people's lives, and in various ways treat those lives as theirs to play with. Jack being careless of all those who report to him. Nobody seeing how severely ill Will becomes no matter how in their face it is. Alana protecting Abigail by keeping her in an asylum no matter how much she begs to be let out (she's not sick, not charged with a crime). Chilton hiring a serial killing orderly and not recognizing it. And so on.

Meanwhile you have Hannibal saying "life is precious" (when it's his own, natch).

I think Freddie might gradually get her initially glacial heart melted as she sees someone shot right in front of her, then has to keep Chilton alive, etc. She starts to learn the value of her stock in trade through these experiences.
posted by tel3path at 10:46 PM on November 22, 2015

tl;dr it's like the whole world is going "what is wrong with you, Will? Why can't you be dark like us?" and he holds up a mirror image they may not want to see
posted by tel3path at 10:50 PM on November 22, 2015

Bev kills the kidnapper and as the model of a well adjusted person we never hear any more about it regardless of how she feels.

Molly Shannon kidnapper? I always assumed that she lived (and went to jail/the BSHCI). We don't see her die.
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:57 PM on November 22, 2015

I think she does die, but either way you don't shoot at someone with the expectation that they won't die. Point a gun at anything that's alive, assume you're making it dead.
posted by tel3path at 12:39 AM on November 23, 2015

Also... the ways in which killing is self-sacrificial (Will gave up an essential part of himself by shooting GJH, his innocence for lack of a better word) and ways in which it is self-serving (Will's status is restored from castrated to respectable within the FBI).

Was just contemplating this in light of his mentoring words to Alana during the impasse of Digestivo, telling her she was going to have to spill blood. And how Alana forced herself to do that, it was originally going to be Margot alone, but it ended up being her and Margot together, and Alana had finally saved someone who really needed saving, and on Margot's terms as dictated by reality, and as an equal rather than as someone reaching down from above.
posted by tel3path at 3:04 PM on November 26, 2015

And I just read yet another meta, without looking for it at all, about how Will is this incredibly dark guy and always has been - look how he enjoyed killing GJH. As if he's the first TV cop ever to enjoy killing the bad guy.

Yeah, as much as I enjoy the whole "Will explores his darker side," I think it's a complete misreading of the show to say, oh yeah, Will is so dark and always has been. It's so clear throughout this show that, even when he does find himself enjoying killing, he also is repulsed and terrified by that response. I mean, that is why he threw himself and Hannibal off a cliff at the end of season.

I also feel like the show makes it pretty clear that when we see Will acting like a cold hearted killer, what we're really seeing is Will putting on that mask. From the first episode, it's explicitly stated that Will can assume anyone else's POV, and we've seen him act that out convincingly during reconstructions. But that doesn't mean it's truly him "being dark."

For example, in season 3 when he helps orchestrate the whole "Sacrifice Chilton to Dolarhyde thing," he totally plays it cool when he proposes the whole thing to Jack, but we see him freak out completely when they watch the video of Dolarhyde ripping off Chilton's lips. Of course, the next scene is him being all, "Yeah, whatevs" to Bedelia, and to me, that juxtaposition is meant to highlight just how much he's putting on a front. Sure, maybe he's channeling some part of himself into it, but that doesn't make him truly "dark," a fact which Bedelia calls out in their first session together.
posted by litera scripta manet at 7:57 AM on December 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

Also, from a certain perspective, it really makes sense to me why he might enjoy killing. At the beginning of this show, Alana tells Jack that Will's biggest emotional drive is fear, which would be quite clear even if it wasn't explicitly stated.

However, we also know that fear isn't really that far removed from aggression, not just in humans, but in most (all?) animals. That's the whole idea behind fight or flight. Some animals/people are more prone to one then the other, but they are still two sides of the same coin, so to speak.

Being afraid can make a person feel incredibly helpless and disempowered, and it's clear that Will spends a lot of time dealing with that. Is it really that much of a stretch to imagine how he might find something cathartic, and yes, maybe even pleasurable, about channeling that fear into fighting back? I mean, we could totally get into a whole thing about the morality of killing anyone, but either way, Will only ever kills or attempts to kill (or harm, in Stammets's case) people who have done terrible things.

GJH killed his wife and slashed his daughter's throat in front of Will right before Will shot him (not to mention the other 8 girls he killed). Eldon Stammets fed people to mushroom's and was in the act of doing the same thing to Abigail. Randall Tier was not only a violent and very efficient killer, but he also was there to kill Will when Will killed him instead. And of course, then there's Dolarhyde and Hannibal, but you get the point. Oh, and Mason Verger.

I just don't see how anyone could do a close analysis of this show and come away with the idea that Will is inherently "dark." At his core, he may be one of the least dark main characters on this show.
posted by litera scripta manet at 8:09 AM on December 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

Well, there's a lot of magical thinking (at least on Tumblr) about how much power Will actually has. The Tumblr consensus is that Will causes things to happen in reality because of the way he thinks or feels about them. It's nonsensical, but the text appears (to the unquestioning eye) to support that when other characters blame him for stuff.

In the fandom generally, if Alice is standing next to Will and Alice stabs someone, it's considered Will's fault, whether or not it's logically possible for him to have affected the outcome in any way. There's, for example, a vague consensus (I think elucipher was the first heavy hitter to mention it) holding him responsible for Beverly's death. Even though it's her job as an investigator to correct things if evidence she's handled turns out to have been corrupted or misinterpreted. Apart from Hannibal himself, the person most responsible is Jack, for forcing Beverly to work in secret and without support. Beverly's not some damsel to whom Will owes chivalry and protection, she's a professional who owes accuracy to the justice system as a whole and to Will in particular so that he can exercise his human right to a fair trial. If fucking Jack had exercised HIS duty of care so that Beverly could have worked in a professional atmosphere with actual support, she might not have ended up in slices.

I think it was also elucipher who was so emphatic about DARK! WILL!!!!! - not that she wasn't extremely insightful, but as rue72 pointed out on the blue at the time - why is Will corrupt for trying to bring justice, but the others aren't corrupt for their apathetic response to Beverly's death? Something something when injustice becomes the norm, rebellion becomes a duty? But the whole idea of that gets lost under OMG!!!! HE'S A MURDERER!!!!!!!!!!

What's interesting about Will is that you have a white man being imprisoned and then enslaved (profiling from behind bars) by a black man; and gaslit by a white woman who frames her strictly conditional support for him in creepily sexualized/romantic terms. The audience, composed of a majority of white middle-class women, agrees that Will brought this all on himself, that no reasonable person would have seen such an unstable person as credible, and that institutionalization was what he deserved.
posted by tel3path at 10:11 AM on December 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

You know, I go back and forth on how Dark I think Will is or could go, depending on my mood and the needs of whatever I want to write. But I do not understand how anyone, ever, holds Will to blame for Beverly's death. That just makes me all frothy with rage. Both on his account and hers - give the woman some agency, goddamn it, for making some heroic (if clearly ill-advised) choices.

God, I miss Beverly.
posted by Stacey at 10:15 AM on December 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

I also get pissed off when people reduce Beverly's final actions to "stupid" or "holding the idiot ball" - there are clear reasons why she made those choices, and if things had gone her way she'd have been Clarice, rescuing Abigail and possibly Miriam into the bargain.

I mean, the odds were just as much against Clarice when she went down into the basement without backup, and had to shoot Gumb in the dark.

Which is not to say that it wasn't nonetheless extremely risky or that she couldn't have done things differently, but this is how it goes for heroes who aren't having a lucky day. It really winds me up that people see Beverly doing this extremely brave thing - with the well elucidated constraints on who she can trust - poor Bev couldn't even trust the prisoner she would notionally have rescued given the chance! - and all they see is "oh, stupid woman in a horror movie! Going down into the basement! Why can't Beverly be more genre savvy?"
posted by tel3path at 10:28 AM on December 1, 2015

"Recovering alcoholics, they crave sugar. Don't take that personally, Buddy."
"Oh, I'm not recovering."

Calling Scott Thompson's character"Buddy"? I see what they did there.
posted by subocoyne at 9:18 AM on June 11, 2020 [1 favorite]

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