Dear NBC Marketing Dept., I’m about to give you a very nice pull-quote to use in your advertising. All I ask in return is that you attribute it appropriately. Are you ready? Here you go: In just three episodes, NBC’s brilliant ‘Hannibal’ is already better than any of the Hannibal Lecter movies. How’s that work? You’re welcome.
I say the above as a big fan of Michael Mann’s ‘Manhunter’ and at least fairly a fan of Jonathan Demme’s ‘The Silence of the Lambs’. (Screw the other Lecter movies, though. They suck.) Perhaps it’s too early to make definitive judgments, and I should wait to make sure that the show doesn’t fall to crap as it goes, but for now I’m really loving ‘Hannibal’. The series has way more psychological complexity in its characters and situations than any other crime show on TV. It’s almost as slick and stylish as Mann’s film, yet uses the long-form nature of a television season to unravel the layers of its narrative in ways that a single two-hour movie can’t.
I’m also impressed by the way that the show has so far juggled the balance between being a case-of-the-week procedural and a serial drama. With the second episode, I assumed that Will Graham would hunt a new serial killer every week. (Are there really that many serial killers out there?) However, Episode 3 brings us back to the Garret Jacob Hobbs case that started the series, and suggests that this will be a main focus for most of the season.
In ‘Potage’, Hobbs’ daughter Abigail has awoken from her coma. Jack Crawford wants Graham to question her, but Dr. Bloom (Caroline Dhavernas) thinks that’s a bad idea, for both Abigail and Graham. Aside from Graham, Bloom and Lecter (because he knows better), pretty much everyone, including Crawford, believes that the girl helped her father in his murders. From what we can see, that doesn’t appear to be the case. However, she feels incredible guilt about being responsible for her father’s obsession (would it have been better had he just killed her instead of other girls?) and worries that his madness may pass down to her.
Crawford wants to know where the bodies of the other victims are. From Abigail, we learn that her father was a hunter who believed that it honored his prey to use every single part of the animals he killed, either as food, pelts, leather, fashioned into tools or ground up into paste. Not a single part went to waste. With dawning horror, Abigail realizes that he would have done the same to his human victims, that he probably fed their meat to her, and that comforting items in her house are made out of human remains. She tears open a pillow and finds it stuffed with a girl’s hair.
Because he doesn’t believe that Hobbs had a partner, Graham focuses on finding the copycat (which we know to be Lecter). When Graham’s observations hit a little too close to home, Lecter stages another murder (of a friend of Abigail) in a manner that conflicts with Will’s theory.
Snooping reporter Freddie Lounds wants exclusive rights to Abigail’s story. She tries to set the girl against Graham and the FBI. Graham pushes her away with the implied threat: “It’s not very smart to piss off a guy who thinks about killing people for a living.” Of course, that quote goes viral on the web the next day. Crawford is not pleased.
When Lounds can’t get the story, she tries to cause a little chaos by tipping off the brother of one of the victims that Abigail has been released from the hospital. When he confronts her in a way that Abigail interprets as a threat, she stabs and kills him. Sensing an opportunity, Lecter offers to help her cover up the crime. While she feels that she acted in self defense, he convinces her that no one else will believe it. So, they hide the body and Lecter pins the copycat murders on the man. By this point, Abigail has recognized Lecter’s voice as the person who called her father before the FBI arrived. She agrees to keep his secret if he’ll keep hers. It would appear that Lecter is grooming her to be his own acolyte.
A quick note about tonight’s new episode: Due to the recent tragedy in Boston, NBC and producer Bryan Fuller have decided to pull the fourth episode (which apparently involved the death of a child) out of sensitivity and skip to the fifth episode instead. This seems a little rash to me. As far as I’m aware, the episode didn’t involve a bombing, and I’m pretty sure that the fifth episode will have its own share of gruesome death and violence. Perhaps simply delaying the whole schedule a week would have been a better idea. I hope this doesn’t mess with the story continuity too badly.