Last week’s episode of ‘Hannibal’ added a very nerd-friendly guest star to the cast: ‘X-Files’ star Gillian Anderson. Is this likely to boost the show’s ratings enough to secure a season renewal? Realistically, probably not. However, it’s awfully nice to see her back on television.
In episode ‘Sorbet’, we find that even therapists have their own therapists. In a story point reminiscent of the HBO series ‘In Treatment’, Anderson plays Dr. Bedelia Du Maurier, Hannibal Lecter’s personal shrink, whom Lecter has basically pulled out of retirement just to see him. Does he do this to seek help for the demons that trouble his soul? Of course not. Du Maurier recognizes that Lecter holds back what little personal information he reveals to her, and that he holds himself above everyone around him, as if he were a different, superior species. As she tells him, “You are wearing a very well-tailored person suit.” Lecter sees her only as an object of intellectual study. He’s analyzing her, in the guise of letting her analyze him.
Du Maurier’s description of Lecter falls in line with Will Graham’s profile of the Chesapeake Ripper. He explains that the Ripper considers his victims pigs, merely livestock whose purpose is to be slaughtered for his use. Yet he also considers himself an artist, and his crimes are meticulously arranged performances.
When a new body is discovered in a hotel room missing its kidneys, Jack Crawford and others in the FBI believe that the Ripper has struck again. Will, however, is adamant that this murder is unrelated. There’s no artistry to the crime. In fact, the killer turns out to be a paramedic caught up in an organ harvesting ring. He’d tried to keep the victim alive, unsuccessfully. Will and Jack, with Lecter in tow, catch him in the act of striking again. Ironically, Lecter has to step in to save the victim’s life. Jack believes that they’ve caught the Ripper, but Will insists not. However, Lecter plants the idea in his head that there might be two Rippers working as a team, and disguising their organ thefts as the work of a serial killer to throw the FBI off.
Later, Lecter claims another victim of his own. He splits the man’s body in half and arranges it in a gruesome tableau on a school bus. This is clearly the work of the Ripper that Will knows. But is the Ripper an organ thief pretending to be a serial killer, or a serial killer pretending to be an organ thief? Graham is plagued with self-doubt about his ability to tell anymore, just as Lecter planned.
In a side story, Lecter sees a patient named Franklin, who thinks that Lecter is the coolest guy in the world and is obsessed with becoming his friend, to the point of stalking. This won’t end well for him.
Finally, some of Lecter’s society friends from the opera cajole him into throwing one of his famously elaborate dinner parties. Here we get to see the full flourish of Lecter’s performance art in all its sickening, magnificent glory. We know every ingredient on the menu far better than the poor fools about to eat it.
Somehow, ‘Hannibal’ keeps getting better from episode to episode. I really hope that NBC has the good sense to renew the show for another season.