Sadly, ‘Hannibal’ has not made NBC’s fall schedule. However, at the time of this writing, the network has not officially canceled the show yet, and even continues to advertise it in primetime, which is generally a sign that somebody there wants to give it a chance to find an audience. Although probably unlikely, there’s some small measure of hope that the series could be brought back as a mid-season replacement next year. I guess that’s something to look forward to. In the meantime, last Thursday brought us an interesting, if not entirely successful episode.
‘Fromage’ pits serial killer against serial killer. In the previous episode, we were introduced to Dr. Lecter’s neurotic patient Franklin, who had a man-crush on his therapist, and at least incidentally introduced to Franklin’s friend Tobias (Demore Barnes from ‘The Unit’), of whom little was said. In this ep, Franklin tells Lecter that he believes Tobias may be dangerous, and may even be responsible for the death of a classical musician whose body was impaled on a cello and left on display in a concert hall. While investigating the case, Will Graham determines that the killer tried to “play” the victim’s body by running strings through the vocal cords in his severed neck.
We learn that Franklin is a music teacher with a fastidious obsession with the quality of his instruments’ strings, so much so that he kills people and makes the strings out of their intestines, as was done the old-fashioned way (though usually from animal gut). Like Franklin, he also has great admiration for Lecter, whom he has figured out is the Chesapeake Ripper. He befriended Franklin in order to get Lecter’s attention, knowing that Franklin will of course blab to Lecter about the hints that Tobias intentionally drops on him. He wants to be Lecter’s friend and colleague in killing. What he doesn’t count on is that Lecter has no interest in making a new friend, especially not one as reckless as Tobias.
Upon meeting, Lecter and Tobias have a very frank talk about what they really are. Later, Lecter directs Will towards Tobias in such a way as to not totally give away all he knows. When Will goes to question the man, Tobias kills the two cops Will came with. In the struggle, Will shoots at and grazes Tobias’ ear, but momentarily deafens himself in the process.
Tobias gets away and makes his way to confront Lecter in the middle of a session with Franklin. He looks forward to killing Franklin in front of Lecter, but Lecter steals his thunder by snapping Franklin’s neck himself just to disrupt Tobias’ expectations. The two men have a knock-down, drag-out fight in Lecter’s office. Eventually, Lecter gains the advantage and kills Tobias. By the time Will gets there, Lecter blames Tobias for killing Franklin.
The notion of two serial killers forced to face-off against one another is intriguing, but the episode is perhaps a little too over-the-top with regard to Tobias’ flamboyance nearly matching Lecter’s. At this point, the show’s procedural structure begs the question of just how many outrageous serial killers could really be out there all working at the same time. I said in a previous recap that it might benefit the series to tone down the creativity of its murders. Having Will investigate a plain old garden-variety killer might help to bring things back down to Earth.
With that said, it’s an entertaining episode that also gives us some good character moments. In the midst of other developments, Will kisses Bloom, but she pulls away. We also learn that Lecter’s own therapist, Dr. Du Maurier (Gillian Anderson) originally retired from psychiatry because she was attacked by a patient and was forced to kill him. The details of that story I’m sure will tie into Lecter’s in fascinating ways.