‘Hannibal’ 1.10 Recap: “Am I Alive?”

After much doubt and consternation from fans, NBC rather miraculously made a last-minute decision to renew ‘Hannibal’ for a second season after all. Because the series receives most of its financing from Europe, keeping it on the air is a low risk for the network, despite its ratings issues. The show will return in the mid-season early next year. In the meantime, it aired another terrific episode last week.

Will Graham is really losing his shit now. His bouts of lost time are increasing in frequency, and he has a hard time distinguishing dreams and fantasy from reality. While investigating the murder of a woman whose face had been torn off in episode ‘Buffet Froid’, Graham loses himself for a few minutes and thinks that he’s the killer. He tells Jack Crawford that he “got lost in the reconstruction.” In the process of this, he contaminated the crime scene, which he’s never done before. Crawford is very concerned.

When Dr. Lecter asks Will to draw a simple clock face with the current time on a piece of paper, what he turns out is total gibberish. Lecter describes this as “spacial neglect.” Graham insists that he wants a CAT scan, because he believes that he may have a tumor or blood clot or had a stroke. He can’t allow himself to accept that he’s just going nuts.

Lecter refers Graham to a neurologist friend, Dr. Sutcliffe (John Benjamin Hickey from ‘The Big C’). During the testing, Lecter tells Sutcliffe that he already knows that Will has a form of encephalitis that has caused swelling in his brain, because Lecter could smell it on him. Although the CAT scan confirms this, Lecter convinces Sutcliffe (who must be pretty disreputable for Lecter to have befriended him) that allowing Graham to deteriorate untreated would make an excellent case study. Sutcliffe lies and tells Will that there’s nothing physiologically wrong with him, leaving Will to assume that his problems are purely psychological.

The killer this week is a girl named Georgia (producer Bryan Fuller’s ‘Dead Like Me’ star Ellen Muth), who suffers from something called Cotard Syndrome, which causes the afflicted to suffer delusions that they are dead. (I’m sure it’s no coincidence that Muth also played a girl named Georgia who actually was dead in Fuller’s previous show.)

The syndrome also renders Georgia incapable of recognizing human faces. She killed a woman because she believed her to be a monster wearing a mask. Much like Will, Georgia’s mental problems have a physiological cause. Once treated, she can be brought back to sanity. Unfortunately, Graham may not get that chance.

Poor Muth spends most of the episode buried under heavy makeup that leaves her looking like a Neanderthal zombie, and only gets a single line of dialogue. However, because she’s captured alive, I’m sure that she’ll return in a later episode. During the climax of this one, she walks in on Lecter killing Sutcliffe and staging the murder to look like she did it. Lecter, realizing that she can’t recognize his face, very calmly places a pair of bloody scissors in her hands and walks away. This seems like a plot point that will come back around later.

Despite the grisly nature of the crime (the aftermath of which we see in very gory detail), this is a strangely low-key episode. Yet it’s one of the richest in characterization to date, and that’s really saying something. I’m so glad that we’ll have the chance to see this show play out for at least one more season.

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