Jamie Harsip Staff Writer
We had another brilliant episode of NBC’s Hannibal last week – this show just never seems to have a dull moment! After the previous week’s distraction with Dr. Gideon, Jack Crawford and company are back on track, searching for the Chesapeake Ripper. Meanwhile, Hannibal Lecter seems to be quite the social animal outside the setting of his office.
My recap (chock full of spoilers!) behind the cut:
The episode begins in Will Graham’s classroom at the FBI Academy. He is teaching his students about the Ripper, describing the killing cycles and victimology. He explains how the killer doesn’t see his victims so much as people or prey, but as pigs. He explains that the organ removal is consistent with the idea that the killer has anatomical or surgical knowledge. He explains how Miriam Lass is thought to have been his ninth victim, although until a week ago no trace of her had ever been found. This is nothing new to us viewers, though. Uncomfortably, Jack happens to walk in while Will is discussing Miriam. Will closes the lecture by pointing out that the layout of Miriam’s arm was consistent with the Ripper’s theatrical MO.
Theatrical, you say? Well, our next scene happens to take place at an operatic performance. Actually, it begins down by the vocal chords of an operatic singer, but then zooms out to show the setting. The singer, decked out in a gold dress with red banners of cloth hanging beside her, is singing Handel’s “Piangero la Sorte Mia” from Guilio Cesare in Egitto. And who should be in the audience but Dr. Lecter himself. And it looks like this sociopath-esque serial killer might actually also be a social butterfly on occasion! Weird, huh? After the performance he’s cornered by an old friend (played by Ellen Greene, who you might recognize as Aunt Vivienne from Bryan Fuller’s previous hit TV show Pushing Daisies), who misses Hannibal’s famous dinner parties. She demands that Dr. Lecter have friends over again for one of his famous “dinner and a show” dinner parties, in which Hannibal’s cooking is the main attracting. Apparently it’s quite the performance. For his part, Hannibal says he will throw another one…once inspiration strikes. One can’t help but wonder just what constitutes “inspiration” for this guy. Just then, Hannibal is approaches by a familiar looking man. It’s Franklin, one of Hannibal’s patients, who we last saw in the pilot episode. He is joined by his good friend Tobias, who indicates that rather than the opera, Franklin’s eyes hadn’t left Dr. Lecter throughout the performance. Somehow, this doesn’t seem to endear him to the psychologist. After Franklin and Tobias leave, Hannibal says “Who’s hungry?” It seems he’s found his inspiration, after all.
Jack Crawford is walking through the empty morgue when he hears a cell phone ringing. He approaches the sound, which is coming from one of the morgue drawers. Upon opening it and sliding the table out, he sees Miriam’s arm with her cell phone. As it turns out, this is just a dream, and Jack is awoken by his own cell phone. Evidently another victim has been found, this time in a hotel room bathroom. Jack seems to have called Will up and picked him up on the way. Already Will doesn’t think it’s the Ripper, based on Jack’s description of the body, but he goes anyway.
They get there, and the usual forensics team is already at work. The hotel room itself is another one of Bryan Fuller’s stellar homages to his inspirations, and once again it happens to be an homage to The Shining. The bathroom in particular is eerily similar to that of room 237 of the Overlook Hotel. It’s little touches like this that make Hannibal such a brilliant TV show. Anyway, it appears that surgery was performed on the body, and then unperformed – the second time with bare hands. Will quickly determines that, at the very least, surgery was not performed on-scene. Then Jack, as usual, sends everyone out so Will can do his thing. The first thing he “sees” is that the signs of struggle indicate that the victim awoke abruptly from deep sedation. He then puts the pieces together to form the theory that the victim’s heart started to seize, and the killer subsequently opened his chest to manually restart it. The killer was trying to save his life. Will believes that this is definitely not the work of the Chesapeake Ripper. It’s a medical student trying to make some money doing illegal surgeries and organ harvesting.
Dr. Lecter is meeting with his patient Franklin for the first time since their “chance encounter” at the opera. Things would indicate that, on Franklin’s end, this was more than just a coincidence. It seems that our dear patient desperately wants Hannibal to be his friend. But of course, as Dr. Lecter reminds him, he is his therapist, not his friend.
Well, surprise surprise. Dr. Hannibal Lecter has a therapist, too, and she’s played by the one and only Gillian Anderson. Anderson steps in as Dr. Bedelia Du Maurier, an officially retired psychiatrist whose only client is Hannibal. It seems that she, unlike any of the other people with whom Hannibal surrounds himself, can sense that he is not entirely what he appears to be on the surface. She refers to his exterior personality as a “person suit”. She also makes a point of saying that Dr. Lecter is her patient, and her colleague, but certainly not her friend.
It’s now Will’s turn to have an appointment with Dr. Lecter, this time with the latter as the psychiatrist. It’s news to Will that his own psychiatrist has his own psychiatrist, but there you go. Dr. Lecter says he’s been seeing one ever since he decided to become one. He begins the conversation by bringing up a recent Freddie Lounds article, which says that the Ripper struck again. Will is quick to correct him, saying that it was a different killer. But could it be many different killers? Dr. Lecter seems to think it might be, based on a few inconsistencies between the murders. He thinks there might be black market organ harvesters out there, and he gives that idea to Will.
We now get a flashback to a day in the life of Hannibal Lecter. He’s getting blood drawn for his insurance agency, in order to test for diseases. He asks for the man’s business card – for his records, of course, no other reason. We cut over to a rolodex full of business cards, open to an independent medical examiner’s (which we can assume belonged to the man we just saw). He then opens a recipe box and takes out one of the recipes (for “crisp lemon calf liver” although I would hazard to guess he plans on using a different kind of meat).
Cut to a large SUV breaking down on the side of the road. It appears the gas tank was nicked. Along comes another car, highbeams glaring. It’s Hannibal, and he asks if the man needs a hand. It’s the insurance medical examiner. Cue some of Brian Reitzell’s eerie and anxiety-inducing music and we know things aren’t going to end well for this guy.
And we’re right about that, because the next scene opens with the guy’s corpse – in two pieces – on the ME’s table. He was found on a school bus, missing not just his kidney but his heart as well. At the words “kidney” and “heart” we’re cut to Hannibal preparing each of those organs in his immaculate kitchen. Back in the ME’s lab, it has been discovered that the man’s heart was removed exactly the way it would have been if it were going to be used in a transplant. So the question is: is a serial killer disguising his work as the work of an organ harvester, or is an organ harvester disguising his work as the work of a serial killer? From an audience’s perspective, it may be safe to say both.
Dr. Lecter has Dr. Bloom over to help prepare dinner, it would seem. They make small talk and banter lightly for a bit, Hannibal wants to know of she is purposely avoiding the subject of Will Graham. As it turns out, she is. She wants to remain his friend, not another psych professional analyzing him. Instead Alana briefly profiles him, saying that both Hannibal and Will have the same tendency to “flirtatiously change the subject” when speaking with her. Alana divulges that Jack is grooming Will to catch the Chesapeake Ripper, to which Hannibal replies that he sincerely hopes he does.
Jack is walking through the empty ME lab again. There is no ringing sound, but he walks to and opens the same morgue drawer as he did in his dream. There’s nothing in there, but when he turns around he isn’t alone. Another drawer on the other side of the room has been opened, and on it is Will’s body. He’s dead, missing an arm and with a chest covered in autopsy stitches, but he’s moving. He sits up, staring at Jack, before disappearing. It looks like Jack is more than a little bit afraid that he’s leading Will down the same path that Miriam Lass took.
The scene comes up on Hannibal perusing his recipe box again, this time settling on “chicken liver pate”, before again picking out a business card from his rolodex (this time landing on a Michelle Vocalson, of Sherwood Tailored Coats). Hannibal slaps down some fresh organs, cutting them up to a backdrop of opera music. He seems to have vacuum-packed it, then he puts it in the freezer before looking up another recipe (“braised beef lungs”). Of course he goes for another card, too, and this process repeats itself over and over again.
Cut to a thoroughly confused medical examiner, surrounded by a number of corpses with various missing organs. He had been looking at transplant lists initially, but then a killer took someone’s spleen. “Who the hell gets a spleen transplant?” based on the cut over to an organ in a food processor, we’re pretty sure we know who took the spleen, and that it was not intended to be transplanted. One of the bodies is only missing intestines, so one of the examiners says they’re either looking for someone with short bowels…or the Ripper’s making sausages. The scene cuts over to Hannibal loading a sausage press, so yeah – the Ripper is, in fact, making sausages. Yeah, we cringed a little bit.
Unfortunately, Dr. Lecter has another appointment with Franklin. The guy simply can’t take a hint – he starts talking about how he and Dr. Lecter are both “cheese folk”. Franklin evidently saw him at a cheese shop, but didn’t say hi because he knew it made him uncomfortable. Apparently tyromancy, or divination by cheese, was Franklin’s gateway into the world of cheese. Uh…no comment. Oh, and Franklin seems more than a little bit annoyed that his buddy Tobias doesn’t each cheese. Immediately Dr. Lecter launches into a somewhat offensive line of thought about Franklin’s relationship with Tobias – Tobias is Franklin’s best friend, but Franklin is not Tobias’ best friend. He asks if Franklin worries about being alone, but the patient is more worried about the hurt that comes with being alone. Hannibal says yes, it can feel that way.
Dr. Lecter opens the door to his waiting room, only to find no one there. He checks his watch before shutting the door again and going to sit by himself at his desk. His last appointment of the day, according to his planner, was supposed to be Will. Without Will’s arrival, it seems that Franklin may not be the only one who’s lonely.
Will, meanwhile, seems to be once again lost in an eerie dreamscape. Abigail is there, along with the posed body they found in the field early on in the season. Hannibal awakens Will from his “dream”, evidently having tracked him down after their missed appointment. They get to talking about the pile of evidenciary photographs of the Ripper victims, and Hannibal gives Will his own ideas about the killer. They sort of counter Will’s ideas, which earn Dr. Lecter a couple of odd looks. When they get to a picture of Miriam Lass, Hannibal asks about her. Why no post-mortem embarrassment? Will replies that the embarrassment was meant for her mentor, Jack, to anger and frustrate him. “Did it work?” Hannibal asks innocently (cough, cough). Yes, it very much did, according to Will.
Evidence comes in that the hotel room killer used a private ambulance as his mode of transportation and place to do surgery. The FBI has security tape footage of the ambulance, detailed enough to get a license plate number. When they go to the company they match the number to, they’re told that the vehicle in question is out of commission…but when they look for it on the lot, it’s gone. Fortunately, since they have relatively pedestrian GPS devices on their trucks, one of the FBI people is able to hack into it and get a location. They find the truck, and the med student in question with his hands wrist-deep inside an unconscious body. Jack calls Hannibal over to help, and the killer is arrested.
Cut back to Hannibal in his kitchen, preparing dinner. He’s doing something with sow’s blood, and it looks kind of gross. Will is there, too, holding a bottle of wine. It seems he was invited to this dinner, but elected not to stay. In attendance at Dr. Lecter’s elaborate dinner are at least fifteen guests, all of who seem perfectly comfortable, like they’ve done it before. Perhaps Hannibal is not as lonely as he seems. The enigma that is Dr. Hannibal Lecter just keeps growing.
Tune in again this week for the next episode of Hannibal! It’s a special episode with limited commercial interruptions, so make sure to be there! Hannibal airs on NBC Thursday nights at 10pm EST.