Hannibal opens with Jack Crawford, sporting a snazzy hat, on a blustery beach in West Grafton Virginia. Will is with him, and it is cold. There’s snow on the ground and everything! But that’s beside the point. The point is that there’s a giant totem pole made out of corpses. As showrunner Bryan Fuller so drolly put it on Twitter the night it aired, “JENGA IS PEOPLE”.
As for the bodies on display, it appears that the one at the very top is the only recent victim. The others are years old, at the very least. Possibly even decades. Yeah, so that’s a little bit creepy, right? That means there’s a serial killer who has been at large for a really long time without anyone even noticing that he or she exists!
Now it’s that time again. Everyone’s got to go so Will can do his thing. Right off the bat he can tell that this thing was planned for a very long time. Each body part had its “rightful place”. The final victim was also there during the assembly – alive, because this killer wanted the guy to “know his design”. Upon closer inspection, this thing is perfectly symmetrical. Damn right this psycho planned it out. Will infers that the killer intended for this to be his legacy.
And then, suddenly, Will is in Dr. Lecter’s office. He doesn’t know how he got there. He lost time. Hannibal immediately diagnoses him as experiencing a dissociation – which would be a mechanism to cope with the repeated “abuse” his psyche endures. Poor Will; his job is really and truly going to do him in, one of these days. They go on to discuss the killer who created the “people pole”, as Will’s dissociation began with that. Hannibal expresses worry over Will – he empathizes so completely with the killers Jack has him investigating that he just about loses himself to them. What if one day Will loses time and injures himself, or someone else? Hannibal wonders if Will could one day wake up to find that he’s made a totem pole of his own. Creepy?
We open on Abigail Hobbes, who we haven’t seen in a while. I’d say it was nice to see her again, but the girl looks seriously upset. She’s talking about how she heard her dad’s voice, telling her that he killed these girls so he wouldn’t have to kill her. It looks like she’s in some kind of group therapy session – she’s in a circle with a bunch of other girls. She says that she wishes her father were still alive so she could ask him what was so wrong with her that he wanted to kill her. Suddenly one of the girls in the circle cuts in, saying, “He should have. So he wouldn’t have killed me.” And then they all start saying the latter part, and it’s clear that each of these girls is a girl killed by Garrett Jacob Hobbes. Then, suddenly, they all disappear and a male voice starts by saying, “He should have killed you.” It’s Nicholas Boyle, the young man who Abigail accidentally (kind of?) killed. “So you wouldn’t have killed me.” Suddenly Abigail sits straight up in bed, breathing heavily. She’s been having a nightmare.
Now Will is showing up in Jack’s office, apologizing for the day before. And Jack has no idea what he could possibly be apologizing for, so it looks like perhaps Will’s sense of time is becoming a bit more skewed than he realized. Will asks Jack if he doesn’t seem a little bit “off” but Jack doesn’t seem overly concerned about it. All he needs to know is whether there’s a problem that might hinder Will’s usefulness to the FBI. Honestly, is Alana the only one who actually cares about Will Graham as a human being?
It looks like Freddie Lounds has been keeping in contact with Abigail. She’s shown up at Abigail’s psychiatric facility to tell her that she’s basically going to be left with nothing. The families of Garrett Jacob Hobbes’ victims have sued for wrongful death. But it also looks like Freddie Lounds has been talking to Abigail about how she could make her own money – namely by allowing Lounds to write a book about her and her father. Abigail wants to tell her story, that she didn’t help her father kill, so she agrees.
Will walks into the autopsy lab, and you can just tell that there is absolutely no place in the world that he would like to be less than right there. No matter. He shakes it off and asks how many bodies were included in the totem pole. There are seventeen in total. Upon hearing a description of the most recent victim, Will decides that he held a place of honor so he was special to the killer. Evidently there were seven bodies from unmarked graves in the area, and other bodies came from recent grave robberies in surrounding states. All of these people’s deaths had been attributed accidents, but Will is sure that they are the products of murder.
In a lecture for his class, Will discusses how he sees the killer: this one is not at all interested in the trappings of murder, like torture, but just the simple fact that his victims end up dead. What excited this killer was that he remained completely unnoticed…until now. Suddenly Alana is heard, saying Will’s name. The screen behind Will goes black and the room around him turns out to be empty. He’s been lecturing to a dark, empty room, while he was thinking it was full of his students. Yeah, Will, I think there’s a problem. Alana wants to talk about leaving Will’s house the other night, after their passionate kiss. She says that she regretted it as soon as she did it, but the past tense of the word implies that she no longer regrets it. She flat-out says that her relative lack of regret for leaving comes from the fact that she thinks he’s unstable. Will thanks her for not lying, and he admits that he does feel unstable.
Will and Hannibal are with Abigail, who has apparently told them of her plans to have that book written. They are not very supportive of the idea, to say the least. Hannibal points out that she would be forfeiting her own privacy, as well as theirs, and Will tells Abigail that whatever she’s feeling right then will change with time. In a very sinister way Hannibal tells Abigail that if she opens the door, so to speak, she won’t be able to control what comes out. Abigail insists that she’s innocent, but is there maybe something we don’t know yet that he does?
We flash to a jacketed figure digging in the snow. What comes out is a man’s frozen, dead face. Cut to commercial break.
Back in the forensics lab Will is discussing his theory about the totem pole. He says it was placed in Grafton for a reason, and that because the last body was the end of this killer’s story, the first body must be the beginning. This first body is that of Fletcher Marshall, a man who was beaten to death forty years prior. Now what has to be done is find a connection between him and Joel Summers. Before Will can help with that, however, Jack summons him to his office. Alana is there too, along with Hannibal. Jack says that they found the body of Nicholas Boyle (this was apparently the body dug up right before the last commercial break). Jack reveals that the cause of death was being gutted with a hunting knife, and that he wants Abigail Hobbes herself to come identify the body. The consensus seems to be that this is a horrible idea, but Jack has no interest in anyone else’s opinions on the matter.
So Jack does have Abigail come down, and she identifies the body as that of the man she saw at her home that time. But Jack has a few more questions to ask her. The barrage of questions really does seem to be getting to Abigail, but Jack only views this as further confirmation of her guilt. When they’re allowed to go, Alana says that she’ll be with them in a moment; she just wants to talk to Jack alone. She exclaims that, yes, there is something Abigail is hiding, but it isn’t the murder of Nicholas Boyle! She says that any reservations she has about Abigail don’t extend to Hannibal – he has no reason to lie about it!
Meanwhile, Hannibal and Abigail are talking. He asks her if she feels like a monster, and she doesn’t say no. Either way, it seems that Abigail herself is the one who uncovered Boyle’s body. She says that she wants to be able to control when the things come out of the metaphorical door Hannibal was discussing earlier, and she wants that. Hannibal, however, is not pleased. He says that she betrayed his trust and has put him in jeopardy. Uh oh…If there’s one thing you probably don’t want to do, its anger the cannibal serial killer you’ve befriended.
As it turns out, Joel Summers was adopted, and on record his father is Fletcher Marshall. Although, in a twist, Joel and Marshall aren’t even related by blood. And, it is surmised, the murder of Fletcher Marshall was one of passion, and therefore the FBI decides to go and check out the only guy who was ever questioned for the crime.
They go to the home of Lawrence Wells. It seems the man was already expecting them, having hoped the FBI would figure it out. He says that he wants to be remembered, and that what he did would “secure his legacy.” Evidently Wells had an affair with Eleanor Summers, Joel’s mother. What he didn’t know was that the son she had wasn’t her husband’s – it was his. As Jack puts it, he didn’t secure his legacy by killing and creating his totem pole; he actually destroyed it by killing his son.
Will tosses and turns that night, slipping between memories of Abigail and a nightmare wherein he is the one who stabs Nicholas Boyle to death. And then Abigail is the one who stabs him to death. It looks like Will may understand what happened after all.
He goes to Hannibal’s office and says that Abigail killed Boyle. Hannibal, completely unflappable, says that he knows. When Will incredulously asks how he knew, Hannibal replies with the actual honest-to-god truth: that he helped Abigail bury the body. Hannibal asks if Will told Jack, and it turns out he hadn’t done so. There is a brief moment of fear when Hannibal lightly fingers the scalpel he uses to sharpen his pencil, but it passes. He says that he did it essentially to save Abigail from Jack’s wrath, as well as the wrath of the world at large, which would believe that she had helped her father kill those girls. And then there’s the kicker – Hannibal says that they are her fathers now, and that they must serve her better than her real father did. He appeals to Will’s care for Abigail, and it seems to win out.
It seems that Hannibal has invited the whole gang to dinner at his house (let’s be real, it just isn’t a Hannibal episode if it doesn’t have at least one lavish feast made of people). He brings Freddie Lounds a salad, but knowing Hannibal some part of it contains people. After all, showrunner Bryan Fuller once tweeted a way that Hannibal could make water out of people! Anyway, they seem to be there to discuss Abigail’s pending book deal. Later in Hannibal’s kitchen he and Abigail are washing and drying the dishes. Abigail worries that Will knows about what she did, and Hannibal confirms that Will does know about Boyle. Hannibal is confident that Will will keep the secret, though. He says that no one will know what she did, and no one will know the truth she has been keeping a secret. A now-sobbing Abigail manages to say between shaky breaths that she knew what her father was doing. She knew he was killing girls, and she was the one who essentially brought them to him. She would chat them up and find out all the details her father would need in order to kidnap and kill them. As it turns out, Jack may have been right about Abigail all along. But she says that she could not have said no to her father, because she knew beyond a doubt that it was kill or be killed; if she didn’t help her father, her father would kill her. Hannibal basically says that he already knew that, and that he and Will would protect her.
Then we get to a flashback of Abigail with her father on a train. They see a girl who looks to be Abigail’s age with similar hair, and Garrett Jacob Hobbes has Abigail go over to her. The two girls hit it off, and we cut back to Hobbes with an eerily content look on his face. Creepy? Yes, very.
Be sure to tune in tonight for a brand new episode of NBC’s Hannibal at 10pm/EST.