‘Hannibal’ Season 1, Episode 11 Review – Scrambled Brains

Published 2 years ago by

Lara Jean Chorostecki and Eddie Izzard in Hannibal Roti Hannibal Season 1, Episode 11 Review – Scrambled Brains

Will Graham has killed again in the line of duty…more or less. Technically, it is his job to help the FBI track down deranged killers and bring them to justice, or, if circumstances dictate, ensure the killer in question never harms another person. But in this particular instance, Hannibal implies that while not being of sound mind (or sound body, for that matter), Will is subject to manipulation and suggestion, and there’s no one better suited to handing out non-verbal orders than Dr. Hannibal Lecter.

In that regard, ‘Rôti’ manages to take a single throughline – the idea of manipulation and the effect it can have on the psyche of the manipulated and the manipulator – and carry it across a multitude of different character arcs that begin to show just where the storyline may end up as the season creeps closer to the finale.

For starters, the episode brings back two of the series’ more enjoyable guest stars in Eddie Izzard as Dr. Abel Gideon and Raúl Esparza as Dr. Frederick Chilton. Both actors have a similar ability to play their character with aspects at odds with one another, which makes it seem as though they shouldn’t work but actually grants them a more interesting grasp on their emotions. Izzard’s Gideon is a tangled mess of scrambled and possibly half-baked psychological contributions, but on the surface at least, he maintains a sardonic level of humor that makes his propensity to cut people apart all the more terrifying. Meanwhile, Esparza continues to imbue Chilton with a potent (and equally dangerous) combination of fantastic incompetence and unbelievable arrogance.

Hugh Dancy in Hannibal Roti Hannibal Season 1, Episode 11 Review – Scrambled Brains

Naturally, because of the characters on hand, ‘Rôti’ calls to mind the events of ‘Entrée.’ And yet what stands out in both episodes is the depiction of Will envisioning Dr. Gideon’s kills. Previously, the horrific murder of the nurse was one of the more visually disturbing bits of a series that pretty much runs on fairly disturbing imagery. The thing that stood out in the moment was in direct contrast to the ghastly things we’ve seen all season long. Unlike the other killers’ tableaus, Gideon’s crimes seem to have a sort of frenzied drive to them; they seem dictated by the moment and the killer (Gideon or Will, depending on the point of view at the time) engages in a brutality the show normally depicts through an examination of the crime’s aftermath. Seeing Will commit these slayings works in a nice but disturbing way that highlights the infection frying his brain and his fear of losing control, while also informing just how far Hannibal’s manipulation of the situation has gone.

Watching the successful exploitation of a character (or, in this case, characters) is a lot like watching a heist movie unfold; there are plenty of details that are intentionally left out – not unlike Will’s sidearm and car keys – until they all seem to come together at the end (in reality, they may not, but the end result is usually satisfying enough that it might not completely matter). In fact, Hannibal’s rather clever signaling to the BAU of Gideon’s location was just another element of his manipulation that deftly disguised his connection and relationship with certain members of the team, while highlighting a specific disdain for a man foolish enough to think himself capable of being the Chesapeake Ripper.

Which brings us to the most appalling portion of the episode: the live disembowelment of Dr. Chilton. I guess this is the sort of horrifying thing a show can do when it fills its character roster with highly skilled medical professionals who make up for their lack of morality with a macabre sense of artistry and showmanship.

Lara Jean Chorostecki in Hannibal Roti Hannibal Season 1, Episode 11 Review – Scrambled Brains

Gideon’s flair for the dramatic certainly made for a memorable moment, but it also helped to distract from the fact that the series has had a difficult time pinning down a proper use for Freddie Lounds. Aside from ‘Amuse-Bouche,’ Freddie’s appearances haven’t felt like they’ve entirely justified the use of the character. So far, she’s been little more than the connective tissue between the killer of the week and the BAU. Her dealings with Abigail Hobbs do a nice job of illustrating the public’s fascination with sensationalistic crimes, but Hannibal is an incredibly isolated program, the world at large only exists in snippets of newspaper columns or Freddie’s Tattlecrime.com website, so while there’s been glimpses of public interest, that’s pretty much as far as it goes. It feels like that’s an element the series could exploit more in order to strengthen Freddie’s participation – until, of course, Hannibal is forced to dispose of her.

In a sense of the season’s overall arc, it seems each character fulfills a particular need for Hannibal in one precise moment or another, but for whatever reason, Will has truly captured the attention of Dr. Lecter. And it looks as if as though Hannibal isn’t merely trying to turn Will into his friend, but his peer as well.


Hannibal continues next Thursday with ‘Relevés’ @10pm on NBC. Check out a preview below:

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  1. The live disembowelment section was absolutely chilling/horrifying. Glad to see Gillian Anderson again as well.

  2. I couldn’t have been more confused and bewildered by this episode if I tried. I truly believe this show is over my head, but I cannot for the life of me cease tuning in week after week. I thank the stars for your weekly review of an episode to clue me in on many missed details.

    The downward spiral in Will’s mental status is painful to watch as he struggles to decipher reality from fiction. I find myself distracted, straining to hear the actual crack when he finally loses it and tumbles over the edge of reason into complete insanity. I teeter-totter between thinking Hannibal is trying to make Will as insane as he is, a little mini-me if you will, and thinking Hannibal is simply doing an experiment, a’la lab rat.

    And may I just say the actor portraying Dr. Chilton does an incredible job mirroring his vocal tones, pronunciation, and dialect to that of the actor portraying Dr. Chilton from the ‘Silence Of The Lambs’ movie. It’s awesome.

  3. Curiously, in a previous article on this fine site about the point of the graphic nature of the show in connection with a dream like narrative, I offered the minor complaint of Will’s mental degradation no longer being depicted within the same rules of said dream narrative.

    Then we have last night’s episode. Cut to Brett smiling so very widely. This has a real chance of being the TV show of the year for me. ‘GoT’, ‘Mad Men’, ‘The Americans’, all of a remarkable standard. But this show is just something else.

    I suspect only the return of a certain King in August could dethrone it…

    • @ Ajeno
      Just one bit of advice…
      When August comes and that ‘King’ returns, and he’s knocking on your door, answer it.

  4. Hannibal its probably one of the best shows i seen in network tv the style the visuals with a compelling plot and great acting,,this show has all the ingredients for the masses to ignore and the network to cancel

  5. I’ve was excited for this show the moment I heard about it and have been watching since day one and I have to say I’m absolutely hooked… This has filled a void that post-Trinity lackluster seasons of Dexter had left me with. I have noticed myself getting into a lot of arguments with other fans of the movies and/or books, which I am as well, but apparently not nearly as anal as everyone else seems to be when it comes to sticking with source material …

    The thing I tend to hear from people the most as a “valid” reason why they don’t like the show is “Only Anthony Hopkins can be Hannibal Lecter!” To that I can’t help but laugh. No doubt that Hopkins was iconic in that role and embodied that role beautifully for those movies, but just like the producer’s choice to deviate from the original timeline and have events take place in present day rather than the 80s I feel like it’s only fitting to have a new Hannibal to match. Mads Mikkelsen brings something new to the character that makes him just as chilling without coming off as a rehash of what Hopkins has done. There’s something very predatory about this Hannibal, the gears seem to turn in his head differently than Hopkin’s did and I think it’s fantastic!

    A lot of other complaints I’ve heard especially from fans of the novels is stuff like “Hannibal is only supposed to kill people that insult or disgust him, not play games and do killings for sport” which I kind of feel is a very shallow interpretation of the character that was brought on mostly due to the third book. Let’s not forget, he was all too eager to be pen pals with The Tooth Fairy, and I don’t think it had as much to do with getting even with Will for catching him as it was the thrill of the game. The point is, whose to say what he was like prior to being captured?

    I think the main point people are missing is this is ALL about the dynamic of the relationship between Will Graham and Hannibal. I always wanted to know what led up to the events of Red Dragon and always felt that the relationship between the two of them was left insufficiently untold. I always found Will a much more interesting character than Clarice Starling and thought that the reasons why interacted with each other the way they did far more fascinating… Watching the show explore how Will is being affected (and Hannibal’s manipulation of it) is beyond anything I could’ve imagined and I for one am very pleased with how things are shaping up… Let’s hope NBC keeps the show alive until season 4 so we can see their version of Red Dragon!!

    • Those anal fans have entered fanatics stage really.

  6. Hannibal’s psychiatrist tells him “sometimes all we can do is watch”. Is this the show’s way of referring to Hannibal watching his sister die? Getting cannibalized by the lithuanian militiamen in front of him?

    • Is that what she said in the final minute of the episode?

      For some reason, Sky Living decided to have a voiceover talking about the premiere of Ray Donovan on Sky Atlantic immediately after this episode of Hannibal aired and so I missed the last few lines of dialogue because of it.

  7. Actually, you bring up a good point…. I wonder if they plan on going into Hannibal’s back story in the future. If so, how are they going to go about it now seeing as how the original source material would no longer make sense chronologically given his age and this being set in present day.