‘Hannibal’ Season 1, Episode 3 Review – A Lack of Sympathy

Published 2 years ago by

Mads Mikkelsen in Hannibal Potage Hannibal Season 1, Episode 3 Review – A Lack of Sympathy

There’s a moment early on in ‘Potage’ where the recently awakened Abigail Hobbs, daughter of the late Garrett Jacob Hobbs, a.k.a. Minnesota Shrike, returns to her now empty home, briefly examines the lingering signs of the gruesome event that left her orphaned and comes across a collection of family photos on the refrigerator that have been turned around by the crime scene cleaners.

It’s a small, simple detail, but one that really continues the central theme of Hannibal – which has done a good job detailing just how devastating violence is, how it moves like ripples in a pond, touching everyone from the victims and other killers like Eldon Stammets, to those whose job it is to begin the process of moving on. And there’s certainly an aspect and desire to move on that’s examined in ‘Potage,’ but the rippling of the Minnesota Shrike case continues to find new players, while scrutinizing his would-be final victim – i.e., Abigail Hobbs.

As the episode circles back around to the events of ‘Aperitif,’ it does so under the fine direction of David Slade, which helps to wrangle in some of the less convincing and slightly contrived aspects of the episode by focusing primarily on the question of whether or not Abigail was complicit in her father’s murder of several young women, or if she truly was the victim many believe her to be.

Hugh Dancy and Mads Mikkelsen in Hannibal Potage Hannibal Season 1, Episode 3 Review – A Lack of Sympathy

Front and center in the debate are Jack Crawford and Dr. Alana Bloom (Caroline Dhavernas). While they agree something is amiss with Abigail (though Jack is convinced she’s an accomplice), the two mostly disagree about what Will’s role in her investigation should be. To that end, ‘Potage’ serves as the audience’s true introduction to Dr. Bloom by strengthening her relationship with Will – which was, until recently, marked by the fact that they’d never been alone in a room together.

Bloom has been something of a fringe character so far, but waiting until now to focus on her seems to pay off in terms of her characterization. She’s the first to break the news to Will about Abigail, but her hesitance to bring him in immediately says a great deal about both of their characters. Will’s fragility and overwhelming empathy are of great concern to Alana. “Dogs keep a promise a person can’t,” she tells Will, raising her fear that he’ll see Abigail as yet another stray from him to bring in.

For the most part Dhavernas gets two nice scenes where she talks with Abigail and we begin to have the same questions about the young woman as Jack does. The first scene is unsettling in how “surprisingly practical” Abigail is, and the second brings up the episode’s primary question of “madness shared by two” – which the story manages to keep interesting until the final moments. But ‘Potage’ also places Bloom between Lecter and Crawford, and the growing reliance Jack has on Hannibal in regard to his desire to see Will Graham out in the field, actively investigating folks like Minnesota Shrike and now, the copycat killer.

While there’s a certain amount of payoff concerning Dr. Bloom, things are a little more dubious for the character of Freddie Lounds. So far, Lounds has been an interesting fly in the ointment, but her ability to miraculously appear in and around crime scenes, and Crawford‘s inability, or lack of desire to combat this problem (despite their confrontation in ‘Amuse-Bouche’) seems like a issue the series needs to address.

Laurence Fishburne and Mads Mikkelsen in Potage Hannibal Season 1, Episode 3 Review – A Lack of Sympathy

Perhaps the problem (and, thankfully, it’s a small one) is that Lounds is clearly being used to set certain episodic plot elements into play, and, in ‘Potage’ anyway, they come off being just a tad contrived. For the most part, Lounds is around to introduce Nicky, the brother of the girl thought to be the Minnesota Shrike’s final victim – but was rightfully attributed to the copycat. Like Lounds, Nicky’s around solely to drive the plot toward Hannibal and Abigail’s sinister arrangement at the end of the episode.

As much as it strains credulity that Freddie Lounds can come and go as she pleases, it’s also a bit disconcerting that Nicky could slip so easily into Abigail’s presence and then ultimately wind up being “butchered” by the girl. It’s clunky (especially the disappearance of Nicky’s body), but could lead to more positive things, as the series appears to be building a dark relationship between Abigail Hobbs and Hannibal Lecter.

This, of course, is all a part of Lecter’s larger scheme, which will hopefully set the series onto more serialized path, so as to avoid the addition of throwaway characters like Nicky, and to give Freddie something more interesting to do than simply introduce them.


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

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  1. Hannibal’s character got some real traction in this episode.
    Character development has been slow but sure for everyone
    in every episode which does make me wonder what is lost
    next week since NBC just announced it is cancelling
    that episode as a result of the Boston bombing.

    Just in the US. Not internationally.
    Just Americans are treated as children.

    • This comment in reply to Robert’s should be removed.
      This is not the place for comments like this.

      • yeah, sorry…

        • @ItCameFromPlanetEarth – You’re entitled to your opinions but no one ever deserves to be terrorized or killed. If that’s how you feel, you are welcome to find a different site to comment on.

          If you’d like to talk movies and TV news without all the politics and hatred though, then by all means, please stay.

          Just be respectful.

          Paul Young – Moderator

    • It is kind of a bummer that that has to be the case but it is confirmed that there will not be any continuity issues as a result, so if Bryan Fuller feels the episode is inappropriate in regards to the recent tragedy, and he is the show’s executive producer, then that is good enough for me.

      • Fuller has now cited the Sandy Hook shooting last December as
        his sensitivity regarding this episode because children are killed.
        This was shot before that event and seems to be more relevant.

    • I imagine we’ll see the episode later down the line. I noticed ABC’s Castle made a similar decision to preempt an episode based upon good taste vs. dramatic licensing. As for tonight’s episode, I noticed on IMDB that Demore Barnes was credited but did not see him. I wonder if this was a last minute editing job as he’s billed for two episodes.

      • Let’s hope so. Maybe enough time will have passed when episodes rerun.
        They were intending to show this episode pulled so they already
        thought enough time had safely passed since Sandy Hook.
        Boston started the time out clock all over again.

        • If memory serves me, the networks have done the preemptive shuffle since 9/11. I can’t recall if it was ever done before that. Also, I’m not sure if the series has been picked up for more than 13 episodes yet. They might leave it unaired depending on ratings/renewal.

          • It has not been renewed despite ratings that warrant it.
            I think it likely will, but we know how NBC handled Awake.

            If the show is not renewed then we can forget any reruns.
            The episode is playing outside the US so it will be available
            to those viewers and I imagine will be in DVD and on-demand.

            I don/t recall pre-empting either before 9/11 but there must
            have been a lot way back after the Kennedy assassination.

            • I imagine television was far gentler in those days, but you’re probably right.

              As for this series, it seems the viewership fell significantly from episode two to episode three; 18% I believe. Not sure if that bodes well for its future, though personally I’d think the news events of the past week might have had more people watching the news outlets than prime time.

              • Far gentler is probably an understatement to be sure.
                Imagine trying to sell Hannibal to producers back then.

                There were a lot of cop shows I think in that era
                so maybe even the depiction of a murder might be
                to touchy a subject soon following the JFK murder.

                • There was a scene in the Anthony Hopkins movie Hitchcock where the censors were not going to allow a scene in Psycho because a toilet was shown. That was 1960 and the censor claimed a toiled had never been shown–let alone used–in American film at that point. If it’s a factual detail, that says something about how far cinema has progressed. Mind you, there was also stipulations about breaking the skin (and showing skin) in the shower scene.

                  • @ Jason
                    I’ve read a few books and have seen a couple of documentaries about the making of Psycho and as crazy as it sounds the story about the toilet is true.
                    The thought of showing a toilet was considered in bad taste, and to then actually flush it drove the standards and practices people nuts.
                    There were even issues over how long you could show someone kissing. 3 seconds was the usual max.
                    It’s crazy how much has changed…

                    • Those kinds of details fascinate me. The industry has changed drastically since those days. Thanks for the info!

                    • Dittos. Amazing history there Kevin.

                    • Thanks…
                      Ever since I was a teenager and wanted to learn everything I could about movies I’ve loved it when I’d find little details like this.

                • Also…
                  I think there’s a good chance NBC will give the show a second season.
                  The ratings have been about what they expected so far and it’s been doing well critically. As bad as NBC has been over the years they’ll stick with a show that’s doing well with critics like they did with 30 Rock even if the ratings aren’t to strong.
                  So my fingers are crossed that these first bunch of episodes are a true representation of what the entire series will be because out of the 3, umm… I’d guess I’d say “horror” shows (Hannibal, Bates Motel, The Following) that have started this year Hannibal IMO has been the best of the bunch. The Following is one of the worst series I’ve seen. Sorry! I tried not to bash it but I couldn’t stop myself. ;)

                  • If NBC is already giving Chicago Fire a spin-off, they’d be wise to keep this one going. I could see it wrapping up in 3-4 seasons, but who’s to say how interesting things may become? Sooner or later Will is going to have to catch Hannibal or cross paths with ingenue Clarice. If I remember the books well enough, Will is only mentioned to have become a loner with a monster’s face after his encounter with the Tooth Fairy. I’d personally enjoy seeing the aftermath of the man between Red Dragon and Silence of the Lambs.

                    • I had read something with Bryan Fuller and if I’m remembering correctly he said he has a 7 season plan but he didn’t provide any other details.
                      If it does last that long I agree with your last comment. I think we could see at least 3 or 4 seasons following this current story and then the rest of the series dealing with Hannibal’s capture and the fallout for Will, focusing especially in the time between Red Dragon and Silence of the Lambs.

                    • 7 seasons allows for a lot of misfires. I’m not completely familiar with Mr. Fuller’s work, but he seems to overextend his creative process. I recall him saying similar things about Pushing Daisies and I’m trying to forget what he almost/kinda-sorta did to The Munsters. In his defense, though, it’s great to have those ideas but a 13-22 episode stretch could be hard to realize.

                      Now that I’ve seen Caroline Dhavernas’ work on Hannibal, I’m curious to go back and watch her previous collaboration with Fuller, the series Wonderfalls. Sad to say, I’d only seen her in the movie Out Cold prior to this series.

              • You are right about viewing diversion too.
                Let’s see if the show can bounce back.

          • Each season is only gonna be 13 episodes

            • Jason was probably referring to next season
              which qualifies as more than the initial 13.

              • Denmark was right. :) I had wondered if the season would be given an order for 8 or 9 more episodes, bumping it up to 22.

                • Well, that’s usually how its done so you’re allowed to think that.
                  Thirteen shows first then enough ratings for a full season order.

                  Situations like this make me wish this “cable” show was on
                  a cable station where several seasons would be assured.

                  • If Charlie Sheen can work out a deal for a 100-episode guarantee…

                    • That proves that anything can happen :)
                      If NBC dropped this I would love to see
                      a cable channel pick it up saving it.

                    • I could see the series doing well on F/X.

                    • Most def. F/X would be a natural home.

    • Really…this comment is still here?

  2. I want to start my comment with praise before my small complaint.
    The 1st 3 episodes of Hannibal (especially the 2 directed by David Slade) have set a new high mark in TV for their direction. The shot composition is absolutely beautiful. That may seem strange for such a violent show but IMO certain shots, especially the camera movement is poetic. You can see direction and cinematography like this on cable but until now I’ve never seen as much focus on ascetic on network TV.
    Now my small complaint…
    The score.
    I’d have to go back and watch the first 2 episodes again to see if it’s the same therefore making my point null but for some reason the score for episode 3 was to loud. It felt intrusive. Some scenes with characters talking became hard to hear no matter how much I adjusted the volume.
    Maybe it was just me which is fine. It’s only a small complaint.

    • I have similar impressions. Watching it I have to remind myself
      this is on network television, which is a good thing, meaning the
      better produced cable programs are finally influencing the big guys.

      You are right about the sound too, Kevin. Someone is trying too hard.
      Hitchcock was once asked what was his best use of a soundtrack
      and he said turning it off — just what was needed in this show.

      • I felt like the score for this episode was composed in such a way to purposely make the viewer uncomfortable. As they used visuals in the first two episodes to recreate the way Will ‘sees’ a killer’s deeds, the sound here seemed to symbolize a frantic stirring that drove a–potential–innocent to behave in startling ways. To relate it to the old monster movies of yesteryear, it felt like watching the episode unfold through Abigail Hobbs. Just my two cents. :)

        • Interesting take, Jason. Maybe that was the motivation.
          On the trying too hard though they may have crossed the
          line between feeling uncomfortable and becoming a distraction.

          • I wonder if we viewers would have noticed had the score been more traditional in its theme.

            • Right. The choice of score called too much attention to itself.
              It would have succeeded better with your theory on why
              and the manner it was used if it was more traditional.

              • I’m wondering if the show’s creator insisted on a quirky score. It somehow fits his storytelling style.

                • Makes sense, Jason. A logical probability.

                  • Interestingly enough, the series is scored by the same gentleman who worked on the pilot episode of Awake, Brian Reitzell.

                    • Now that’s a fascinating detail.
                      I wonder how much freedom he had or
                      was he doing his best for what was asked.

  3. We’re only three episodes in, but I think Hannibal has seriously raised the bar for ALL crime procedurals. I know, it’s also got a bigger story at play than that, and it doesn’t follow the same formulaic structure that procedurals usually do, but just about every aspect it shares with other crime shows – the murders, the victims, the perpetrators – are head and shoulders above the competition.

    I mean, this really is one of the few shows I’ve seen where the murders really carry some weight. You see the victims being *really* affected, what happens in the aftermath of a murder, and even how the people catching these criminals (or nutjobs, in this case) are affected. Not everyone shoots down a killer and then shrugs it off like in CSI. Add to that the stunning visuals (gory but creative and absolutely original) and the acting, and this is fast becoming one of my favourite shows.

    And wow, did they crank up the pace this episode. I’d already thought Hannibal was digging himself into a hole with the stuff he was doing; today I thought he threw all caution into the wind. How many seasons is he gonna last before he’s finally caught? I dunno. But I want to find out.

    • One of my favorite moments of the episode was the prideful smile Hannibal gave when he listened to Will’s lecture about the Minnesota Shrike’s copycat. Also, as Abigail sad about her father, has Hannibal been feeding his colleagues his victims? We’ve seen him prepare meals for both Will (ep. 1) and Jack (ep. 2). A bit of a devious twist.

      As you mentioned, it is a nice twist to see the violence carrying with it an aftermath that deeply affects the hero. There’s no 30-second pep talk that makes him able to shrug it off and keep going. It’s a nice touch and, I think, an attribute to Will’s Asperger syndrome.

  4. I have to wonder if there was hidden meaning in Will’s being the passenger in Hannibal’s vehicle as he clearly took the backseat in this episode. It was a leap forward for Hannibal but I have to say I was just as impressed by the performances of Kacey Rohl’s Abigail and Caroline Dhavernas’ Dr. Bloom. The gender change of the Bloom character has added so much to the dynamic between Will and his inner circle. It also plays nicely against the seediness of the Freddie Lounds character. If we ever see the happenings of Red Dragon, the writers have certainly laid the groundwork for the delight Hannibal gets from Lounds’ demise.

    • Totally agree that the changes have worked very well here. Bloom wasn’t a particularly integral character in the books, but they’ve made the character more essential here.

      Although, I’m not sure I’m sold on Freddie Lounds. Undoubtedly the character is being portrayed as intended – an annoying pain in the ass – but all that means is that I want the payoff of seeing the character get killed off. Which, if they intend to follow the Red Dragon story, may not happen anytime soon :/

      • The previous incarnations of Lounds have embraces a kind of tactless, juvenile sleazebag. This new version is deliberate and cold. I’m curious what back story she and Will share since she obviously has fixated on him.

  5. So far everyone of these killers on Hannibal could of had there own entire season on Dexter. The original killing patterns and there depth of psychotic issues is pretty intense.

    I worry its going to grow stale and become to unrealistic.

    • First, I would like to start off by saying that, at the moment, Dexter is my favorite television series, however Hannibal definitely has the potential of meeting or exceeding my love for the show.  But, when the series are compared to each other in terms of realism, Dexter is the one that is less realistic.  The main characters in Hannibal work for and with the behavior science division of the FBI, a division which specializes in the investigation of serial killers.  The entire country is their jurisdiction and at any given moment, it is estimated that there are over 200 serial killers at large in the US.  However, Dexter is a blood spatter analyst for Miami Metro Police Department and the fact that a new serial killer keeps popping up every season for the past eight years is becoming a bit of a large pill to swallow, and  that is one of my only gripes with what is otherwise a very entertaining and original series.

  6. Again, like my thoughts last week, it is to me everything ‘The Following’ is not. With this and ‘The Hunt’, I have developed a little man crush on Mads who is absolutely flooring it as the titular Hannibal. But there is not a cast member who isn’t putting in an A+ performance. The joy of this episode was simply in watching Hannibal as he observed the responses of all around him to scenarios he has already created. It also leads to a very minor gripe. There is no need to repeatedly cut to a close up on Mads to detail every response to a response. For a show in which every frame is beautifully polished, I feel all they need to do is position Mads specifically in each frame to highlight the nature of his observation.

    But all I want to hear right now is one simple sentence from NBC:

    “We are renewing it for a second season.”

  7. I saw the first two episodes when I was home last week, but had to hit the road before this episode. I really enjoy the concept, the writing, and the performers. The person playing Hannibal had some really big shoes to fill to make us accept him as Hannibal once we accepted Anthony Hopkins as the true Hannibal, and he does it perfectly. Like Hopkins his Hannibal is a mad genius who is a bit strange yet someone you would feel at ease around. A serial killer who would be the last person anyone would expect. Then pair him with a profiler that he can play games with….Great concept.

    The biggest problem is that it’s on NBC that’s notorious for canceling shows before they can really get legs under them. they’d be damn foolish to cancel this, but they’ve done that plenty times before

  8. I hope that sometime down the road they have a guest appearance by both Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster.

  9. Seems like people are having a hard time with the episode four cancelling, judging by the comments left on these three articles:




    I have to say that I’m more than slightly annoyed at this, but ultimately accept Fuller’s decision. Apparently there are no continuity issues with the unairing of episode four, so I’m happy about that, certainly. Perhaps we’ll see it on a Blu-ray release?

  10. I’m leaving show. Too many innocents are being slaughtered with no justice to be served on their behalf. Dexter has code this is too much passive toture porn.

    • What did you think the show was about when you first checked it out? I mean his full title in Silence Of The Lambs was “Hannibal The Cannibal.” Having him play cat and mouse with not only the forensic team, but with the extremely talented profiler while keeping a professional appearence is great drama. If you thought that serial killers and those who hunt them should somehow tie everything up in a package every episode then you’re missing the point. The point is the relationship between Hannibal andthe head profiler…..Everything else is basically the means to get to the point

      • Seriously. Why can’t they make a nice show about cannibals? Something fit to watch with the little ones. ;)