‘Hannibal’ Season 1, Episode 6 Review – Desperate Coping

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Eddie Izzard in Hannibal Entree Hannibal Season 1, Episode 6 Review – Desperate Coping

“It’s nice to have an old friend for dinner.”

With a throwback like that, Hannibal does double duty on ‘Entrée’ by teasing the unpleasant fate of Dr. Chilton (Raul Esparza), and offering a chilling look into the calculating, bloodthirsty mind of his “friend” and colleague, Dr. Hannibal Lecter.

So far, the series has made excellent use of Hannibal’s culinary expertise and the sickening thought of what (or who) is actually on the plates at Casa de Lecter, but it has always been something of a lingering, recurrent element that cunningly combines the decadent allure of haute cuisine with a persistent level of fear. We have to watch while an apex predator invites an unwitting scavenger to enjoy some of his kill.

And although Mads Mikkelsen’s elegant and subdued rendition of Dr. Hannibal Lecter didn’t figure as prominently in the episode – which features the welcome presence of not only Eddie Izzard as murderous surgeon Dr. Abel Gideon, but also Anna Chlumsky as Jack Crawford’s unlucky recruit Miriam Lass – he was, like the truth behind the lavish, exotic food he so enjoys serving, an undeniably dark presence.

Mads Mikkelsen in Hannibal Entree Hannibal Season 1, Episode 6 Review – Desperate Coping

Up until now, aside from the skillful butchering of some internal organs, Hannibal’s machinations (and murders) have been more understated and used in a manner that effectively illustrated his intellect and extreme psychopathy – give or take the occasional, yet totally forgivable plot hole. But here, the series uses Dr. Lecter’s involvement with Miriam Lass’ disappearance to such a degree that he is no longer just a peripheral menace toying with Will Graham’s troubled psyche, interfering with cases or manipulating young and impressionable women who may, or may not be killers themselves. In effect, ‘Entrée’ serves Hannibal up as the plot on which the rest of this season (and, hopefully, future seasons) will begin to focus.

But more than putting the focus on the series’ titular character, the episode takes great care to once more demonstrate just how deeply effected everyone is by the killings, and – especially in the case of Jack Crawford and Hannibal Lecter - the supposed reemergence of the Chesapeake Ripper.

Which brings us to Eddie Izzard’s Dr. Abel Gideon, who, after murdering his family during Thanksgiving – “You know how stressful the holidays can get,” Gideon wryly explains – has been a model prisoner in the Baltimore psychiatric hospital that will one day welcome Dr. Lecter. However, after brutally murdering a hospital nurse in a fashion precisely like the Chesapeake Ripper, the conclusion by some – and by some, that means Dr. Chilton – is that the killer’s two-year break from ripping can be explained by his being detained in the hospital.

The killings are too precise, though, and Dr. Chilton is too eager to lay claim to having a notorious and frighteningly elusive predator in the confines of his hospital. “The reason we failed to find the Chesapeake Ripper? Because I already had him.”

Mads Mikkelsen as Dr. Lecter in Hannibal Entree Hannibal Season 1, Episode 6 Review – Desperate Coping

There’s a shadow of doubt cast early on in a nice scene where the interviews conducted by Dr. Bloom and Will are intercut with one another, and Izzard is afforded a chance to deflect their questioning the authenticity of his claim with some dry humor and an entertaining amount of Anthony Hopkins-like posturing. We learn through a discussion between Lecter and Chilton that psychic coercion is actually responsible for Gideon’s paint-by-numbers slaying of the nurse. And that’s just fine, because Dr. Gideon is merely the connective tissue between Hannibal’s eventual emergence via flashback and the haunting of Jack Crawford by his inability to save his wife or Miriam Lass.

What’s most disconcerting about Crawford’s plight is how integrally Hannibal figures into both. Jack’s aware his wife is confiding in Dr. Lecter things she won’t confide in with him (in fact, Phyllis is no where to be seen this episode), and Lecter, bound by confidentiality, cannot divulge this information. Moreover, with the late night phone calls, severed limbs and general madness surrounding the Chesapeake Ripper’s unconfirmed final victim, Jack is forced to defend his ability to differentiate dreams from reality. “I know when I’m awake,” he asserts when questioned by a member of his team.

The crushing weight of responsibility Jack feels toward his wife and Miriam is only exacerbated by his failure to do anything about it – something it seems Hannibal might take some genuine pleasure in. But it also pulls Jack even more into the framework of the series, by illustrating how completely the notion of death surrounds these characters. While Will teeters on the edge of sanity, imagining gouging the eyes of some poor nurse, Jack is faced with death no matter where he looks; it’s in his past, his present and his future. And if he were to look even more closely, sitting right next to him, sipping a brandy.

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

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  1. Because I so enjoy the style and performances of this show I too can forgive the occasional plot hole. It certainly appeared that Lecter killed Miriam in the flashback but I’m willing to go with he rendered her unconscious so she was able to make her terrified phone calls to Jack. Speaking of which, why wouldn’t the first words out her mouth be, “It’s Dr. Lecter!”? I’m not one to over examine my entertainment, but I hope they tighten-up some of these things going forward.

    • I have hope and suspicion that this story is far from being dropped. I liked how it worked well as a standalone story, as each episode has so far, while neatly evolving what has come before and suggesting what will come next. If we were actually supposed to feel that this episode’s story is all told, then I would be bothered by what you said, among other things, but I believe we are being promised more answers. Maybe soon, or maybe just eventually. I am not sold on the idea that Lecter simply IS the ripper, as opposed to a more complicated explanation. Deepening the story and the role of the guest murderer to make more sense of it all would be great. I don’t assume that Lecter failed, or that he necessarily killed the woman himself, then OR later, but it did seem likely that her death was “on th menu” so to speak when he approached her. Furthermore, the phone calls and severed arm serve him how? To torment Fishburne’s character and drive him to seek the help and solace of Lecter? Maaaaaaybe. That seems a bit inelegant, cruel, and disrespectful of a person who has mostly shown class and courtesy to him while allowing him to sink deeper into the world of law enforcement. I don’t believe that we yet have any plausible motive for all of that. Motive to have that woman die, even tragically perhaps in his mind, sure. Motive to keep playing with Jack Crawford like that? I don’t see it yet.

      So I agree with you, but hope we will be satisfied by the answers we get. And just for the sake of argument, if Lecter had her prisoner and wanted to torment Jack, then the recording would be easy to achieve. He could trick the woman into making a desperate call, or less likely fail to keep her from a phone, but it’s more likely that he merely let her speak into a recorder and she was never on the phone. In any case it probably involves deception rather than incompetence, IF Lecter had her then. Another simple solution would be to let her speak with a condition: “If you say my name I will eat you and your boss and his wife.”. Or even “I will confess to Jack after you tell him you were wrong about me.”. Something like that makes sense. Also I have another idea from Red Dragon that I will write in a separate comment below…

    • I’m a little late to the party here, but I just watched episode 6 again. The call sounds like an answering machine recording, which Lecter likely stole before Jack ever heard it. Jack did not know Lecter then(they were introduced in the first episode), but he could have gotten Jack’s name and address out of Miriam under duress and simply saved the recording for himself. (although breaking into FBI headquarters would be a tall order, even for Lecter.) The bigger question regarding Miriam’s time/ year of death for me is the freshness of the arm. It didn’t look old or rotted at all, just bruised. Either Lecter kept her captive for two years, or he froze the body. I wish they had analyzed the arm how old was the limb? Fresh cut? Inflicted pre or post mortem? I have to believe that if the limb was only a few hours dead that forensics would know and the FBI would have jumped into action to find the rest of her – one can indeed survive an amputation, after all. So it was likely frozen.

  2. I won’t go on another rant again about how much I love this show but I do want to make it clear that this show creeps me the “bleep” out.
    I’ve watched and still do watch a lot of horror/thriller movies & tv so I’ve sort of become numb to a lot of stuff but I’m hard pressed to think of anything since Se7en that haunts me like this show does.

    • Well said. I wish I could connect more often with it the way I did with Seven, but it’s hard to get to my freaked-out core these days. Seven was nearly perfect at the time, and still a powerful movie that holds up. This seems more like that, and vice versa, than anything else. That’s one reason I am enjoying it. Not all of it is so chilling, but those mushroom corpses and of course the one that wasn’t dead yet, really brought back that uniquely horrible vibe from Se7en.

      Side note: ever notice that the actor who whispers “you got what you deserved” to the not-dead guy in Seven was the same guy who ends the movie saying “somebody call somebody!”. The same guy was the one in Platoon that is sure he’s gonna die, can’t believe he lives, and then gets sent right back into war! He was also Dr. Cox on Scrubs. Name escapes me suddenly… John C. mcGinley! Also in Point Brake with Sir Patrick Swayze as the guy Busey decks. I’m sure this has all been very helpful and informative…. maybe not.

  3. As much as I’ve enjoyed the series, it was tough watching Will imagine how Gideon carried out his crime against the nurse. Yes, it establishes the nature of violence that made Hannibal famous, but it was still quite brutal for prime time. Having read that Salt Lake City pulled Hannibal from its lineup, I’ve got the feeling NBC might get cowardly and drop this series. Other series pulled in that city from the network never made it past season one.

    In terms of the episode itself, how cool was it seeing Anna “My Girl” Chlumsky back in action? I like her character and am curious to see how it plays out. The arm at the observatory looked…fresh…to me. This was the first episode where I truly felt Hannibal was manipulating the FBI, moving them where he wanted them to be, messing with their heads. Targeting Jack that way was especially sinister.

    And the casting director of the series deserves a bonus. They managed to cast an actor who out-creeped Anthony Heald’s Dr. Chilton. The ending was a bit abrupt and, well, bleh.

    • Anna Chlumsky was a great treat, I used to have a huge crush on Veda Sultenfuss growing up watching the My Girl movies. She basically played Clarice Starking in this episode, it’s a shame they couldn’t haved saved Chlumsky for if and when the character actually turns up all the same. And I already said it elsewhere in the article, but I hope the way she figures out who Lecter was isn’t wasted because I was really looking foward to that exchange between Will and Hannibal down the road.

      • That was the one draw back of the episode. As attached and haunted as Jack was, why would he ever send another female candidate to interview even an imprisoned villain?

        I’m also looking forward to seeing the moment when Will figures out who Hannibal is. That’s some time before the events of Red Dragon, so I can’t imagine seeing it until the third or fourth season–assuming that Will remains the main character, despite the series being named after Hannibal.

  4. i love how they give us little glimpses of how deliciously evil and twisted Hannibal is. I did love the homage to Silence of the Lambs with the Dr. Chilton line and that the actor who played Chilton was clearly doing his own homage to the original chilton from the movie. I can’t express how much i love this show and i can’t wait for where this season will go.

    • Homage/shameless imitation, tomato/tomoto…

      • potato, potatoe

  5. Surprising how much reference this ep made to the films’ stories, characters and locations. If this had been the pilot I would be worried about derivative and uninspired writing, but I think this impressive show has well proven that it neednt rely on such antics to be solidly compelling, so I don’t mind a bit. At first I thought it was just an homage, but then I realized the beard guy and his facility were the same ones from SotL. Glad the guest murderer didn’t play his character for laughs, being a comedian and all. The “old friend for dinner” line was extra funny in context of the future, and the eating of tongue seems “deliciously” appropriate in a story about what people say, in person, in print, to their doctors, to their teachers, to their murderers… The voice on the phone and the manipulation of the press resonated all the more.

    I was concerned that the killer taking false credit would be a story too similar to Just Cause, a film in which Lawrence Fishburne deals with a false confession and it’s dire consequences, but that has yet to be shown. It was and is a good story nonetheless, but it would be a shame to retread an idea that is not exactly new. I feel like a character should say “anybody ev see that movie..? Maybe that’s what’s going on!”

    I have a reasonable theory about the phone voice, speaking of movie inspiration. In Red Dragon, the killer becomes angry at how he has been depicted (by a lying, sleazy journalist no less, being used by Jack Crawford and his golden boy), and being angered by insulting interpretations about him, he requires a retraction. The killer abducts the reporter and records his retraction before killing him. Not knowing if he would be set free was crucial to his compliance. In this episode they discuss drawing out the killer by printing things that will piss him off, but perhaps the really important connection is the phone call. She says that she “was so wrong!”. Sounds an awful lot like a tearful retraction. If she were actually on a phone at all you might think she would start by saying “help me” or telling him where she was, but I don’t think she was on the phone ever. I think that she only had a chance to recant her own thoughts and actions into a recorder, possibly for some gift like a quick death, or promise that others wouldn’t be punished for her transgressions. Whether she is alive or not, it seems unlikely that she ever got on a phone. If Lecter is her killer then the odds of an accident go way down, whereas another killer might underestimate her training, etc. But that’s assuming that any mistake was made at all, which I doubt. See what I said in a comment above, if you care, about how he would and would not treat Jack Crawford. This doesn’t add up…yet.

    • That similarity to Red Dragon isn’t inspiration but direct adaptation, as were many other parts of this particular episode, both from Red Dragon and Silence of the Lambs.
      The reporter character you mention isn’t a similarity but the same character, Freddy Lounds (the character is male in the novel).  Instead of bating the Chesapeake Ripper, they are bating the Tooth Fairy in the novel.  What I didn’t particularly like about this in the episodes is that they are suggesting Hannibal would fall prey to crude and obvious media manipulation like the much less sophisticated character of Francis Dolerhyde from Red Dragon.
      Another element that bothered me a bit was that Miriam Lass (an obvious reference to Clarice Starling from Silence of the Lambs) discovers the true identity of the Chesseapeake Ripper (Hannibal Lecter) EXACTLY how Will Graham does in Red Dragon.  The difference is that Lecter nearly disembowels Graham in the book instead of just plain incapacitation like he did Miriam.  That instance is very important for the relationship between Graham and Lecter after Hannibal is in captivity and Will needs his help in the Tooth Fairy case.  I was very much looking forward to how the series would approach that further down the road.
      The other part that I noticed directly adapted from the source material is Jack’s first conversation with Miriam is almost a word for word transcript from Crawford’s first conversation with Clarice Starling in The Silence of the Lambs.

  6. I’m not sure how the direction of the show will go. Will they just keep stringing things along for quite a while until they decide it’s the last year of production and then finally have Dr. Lecter discovered for the sever nut case he is? Whenever it occurs….You just know there’s going to be some very sick people once they have to wonder what they were fed…….I wonder what that will do to Will Graham’s ability to sleep….Ever again

  7. I believe that to Use Miriam as an “Expy” for Clarice…Would do the show a disfavor! Hannibal Must Seek it’s own separate Identity, which thus far Has Been a Resounding Accomplishment! Bravo! I sincerely Believe that Bryan Fuller has “Applied” his own Unique simulacrum(to his credit!) to the characters (ie. Using a Black-Jack Crawford), the CSI team(characters become a Main Part…LOL of the Show), and Will’s gift for crime scenes!
    To continue to Use (Silence of the Lambs) as a excuse, would Blur the intent of this prequel. The ONLY issue I have is that NBC is carrying the Show! OMG! Look what happened to Southland and Law & Order CI?! Trust me this show “Should” last 5 seasons. Can it? NO! Why? Only NBC could EVER answer that! So for Now I enjoy the show for all the Same Reasons that Lambs Won an Oscar! It is a Great Crime Drama…One of if not the Best of all time on TV!!! SCN

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