‘Hannibal’ Season 1, Episode 7 Review – Palate Cleanser

Published 2 years ago by

Mads Mikkelsen in Hannibal Sorbet Hannibal Season 1, Episode 7 Review – Palate Cleanser

As an episode title, ‘Sorbet’ may be the best that Hannibal has offered so far, in terms of the series’ clever marriage of its own gruesome premise and the refined, decadent tastes of the culinary world. Additionally, considering its use as a palate cleanser between courses, sorbet also sets the tempo for the episode, working almost as a one-off digression into Hannibal’s relationship with food, colleagues and patients, considering they all occasionally wind up on the same plate.

And while ‘Sorbet’ temporarily shifts the focus to Hannibal, it still manages to propel the series’ narrative forward, while offering some tantalizing glimpses into the minds of the other characters; namely, Will Graham and Jack Crawford. Together the two have come to model what destructive properties an unhealthy obsession can provide. All but consumed by a need to avenge Miriam Lass and correct his mistake in failing to identify the Chesapeake Ripper, Jack’s wracked with a series of terrifying nightmares which progressively hint at the burden Will is currently bearing.

To that end, Will has transitioned from sweat-drenched, fitful sleep, to somnambulism, to simply zoning out in his lecture hall, envisioning himself seated across from Abigail Hobbs. Still followed by visions of the stag, Will’s condition doesn’t seem to be evolving so much as just merely deteriorating and Hugh Dancy continues to play his character with a quiet restraint that elegantly reveals Will’s fears of the slippery slope Jack has sent him careening down. It’s the same self-control Mikkelsen exhibits in his rendition of Hannibal, hinting that what’s hiding beyond the otherwise placid demeanor of Dr. Lecter is precisely what waits at the bottom of that slope Will is slipping down.

Hugh Dancy in Hannibal Sorbet Hannibal Season 1, Episode 7 Review – Palate Cleanser

But, more than any other hour so far this season, ‘Sorbet’ belongs to Hannibal. Directed by James Foley (Glenngary Glen Ross, House of Cards), the episode opens by taking the audience directly into Hannibal’s headspace, pushing in through his ear while the doctor enjoys a tear-inducing performance at a Concert for Hunger Relief. That’s a unique way of establishing the perspective and shifting the focus away from the BAU and their befuddled search for the Chesapeake Ripper.

From there the narrative is split into two distinct parts. On one hand, Will, Jack, Beverly and Zeller stand in a hotel room remarkably similar to the one in The Shining, and have a difference of opinion on a murder that has the look and feel of the Ripper, but lacks the artistry of his killings. There’s a shared desperation to identify and apprehend the Ripper that is, in some fashion, an extension of the group’s loyalty to Jack, but also a devotion to their own ego, as demonstrated by everyone’s admission they’d already touched the body, despite Jack’s orders to keep it “fresh” for Will.

That’s a nice bit of unforced sideline characterization in an episode that’s otherwise devoted to the idea of expanding the character for which the series is named. And that, really, is a testament to the structure of ‘Sorbet,’ which, in addition to the solid BAU sections and the creepy repetitiveness of Jack’s nightmares, builds itself around a series of encounters which merge Hannibal’s personal and professional lives; each one revealing something about how he sees his patients and how he is perceived by them.

Hugh Dancy as Will Graham in Hannibal Sorbet Hannibal Season 1, Episode 7 Review – Palate Cleanser

To do so, Hannibal brings back Dan Fogler’s Franklin (the crying patient from the series premiere) and also introduces Gillian Anderson as Dr. Bedelia Du Maurier – Hannibal’s psychiatrist and colleague. After running into him at the Concert for Hunger Relief, Franklin discusses during his session with Lecter a desire to become Hannibal’s friend, referencing a past want to befriend Michael Jackson – which he believed would have turned the troubled singer’s life around. But Franklin’s thirst for friendship is really just a need to “touch greatness,” masking an intense fear of loneliness that helps to elucidate Hannibal’s relationship with Abigail Hobbs.

And surprisingly, Hannibal uses this notion of loneliness, coupled with Dr. Du Maurier’s assertion that Hannibal is a “well-tailored person suit,” to evoke a small amount of sympathy from the audience for a man who is a horrific individual. But make no mistake, we are encouraged to like Hannibal; he’s an interesting and charismatic character – especially as played by Mikkelsen – but that brief moment where Lecter enters the waiting room only to find it empty, and his face drops… It’s strange and interesting the response that particular scene triggers.

‘Sorbet’ presents many sides of Hannibal and adds depth to an already complex character and expertly shows off the skill behind the program. As Will states, in regard to the Chesapeak Ripper, “Every brutal choice has elegance, grace.” That’s a perfect way to sum up this series so far.


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

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  1. Absolutely in my top 10 shows on tv at the moment. After hearing about its mediocre ratings and that it has not had its renewal confirmed yet I am very anxious. When the showrunners have a 7 year plan that is an excellent sign for a program and as this season has shown so far they know what they are planning and how best to get us there. Every episode has been exceptional and the psychiatry of it all over the murder of the week is what keeps me coming back. Better than Bates Motel in my opinion and one of the best new shows of the season if NBC does not renew it then HBO or Showtime should snatch it up. It is a significant improvement over recent seasons of Dexter, and with that coming to a close soon anyhow the networks should plan ahead. Just in case NBC does not see what an excellent show they have.

  2. I really hope this show gets picked up !!!!!

  3. From what I understand we could soon hear (maybe today) if NBC will green light season 2. I really hope it happens.

    • NBC showed a lot of confidence by ordering this straight-to-series and forgoing a pilot. It would be a spectacular shame if they lost their nerve to continue now.

  4. I loved this episode. I hope it gets renewed!

    • Oh, and very cleverly written review :)

  5. Utterly remarkable. Goes up a level with each episode. According to an interview with Bryan Fuller, he indicated he may not even find out until next week (or the week after). It would be a travesty because there really is nothing else like this on TV right now. A more twisted episode of TV you would not find than this one (that montage was glorious and had me beaming ear to ear at the sheer playful audacity at it all).

    I suppose what works in its favour is it’s a co-production with Gaumont International Television, theoretically meaning it isn’t costing NBC as much as it normally would. So, if they don’t renew, someone else might pick it up. I really hope so either way.

  6. I’m still very much all-in on this show. Right now it is the only one I make time to see on its original night. Just loved the inner play of recipe cards and business cards. Hannibal can be the new boogieman with parents warning their children not to be rude to others or Dr. Lecter will eat you. A little disappointed to see who the murderer in next week’s episode is but nice to see Hammerhead in action again.

  7. this show is fantastic. Sorbet made my skin crawl with the food preparation.

    as for the upcoming episode, its going to air with limited commercial interruption at 10:15p ET!

  8. As we got further into this one, I kept getting the feeling that Hannibal is going to murder Franklin in an upcoming episode. That whole Michael Jackson dialouge was genius. I LOVED seeing Gillian Anderson finally; it’s a real shame she’s only in a three-episode arc.

    • I think it would be gnarly if Franklin suddenly stopped showing up for his appointments and when Hannibal goes to investigate, he finds him decapitated and it is revealed that Franklin’s full name is Benjamin Franklin Raspail.

      • He and Tobias certainly seemed to have a common thread between them. The eye contact alone was better than any dialogue might have been.

        • After doing some research, Franklin’s last name has already been revealed to be Froideveaux.  He is, however, the show’s version of Benjamin Raspail.  They used Franklin instead of Benjamin as in “Benjamin Franklin” and Froideveaux and Raspail are two streets that intersect eachother in Paris.  Why the change?  I don’t know.

          **Spoiler Alert** If you watched the preview of next week’s episode, Hannibal and Tobias will confront eachother as murderers.  This will probably be brought on by one of them murdering Franklin.  That’s just my theory, but I could be wrong.  In the book “Silence of the Lambs”, Lecter says that he killed Raspail, but in the film adaptation, he claims it was Jame Gumb before he has become Buffalo Bill.

          • Very cool! Thanks for sharing (and for doing the legwork).

            • No problem! Huge fan of the books, read Red Dragon and Silence multiple times. And Hannibal and Rising once. I’m going to be livid if they cancel this show.

              • Same here! I’ve read Red Dragon–a personal favorite–and most of Silence, but not the others. In the back of my mind I wonder if the series will prompt Mr. Harris to write again.

  9. Love this episode. Hope that it gets renew and move to a better night because on Thursday, it got some tough competition.

  10. this really was the best episode so far
    especially hannibal opening up to that empty waiting room