‘Hannibal’ Season 1, Episode 8 Review – Professional Curiosity

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Laurence Fishburne and Mads Mikkelsen in Hannibal Fromage Hannibal Season 1, Episode 8 Review – Professional Curiosity

Last week, Hannibal pulled off a neat little trick with an episode that delved into the extremely private life of Dr. Lecter – that is, it examined him not only as a gruesome serial killer, but also as a person with a potentially robust social life full of admirers and hangers-on, whom he purposely keeps at arms length. However, ‘Sorbet‘ also introduced us to a man who might be looking to have a relationship outside of his patients or occasional work with the BAU, or even his own psychiatrist. Ultimately, it opened the door for the audience to feel for a person who normally would not elicit such sentiment.

And while ‘Sorbet’ slowly introduced the emotional stakes of Hannibal’s isolation by contrasting him with the needy desperation of his patient Franklin, ‘Fromage’ is quite the opposite; it is all raw emotion.

The episode lives entirely in the moment; it is comprised of a series of flashes that stand out, but don’t necessarily connect with one another in the typical A to B to C style we’re used to. ‘Fromage’ puts the season’s overarching narrative on hold and sparingly uses the delicate connective tissue holding the separate arcs together. Here, co-writers Jennifer Schuur and Bryan Fuller put the emphasis more on drama and entertainment, letting concern regarding the logical correlation of events take a back seat to big character moments.

Like the series premiere, this is very much a Will Graham and Hannibal episode. The structure of the hour is built around a particular killer – in this case, Franklin’s friend Tobias. But it’s not necessarily about either man’s pursuit of him. Instead, Tobias’ telegraphed, yet gruesome killing of a Baltimore trombonist sets off an inquiry in Hannibal as to what kind of relationship he may have been unaware he’s looking for, and with whom.

Hugh Dancy in Hannibal Fromage Hannibal Season 1, Episode 8 Review – Professional Curiosity

And also like ‘Apéritif,’ the episode unfolds with a sporadic, dreamlike quality that in most cases would be a disservice to the story, but here it lends an eerie characteristic to the proceedings that heightens the atmosphere and accentuates Will’s deteriorating mental state. There are a lot of leaps in time and logic, which feel purely intended to produce a specific outcome. Characters seem to materialize suddenly and then vanish into thin air. This trick transforms Tobias into something akin to a specter – which is tuned even further upon the revelation he’s been stalking Hannibal and even witnessed one of his kills – but surprisingly, he’s not the only one popping in this dreamscape unannounced.

‘Fromage’ opens with Will heading off in search of what he believes to be an injured animal – the cries of which compel him to call Dr. Bloom to help locate the injured or possibly dead creature. Bloom recognizes something’s up with Will when their search fails to not only turn up an animal, but any trace of wildlife at all. The connection between Will and Alana rises to a full-on flirtation, as they tentatively search for signs of interest in one another. “Did you think this was a date?” he asks as they walk along, discussing why neither has a romantic partner or is, in Will’s case, too broken to date.”

Later, after Will has smashed open his chimney in search of another nonexistent creature in peril, Alana suddenly appears, prompting Will to ask if she’s making house calls now. Her appearance in Will’s home sets off a chain reaction that leads to a somewhat forced kiss between the two, and for Alana to subsequently remove herself from the situation due to Will’s fragile state of mind.

Hugh Dancy and Caroline Dhavernas in Hannibal Fromage Hannibal Season 1, Episode 8 Review – Professional Curiosity

The kiss feels unnatural and strained in a way, shoehorned in too quickly to create an overt romantic subplot when the nature of Will and Alana’s relationship might have been better served by allowing it to progress more gradually. The hurried progression of potential romance between the two would have felt like more of a misstep had it not taken place in an episode that so deliberately targeted character moments over logic or plot. Besides, it leads to a great scene where Will runs to Hannibal for advice (and dessert), which appears to please Dr. Lecter greatly.

And of course, the biggest moment belongs to the fight between Hannibal and Tobias. Yes, it’s a bit cheesy (get it?), but again it hints at the unique structural qualities of ‘Fromage’ that had seen Tobias seemingly manifesting in the strangest of places – e.g., Hannibal’s dining room, the creepy basement where he made cello strings from human gut, and finally, in Hannibal’s office. ­

The scuffle ends with a bit of symbolism (the sculpture of the stag) being used to kill Tobias, making a somewhat opaque connection to Will’s continued visions, his relationship to Hannibal and the almost surreal nature of the episode.

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

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  1. For me, the two most interesting moments of the episode were the amused smirk Hannibal gave when Will said Dr. Bloom is kissable and the relief in Hannibal’s face when Will enters after Tobias’ death. The darkness and the subdued colors made me wonder whose eyes we were viewing the world through this time. Also, had to like the subtle innuendo in the final scene that Hannibal dealt with the patient who attacked Gillian Anderson’s character.

  2. I’ve been thinking about this since the Coquilles episode. I think Will has a brain tumor. That is why he able to put himself in the mind of a killer so vividly. It’s also why he suffers from headaches and is now hearing things. Hannibal sniffed him out during that episode when it was revealed he could smell cancer. And the little clip for next weeks episode they showed of Lecter asking Will, “Does Jack know” is probably about the tumor revelation and not Will suspecting Hannibal as the Ripper as we are lead to believe.

    Great episode and wonderful show all around. Regardless of what happens I’m eager to see it played-out.

    • Not a bad theory; though it seems they packaged his abilities beneath the same header as the reasons he isn’t a field agent, one reason being his Asperger’s Syndrome. From time to time, Will can be seen fidgeting or repeating hand gestures, which is a symptom of Asperger along with his sometimes abrasive people skills. If he’s drained and suffering from sleepwalking, I wonder if the auditory hallucinations are a side effect. Hannibal also sniffed Jack’s wife, who does have cancer, and commented only on her perfume. Will’s scent was because he had not showered in some time. :) I’m leaning towards the idea that we’ll see Will entering treatment or observation at a psych ward due to the toll his gift brings. Like you, I’m eager to see what happens either way.

      • Apparently Bryan Fuller has refuted the idea that Will has Asperger’s Syndrome, stating instead that he has “the opposite of” it. He possesses “pure empathy” and an overactive imagination, allowing him to mentally recreate the murders he is investigating.

        I know that the first episode seemed to indicate that Will thought he had it, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.

        • Hmm. There goes that theory….

          :)

  3. I think in the next episode, when Hannibal says ‘Does Jack know’ has to do with the girl who was suspected of being involved with her father’s murders. Seems kind of early for Hannibal to be found out when the whole series (which was planned to be seven seasons) is supposed take place before Hannibal was arrested. I really want Will and Hannibal to become closer friends before having it all fall to pieces.

    • The whole series isn’t planned to take place before his arrest, just the first three seasons.  Here’s a direct quote from Fuller about the planned arc:

      “In the first season we have this weird bromance between Will and Hannibal, season two is the nasty break up and the third season would have a fugitive angle to it, the fourth season would be ‘Red Dragon,’ the fifth season would be in the realm of ‘Silence Of The Lambs,’ the sixth season would be ‘Hannibal; In the seventh season it would be interesting to see Will Graham and a Clarice Starling type character come together for an adventure with their nemesis, Hannibal Lecter.”

      Here is an interesting, yet annoying tid bit about why he says “a Clarice Starling type character” and not just Clarice Starling.
      Fuller approached MGM, who have the rights to the characters who appear for the first time in Silence of the Lambs (Clarice Starling, Buffalo Bill, etc.) about the first season story arc.  Fuller planned to have the first season arc be about Benjamin Raspail (the head Starling discovers in a jar in the movie) and MGM flat out said “no”.  Fuller asked many times, and many times, MGM said “no”.  Isn’t that a giant hunk of bullsh*t?  What is MGM holding on to the rights to those characters for?  Some pipe dream of a Silence of the Lambs remake?  Who knows.  So anyway, instead of having Dan Fogler’s character be named Benjamin Raspail, as originally intended, he had to be renamed Franklin Froideveaux (Benjamin Franklin, get it?).  What that also means is, we won’t even get Clarice Starling down the road, but just a similar character.  What a rip off.  Someone needs to talk some sense into MGM.

      • @Speshlk37
        Thanks for that bit of info. I had known that Fuller has mapped out 7 seasons but I didn’t know many details.

        • Anytime!

      • You get the best info. Vic might want to hire you to write the reviews if there’s a season two. :) Out of curiosity, where do you get the info? Hannibal is one of the few productions I’d like to know more about in terms of the creative thought process involved in bringing it to the screen.

        As for MGM, I wonder if it’s a case of studio rivalry with Universal? SotL would be a difficult film to remake, far as I’m concerned.

        • Haha, thanks. I wish I could claim that it is due to some hard-core investigative work, but it is not much more than a simple google search, and if I can give myself a compliment, my thorough retention of the source material.

          • Either way, I enjoy and appreciate the incite.

      • If MGM’s rights to the characters is why they need to use a Clarice Starling type then how can they currently be using Hannibal Lecter? I’ve been trying to recall if they’ve ever referred to him as Hannibal or strictly as Dr. Lecter, but still it is an obvious character replica. They have been using Jack Crawford. Unless MGM has designs on a Starling stand alone film.

        • Well, the show is called Hannibal for one, but he has been referred to by his first name multiple times, by at least Gillian Anderson’s character.  Also, if you would like to take a closer look at my previous comment, you will see that I said MGM has the rights to the characters that made their first appearance in Silence of the Lambs.  Such as Clarice Starling, Buffalo Bill, Benjamin Raspail, and Paul Krendler, among others.  Hannibal Lecter, Will Graham, Jack Crawford, Alana Bloom (Alan in the book), Freddie Lounds, and Dr. Frederick Chilton all first appeared in the book Red Dragon, as well as (as far as studio rights might be concerned), the made-for-TV movie Manhunter. So MGM does not have the rights to those characters.
          MGM has always struggled finically and has even declared bankruptcy so it is more than likely that they wanted money in exchange for the use of characters they had the rights to, and re-naming Benjamin Raspail was a better choice for the creators of the Hannibal TV show than to pay MGM off.  Especially for such a little known character as Raspail.  However, when it comes time for the introduction of Clarice Starling down the road (or a Starling  type character), Fuller and NBC might want to reconsider working out a deal with MGM, just because so many people will probably be expecting that character to make an appearance in some capacity.

  4. This was a fantastic episode. They proved that they could handle exciting action sequences in this one, not just the quiet moments.

  5. When the series began I was impressed with this actors ability tocarry the Hannibal character well enough to make us forget about the Anthony Hopkins version. I think this Hannibal has actually gone beyond the other version and is far more creepy than that version.

    I have mixed feeling about how long it’s drawn out that he’s Hannibal the Cannibal for the simple fact that everyone will be sick to their stomachs for quite a while when they have to guess if he served them gormet human dishes. I really don’t know how they can play that reality without the viewers finding it funny as hell. I mean it’s so twisted that it’s just a funny concept because you saw them just loving his wonderful cooking.

  6. I also get a kick out of the sort of Killer-Dar they suggest. As if other killers can sense Hannibal is a killer just like themselves. If other killers could, then I’d think Will would pick up on that too.

    • Evil recognizing evil isn’t exactly a new dynamic. Hannibal brought up a good point to Franklin when he asked if he’d ever considered why he was so drawn to predatorial types.

  7. After watching ‘Hannibal’ and formulating an opinion, my favorite thing to do is read the different points of view from others and how those points of view correspond/differ from my own. The OP and subsequent comments always flesh out episode content for me, bringing to light things I hadn’t thought of or missed entirely. Thank you one and all!

  8. To me, Jack Crawford is one of the most tragic characters ever. He has the most flawed view of whatever is going on around him. Always. Hannibal, Will, Miriam, his own wife. Pity.

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