‘Hannibal’ Season 1, Episode 9 Review – Piece by Piece

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Hugh Dancy and Laurence Fishburne in Hannibal Trou Normand Hannibal Season 1, Episode 9 Review – Piece by Piece

Most killers in Hannibal tend to stick to the shadows, leaving behind gruesome trophies as a calling card or evidence of their mastery over other humans. And although most seem intent on eluding capture for as long as possible, a common theme begins to emerge that’s not at all uncommon, even amongst non-psychopathic folk: the concept of legacy and the meaning of being recognized for an accomplishment.

In ‘Trou Normand,’ the series takes a look at the meaning of not merely creating a legacy and ensuring ones prominence in the thoughts of others, but controlling the conversation, swaying it in a particular manner and, ultimately, changing what people think. These are common and intriguing concepts in fiction because they are so prevalent in our reality. They are the things most people apply to themselves in an effort to give their life purpose or meaning. But in the case of the characters that inhabit a series like Hannibal, such purpose and meaning is often at the expense of another’s life.

Of course, in the case of someone like Will Graham, whose gift/curse is to place himself in the role of these deranged killers to better understand their “design,” his purpose and meaning is tragically entwined with people who have shunned society’s conventions and are therefore outsiders perpetually looking in. They are outcasts and although he helps to stop them and to save lives from being lost, Will Graham, too, is an outcast. And since much of the episode is about the manner in which those around them perceive someone, Will’s place at the moment is an unpleasant middle-ground between his deteriorating mental stability and his desire to have some sort of actual, meaningful connection with Dr. Alana Bloom.

The cast of Hannibal in Hannibal Trou Normand Hannibal Season 1, Episode 9 Review – Piece by Piece

Unfortunately for Will, Alana’s desire to have the same with him is doomed to remain just that unless he can get the instability she (correctly) perceives him as having under check. Thus far in the series, Dr. Bloom has managed to stand out as the voice of reason on several occasions – not the least of which was the rather sudden advancement of her feelings for Will during last week’s delightfully uneven ‘Fromage‘ – but that willingness to express thoughts and feelings contrary to popular opinion (more kissing would likely be very popular with Will right now) doesn’t necessarily preclude her from being wrong.

On one hand, perhaps having an anchor like Alana in his life – instead of an abstraction to chase, like being “well” or the thought of a meaningful relationship with someone who understands him – is precisely what Will needs and later finds in Hannibal, after he’s practically guided by Alana’s fear of damaging him further. On the other, Alana’s steadfast belief that Abigail Hobbs is the victim in regard to the Minnesota Shrike case winds up guiding a young woman, who is revealed to have been an accomplice in the grisly murders committed by her father, further away from being held accountable for those crimes. In both cases, Alana’s perception of another person differs slightly from the reality – altering her sense of what that individual needs at the moment – and consequently pushes them closer to the dangerous and vexing Dr. Hannibal Lecter.

Lance Henriksen in Hannibal Trou Normand Hannibal Season 1, Episode 9 Review – Piece by Piece

Later, after confessing to Will that he helped Abigail Hobbs dispose of Nicholas Boyle’s gutted corpse, Hannibal appeals to Will by portraying Abigail as the person she hopes Freddie Lounds’ book on her and her father will convince the public at large she is – i.e., the victim. But Hannibal goes one step further and calls upon the notion of the two men jointly operating as Abigail’s father, simultaneously invoking a sense of duty and responsibility for the young woman’s wellbeing and (whether he knows it or not) the ghost-like killer played by Lance Henriksen who inadvertently topped off his ghastly resume with his own son.

One of the things Hannibal has been able to do so well throughout this season is illustrate the occasional guilt and shame of the killers even as it is balanced with a certain boastfulness regarding their grim, horrific accomplishments. Because of Will’s ability to empathize with and, however temporarily, embody them in their darkest moments, they have to be something more than mere ciphers to carry out the episode’s plot, or Will’s ability becomes a window into nothing that makes his plight something stale and otherwise meaningless. And while the killers don’t necessarily achieve the same level of characterization that Hannibal is granted, they are made frighteningly more human and complex. And as Hannibal continues to display a convincing range of emotions and ability to not only empathize with, but also comfort someone in emotional distress, the range of the series itself seems to become staggeringly more complex.

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Hannibal continues next Thursday with ‘Buffet Froid’ @10pm on NBC. Check out a preview of the episode below:

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11 Comments

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  1. I have to say that this episode felt like a misstep. Will is in murky enough territory without conspiring to keep a murderer protected from the same law he represents. It almost felt like NBC ordered Fuller to wrap up the series and this was a quick path towards the inevitable Will v. Hannibal finale. The greater tragedy is that they devoted so little time to one of the most interesting cases/killers of the season. Landing Lance Henriksen and then reducing him to one scene? Tragic!

    • @ Jason
      I came here to talk about the same thing…
      I’m having trouble imagining the Will Graham that we’ve gotten to know over the past 8 episodes doing something like this. I’ve always had the impression that even when he was a cop he was 100% by the book. Technically the second he walks out of Hannibal’s office and doesn’t report this he’s committed a pretty serious crime.
      Maybe this will lead to him unraveling even more which could lead to a complete breakdown but as of now this was a questionable move IMO.
      On another note…
      After last night I’m not at all a fan of Dr. Bloom. It really seemed like she was playing a mind game with Will. She basically gave him the “it’s not me it’s you” speech and if she in anyway has concerns about Will’s state of mind why do that? Because she wanted to be honest?? I call BS. She’s a therapist and doesn’t realize how harmful that can be? Yikes!!
      If I read that scene wrong, someone let me know and I’ll take back my rant but as of right now I say boo-hoo Dr. Bloom. ;)

      • In regards to Dr. Bloom, I could not help but wonder if that scene was as hallucinated as the moment before when he was lecturing his class. She’s always avoided being in a room with him and that always stands out in my mind when there are scenes between just the two of them. Sort of a Sixth Sense vibe, I guess. Not saying that’s what’s happening but I tend to take their private scenes with a grain of salt.

    • Or maybe they’re trying to show us that Will would be out of character/do anything when it comes to Abigail. He said it himself during the dinner scene- The world is filled grey.

  2. Fromage was the misstep, not this episode.

  3. Interesting that both of the previous comments indicate script shortcuts indicative of wrapping-up a series that was expected to span several seasons. Very reminiscent of Last Resort and the second season of Rome. I can forgive Will being coerced into protecting Hannibal and Abigail’s actions because it demonstrates how compelling Dr. Lecter can be. Besides, they’ve played pretty fast and loose with the Lecter/Graham dynamic since the beginning. Refresh my memory, but I don’t recall those two being connected at all in the books until Hannibal nearly disembowels Will.

    It looks like eirieka got it right with last week’s preview being about Abigail. I’m still sticking with the brain tumor for Will. Especially after how quickly Lecter shot down Will’s idea of getting a head scan. Hannibal is still evil and pulling the strings. He wants Will to believe his problems are psychological so he will continue to confide in Dr. Lecter. If it’s a physical problem then Hannibal is out of the loop on the Ripper investigation. Looks like we may find out next week.

    I do agree with Jason that the wrap on Henriksen was a disappointment.

    • I read your theory about a possible tumor (and how Hannibal may have even smelled it) in another article and when the moment came in the episode where Hanmibal quickly brushed off a CT scan, a light bulb went off and I thought, “he’s right”. Previews for the next episode show him actually getting a scan.  We shall see.
      And you remember correctly from the book.  Think back to the episode a couple of weeks ago where we see in a flashback, Miriam Lass come to Hannibal’s office.  She is visiting him
      because he was a surgeon who once worked on their latest victim.  That was all Will Graham in the book.  He sees Lecter’s portrait of “wound man” and knows he has the killer.  However, before he could make the phone call, Lecter snuck up behind him in his socks and nearly gutted him.  That was their first meeting.
      It was actually the film Red Dragon that implied the two were working cases together before Will found him out.  I guess they did that to create a sense of anger and betrayal on screen between the two of them.

      • It’s a small detail but since they borrowed the line from Red Dragon about Will getting after shave with a ship on the bottle, I always have to wonder who sends it to him. He’s so isolated it seems like a strangely personal gift. Of course, in the book it’s Molly’s son and that often leaves me questioning whether or not we’ll get to see Molly in the series.

        • I wondered that very same thing. “I keep getting it as a gift.” From who exactly?

  4. I don’t have a problem with this episode setting up some hard decisions for Will to make (quite frankly, I think he was lucky to have sided with Hannibal because I think he would have been killed right there and then otherwise) and he does seem somewhat unstable in any case.

    If there was ever a television series that I would use as an example to classify the medium as an art, by the way, Hannibal would definitely rank high on my list.

  5. I too felt like the show was sort of bogging down some with Wlll’s fading in and out of reality. It’s gone from crisp and clever to fogged and heading towards dull. Hopefully they get back on track before long

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