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.
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.
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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