Viewing posts tagged hannibal

The Proverbs of Hell 13/39: Savoureux

The Patreon is healthily above $320 now, so podcasts are good to go. That said, there's been a scheduling snafu on this one, so I'm not actually sure what day it'll post. Sorry about that.

SAVOUREUX: I’ll just quote Fuller: “a savoury dessert appealing to diners with no interest in a sweet ending to their meal.”

Will is unambiguously hunting here, as opposed to fishing, and right on the heels of making the distinction with Abigail. There are more visceral demonstrations of the idea that Will has been pushed to the edge, but this is perhaps the clearest demonstration that this edge consists of more than just the side effects of encephalitis, also encompassing a genuine moral shift.

The first appearance of the Wendigo, aka the mature form of Will’s stag hallucinations, reflecting his understanding that the figure he’s been stalking is in fact Hannibal. What’s interesting, of course, is that Will doesn’t know that Hannibal is the copycat killer yet. His appearance here could be mere foreshadowing - that is, broadly speaking, the point of a hallucinatory cold open after all. But more to the point, it suggests that Will does not know all that he ...

Proverbs of Hell 12/39: Relevés

RELEVÉS: Properly “removes,” but best understood in the sense of a relief pitcher, with the idea being that the course replaces the previous one. In practice, it is the big set-piece course, and so functioning much the same way that “Rôti” did.

GEORGIA MADCHEN: They say what's wrong with you?

WILL GRAHAM: Just the fever. They're trying to find out what else.

GEORGIA MADCHEN: They won't find anything. They'll keep looking and keep giving you tests and keep giving you false diagnosis and bad medicine. But they won't find anything wrong. They'll just know you're wrong. (Pause) I hope you have good insurance.

One assumes the FBI has decent insurance, but it’s a delightful joke and, given how little time we actually get to spend with an on-the-mend Georgia, probably the key

The sense of being wrong, as opposed to having something wrong with you, is a deep-seated fear for Will. It’s worth recalling his description of the Chesapeake Ripper as “one of those pitiful things sometimes born in hospitals” that fails to die, a description that puts Hannibal in much the same place.

GEORGIA MADCHEN: They said I might remember what ...

The Proverbs of Hell 11/39: Rôti

RÔTI: Roast, specifically roasted game birds, but in this case likely a straightforward case of “and now we arrive at the big centerpiece courses.”

HANNIBAL: Someone who already doubts their own identity can be more susceptible to manipulation.Dr. Gideon is a psychopath. Psychopaths are narcissists. They rarely doubt who they are.

DR. CHILTON: Tried to appeal to his narcissism.

HANNIBAL: By convincing him he was the Chesapeake Ripper.

DR. CHILTON: If only I had been more curious: about the common mind.

HANNIBAL: I have no interest in understanding sheep. Only eating them.

One of Hannibal’s more bluntly callous secret confessions. Its unusual viciousness is probably explained by his understandable frustration at having to relate in any way, shape, or form to Chilton. Also interesting is the selection of animals for the metaphor - a departure from the show’s default choice of pigs that flags the particular disdain with which Hannibal holds Chilton.

DR. CHILTON: I thought psychic driving would have been more effective in breaking down his personality.

HANNIBAL: Psychic driving fails because its methods are too obvious. You were trying too hard, Fredrick. If force is used, the subject will only surrender temporarily.

Hannibal is, of course, obliquely ...

The Proverbs of Hell 10/39: Buffet Froid

BUFFET FROID: Literally “cold buffet,” referring specifically to a charcuterie platter of thin-sliced meats. In this context, a joke about Georgia Madden’s shredding skin.

It goes without saying that there is a strange unreality here, but this is presented very differently from how Hannibal usually proceeds. It’s never before had to conjure a disposable POV character just to kill her off a few minutes later. Part of this is the peculiarities of Georgia Madden - she’s unsuitable to be a POV character herself, and there’s only one other choice. But a more basic reason is that this is the opening of a horror movie, with Madden being positioned as something that comes at the show from an odd angle She doesn’t quite belong in this series. Unlike with “Œuf,” a previous case of a killer of the week who’s not quite right for Hannibal, this is something the show is at least conscious of  this time.

Timeline of events.

  • May 2013: “Buffet Froid” airs.
  • July 2013: Steven Moffat casts Lars Mikkelsen, brother of Mads Mikkelsen, in “His Last Vow”
  • February 2014: Moffat writes “Listen,” featuring a monster that grabs your ankle from under the bed.

I leave ...

The Proverbs of Hell 9/39: Trou Normand

TROU NORMAND: A palate cleansing drink of apple brandy, sometimes with a small amount of sorbet. Your guess is as good as mine, frankly.

One of the show’s most emphatically memorable murder tableaus - probably the only one to give Eldon Stammetz and his mushroom people a run for their money. It also serves, however, as a case study in the schizoid nature of this season. More than anywhere else in the first season, “Trou Nourmand” demonstrates the degree to which these cases of the week are a charade. The totem pole murders are barely a feature of the episode, squared away with almost comical efficiency midway through the fourth act while the plot focuses instead on Will’s psychological collapse and new developments with Abigail.

BRIAN ZELLER: The world’s sickest jigsaw puzzle.

JIMMY PRICE: Where are the corners? My mom always said start a jigsaw with the corners...

BRIAN ZELLER: I guess the heads are the corners?

BEVERLY KATZ: We’ve got too many corners. Seven graves. Way more heads.

In which Zeller, Price, and Katz demonstrate that the aesthetics of murder tableaus are not their strong suit.

WILL GRAHAM: I planned this moment... This monument with precision. Collected all my raw ...

The Proverbs of Hell 8/39: Fromage

FROMAGE: Cheese. Relating this directly to the episode contents is tricky - it’s most likely a reference to Franklyn’s declaration last episode that he and Hannibal are “cheese-folk,” although it’s certainly possible Fuller imagined this episode to be somehow cheesier than previous ones. I mean, it does involve opening people up and playing them like cellos.

The soft-focus montage of stringmaking plays out over an unusually harmonious bit of music, making this particular process of dismembering people and repurposing their bodies an oddly pleasant, idyllic thing. It is worth contrasting with Blake’s The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, in which his (non-murderous) printmaking process is detailed as the workings of “a printing press in hell,” whereas here infernal content is presented in more sacred terms.

ALANA BLOOM: Why are you assuming I don’t date?

WILL GRAHAM: Do you?

ALANA BLOOM: No. Feels like something for somebody else. I’m sure I’ll become that somebody some day but right now I think too much.

WILL GRAHAM:  Are you going to try to think less or wait until it happens naturally?

ALANA BLOOM: I haven’t thought about it.

For the episode where the Will/Alanna sexual tension is finally grappled with ...

The Proverbs of Hell 7/39: Sorbet

SORBET: A frozen dessert made of sweetened, flavored water. In this case, it seems meant to suggest a palate cleanser, resetting the meal after the extremes of “Entrée.”

WILL GRAHAM: I use the term Sounders because it refers to a small group of pigs. That’s how he sees his victims. Not as people, not as prey. Pigs.

The particulars of what it means to see people as pigs is enormously vexed, and I can’t not gesture at my “Capitalist Pig” series of essays, the first two of which are focused specifically on this. Broadly, though, pigs are second only to monkeys as animals that symbolically reflect our own humanity back on us. They are also intimately connected with food - their two basic utilities to a culture are either as garbage disposal or as an exceedingly efficient food source. Much like the pig itself, every part of this dense nexus of meaning is used in the construction of the underlying metaphor here.

WILL GRAHAM: True to his established pattern, the Chesapeake Ripper has remained consistently theatrical.

“Theatrical” is an interesting description here, given that Hannibal’s medium is the fixed artistic tableau, as opposed to the visceral immediacy of live interaction ...

The Proverbs of Hell 6/39: Entrée

ENTRÉE: With the episode titles in French, this does not carry the English meaning of “main course” per se, but rather refers to a transitional course between fish and meat dishes. In truth the meaning is double, flagging this episode’s status as a transitional one in the season and its status as the first one since “Aperitif” to be focused entirely on the arc plot.

“Entrée” is long on Silence of the Lambs parallels, although unlike with elements drawn from Red Dragon, the show does not actually have the rights to the book and so can’t take and repurpose dialogue per se. Instead it tinkers with the iconography (to the point of exactly matching the uniform designs of the film), doing things akin to how Budish interpolated Francis Dolarhyde. To wit, Gideon’s ploy here closely mirrors Hannibal’s escape at the end of Silence of the Lambs.

WILL GRAHAM: I’m always a little nervous going into one of these places. Afraid they’ll never let me out again.

JACK CRAWFORD: Don’t worry. I’m not going to leave you here.

WILL GRAHAM: Not today.

Gee, I wonder what the end of season twist is going to be?

DR. CHILTON: Ah, yes. That thing ...

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