Viewing posts tagged proverbs of hell

The Proverbs of Hell 5/39: Coquilles

COQUILLES: Coquilles are shells, referring either to shellfish like oysters or to casseroles served in a shell-shaped dish. The poetic meaning would involve something about how people are just shells for the higher angelic spirit within. The crass (and likely intended) meaning is a visual pun based on what happens when you flay wings off of someone’s back.

POLICE OFFICER: Do you have a history of sleepwalking, Mr. Graham?

WILL GRAHAM: I’m not even sure I’m awake now.

The best interpretation of this line, of course, is that even Will has noticed the weird way in which the sky moves at the wrong speed and fucking stags keep showing up, and has come to realize he lives his life in a strange and murderous dreamscape. Either way, though, he’s right.

HANNIBAL: I’d argue good old-fashioned post traumatic stress. Jack Crawford has gotten your hands very dirty.

WILL GRAHAM: Wasn’t forced back into the field.

HANNIBAL: I wouldn’t say forced. Manipulated would be the word I’d choose.

Manipulation is a vital yet inchoate topic in Hannibal, and this line sets up much, both about the next episode and about Jack. Later in the episode, as Jack tells Will that he’d feel guilty ...

The Proverbs of Hell 4/39: Œuf

ŒEUF: One of the least nuanced titles (and indeed episodes) of the show, œuf simply means eggs, a straightforward reference to the episode’s themes of family and parentage.

WILL GRAHAM: Sometimes at night, I leave the lights on in my little house and walk across the flat fields. When I look back from a distance, the house is like a boat at sea. It’s really the only time I feel safe.

One of the more curious interpolations of Harris’s original novels, this comes from his 2000 introduction to Red Dragon in which he describes the circumstances of writing it, working in a small shotgun house in a cotton field while taking care of family in Mississippi. Fuller’s addition (this scene having been imported from the previous episode, where it originally preceded Hannibal and Abigail’s end-of-episode encounter) is that Will feels safe when he does this. This is curious - the security and isolation of his house as a boat in the sea coming only when he is outside of the boat, lost in the darkness of the vast sea. This suggests that safety, for Will, is a sort of dissociative state, only attainable when he is outside of himself.

WILL GRAHAM ...

The Proverbs of Hell 3/39: Potage

POTAGE: A thick soup, and a rather striking shift in the heartiness of courses that would probably destabilize a meal coming before egg and oyster courses. In this case, it flags the fact that this is an episode concerned entirely with the larger arc as opposed to with a killer-of-the-week.

WILL GRAHAM: I like you as a buffer. I also like the way you rattle Jack. He respects you too much to yell at you no matter how much he wants to.

ALANA BLOOM: And I take advantage of that.

For all the problems with her character (see next note), Alana is quickly established as intelligent and competent. But even here there’s a certain drabness to her effectiveness, which stems at best from authorial fiat and at worst because he’s unwilling to yell at a woman. And given Jack’s relationships with other female characters, at worst is more likely. As for Alanna taking advantage, well, it’s tough to identify when she does this as opposed to either going along with Jack or protesting ineffectually.

ALANA BLOOM: Brought you some clothes. Thought a change would feel good. I guessed your size. Anything you don’t want keep the tags on. I’ll return ...

The Proverbs of Hell 2/39: Amuse-Bouche

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AMUSE-BOUCHE: Literally “mouth amuser,” its function is much the same as an apéritif, but it is a bite-sized food item and thus more substantial, in much the same way that this episode, liberated from the amount of setup and exposition that “Apéritif” had to do, gets to be. A stuffed mushroom cap would be an entirely appropriate choice of amuse-bouche.

The tiered concrete at which his students sit give the sense of Will having retreated back into the bone arena of his skull.

The show’s distinctive establishing shots are as important as its richly saturated color palette in creating its Chesapeake Gothic atmosphere. The time lapse establishing shots, with clouds whizzing overhead, frame what happens as taking place outside of time, in a fractured dreamscape. Fractured time is a recurring motif in the show, where it serves to indicate the blurring of internal and external landscapes. Here ...

The Proverbs of Hell 1/39: Apértif

APERTIF: A pre-dinner drink to whet the appetite. In this case, it is an expansion of the Garret Jacob Hobbs case, which, in Red Dragon, is essentially presented as a precursor to a precursor, the case Will worked before Hannibal.

WILL GRAHAM: I shoot Mr. Marlow twice, severing jugulars and carotids with near surgical precision. He will die watching me take what is his away from him. This is my design.

The idiosyncratic “design” sets up the show’s defining perversity: the idea of murder as something that is aestheticized. Significantly, it is Will who introduces this term, whereas Hannibal’s only murder of the episode is Cassie Boyle, which he commits as a pastiche of Garret Jacob Hobbs’s murders. So the two characters begin as doubly opposed. On one level, Hannibal is the creator in that he commits art murders, whereas Will, as the detective interpreting those murders, is the critic. On the other hand, it is Will who is presented as the imaginative figure, whereas Hannibal is reduced to a responsive role, reinterpreting other people’s murders.

It is also worth highlighting what, precisely, the design of the initial murder was. It is not the precision of the kill shot - the ...

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