Viewing posts tagged proverbs of hell

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 ...

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.


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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