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 materials in advance. I position the bodies carefully, according each its rightful place. Peace in the pieces disassembled. My latest victim I save for last. I want him to watch me work. I want him to know my design.
This monologue, especially the bit about “according each its rightful place,” evokes one of the less explicit ancestors of Hannibal, Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell’s From Hell, and particularly the memorable anecdote in which Moore made an error describing the placement of a severed breast within a historical murder tableau, only realizing the error after Campbell had drawn the page and several further. His solution is to have the killer pause several pages later, look at the severed breast, think for a moment, and rearrange it to better fit his strange and awful aesthetic.
WILL GRAHAM: I was on a beach in Grafton, West Virginia… I blinked and then I was waking up in your waiting room. Except I wasn’t asleep.
HANNIBAL: Grafton, West Virginia is three-and a-half hours from here. You lost time.
WILL GRAHAM: Something is wrong with me.
As Crowley would put it, Will’s encephalitis is a disease of editing.
HANNIBAL: I’m your friend, Will. I don’t care about the lives you save. I care about your life. And your life is separating from reality.
WILL GRAHAM: I’ve been sleepwalking. I’m experiencing hallucinations. Maybe I should get a brain scan.
HANNIBAL: Damnit, Will. Stop looking in the wrong corner for an answer to this.
(Will is briefly startled by Hannibal’s passionate concern.)
HANNIBAL: You were at a crime scene when you disassociated. Tell me about it.
This scene requires that we read it in the context of “Fromage” and its resolution and thus assume that Hannibal is motivated by a sincere desire for friendship with Will.…