Mark Watches ‘Hannibal’: S01E02 – Amuse-Bouche

In the second episode of the first season of Hannibal, Will copes with the events of the previous episode, and ends up seeking Dr. Lecter for his advice. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Hannibal.

Please be considerate when posting images from this show. While screencaps are certainly welcomed AS LONG AS YOU CREDIT WHERE THEY CAME FROM, please stick any graphic or possibly triggering images in the second comment of your thread. There are people who enjoy this show and who want to discuss it who cannot handle gore or constant reminders of. That’s all! Just want to make sure that we accommodate everyone. Thanks! — Mark


I admit that I wasn’t sure how this show would tackle any sort of narrative, so keep that in mind when I say that I’m surprised how serialized this episode is. I suppose I thought that “Apéritif” was establishing a case-of-the-week format. I mean, it was, since this week’s case gives Hannibal a very unsettling procedural feel, but everything about this is a conscious effort to analyze what it meant for Will to return to the field and kill someone. It’s a deliberate examination, one that forces Will to consider that he may have enjoyed killing Garrett Jacob Hobbs or that he may feel obligated to care for Abigail after saving her and making her an orphan with the same act.

But on top of this all, we’ve got an absolutely nightmare-inducing murder that is so fucked up I don’t even know how to write about it. LIKE WHAT THE FUCK, THERE IS SO MUCH HERE I WISH I COULD UNSEE AND I’M PROBABLY GOING TO DREAM ABOUT ALL OF IT. But the real highlights of “Amuse-Bouche”? It’s the characters. Dr. Alana Bloom. Freddie Lounds. (!!!!!) Will Graham. Goddamn, this episode is packed with so much emotional depth and subtext that I almost forgot about the fact that one of the “corpses” was actually still alive, and HELP ME THAT IS SOME HORRIBLE SHIT.

“Amuse-Bouche” is a story of trauma and the desperate need to find some way to connect to the world around us. It’s not lost on me that so much of Will’s past – which is only revealed in conversation in this episode – relates to the trauma of what he’s gone through in the present. He once worked homicide, but we learn that one of the reasons he was pulled out of the field was his reluctance to ever pull the trigger on someone. So what does it mean that Will shot Hobbs ten times?

Of course, it would be foolish to not acknowledge that on top of of the terrifying case, we’ve got the unbearable tension of both Crawford and Alana sending Will to Dr. Lecter for therapy. I have to repeat myself once more, but goddamn, this is such a fascinating way for the show to build suspense. We know that this is going to backfire, we know that this burgeoning friendship is going to end in disaster, and we know exactly what Dr. Lecter is. It’s painful, and I wanted to reach into my television and pull these people out of the narrative ‘cuz Y’ALL ARE IN SO MUCH DANGER.

And before I get into some of the more emotionally heavy shit that this episode gives us, I wanted to talk about something I completely ignored in the last review: WHAT SHOW LOOKS LIKE THIS? I’m so glad that months ago, someone told me that if I ever watched Hannibal, I should watch the Blu-ray version. This show is so crisp, so methodically filmed and framed, and it’s shocking to me to see how many deliberate color motifs and visual metaphors are on the screen. I know I missed tons, and only repeated watchings will reveal some of this to me. How about that shot of the creamer swirling into the darkness of the coffee? It precedes a number of scenes about the blurring of Will’s morality. Or how about the morbid display of the “pork loin” served to Jack Crawford? We’re meant to assume that Jack is actually eating Freddie Lounds, but even though that’s not the case, I’m certain that EVERY PROTEIN SOURCE HANNIBAL IS EATING IS A HUMAN. Even that dish alone has that red sauce poured over it, and it’s meant as a flash reminiscent of congealing blood.

You know, you would have surprised me if I hadn’t known this was on NBC. This absolutely looks like an HBO or Showtime program, and I’m also shocked at how graphic and gory it is for a major network show. The CGI and the prosthetics are of such a professional, realistic quality that I felt like I was watching a forty-five-minute film. HOW? HOW IS THIS HAPPENING? (I am not terribly shocked, though, because this show is coming from the mind of the guy who made Pushing Daisies, which looks like an actual fairy-tale land.)

Anyway, the story in “Amuse-Bouche” does a lot to hint at the future for these characters. The main case, dealing with a man who buries victims alive in order to use their bodies to grow a specific kind of mushroom (I CAN’T BELIEVE I JUST TYPED THAT), makes an uncomfortable parallel between Will and Eldon. How desperate are these two men to make a connection with other people? Eldon projects his terrifying need onto mushrooms, and Will appears to be projecting onto Abigail. Why else would he spend so many nights in her hotel room? Obviously, there’s a lot more at work in Will’s mind than a simple case of projection, and the episode frequently addresses his mental state.

I think that’s why I love the framing of Freddie’s behavior as antagonistic. I mean, first of all, I love the reinvention of this character into a modern gossip blogger who uses the Internet and digital cameras. But we also see how she’s portrayed negatively for taping Will’s session and for spreading the details of Will’s (VERY PRIVATE) mental health. We see the toll it takes on Will; we are shown how Crawford is quick to defend Will, too. That’s not to say that this show is a perfect representation of mental health, and I think that it’s going to be hard for the show to avoid many of the pitfalls and stigmas attached to mental illness when it’s framed the way it is. I mean, I think you could easily argue that Crawford’s constant pushing of Will into the field is not at all in Will’s best interest. It seems rather selfish, too, though it remains to be seen how Will’s going to deal with his changing life.

He does have friends, though. Beverly helps Will with his shooting posture; there’s that incredible scene where Alana visits Will and offers him a glimpse of a positive outlook. His “connection” to Abigail ended up saving her life, and that’s undeniably a good thing, you know? I like the idea of Will having a support network in these two because OH MY GOD. RUN AWAY FROM DR. LECTER. Again, that tension is undeniable. We are watching Will become close and friendly and trusting with A CANNIBAL. How much more time until Dr. Lecter’s victims are investigated? How much more time do these characters have until they realize who Dr. Lecter is?

I don’t even know, y’all. This is like watching the slowest trainwreck in the universe, and it’s terrifying. But even the case-of-the-week has an absolutely frightening end. Freddie’s article unknowingly sent Eldon after Will – actually, no, that’s not quite right. If Eldon sought understanding in the world, Freddie’s article confirmed to Eldon that there was someone who understood him. It was Freddie’s own words that sent Eldon to Will, which… oh my god, Freddie is so awful for this. SO AWFUL. You sent a serial killer after the guy you wrote an ethically disastrous article about. WHYYYYYYYY.

But even the confrontation between Eldon and Will has repercussions for the story as a whole. Eldon is convinced that Will can understand him, but after shooting Eldon in the shoulder, Will emphatically denies that this is even possible. But is it? If we’re to take the final therapy scene between Will and Lecter to heart, then Will is most disturbed by the goodness he felt after killing someone who was “morally bankrupt.” Lecter describes it simply: it’s power. Will exhibited power over Hobbs that day. Didn’t Eldon exhibit power over his victims, too? Now, I think the parallel between these two is mostly subtext, as I’m certain the final scene is a way for Dr. Lecter to actually bring Will closer to him. It felt like Dr. Lecter opening a doorway, or, to reference to episode title, serving the first course. Bite-sized appetizers. The beginning. And that’s so fucking scary to me because DR. LECTER IS SO SCARY.

Really, I can’t get over what Mads Mikkelsen has done to this character. His scenes with Will are electric and unsettling, but that scene in his office with Freddie Lounds? OH MY GOD, MY SKIN IS STILL CRAWLING. Oh lord, y’all, how am I going to make it through this show???

The video for “Amuse-Bouche” can be downloaded here for $0.99, or you can buy all 13 video commissions for season one for $11.99.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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