In the fourth episode of the first season of Hannibal, I cannot believe how intense this show is already. This isn’t a slow build. IT’S A PERPETUAL TRAINWRECK OF TERROR. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Hannibal.
SWEET MOTHER OF GOD.
Trigger Warning: Talk of murder, death, abuse, and Stockholm syndrome
This episode is SO DISTURBING, and I imagine because of the timing, it was never aired. It’s a haunting rumination on what it means to be a family, but it also equally addresses the terrors of manipulation. I can’t ignore the direct parallel here: Dr. Lecter and the “mother” kidnapper here are doing the same thing, albeit by different means. They are maliciously manipulating the people around them to trust them so that they consider them family. And it’s horrifying to watch, y’all. Like I mentioned before, part of the terror of watching this show is how plainly the antagonist is placed in the narrative. Hannibal is right there. We watch him act like a predator to Abigail; we watch him act so that Will begins to trust him more and more; we see how he surprises Alana at the end of the episode so that she’s distracted from her anger.
This is all intentional. “Œuf” is about exploitation in one sense because that’s precisely what Dr. Lecter and Molly Shannon’s character did. She sought out the middle child in these “perfect” families, and she preyed on them because they felt left out. She knew they’d be the easiest to convert to her perverted idea of a family. And Dr. Lecter ignores Alana’s advice in order to bring Abigail into his house and give her psilocybin mushrooms for… well, here’s the thing. There might be some truth to Dr. Lecter’s desire to give Abigail some positive associations to her trauma. I admit that might be possible. But I think it’s part of a larger narrative involving Dr. Lecter pulling Abigail deeper into his world, as he’s currently doing with Will, too. Perhaps he sees something in Abigail that he wants to develop. You have to remember that Dr. Lecter is a man obsessed with experiencing life as it is “meant” to be experienced. His appreciation for fine art and delicate cooking is all part of his psyche. Maybe he wants Abigail to come to love the finer things in life, even if that also means developing the murderous urges within her. (Which could suggest that I’m wrong about Abigail’s complicity in her father’s crime. Does Lecter know she’s been lying the whole time? It would explain why he was so desperate to start courting her.)
Meanwhile, Will continues to view Dr. Lecter as a confidante. I noticed that he was much more bold than usual in admitting his fears. In this case, Will is furious that he’s so helpless. Even if he solves the case, he can’t ever give these children back their childhoods. It’s a psychological point of no return, and I liked that this was addressed both in terms of Will’s own past and the Crawfords. Will can’t escape his past, and I think he’s also reaching a point of no return with his casework. (CALLING IT: Y’ALL SHOULD HAVE LISTENED TO ALANA. SHE WAS RIGHT, AS SHE OFTEN IS.) And there’s another hint of the same motif when Crawford’s wife says it’s too late for her to have children. Which… WHAT. WHAT IS GOING ON.
I admit that the main case is perhaps the least subtle one in terms of narrative parallels, at least in the season so far. It’s absolutely upsetting and unnerving to watch, and I don’t feel compelled to really talk about it in all that much detail. I think that’s also why it didn’t feel quite as cohesive as the case we saw in “Amuse-Bouche.” Since so much time was spent on Will’s development and Abigail’s continued mental state, it felt a bit brief. Not unnecessary, mind you, but not quite as important as I expected. (ALSO I CAN’T GET OVER HOW MESSED UP IT WAS OH MY GOD.)
What I do want to talk about is how DR. HANNIBAL LECTER IS GOING TO RUIN ME, I SWEAR. He made the same meal Abigail’s father was making on the morning he was killed. HE FED JACK CRAWFORD PEOPLE. IS EVERYTHING HE CONSUMES PEOPLE? OH GOD, I’M JUST GOING TO ASSUME THAT. Wine? Fermented people. Eggs? Actually people, too. OH MY GOD, Abigail is going to find out she’s being fed people again, isn’t she? WON’T THAT UNRAVEL ALL OF HER PROGRESS? Oh, gods, I’m just going to think about Will’s dogs instead. That’s so much more comforting.
The video for “Œuf” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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