Mark Watches ‘Hannibal’: S01E05 – Coquilles

In the fifth episode of the first season of Hannibal, I’m already crying and it’s the fifth episode of the first season. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Hannibal.


Trigger Warning: For talk of death, cancer, gore/blood, and anxiety.

  • Can we get a petition or something started to send Will and his dogs to like… Hawaii? Or anywhere that isn’t where Will is right now? I am becoming increasingly concerned about Will’s mental state, though I am thankful that the show is so openly addressing the fact that Crawford’s continual pushing of Will is not good for Will at all. And it goes beyond that; not only was Alana right to say that Will shouldn’t get too close to his work, but this episode also features Will standing up to Crawford. It needed to happen, and I’m so glad that the narrative supports this.
  • This episode also made me reflect on how much of this is Hannibal’s design. Dr. Lecter wants to appear to Will as his support system, as someone Will can come to to be honest. But how much of what Will’s going through – which Dr. Lecter thinks is a manifestation of his post-traumatic stress – is because Dr. Lecter decided to toy with Will through those copycat murders? I won’t deny that Will’s job and his sense of empathy puts him into a state that clearly affects his mental health; but I can’t deny just how much worse Will is now that Dr. Lecter has decided to treat him as an experiment. And really, that’s what this is right now, isn’t it? Hannibal is absolutely fascinated with Will, so he treats him like an insect caught in a jar. He pulls off a leg to see how he’ll react, and it’s terrifying.
  • The main case in this episode isn’t particularly subtle either, but my god, it’s so horrifying that it’ll be hard for me to forget it. I am still amazed that so much of this has made it onto network television, and the nudity and extreme gore present in Elliot Budish’s murders is UNREAL. How???
  • That’s a complete sentence shush.
  • My god, that woman is a queen, and we are all merely her subjects. She is incredible here as Bella Crawford, and from the first scene until the last one, she dominates the screen. I’d be ashamed it took so long for me to figure out what the hell was going on with her, but this is par for the course.
  • HEY. SO. THE DINNER SCENE. NO NO NO NO NO NO NO. I mean, YES, because it’s so perfectly acted and deliriously suspenseful, and then THERE ARE SO MANY LAYERS TO WHAT’S GOING ON. It provides us one of the most clear demonstrations of how Hannibal disassociates from what he does: he says he’s against animal cruelty. And then my insides turn to dust and I drift off into space aboard the Spaceship Nope. We get the exact moment that Hannibal smells Bella’s cancer. (DUDE STOP SMELLING PEOPLE IT’S SO TERRIFYING.) We get Bella presenting herself to Hannibal as someone who knows what she wants and who she is, and that demonstration of power intrigues him. But I love that she’s so fearless to him, you know?
  • (Just for the record, the scene after this is where they confirm that Eliot has cancer, and I STILL DIDN’T FIGURE THIS OUT. Oh my god, they didn’t even hide this shit and I still missed it.)
  • Back to Bella and Hannibal. At least I can see why I thought she might be having an affair; it’s not like the text doesn’t deliberately mislead us. I’m fascinated that the writers had Bella seek out Hannibal because their interactions over the course of “Coquilles” are perhaps the only ones we’ve seen where he’s not slyly manipulating his patient. Bella seeks him out to work through the complex fear and anger she’s experiencing, and Hannibal… helps her. He helps her realizing that she’s essentially holding Crawford accountable for her own cancer, and this is done without any cynicism.
  • It stuck out to me because this episode also contains a clear manifestation of Hannibal’s treatment of Will: he yells at Crawford at a crime scene. Despite that Will even calls out Hannibal because he perceives that Hannibal is turning him against Crawford, Will still does it. Maybe it was an unconscious reaction. Again, the most frustrating thing about this is that HANNIBAL IS ACTUALLY RIGHT ABOUT CRAWFORD’S TREATMENT OF WILL.
  • Oh god, and Crawford is such a layered character himself. We see him cutthroat, willing to do anything to anyone to get a case solved, AND THEN WE SEE HIM WITH BELLA AND IT’S SO PAINFUL AND SWEET AND GAH.
  • That scene in the bedroom is illuminating for these characters, and you know what? I never expected this. Will and Hannibal are the focus of this show, and it’s shocking to me that for most of “Coquilles,” Bella and Jack are at the center of the story. That’s not to ignore Will’s development in regards to his Angel case, but the vast majority of the emotional devastation in this episode belongs solely to these to.
  • For real, though. Where’s Will’s vacation? Can he get a break from all this? Like, just stick him somewhere out of the action so he can SLEEP and not be tormented, I DON’T KNOW.
  • It’s just sad to watch this because I know what it feels like to be consumed by anxiety. It’s a longstanding problem I’ve had since I was a kid, though I can’t claim to have ever been plagued with the sweaty nightmares or the sleepwalking, like Will is. The show isn’t hiding the way that this anxiety hangs over Will, and while I wouldn’t claim that it’s a flawless portrayal of mental illness, it’s a lot better than I expected. The writers still use a dichotomy a bit too much for my taste, as is the case here with Elliot and Will. One is a “bad” mental illness, the other is “good,” when it should really all be treated with empathy. (Which is not to say we should ignore what Elliot has done. Again, I mentioned before that since this show deals with serial killers who often have mental illnesses, we’re not always going to get a sympathetic portrayal of this.)
  • I don’t know if anyone from season one was nominated for an Emmy, but I’d like to retroactively submit Laurence Fishburne for the scene where he slowly realizes that his wife has cancer. That is one of the most nuanced and deeply devastating things I’ve ever seen on television. And bless the writers and the director for shifting the focus from Emma’s conversation to Jack’s face; it’s such a powerful, sad moment, and NOTHING ABOUT IT IS FAIR.
  • Okay, so, a question for those who can stomach it? How the fuck did Elliot hang himself? I kept looking at that arrangement, and I couldn’t figure it out at all. THERE WERE TOO MANY PLACES THAT WERE… UM… ATTACHED TO ELLIOT.
  • Anyway, I want Will to quit this. I want him to value himself and his mental health, but I’m worried that his own growing guilt will keep him working. He feels guilt over being unable to catch Elliot, and I don’t think it’s going away. That hallucination of Elliot that appears to Will is a sign that Will knows his own mind is suffering, but is it enough? Is there a balance that he can find between the work and his own well-being?
  • Actually, Gina Torres and Laurence Fishburne deserve an Emmy for their scene at the end of “Coquilles” where Bella confesses her cancer and tells Jack that she cannot be comforted by him, even if she appreciates it. THAT LITTLE HAND TOUCH? NO
  • NO
  • NO
  • Or how about the haunting image of Jack and Will, sitting in silence, both of them bearing the weight of a terrible, inevitable anxiety about their own respective endgames?
  • This show is so fucked up, y’all, but I can already tell y’all don’t need me to confirm that.

The video for “Coquilles” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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