In the eighth episode of the first season of Hannibal, I CAN’T BREATHE. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Hannibal.
I genuinely don’t understand how there can be another season of this show.
I think it would be accurate to describe Hannibal as a slow burn narrative, but then I just watched “Fromage” and things are so rapidly moving forward that I’m left to wonder how this is ever going to be sustainable. This episode is huge for a number of obvious reasons, but I’m stuck at one single point: Doesn’t this draw too much attention to Hannibal?
Which may very well be the purpose of the whole thing, and I think there is a haunting explanation for this, one that makes me even more uncomfortable than I was before. AND I’M ALREADY PRETTY UNCOMFORTABLE. So, let’s discuss a few of the key moments and themes of “Fromage.”
Will’s need for stability
This is my prime theory for why Dr. Lecter risked involving Tobias and Franklyn in this recent bit of chaos. Throughout “Fromage,” we watch as Will begins to hallucinate sounds, which is a new development in the breakdown of his mental health. He imagines a dog yelping outside, and he enlists Alana to help him search for the possible remains or the possible survivor. Well, that was how it appeared, but now I know that this was about so much more for him. As Will’s world continues to crumble, he turned to someone he thought he could use for support. It’s why he tests her in that early scene by asking about her dating habits (or, I should say, her lack of dating). When she returns (of her own volition this time) later on, the two share a kiss. I’m not sure what Alana’s angle is in this, but we know that Will sought stability. He knows that Alana is a stable force in his life, and he wanted more of it. Well, yes, and he was attracted to her because HOW COULD YOU NOT BE. Caroline Dhavernas is stunning!
It’s only after Will confesses all of this to Dr. Lecter that Hannibal takes it upon himself to send Will right into danger. It’s the same behavior we’ve seen before, only now it’s far more explicit. Tobias had told Hannibal that he’d kill the cops who came for him, and we know that Hannibal believes that Will is proficient enough to survive. So why send him right into a trap? Hannibal was thinking of the end to justify the means. He knew that Will would set Tobias into his endgame; he knew that Will would avoid killing another suspect; and he most likely deduced that Tobias would come straight to him to finish what he started. It’s a manipulation. There’s a line towards the end where Will apologizes for bringing Hannibal into his world, but good god, THE REVERSE IS HAPPENING. Will is being thrust into Hannibal’s world, violently so, and he’s seeing Hannibal as a friend. That casual smile he gives Hannibal is so rare from Will, and Hannibal was the intended recipient of it. He’s succeeding, and it’s fucking terrifying.
Bedelia Du Marier
Throughout this, Hannibal toys with his psychiatrist, Bedelia. I’m not sure she’s completely unaware of what’s happening, either, since she demonstrated in the last episode that she’s very much onto Hannibal’s performance. Here, he pries into her own life in order to learn more about the patient that attacked her. In one sense, he might be trying to get her to speak about it because of how Franklyn became too clingy towards Hannibal. But watching Hannibal and Bedelia talk to one another is like watching two giants battle with their minds. Every goddamn line has layers of subtext to it, and you can see both characters hiding their true thoughts behind the mask that is their face. I felt like it was a game, at least for Hannibal, to see how well he could play Bedelia, to coyly refer to the actual truth of what was going on in his life.
So is it a game for Bedelia, too? Does she know Lecter’s bullshitting her? Lying to her? Manipulating the truth? I’m not putting it past her, y’all, especially not after what we saw in “Sorbet.”
While I do think Hannibal is manipulating Will into some perverted form of friendship with him, it’s also important to examine how Hannibal interacts with two men who both sought friendship in him. The relationship he had with Franklyn was quickly deteriorating as it was, and I even said in the last review that I was convinced Franklyn would be killed for his behavior. But he needed to stay alive in order for this story to play out. Franklyn wanted Lecter as a friend, sure, but it was so much more complicated than that. He wanted his doctor to respect him, to feel interested in him, to view him as a colleague and a companion. Obviously, Hannibal was utterly bored by Franklyn, who’d ceased to be interesting to him ages ago. At the same time, Franklyn’s friend, Tobias, seeks out Hannibal’s friendship for an entirely different reason: they’re both purveyors of the arts who kill humans in order to act out their deviancy.
Obviously, neither one of them sees themselves that way, and on the surface, it’s almost like they were destined to be friends. Both killers use performance as an aspect of their murders, and their love for neatness, class, and good taste may have made them remarkably similar. But Tobias differs in an important way from Hannibal, one that made Hannibal want to distance himself from Tobias immediately: Tobias is reckless. He fed messages for Hannibal through Franklyn; he openly spoke of his desire to murder more people before disappearing; and oh, by the way, HE WATCHED HANNIBAL SET UP THE BODY OF ANDREW CALDWELL. Everything about Tobias is a risk, so of course Hannibal would plot to kill him. I actually thought it was going to happen in that dinner scene, but then Will arrived, and Hannibal adjusted his plans accordingly, sending Will straight to Tobias.
And then this episode just catapults into a stratospheric level of NOT OKAY. The scene in Tobias’s basement reminded me of the final confrontation in The Silence of the Lambs, especially since that set looked so similar. The camera plays with available light, giving everything a sinister, otherworldly feel. THEN EVERYTHING IS TERRIFYING AND WILL SHOOTS TOBIAS’S EAR OFF AND WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON. I was already out of breath before the show cut back to Hannibal’s office. It was clear that Hannibal was trying to get rid of Franklyn as deftly as possible, since he no longer needed him.
Which is why Franklyn was ultimately disposable to both Hannibal and Tobias: neither one needed him anymore. He’d almost become a parody, you know? It was so uncomfortable to watch him offer terrible pseudo-psychotherapy to Tobias because we knew there was no saving Tobias. Franklyn was wrong about everything he said, and he kept looking to Hannibal for validation, and it was just so goddamn sad to me.
Then Hannibal snaps Franklyn’s neck and this episode just… fuck. Thinking back on the fight, it’s both so realistic that it hurt to watch and highly choreographed to the point that it looked like a violent ballet. I’m still in awe of it, y’all. This was the first chance for us to see Hannibal’s physical prowess, and the man is like a goddamn cat. But it’s so frightening to watch because Tobias is nearly a match to Hannibal’s unhinged rage. So we’re left to wonder how Hannibal will disarm Tobias because there’s no way Tobias is surviving this.
While I don’t think that Hannibal expected the fight, he expected Will and Jack to arrive. And the manipulation moves to the next level, all at the expense of Franklyn. Jesus, y’all, how much longer can this last? And if Hannibal continues to pull everyone into his world, at what point do these people begin to ask the truly uncomfortable questions? What happens then?
The video for “Fromage” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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