In the ninth episode of the first season of Hannibal, I’ll repeat myself: I STILL DON’T KNOW HOW THERE’S ANOTHER SEASON OF THIS SHOW. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Hannibal.
THERE ARE STILL FOUR EPISODES LEFT THIS SEASON AND ALL OF THIS HAPPENED. GOD. HOW???
While the human totem pole was one of the most horrific and gory images we’ve seen on the show, I gotta say that the case itself? Kind of disappointing. I wouldn’t say it was unnecessary, because that’s the force that leads Will to admit that he is having a severe dissociative problem while on the job. However, after this point, the case just fades into the background. We learn of the killer’s motive for constructing such a piece, we find out it’s a really old dude who doesn’t even look physically capable of lifting that pole upright, and then there’s a twist that he killed his actual son? In the end, it didn’t seem to matter, not just for the story at hand, but to the writers. They introduced such a horrifying concept, but the resolution didn’t pack any sort of emotional punch at all. It just… happened. The cases have been super relevant lately, and we usually get enough of the Crime Scene Trio (my new name for Beverly, Brian, and Jimmy) to whet my tastes, but this episode felt light in all regards.
It’s a good thing, then, that absolutely everything else was so thrilling and frightening. This is a story about truth, about how some of these characters twist it for their own design, and how others avoid it until it comes barreling out. There’s a narrative trick here, though, because the writers deliberately mislead us into believing Abigail, as if she’s an untrustworthy narrator. The opening scene is one of guilt, yes, but in hindsight, now we know why she feels guilty for the deaths of all the women that Garrett Jacob Hobbs killed: she was complicit in all of them. ALL OF THEM.
Now, how complicit she was remains to be seen. We only got a single flashback in “Trou Normand,” and I do think it’s credible that Abigail was emotionally manipulated into helping her father out of a desire for self-preservation. If she didn’t help him bait those victims, he would have killed her. It’s an important distinction, and it sheds so much light on her behavior throughout this episode. Thinking back on her meeting with Freddie Lounds, I now know that she wasn’t really interested in telling the truth to Freddie; she wants Freddie to tell a story, one that will turn the public’s suspicion (OF THE ACTUAL TRUTH OH GOD) away from her. But isn’t it also possible that this is a way for her to cope with the reality of what happened? It’s like she’s trying to absolve herself of guilt however she knows how, even if she really is guilty of what she’s accused of.
It’s a delicate situation, certainly, and it’s ridiculously layered in hindsight. At the time I was watching this unfold, I thought Abigail was simply desperate to regain some of her old life. Even when Hannibal warned her not to talk with Freddie and “open” that door, I thought I had this figured out. But I imagine that he knew exactly what she was struggling with because HE KNEW SHE WAS THE BAIT THE WHOLE TIME. JESUS HANNIBAL IS TOO MUCH.
But it’s the unbearably cruel scene between Alana, Jack, and Abigail that fucks me up the most. I didn’t have all the context I needed to fully understand what was going, but I knew that Jack was right about Abigail. And it’s frustrating because Alana has to be part of what she perceives as psychological torment of Abigail. She knows it’s a terrible idea to expose Abigail to Nicholas Boyle’s corpse, and Jack intentionally pushes Abigail and Alana way beyond what they’re comfortable with. Alana even admits that she has her suspicions about Abigail! The problem is that she’s certain that Hannibal had no reason to lie about Nicholas Boyle and GODDAMN IT. IT’S ALL A MESS AND I JUST WANT TO SEND ALL OF THESE CHARACTERS ON PERMANENT VACATIONS FAR AWAY FROM HANNIBAL LECTER. This is such a vital development because “Trou Normand” shows us just how close Hannibal is keeping Alana and Will. They both trust him so much that they can’t fathom a version of reality where he’s actually the one pulling the strings.
And yet, Jack Crawford is closer to the truth than he realizes. He is so close! Is that little tilt of his head a moment of wonder? IS HE ACTUALLY GOING TO START QUESTIONING HANNIBAL’S VERSION OF THE TRUTH? He is so fucking close, y’all.
BUT NOT AS CLOSE AS WILL. Oh my god, HOW??? How is this show revealing this shit to Will now? I mean, it’s brilliant. Like I said, it demonstrates just how far Hannibal’s manipulation of Will Graham has come. He’s at a point where he’s gotten Will to KEEP ABIGAIL’S SECRET. My gods, Will knows that Hannibal helped hide a body, albeit badly. Which might actually have been intentional, too??? Jesus, my mind can’t even handle all of this. The truth is that this whole mess worries me so much. Will is now part of this; he lied to Jack Crawford. He’s using his own guilt over killing Abigail’s father to mask to moral conundrum he’s facing. But how long can this last? Combine this with the episodes he’s been having, and it’s only a matter of time before entropy takes hold. While I’m sure Hannibal is thriving on all this control that he’s exhibiting over others, isn’t he worried that this has gotten too out of hand?
There’s an urgency to “Trou Normand” that’s rooted in such questions. We still haven’t even touched on Red Dragon‘s canon (which is endlessly fascinating to me, since I thought it would pop up by now), and I have no idea where this story can go next. It’s the unknown that hangs over the narrative while the known – Hannibal’s master manipulation – stares us in the face and laughs at us. It’s terrifying, and I’m becoming more and more aware that the show itself is manipulating me in this direction. I’m full of dread, and with each episode, it only gets worse.
too fucked up
The video for “Trou Normand” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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