Mark Watches ‘Hannibal’: S01E10 – Buffet Froid

In the tenth episode of the first season of Hannibal, consider this the moment the show has destroyed me, and I haven’t even gotten to the final three episodes. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Hannibal.

Trigger Warning: For discussion of mental illness, since it’s the basis of the entire episode.

  • Lord, I can’t do this. LORD GIVE ME THE STRENGTH.
  • I was so overwhelmed by this episode. The case for the week was deeply tied to Will’s further development; it was immensely disturbing; AND ANSWERS. I GOT ANSWERS AND THEY WERE SO UPSETTING OH MY GOD.
  • So, let’s start off with the fact that the entire cold open is almost a textbook slasher sequence. It plays off of a lot of horror tropes, as does a great deal of “Buffet Froid,” and Georgia is meant to be the closest this show has ever had to a real monster. What’s sad about this, though, is the fact that she’s actually the most consumed by her mental illness; she’s entirely unaware of the mayhem she’s causing.
  • This is, of course, a direct parallel to the experience of Will Graham, who is now aware that his hallucinations and lost time suggest that he may be doing things while he’s not entirely conscious. And look, I wouldn’t begin to say that Hannibal is the best or even a competent vehicle for discussing mental illness and the stigma that comes with it. But there are moments here that are undeniably powerful because it’s some of the only scenes I’ve ever seen on television that talk about the fear and guilt that might come with learning you have a mental illness.
  • It’s not like me realizing something is wrong with Will is a new thing. I picked up on it by… what? The second episode? But then his inability to judge spatial arrangement fucked me up, not just because Will wasn’t aware what was happening, but because Hannibal hid it from him. That was an immediate sign that this was going to get worse because Hannibal had found another way to keep Will under his control. (Well, I should acknowledge that Hannibal knew what was wrong with Will in the fourth episode, so LET’S HAVE FUN WITH THAT IDEA. Just kidding, let’s all sob.)
  • I also assumed that the murder was going to address the idea of these people wearing masks. That’s been a frequent theme of this season, particularly the conversations Bedelia and Hannibal have had.
  • Not that this doesn’t address that, but good gods, I was so wrong.
  • Will experiences the worst loss of time yet when he “wakes up” IN THE FUCKING CRIME SCENE. And I know that his fellow technicians are used to him being weird, but even I knew that this was an atypical reaction from him. He contaminated a crime scene! So I was pleased that Jack and Will finally spoke openly about… well, shit, what a disaster this was. Jack was suspicious of Will in the previous episode after Will asked if he seemed okay at the crime scene, but now Jack has seen Will’s mental state right before his eyes. Unfortunately, I think Jack’s assertion later in the episode – that Will is supporting himself with the work he’s doing – is fairly spot-on, at least in one context. Obviously, Jack doesn’t realize what Hannibal is doing to Will, either.
  • I was disturbed into silence, then, when the writers finally reveal what’s happening to Will: encephalitis. It’s not a mental illness at all, but that’s when Hannibal takes his manipulation of Will to the most dangerous level yet. He gets his colleague, Dr. Sutcliffe, to hide Will’s diagnosis from him, out of some misguided sense of scientific curiosity.
  • It’s so fucked up I don’t even know how to talk about it. And the worst part is that Dr. Lecter is getting away with it. I haven’t quite seen his endgame, so I’m not sure how this fits into it, but it certainly supports my idea that Hannibal sees Will as his own personal experiment. At the same time, I imagine that Hannibal sees yet another opportunity that’ll bring Will closer to him.
  • You know why Hannibal terrifies me so much? Because he perverts one of my favorite things in the universe: friendship.
  • Well, and the whole cannibal thing.
  • And the whole “openly admitting that I’m the killer and the one pulling all the strings” thing he does.
  • Seriously, that conversation he has over wine with Jack is so unreal. YOU CAN’T TALK TO JACK ABOUT PUSHING WILL TOO MUCH IN THE FIELD WHEN YOU’RE THE FUCKING REASON THAT WILL IS SO FUCKED UP.
  • OH GOD.
  • I guess I just never expected Hannibal to be so blatant, but you know what? That’s what he was like in the original canon, too. He loved teasing his victims and the people who surrounded them.
  • HEY SO THE SCENE WHERE WILL GOES BACK TO BETH’S HOUSE. Again, the way the camera frames Will is reminiscent of horror films, and it works so well when you combine that with the surreal body horror of Georgia, from her make-up to the way the skin sloughed off her arm when Will grabbed her. It’s a great way for the show to convey Will’s confusion because even we don’t know if that’s really happening.
  • And let’s just get to it: Ellen Muth playing a woman named Georgia who believes she’s dead. HOLY SHIT.
  • Whenever I think of Dead Like Me, I think of the way Mandy Rube called Georgia, “Peanut.” It’s so distinct!
  • Ugh, I really love that Will calls Beverly to return to the crime scene. I like to think that Will respects how brash and straightforward Beverly is and that she’d tell him the uncomfortable truth regardless of whether it implicated him or not.
  • Unfortunately, the more Will gets closer to the identity of the killer, the more he can’t ignore the eerie similarities between him and Georgia. The whole thing is so upsetting because we know that Will doesn’t have a mental illness. We know that Dr. Lecter is hiding the truth from him! It makes that scene between Georgia’s mother that much more sad. As she talks about how little is known about mental illness, Will empathizes with her because he’s currently going through the same thing. But… not. But he is. AH MY BRAIN.
  • I just hate what Hannibal is doing to Will so much, and toying with a person’s sanity is just so relentlessly fucked up. And Hannibal is toying with him. The conversation he has with Dr. Sutcliffe over dinner proves that he’s going to let Will suffer until Will gets right up to the edge of his sanity, and then bring him back. It was never about scientific curiosity, of course; Hannibal only said that to keep Dr. Sutcliffe interested. This has always been about control.
  • What happens at the end of this episode – which is going to haunt me forever because I CAN’T GET THE IMAGE OUT OF MY HEAD – is a sign of just how far Hannibal is willing to take this. We’re meant to assume that Georgia killed Dr. Sutcliffe out of confusion, out of some desire to see if he was human beneath his mask. And when Georgia later shows up underneath Will’s bed, the two share a remarkably touching moment as he validates her life for her. (Seriously, I got a bit choked up at that part, especially since Will was most likely confirming to himself that he was alive.) All of it pointed in one direction: Georgia was responsible.
  • LOL
  • NOPE
  • I know that goes without saying, but I’M GONNA KEEP SAYING IT.
  • I should also say that I am continually impressed and blown away by the quality of Hannibal. The acting, the cinematography, the serialized narrative… maybe that goes without saying, too. But it’s worth stating it because as horrifying and nightmarish as this all is, it’s a treat to watch.
  • Sometimes. I could do without seeing Hannibal stretching open Dr. Sutcliffe’s jaw EVER AGAIN.

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

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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